April 25, 2023 posted in Personal Development
Have you ever walked into the office and greeted a coworker with, “Hey there! How’s your day going?” to hear an unexpected statement like, “Oh, it’s okay.” If so, how did you respond? Did you walk on by, hoping to avoid an uncomfortable conversation?
Or have you ever been asked, “What’s wrong? You seem a bit on edge.” Has there been a time when a colleague has told you that you were being unreasonable? How did you handle that? What was your response?
These are only a few scenarios that might have occurred at one time or another in your work life. There are many more scenarios, and depending on your level of emotional intelligence could result in either a healthy, supportive conversation or one that crashed and burned, ultimately causing hurt feelings or a bruised ego.
Emotional intelligence is rooted in relationships. However, there is much more to the whole emotional intelligence thing. From an employer’s perspective, studies show emotional intelligence as the strongest predictor of performance, especially for those that lead others. Based on my 22 years of experience in HR, I would have to agree.
There are four components of emotional intelligence. There is much to be acknowledged when examining ourselves against these four aspects. Still, from my experience, if we are not open and realistic when looking in the mirror, we will find ourselves on the low end of the emotional intelligence scale.
This component describes your ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses and recognize your own emotions and their effects on you, your coworkers, and your team. Those that are not self-aware will not see their shortcomings. When some people face a personal weakness, defensiveness and anger come spewing out, and they go into self-protective mode. As you can imagine, this does not build good working relationships and reduces the successful outcomes of a team.
As mentioned above, self-management speaks to regulating your emotions, especially in stressful situations. Are you able to maintain a positive outlook regardless of setbacks? Or are you reactionary and fighting back when challenged? We are human. Our need to defend ourselves seems innate, but those who can control this reactionary reflex are reportedly more effective managers. This aspect of self-control means we must be intentional about how we react to situations, albeit I acknowledge this is easier said than done. The lack of intentionality will limit the success of you and your team and will negatively impact relationships.
Social awareness is all about being able to read the room. In other words, are you able to recognize others’ emotions? Do you realize the dynamics those emotions play in the grand scheme of the organization? And, most importantly, do you have the empathy to navigate the minefield you might not even know you are walking through? Think about those moments when another car suddenly cuts you off. I know I have had this experience, and I can’t say I had much empathy for the offending driver. Quite the contrary. But then I reflect, and if I am honest with myself, I must acknowledge that I have been that offending driver myself a time or two. Did I mean to cause aggravation to another? No, I didn’t. Therefore, I have learned that I need to have empathy toward others. For all I know, the offending motorist could have just had a debilitating conversation with a doctor who told them their mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was not thinking clearly. If I had known that, I might have controlled my hand gestures.
As stated at the start of this article, emotional intelligence is rooted in relationships. Have you ever tried to teach or coach someone you had a challenging relationship with? Those that have, I am sure, did not find it an easy task to influence and mentor that person. And it only stands to reason that this would be true. To reconcile those relationships means to put your ego aside, humble yourself and have empathy. Yes, it means taking the high road. If you are a leader of others, the ability to do this is imperative. In a survey by SHRM, 72 percent of employees ranked “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the top factor in job satisfaction. Tough conversations are part of that process, and if you can do this respectfully with a high level of emotional intelligence, better outcomes are guaranteed.
In closing, I share with you this statistic: 71 percent of employers, in a survey by CareerBuilder, said that emotional intelligence is more important than a person’s IQ. The survey also stated that those with high emotional intelligence can handle pressure, resolve conflict, and are much more respected as leaders. Isn’t that what we should all strive for?