Emotional intelligence is important in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as “EQ”, is the term used to describe the ability to “perceive, control, and evaluate emotions” (Cherry, 2020). There is a strong need for emotional intelligence in the workplace. We all can think of someone in our office or on a video call who could stand to grow their emotional intelligence. But, the truth is that all of us can improve in this area, most likely.

Why emotional intelligence?

Strong emotional intelligence can help you lead people more effectively and take them through projects. Check out these four tips to help you grow your emotional intelligence.

Tip #1 Practice self-awareness.

Self-awareness sounds a lot more intense than it actually is. Self-awareness just means that you’re recognizing your feelings at a given moment. Amy McManus, who is a marriage and family therapist, defines this term. She said, “Self-awareness is [also] the ability to look at your own words and actions from a perspective outside of yourself; to see yourself as others see you.”

Managing your own emotions in the workplace is crucial. Clinical psychologist and author John Duffy asserts that if you can manage yourself at work, you can exert an impact on the whole environment. What kind of impact would you want to have?

Improve your self-awareness

Concordia University Ann Arbor’s Dean of Students, John Rathje MA, MDiv, SPM, NBCC, LPC, offers some tips for finding the space to practice self-awareness.

  • Take intentional time to breathe each day. Really, just turn your chair or walk away from everything and take a few deep breaths to settle your body and mind.
  • While you breathe, pray about what you’re experiencing at that moment. Talk to Jesus about what you’re feeling. He loves to hear from you with this kind of honesty, whatever it is.
  • Take intentional time – once a week at a minimum – to talk with someone you trust (pastor, clinical therapist, spouse, friend, etc.). Be honest and talk about how you’re doing in your spirit, mind, and body. This form of self-assessment leads to being aware of how you’re doing throughout every day so that you can make any needed changes to care for yourself, set boundaries with others, etc. Self-awareness is vital for healthy EQ.

Tip #2 Practice active listening.

The New York Times posted an article about improving your listening. (You can read it here.) In this article, author Adam Bryant suggests preparing your mind when you know you have a lot of listening ahead of you. Taking a walk to clear your mind can help calm your brain and body for a time of extended listening. It can be helpful to silence your phone and avoid checking email or social media beforehand. Additionally, it might seem obvious, but you shouldn’t check your phone while listening to someone unless it’s an unusual circumstance. It’s important to minimize and avoid distraction to show the person/people you’re listening to that you value them.

Tip #3 Learn how to take criticism effectively.

Abhi Golhar suggests: “Instead of getting offended or defensive, [emotionally intelligent] people take a few moments to understand where the critique is coming from, how it is affecting others or their own performance, and how they can constructively resolve any issues.”

This is easier said than done. If you struggle to take criticism well, it’s never too late to improve this skill. Remember that growth can take time, and learning to embrace criticism instead of defending yourself won’t happen overnight. Also, taking criticism well will help you be a more approachable teammate.

Tip #4 Consider your communication style

Before you think that you need to completely scrap the way you talk, pause for a moment. Thinking about how you speak, write, and act around others can feel deeply personal. Emotionally intelligent people find a way to be themselves while continuing to show empathy and respect to those around them.

Communicating in the midst of a problem can prove to be challenging. When things get heated over a tense business decision or personal conflict, emotionally intelligent people do their best to respond to the issue at hand instead of reacting to it (Golhar, 2021).

Are you ready to start growing your emotional intelligence?

These four tips are great, but how do you actually get started on growing your emotional intelligence? There is no right way to pursue growth in this area, but if you want to see long-term results, you could try journaling your progress on one of these items each week. If that’s not your style, you could talk about this growth with your director or a workplace mentor to build in some accountability.

How will you choose to approach growing your emotional intelligence?