How Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Your Career?

How Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Your Career?
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 16 August, 2022

Call it business all you like, but the truth is working with others is a social situation and your interactions with colleagues, more often than not, reach others on a personal level.

But before you get into the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, let’s backtrack a bit. What is emotional intelligence exactly? How does it help your career prospects?

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Psychologist Daniel Golman first coined the term "emotional intelligence." According to him, emotional intelligence is how well you can manage your emotions, how well you can sense other people's emotions, and how you can make the best actions and decisions for everyone’s emotional well-being. An author and journalist who has written extensively about this matter, Golman also says that it is the primary factor for career success.

Here are the five components of emotional intelligence according to his book:

1. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to control and process our emotions. It comes in very handy during a conflict at work, as people with self-regulation can soothe the stress and negative sentiments, which challenge their composure occasionally. It allows them to speak logically and unbiasedly when communicating solutions to problems.

2. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to detect your current thoughts and feelings and discern which of those are rational and irrational. It’s also how to observe your actions objectively and see how you are affecting those around you.

3. Motivation

Motivation is the capacity to get you moving to accomplish goals and obligations. Motivation is an internal trait – it is not rooted in outside inspirations and pick-me-ups. It is the internal compass that gives you the passion and willpower to do the things you need to do.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the power to sense and relate to others' feelings. It is a crucial skill when interacting with your colleagues, so you can meet their emotional needs when working together.

5. Social skills

Social skills vary per environment. It is the ability to sense what behaviours and customs everyone in a particular group expects. It also refers to the capability to conform to those standards. For example, in Asian countries, it is a social skill to bow to others and offer food for guests to enjoy. In Western countries, social skills tend to be more individualistic and assertive. Observing social skills allows you to be a chameleon and thrive in any situation.

The Difference Between Cognitive Intelligence And Emotional Intelligence

Cognitive intelligence is all about logic and problem-solving, while emotional intelligence is about being able to sense emotions for effective decision-making of what to do and say. You will ideally need to balance these two types of intelligence to succeed at work.

In the workplace, IQ often falls under “hard skills” and EQ falls under “soft skills.” Your hard skills based on IQ are what you will see on your resume. However, your soft skills – such as your relationships with your colleagues, the dynamic you bring to your team, and how present you are for the individuals you work with – are what will leave a lasting impression on people throughout your career.

Can You Learn Emotional Intelligence?

In the same way you develop cognitive intelligence at school, you can train yourself to be more emotionally intelligent through social experiences. Mistakes are part of the journey because each time you say the wrong thing, cause ire from your colleagues, or even merit dire consequences from your wrongdoings, you learn how to act and respond better. Treat them as lessons and try a different approach in the future until we find the most effective way to deal with those around us.

Here are some tips to help you develop your emotional intelligence:

1. Practise being assertive when you communicate.

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but emotional intelligence starts from within! Being aware of your own needs can help you learn to express them in a way that others can meet them. You’ll also be much more capable of picking up emotional signals from others and communicating with them. Everyone being on the same page and working toward the same goal can only be beneficial.

2. Observe others.

Most communication is nonverbal. It means you can pick up a lot from another's facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Open your eyes to how people behave around you, and you’ll unlock a world of information and insight that you can use to make the best decisions on what to say and do to ensure everyone is in harmony and gets their needs met.

3. Bring out the leader in you.

People with high EQ make great leaders. If you know how people are feeling and how to make everyone feel valued, you should apply it so people can follow your example. See if you can motivate others. The more people who get to develop a high EQ in the workplace, the more your organisation will thrive.

4. Approach criticism with an open mind.

Remember you are not perfect. Even the best workers can still improve now and then. Instead of closing off or firing back at criticism, try to see where the other person is coming from. Hear them out, try their advice, and see if they have less feedback to give you next time. Don't forget to compromise so you can meet each other's expectations.

Listen to areas you should work on but also put these comments vis-a-vis your own self-awareness. Often, a person's negative remarks toward others reflect personal insecurities and unmet needs. There's a fine line between improving and pandering and people-pleasing.

5. Have control over your mood despite external factors.

One person's grouchy attitude can quickly dampen the morale of a whole company. Emotional intelligence is also about identifying your feelings and separating them from the feelings of others around you. Just because people around you are in a sombre mood doesn’t mean you have to be affected by it. Maintain your peace, and that peace may rub off on the people near you to turn the outside situation into something more positive, too.

Mastering Emotional Intelligence Can Make You a Boss

The most powerful person in an organisation is the one who has enough influence to control the outcomes of work and work relationships within the company. Control, in this case, means control over the situation, not controlling others.

People who have mastered emotional intelligence gain their colleagues' trust and loyalty. Having these will make them motivated to listen to you. People will gladly follow your lead if you have shown them that you care for their well-being and know how to make them feel valued at work.

You may still have superiors who operate on force and intimidation, but their employees will not stick with them for long. A strong foundation of emotional intelligence from management is the key to building a solid team that is happy to work together. When a manager leads with empathy, each individual in the company will emulate their example.

Developing your emotional intelligence will help your professional and personal life exponentially. Humans are social creatures, and most of your successes are only made possible with good relationships and teamwork. It may be the most valuable thing in life you can ever learn – and the most fulfilling because once you master social skills, they may take you further than your cognitive skills.

Check out our Career Resources page or download JobStreet’s app available on the App Store and Google Play for more tips that can guide you in navigating your career. It also offers expert insights and advice that could help you develop emotional intelligence and share it with your colleagues in the workplace.

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