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Using Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

The Unsung Power of Emotional Intelligence - and How to Use Yours

Emotional intelligence - the ability to perceive, understand, and manage our emotions - isn't just about getting in touch with your feelings; it's a valuable skill that can help you achieve more in the workplace. Here's how to harness your emotional intelligence to foster professional success.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Everyone has different personality traits, along with varying wants, needs and ways of showing emotion. Emotionally intelligent people are able to recognize their emotions, determine the meanings behind them, and realize how their responses to emotional triggers can affect other people around them. At the same time, emotionally intelligent people are also able to better perceive the emotions of others and respond in thoughtful ways.

People with high emotional intelligence are often more successful in social situations, because they can manage relationships more effectively. They also tend to be more productive in work environments, because they are more resilient and tend to work better with others.

Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

High emotional intelligence can be a great advantage in workplaces in which interpersonal relationships help to determine the success of the company and its employees. There are all sorts of strategies for improving emotional intelligence in the workplace. That said, most center on five basic fundamentals:

  • Self-awareness : Identifying personal emotions, limitations and triggers
  • Self-regulation : Managing emotions so they don't have a negative effect on relationships
  • Motivation : An inner drive that results from the personal joy experienced after a positive interaction or accomplishment
  • Empathy : Recognizing, understanding and experiencing the emotions of another person
  • Social skills : Interacting and negotiating with other people to find the best way to fulfill the needs of each person

There are several ways you can improve your emotional intelligence, including:

Don't judge or dismiss your feelings too quickly. We all experience confusing or uncomfortable emotions from time to time. It's quite common for people to judge their feelings as being inappropriate or excessive based on the situation. Avoid dismissing your feelings before you've had an opportunity to think them through. Healthy emotions tend to come on like waves - rising, peaking and then ultimately fading naturally. It's important not to cut off your emotions before the wave has peaked. Many times, the more we fight against emotions, the more intense they become. In professional settings, this may require taking some time to analyze your feelings before making definitive decisions about a person or project.

Evaluate your emotional strengths and weaknesses. How well do you communicate and cooperate with others? Do you find yourself feeling angry, impatient or annoyed often? Does this impede your ability to resolve conflicts, make good business decisions, stay cool under pressure and respond to constructive criticism? Are there ways you can deal with these feelings more effectively? By recognizing your weaknesses, you can look for ways to improve shortcomings.

Learn to listen. The best conversationalists tend to listen more than they speak. Highly emotionally intelligent people understand that people feel stifled and frustrated when they don't have an opportunity to express themselves. Make sure you take the time to actively listen while someone is talking, instead of mentally preparing a response. Listening intently doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree with everything you hear. It is simply a considerate way of encouraging the speaker to feel comfortable about opening up and sharing ideas. Thoughtful listening is also a good way to cultivate patience, while projecting a more empathetic, trustworthy image. It can also pave a path toward better understanding, allowing you to find common ground with team members, managers and subordinates.

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