My Journey Exploring the Power of Emotional Intelligence in Professional Settings

Oct 5 / Bianca Chio, Assoc CIPD
Investing in emotional intelligence isn't just beneficial for individuals, it's essential for fostering positive workplace relationships, enhancing leadership abilities, and achieving personal growth. Discover the power of EQ and take your career to new heights!

My Interpretation of Emotional Intelligence: A Deep Dive

As a people professional with over 15 years of international experience in multiple settings, I have experienced a multitude of leaders and employees with diverse levels of EQ. In time I've come to understand Emotional Intelligence, often referred to as EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient), as the capacity of a person to understand, interpret, and manage their own emotions.

This fascinating idea was popularized by the acclaimed psychologist Daniel Goleman. He identified five essential aspects of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In my experience, these elements collectively shape a person's emotional intelligence and significantly impact their interactions, decisions, and overall personal and professional life. In the new HR era, EQ must take its place in the people's department.

My Interpretation of Emotional Intelligence: A Deep Dive

Although it's often classified as a 'soft skill', I've observed the profound impact of emotional intelligence on professional success, and more so for everyone in the people profession. Here's why I believe it matters for everyone:

1. Promotes Positive Workplace Relationships:
I've seen firsthand how a high degree of emotional intelligence can drastically improve workplace relationships. Colleagues who demonstrate high EQ, are better able to get a clear understanding of colleagues' (or clients') viewpoints, possess efficient conflict resolution abilities, and cultivate healthy relationships based on mutual respect. This creates a more congenial and productive work environment, fostering collaboration and teamwork with a direct impact on organisational success.

2. Drives Effective Leadership:
While working with different HR leaders in various projects, I have noticed that those with high emotional intelligence are usually more successful. They have the ability to inspire and motivate their teams, navigate stressful scenarios with grace, and make decisions considering their emotional impact on team members. Such leaders cultivate a positive work culture and guide their teams towards achieving organizational goals. Of course, tough decisions have to be made, but how someone communicates can make a difference. Constructive criticism, for example, is better received if communicated with grace and empathy.

3. Catalyzes Personal Growth:
In my role, I've seen how emotional intelligence is instrumental in personal development. It helps individuals to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, set realistic goals, manage stress, and improve adaptability. This contributes to increased self-confidence and resilience, which are essential for career progress and personal fulfilment.

Strategies for Developing and Enhancing Emotional Intelligence Skills

In my experience, improving emotional intelligence is a slow process, but with steady work and commitment, these skills can be sharpened. Here are some strategies I often recommend to my clients:

1. Cultivate Self-Awareness
: I find that mindfulness and self-reflection can offer deeper insights into one's emotions and reactions. This self-examination can help people identify patterns and triggers in their behaviour, facilitating better management of their responses. No, I am not asking you to light candles and imagine yourself on an empty beach, but have a moment and ask yourself questions: Why do I feel this way? Did I do everything possible? Could I have done something different? Would I change something if I had to do it all over again? Honest reflection has helped me navigate challenging situations better.

2. Develop Empathy
: Empathy involves understanding others' feelings and perspectives. In my diversity and inclusion projects, I always stress active listening and showing genuine interest in others' experiences, fostering stronger connections and mutual understanding. Some people are more empathetic than others and are able to naturally connect with others. But listening to understand is also powerful. The manager's role is to understand their team's perspectives, and the employee needs to understand their manager's. Mutual understanding is, in my opinion, a critical factor for employee well-being in general.

3. Master Effective Communication
: I believe that refining communication skills involves expressing thoughts and feelings in a clear, respectful manner. This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication elements, such as body language and tone of voice, which significantly affect how your message is perceived by others.

Why I Advocate for Investing in Emotional Intelligence

I always encourage investment in raising emotional intelligence awareness, as it can yield significant benefits such as... :

1. Boosting Job Satisfaction:
In my experience, employees with high EQ often report greater job satisfaction. They are better equipped to handle stress, resolve conflicts, and build positive relationships, all of which contribute to a more satisfying professional experience. On the other hand, they are 'walking EQ radars' as they are the first to grasp when something is not right and potentially be the first to leave (or quietly quit) the organisation when they start feeling disconnected.

2. Enhancing Performance:
Various studies have highlighted the strong correlation between high EQ and job performance. Emotionally intelligent individuals are more adaptable, able to navigate challenges effectively and show higher levels of productivity and efficiency. Isn't this a crucial skill to have in this era dominated by continuous volatility and change?

3. Building Resilience Under Pressure
: In performance management projects, I've seen how a high EQ can enable individuals to remain composed under pressure, allowing them to make rational decisions even in stressful circumstances. This resilience is highly valued in fast-paced work environments where quick, effective decision-making is crucial.

In conclusion, as an HR specialist, I consider emotional intelligence a crucial determinant in the professional sphere. Understanding and managing emotions helps individuals foster positive workplace relationships, enhance leadership abilities, and achieve significant personal growth. I strongly believe that investing in emotional intelligence is a worthwhile endeavor that promises considerable returns, contributing to both career success and personal well-being.