The relationships between individuals and organisations are getting more complicated nowadays. The interactions between workers can have both positive and negative impacts on the overall performance of the organization.
Bhavana Arora (2017) noted that our education system is designed in such a way that it focuses on developing our cognitive and intellectual intelligence while neglecting the emotional side of the personality. Interestingly, job roles that involve constant interactions with people and individuals that occupy such roles will need soft skills competence and a developed emotional intelligence.2
Having emotions is a core characteristic of all humans and to lack emotion is to be non-human. Emotions are so important to human nature and interactions that to acknowledge and manage emotions effectively not only leverages on a fundamental driving force to human behavior, if properly harnessed and channeled, emotional maturity and emotional intelligence can assist us in achieving our goals and in co-existing with others. This means the actions and inactions of individuals are motivated to a considerable extent by emotions. In the context of organizational life, it means that employee performance could be influenced y emotions.
Mayer and Salovery (1997) who coined the term emotional intelligence initially explained it as a form of intelligence that involves the ability to know your emotions and that of others, separate them and use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. They later described it as the ability to perceive, integrate emotions, facilitate thought and understanding emotions of yourself and others while regulating your emotions for personal growth.3
Kristine Fuge (2014) simply describes emotional intelligence as understanding your emotions and the emotions of those in your environment. It is about knowing yourself and your feelings so ell you can manage them effectively at any moment no matter the situation.4
In the context of the workplace, emotional intelligence can be defined as the way you control your emotions in the workplace. This may include how you manage working under stress and your relationship with fellow employees and management staff in a personal and professional manner.
This article will shed light on the importance of the application of emotional intelligence in the workplace and recommend practicable steps workers can use to improve their emotional intelligence.
Importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace
Goleman (1998) observed that the interest of emotional intelligence application in the workplace comes from widespread recognition that the following abilities (self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skill) separates the most successful workers and managers from the average ones.5
This is abundantly clear with higher executives, where everyone may be as smart or as knowledgeable as everyone else, these top executives can distinguish themselves from others based on how they manage hemselves and their relationships with others.
Emotional Intelligence in the workplace is very significant. Regardless of the skill level, qualifications, and knowledge the employees possess. Emotional intelligence plays a special role in the performance of tasks, functions and work duties besides skills and abilities. Organizations that focus on emotional intelligence help their workers know how to conduct themselves, the way to interact and communicate with other people, how they handle tasks, dispute resolution, and while also making them effective performers while being able to handle stressful situations (Kapur 2018).6
There have been several studies that show that emotionally intelligent mployees put in better performance at work. Nel (2001) did a study to investigate the relationship between emotional intelligence and job performance of call center agents, working at a major life insurance company in Western Cape, South Africa.7 He discovered many emotional intelligence proficiencies connected with client service and administration. Lopes, Grewal, Kadis, Gall and Salovey (2006) carried out a survey that involved forty-four (44) analysts and administrators who worked for a fortune 400 insurance company and discovered that, when measured by a set of capabilities, emotional intelligence positively affects work performance.8
An emotionally intelligent person is likely to make a good leader in an organisation. Petrides KV, Furnham A (2000) opined that a person with high Emotional Quotient makes a good fit for a leadership role. IT includes having the ability to control impulse, to curb impatience, ability to control one's moods and prevent frustration and the ability to empathize and give hope to others.9 Studies show that an emotionally intelligent leader, is generally passionate and shows more commitment to their employing organization. They record better achievements, know how to leverage positive emotions to envision improvements in the organization's functioning and can foster organizational harmony, enthusiasm, trust, and cooperation in employees through interpersonal relations (George, 2000).10
Any organisation that focuses on emotional intelligence will have employees that are happy, motivated, productive, and efficient. They will be committed to their goals.
How workers can improve their emotional intelligence
Using the pillars of emotional intelligence popularized by Daniel Goldman in his book "Emotional Intelligence", workers can improve their emotional intelligence by:11
Self-Awareness: This is about being aware of the kind of emotions you possess:
- Throughout the day, pause continuously and identify how you feel and consider individual factors that trigger your emotions. It is also important to realise that emotions are transitory, and it is best not to make decisions based on them.
- Think about how your negative emotions (fear, anger, indifference, frustration) may affect yourself and your fellow employees.
- Think of how expression of your positive emotions (gratitude, kindness, humor) would affect your co-workers.
Self-Management: The ability to control your emotions no matter the circumstance you find yourself:
- Think of ways to control your emotions while at work, to avoid making hasty decisions.
- Take a break: When facing a difficult and emotionally charged situation, try to wait a bit before responding or deciding.
- Another key emotional tool is to accept the reality that uncertainty is a part of the work environment. If we confront these feelings with a positive attitude, we will increase our chances of finding helpful solutions for ourselves and our co-workers and our organization.
- Identifying what you like best about your job and finding a way to spend more time dedicated to what motivates you the most and still dedicate yourself with full attention to that task you don't like as much.
- High-Five yourself for each accomplished objective.
Social Awareness: This is being aware of other people's emotions aside yourself:
- Be empathetic. Try to put yourself in other people's shoes.
- Practice active listening. Don't be too hasty to speak neither should you interrupt the speaker. Take in the accurate information before expressing your opinion.
- Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Relationship Management: Knowing how to relate with other workers while understanding their emotions:
- Nurture an understanding of the person you are speaking to. We are all different; this affects how we relate, communicate, interact, and adapt.
- Learn the act of persuasion.
- Learn to communicate effectively. Be clear and concise.
- Identify your emotional triggers and discuss them with your teammates.
- Speak at lunch with a coworker who you don't know very well.
- Show a willingness to be more approachable by asking a teammate for feedback on a project.
- Avoid complaining no matter what, for an entire week.
With improved emotional intelligence, stronger relationships can be built in the workplace leading to harmony among the work force, workers will be more positive and confident in their performance.
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1. Temitope Fadare, Personal Assistant to the Managing Partner, SPA Ajibade & Co., Lagos, NIGERIA.
2. Bhavana Arora (2017) Importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, Internal Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences (IJEAS) Volume 4, Issue 4, p. 1.
3. Mayer and Salovey (1997) "What is emotional intelligence?" In Emotional Development and EI: Implications for Educators, P. Salovey and D.J. Sluter (eds.), New York pp. 3-31. Basic Book.
4. Kristine Fuge (2014) Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. MFSRC Conference Minnesota.
5. See generally, Goleman, D. (1998). Working with Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury.
6. Radhika Kapour (2018). Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, International Research Journal. ISSN 2277-9809.
7. Nel, M. (2001). An industrial psychological investigation into the relationship between emotional intelligence in the call centre environment. Masters Thesis, University of Stellenbosch, Department of Industrial Psychology, South Africa.
8. Lopes, P.N., Grewal, D., Kadis, J., Gall, M., & Salovey, P. (2006). 'Evidence that emotional Intelligence is related to job performance and affects attitudes at work.' Psicothema, 18, 132-138.
9. K.V Petrides, A. Furnham (2000) 'On the dimensional structure of emotional intelligence', in Personality and Individual differences 29(2), 313-320.
10. George, J.M. (2000). 'Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence', Human Relations, 53, 1027-1055.
11. Daniel Goleman (1995) Emotional Intelligence, pp. 44-45.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.