HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Mastering emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is the act of effectively managing emotions and positively influencing those around you. Leveraging EQ is vital for successful communication and empathy, and for building strong relationships in all aspects of life; this holds especially true for the workplace.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, commonly known as EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient), is the capacity to identify, process, comprehend and regulate emotions. EQ empowers us to make conscious choices about our thoughts, feelings and actions. By mastering emotional intelligence, we can effectively manage our emotions and positively impact the emotions of those around us, which is essential for successful communication, empathy and maintaining strong relationships in all aspects of life.

History of Emotional Intelligence Research

The concept of emotional intelligence emerged in the 1990s when psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey first coined the term. Later, psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized it with his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence. Goleman states, In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels. Since then, researchers have continued to study EI and its impact on various aspects of life, including the workplace.

The Importance of EQ in the Workplace

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is crucial for personal and professional success, helping build strong relationships and handle various situations effectively. Unlike cognitive intelligence, EQ can be improved by increasing self-awareness and adjusting one's thoughts and actions. Studies show that EQ plays a significant role in career advancement and workplace performance. High-EQ individuals are more productive and can create a positive impact on organizations by reducing grievances, accidents and customer losses. By enhancing EQ, both individuals and organizations can achieve greater success.

The Impact of Larger Emotional Vocabulary

English has over 3,000 words that describe human emotions. High EQ individuals use precise, nuanced words to express their feelings. Those with low EQ often rely on basic, less specific words. Emotions and feelings differ. Emotions are bodily reactions, while feelings are conscious experiences in response to them. Plutchik's wheel shows eight basic emotions with opposites based on reactions. Combining these eight emotions create new ones, like anticipation and joy making optimism.

Name It to Tame It

We can improve emotional intelligence by recognizing, understanding and tracking emotions. Emotions drive behavior, communication and decisions. Dr. Daniel Siegel advises the “Name it to tame it” approach to manage emotions. Happy employees spread positivity and deliver better results. Understanding emotions matters for personal growth and workplace performance.

The Connection Between Personality Style and Emotional Intelligence, and Why It Matters

Personality style refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, while emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to perceive, understand, evaluate and manage emotions. By combining both, we can better understand how individuals with specific styles manage emotions and build relationships. Each personality style displays EQ differently. For instance, an emotionally intelligent dominant personality style will build relationships differently than an emotionally intelligent supportive style (for more information on personality style, see this article on DISC Assessments). Style impacts how emotions are experienced, managed and expressed. Both style and EQ can change over time and can be consciously developed. To effectively guide someone to improve their behavior, it's essential to communicate in a way that resonates with their personality style. This approach increases their likelihood of applying new insights and improving their emotional intelligence.

The 4 Components of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Four components of EQ encompass unique skills that help individuals excel in their personal and professional lives. By cultivating self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, employees can contribute to a healthier, more productive, and emotionally intelligent workplace.
  • Self-awareness. This is the ability to perceive and understand your emotions, as well as their impact on your performance and others. Self-awareness includes recognizing your strengths, weaknesses and the effects of your emotions on your thoughts and behaviors.
  • Self-management. This skill involves managing emotions and impulses, thinking before speaking or acting, and staying focused during emotional situations. It involves self-discipline, goal-setting, resilience and problem-solving.
  • Social awareness. The capacity to understand the needs and concerns of others, pick up on group dynamics, and interpret emotional information is called social awareness. It involves empathy, a service mindset and the ability to read a group's energy and morale.
  • Relationship management. The art of developing and maintaining positive relationships by responding to the emotional needs of others in a healthy way. This includes collaboration, influence, change promotion, connection building, and conflict management.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in the Workplace?

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) greatly impacts workplace success, boosting communication, decision-making, teamwork, and adaptability. Let's delve into these benefits to understand EQ's importance in today's professional world.

Improved Communication

Emotionally intelligent employees are skilled at expressing themselves clearly and actively listening to others. This leads to more effective collaboration, shared ideas, and a stronger sense of camaraderie among team members.

