Emotional intelligence in today’s workplace

Emotional Intelligence or EQ is emotional awareness and the ability to regulate how you interpret the way people, events, and other variables make you feel. Someone with a high EQ maintains clarity of thought and sensitivity to others’ emotional states even under stress and volatile conditions. In a world of ‘the new normal,’ such awareness gives you a leg up when dealing with pervasive uncertainty. 

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How You Can Develop Emotional Intelligence?

The workplace can be highly stressful, especially now as we navigate remote work and the changing expectations of both employees and employers. Mental health in the workplace is being discussed more than ever before. Understanding and managing our emotions helps us make good decisions. Emotional Intelligence gives you the ability to control your emotions and respond to the emotions of others in a constructive way.

Many business leaders believe EQ might matter more than IQ. Fast Company recently dubbed it “a superpower for managing uncertainty and ambiguity. It allows us to improve our communication, display empathy for others, and resolve conflict, making for a healthier and more supportive work environment.

Good leaders are sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of their team. They can provide emotional support when needed and understand the necessary balance between personal and professional. 

Good leaders create productive environments of support and teamwork.

Emotional intelligence: A natural sign of maturity

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” – Tom Brokaw

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How Important is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace?

From Gaining insight: A study about the importance of EQ in the workplace (Emotional Competence and Leadership Excellence at Johnson & Johnson)

(2) A study conducted by Cavallo (2006) in which more than 1400 employees took part in an 83 question multi-rater survey measuring a variety of competencies associated with leadership, including those commonly referred to as Emotional Intelligence. The results showed that the highest performing managers have significantly more “emotional competence” than other managers.

There was strong agreement among Supervisors, Peers, and Subordinates that the competencies of Self Confidence, Achievement Orientation, Initiative, Leadership skills, social intelligence, emotional regulation, Influence, and Change Catalyst differentiate superior performers. 

High-performing managers at the Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Personal Care Group were seen to possess significantly higher levels of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Skills, and Organizational Savvy. All of these are considered part of the Emotional Intelligence domain. 

Emotional competence differentiates successful leaders.

Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

  1. Self-awareness: There are several types of self-awareness, including knowledge of one’s character, feelings, motives, desires, and emotional skills.
  2. Self-regulation: Recognizing and managing your emotions, behavior, and reactions. The ability to control impulses.
  3. Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of others, especially in a difficult situation. It can be either emotional or cognitive empathy.
  4. Social Awareness: The skills we use every day to interact and communicate with others, including their emotional responses to the work environment.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

  1. Anxiety and Stress Reduction: Proper stress management leads to a healthy working environment. Better regulation of your emotions will keep things more calm and manageable at the office.
  2. Conflict Resolution: Having a high EQ allows you to express empathy and understanding toward your colleagues. When you understand your team, you can help iron out the wrinkles between team member
  3. Relationship Management: Understanding what your clients’ needs are emotionally is a powerful tool for building a long-lasting relationship.

“If the driving force of intelligence in twentieth-century business has been IQ, then . . . in the dawning twenty-first century, it will be EQ” – (Cooper & Sawaf, 1997)

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Improving Your Team’s Emotional Intelligence

Understanding emotional intelligence will allow you to create a positive and driven environment at work. You can first build your EQ skills through thoughtful practice, then help instill these same skills and values within your team. 

Daniel Goleman, whose book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ is still the go-to resource on EQ, wrote a recent article in the Harvard Business Review about boosting your Emotional Intelligence with three easy questions:

  • What are the differences between how you see yourself and how others see you? How you see yourself often differs from how others see you. Give yourself an external reality check by soliciting feedback from others. We’re often biased in our self-perceptions or completely unaware of the ways we express and understand our emotional interactions. 
  • What matters to you? After you’ve processed the input you receive, choose to work on items at the intersection of the feedback and the areas that are most important to you. Think of your goals and see how improving components of your EQ overlay or impact them. This provides much-needed motivation as EQ development is a long game.
  • What changes will you make to achieve these goals? Once you know which skills you want to work on, list the specific ways you’ll do it. Be precise. The more specific you are, the better you can turn it into a habit. Look for every opportunity to practice your developing EQ skill. This conditions your brain to behave in the way you desire when assessing the emotional impact of everyday scenarios.

As a leader, developing your emotional intelligence will make you more attuned to the nuances of the emotional states and motivations of the people around you. It also allows you to assess and react to a rapidly changing world with a clear head. You can grow your EQ with focused dedication and practice.

