Emotions are an important ingredient of our life. They have always grabbed the attention of psychologists interested in understanding human behaviour. In our daily life, emotions play a vital role in shaping our thinking pattern which, in turn, influences our actions. Hence, our thought processes, behaviours and general outlook on life are all governed by our emotional experiences. Moreover, they have substantial influence on our social interactions which consequently determines our behaviour towards other beings. Therefore, it is important to recognize and understand own and other people’s emotions to better manage an interaction.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
The psychological theory that humans have the ability to identify and manage emotions was developed by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in the 1990s, who called it “Emotional intelligence” or “Emotional Quotient (EQ)”. This concept was then popularised by Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, in which he argued that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learnt and thus, redefined the qualities necessary to be smart. He wrote about the following characteristics which represent five pillars of emotional intelligence:
- Self-Awareness: The ability of a person to recognize and understand his own emotions and moods, and their effect on other people.
- Self-regulation: Having the ability to control one’s feelings and expressing them appropriately and effectively without repressing them.
- Motivation: Emotionally intelligent people have interest in continued learning and self-improvement. Instead of being motivated by external rewards or threats of punishment, an inner ambition and sense of right and wrong motivates them.
- Empathy: The ability to understand others’ emotions and their reactions – putting oneself in someone else’s shoes.
- Social Skills: This covers a wide variety of skills. By being, say, a good listener or trustworthy, the individual’s personality becomes more charismatic and attractive to others.
If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Principles of emotional intelligence can help employees navigate workplace situations, e.g. it would make them a good team member and generally perform better. In the context of corporate workplace, emotional intelligence is considered a valuable asset. Employers look for people that are self-motivated and will actively participate in making their business a success. And this can only be possible if they have employees with high EQ.
According to a study by the World Economic Forum in 2016, emotional intelligence is one of the top ten skills that employees need by the year 2020. Therefore, it is worth investing time and money in improving the emotional intelligence of employees. People can also work on improving this skill independently of their employers. Life coaches and psychological consultants like the ones provided by Ed-Watch can help learn better communication and social skills and self-management techniques.
Benefits of employing individuals with a high level of EQ
- It helps employees to better understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as the impact of their actions on other people including their colleagues.
- High EQ individuals may accept constructive criticism more readily. They are self-motivated, which makes them better learners.
- Such people can cope well with stressful situations. Having high EQ assists them to better collaborate with others, manage conflicts and learn from their mistakes.
- These individuals have an optimistic approach towards problems, which allows them to promote higher team morale and assist others in tapping into their creativity.
- People with high EQ are generally considered to be happier, flexible and creative because they know how to channelize their emotional energy.
Emotional intelligence is quickly becoming a part of our future working lives. It is much needed in order to manage personal level of stress, which plays an important role in both our professional and personal lives. By learning to pay attention to how we feel and behave and by taking responsibility of our own feelings, everyone involved will benefit with a higher level of satisfaction about the outcome, hence resulting in a win-win situation.
The author, Aqsa Fayyaz, is part of the team of clinical psychology consultants at Ed-Watch. She also works as a Psychology Course Instructor at PNS Shifa Hospital and is providing free mental health counseling sessions at UMANG over their helpline.