Better Decision-Making

By understanding and managing their emotions, employees can make rational and informed decisions even under pressure or in challenging situations, ultimately benefiting the entire organization.

Enhanced Teamwork

Emotionally intelligent team members can empathize with each other, leading to greater cooperation, smoother communication and reduced conflicts. This fosters a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Increased Adaptability

In today's fast-paced business landscape, adaptability is key. Employees with high EI can better manage change, navigate uncertainty and adjust to new situations with grace and resilience, helping the organization stay agile and competitive.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in Your Workplace

A thriving work environment requires a focus on emotional intelligence (EI). In this section, we'll delve into strategies that can help employees improve their EI skills with an emphasis on leveraging personality styles in training. By offering training, fostering open communication, leading by example and reinforcing learning, your team can work cohesively and achieve greater success.

Step 1: Offer Training

Invest in workshops, seminars or online courses tailored to help employees develop emotional intelligence skills. Consider incorporating personality-based training to make the learning experience more relatable and engaging.

Step 2: Encourage Open Communication

Create a work culture where employees feel at ease discussing their emotions without fear of judgment. This promotes trust and collaboration.

Step 3: Lead by Example

Managers and leaders should exemplify emotional intelligence by practicing empathy, active listening and self-regulation. These traits inspire and guide employees in developing their own EI skills.

Step 4: Reinforce Learning

To ensure long-term development, offer follow-up training and invest in programs designed to provide reinforcement activities throughout the employee lifecycle. Continuous learning and practice are crucial for personal growth and overall success.

Examples of Emotional Intelligence

So, what exactly does emotional intelligence look like in the workplace? Here are a few examples.

Example 1: Active Listening

An employee attentively listens to a coworker's concerns without interrupting, then summarizes their understanding and asks clarifying questions. (For an awesome reference on Active Listening, check out the article I co-authored with Samantha Palm here.)

Example 2: Empathetic Response

A manager recognizes that an employee is struggling with a personal issue and offers support or flexibility to help them cope.

Example 3: Conflict Resolution

Two team members with differing opinions have a respectful discussion, acknowledging each other's feelings and working together to find a solution.

Examples of Emotional Intelligence Improvement in Action

Wondering how to measure progress when it comes to emotional intelligence? Let’s look at a few signs of strong EQ.

1: Enhance Self-Awareness

  • Embrace feelings without judgment.
  • Link emotions with thoughts, considering causes and impacts.
  • Acknowledge both positive and negative emotions.

2: Strengthen Self-Management

  • Cultivate self-control and discipline.
  • Take responsibility for behavior, communication, performance and impact.
  • Align personal values, words and actions.

3: Boost Social Awareness

  • Show genuine interest in others.
  • Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues.
  • Be respectful and appreciative of others and their perspectives.

4: Improve Relationship Management

  • Resolve conflicts effectively by seeking win-win solutions.
  • Encourage change management and continuous learning.
  • Coach and mentor others to unlock their potential.
Steven Farber

Steven Farber

I spent much of my working life in a whirlwind of uncertainty wondering when I would find a career that would make me happy. After spending 23 years trying to find that 'dream career' I came to a sobering conclusion. I realized that I wasn't looking for a career, but for a purpose and that I would never be happy until I figured out what that purpose was. After a long hard road of trial and error, I concluded that my purpose, the very activity that brought me happiness was when I could bring that happiness to others first. Removing the vast amounts of uncertainty this life can bring for others and replacing it with true peace of mind, gave me my much sought-after peace of mind.
View author page
Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Employee Burnout
Employee Emotional Wellness
Employee Financial Wellbeing
Employee Mental Health
Employee Physical Health
Employee Social Wellness
Employee Spiritual Wellness
Employee Trust
Employee Wellbeing
Imposter Syndrome
Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Days
Occupational Stress
Social Isolation in Remote Work
Stress Management
Wellness Committee
Wellness Incentives
Workplace Hygiene
Workplace Wellness
Eddy's HR Newsletter
Sign up for our email newsletter for helpful HR advice and ideas.
Simple and accurate payroll.
Pay your U.S.-based employees on time, every time, with Eddy.