Common Questions

Why is emotional intelligence important?2021-09-18T21:09:40+00:00

Emotional intelligence Is your ability to understand and respond to your emotions in ways that generate positive outcomes in everything from personal relationships to career advancement. Strong emotional intelligence allows you to manage stress and emotions that can impact your health, undermine your career, make social situations awkward, and even prematurely age you.

Mastering your emotional intelligence can make you a more consistent and reliable friend, colleague, and leader.

Are there industries where EQ is more important than others?2021-09-18T21:11:26+00:00

Yes, EQ is particularly important in the service industry, especially when handling customer complaints. However, any time people are involved, emotional intelligence is important.

How is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) different from regular intelligence (IQ)?2021-09-18T21:12:05+00:00

IQ is a measure of your ability to solve problems, use logic, and grasp complex ideas. EQ is a measure of your ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and use that awareness to guide your decisions.

Why do we talk about “Emotions” when discussing the workplace?2021-09-18T21:13:02+00:00

Emotions drive behavior, and how we behave in the workplace impacts organizational success. Emotionally intelligent people typically build stronger relationships and achieve greater success in life.

Does possessing a high Emotional Intelligence help you succeed?2021-09-18T21:13:54+00:00

An emotionally intelligent person can control their behavior/emotions and perceive those of others well. Through awareness and self-regulation, we place ourselves in a calm, clear mindset conducive to success.

How can I improve my Emotional Intelligence?2021-09-18T21:14:31+00:00

First, take a deep breath. Here are 10 ways from Inc.com:

  1. Utilize an assertive style of communicating.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate their opinions and needs directly while still respecting others.

  1. Respond instead of reacting to conflict.

An emotionally intelligent person knows how to stay calm during stressful situations. They understand in conflict the goal is resolution, and they make conscious choices to focus on that outcome.

  1. Utilize active listening skills.

Emotionally intelligent people listen for clarity instead of waiting for their turn to speak. They also pay attention to the nonverbal details of a conversation, helping to prevent misunderstandings.

  1. Be motivated.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-motivated. They set goals and persist through challenges.

  1. Practice ways to maintain a positive attitude.

Emotionally intelligent people know what they need to do to have a good day and an optimistic outlook. 

  1. Practice self-awareness.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware, intuitive, and they also pick up on others’ emotions and body language.

  1. Take criticism well.

Instead of getting offended or defensive, high EQ people take a few moments to understand where the critique is coming from and how they can constructively resolve their issues.

  1. Empathize with others.

Emotionally intelligent understand that empathy helps them to relate to others on a basic human level. It opens the door for mutual respect and understanding.

  1. Utilize leadership skills.

Emotionally intelligent people have high standards for themselves and set an example for others to follow. They take initiative and have great decision-making and problem-solving skills. 

  1. Be approachable and sociable.

Emotionally intelligent people smile and give off a positive presence. They utilize appropriate social skills based on their relationship with whomever they are around. 


Brian Abbey is a freelance writer with 25 years experience in tech, marketing, higher education, and startups. An American, now living in Romania, he  creates content for multinational firms in Asia, Europe, and the United States, garnering over 100K readers on topics ranging from medical trends to artificial intelligence and university student engagement.

This is one of our executive briefings taken from our series of professional online business short courses from ELL. We have over 150 courses online with over 1,000 hours of e-learning covering a wide range of topics across leadership, management and personal & professional development created by industry experts and learning professionals.

Emotional Intelligence Course

Emotional Intelligence or EQ (Emotional Quotient) is one of the fundamental skills of adult and working life, at the heart of self-awareness and self-management. Your ability to react, your motivation and overall behaviour, both personally and professionally, are governed by your EQ levels and it is an area of growth every adult should have as part of their personal development.

By the end of this course you will have learnt concepts in how to:

  • Understand the importance of emotional awareness in your life and work
  • Be aware of ways to self manage and self regulate your instinctive responses
  • Make a powerful impact and difference in all you do in all walks of your life

In each of our business courses, you get access to around six hours of e-learning that you can watch, listen and read. There are usually 100 questions and at the end of the course you will receive a certificate of completion that you can use against any personal or professional development requirements. As well as the course, you also receive a FREE e-book that you can read on your Kindle or other e-reader. You also get a FREE audiobook of the course so you can listen to the whole course uninterrupted on your device.

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