Emotional Intelligence in the workplace
by Georgia Schumann
Not so long ago reputable employers would scramble to hire applicants with the highest IQ – those who showed a remarkable aptitude for a certain skill or subject, regardless of their well-roundedness or social skills. Over the past decade, however, emotional intelligence (EI) has gained value in the corporate world, as evidence increasingly shows the connection between EI and performance.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to Harvard Business Review, EI has four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Within those four domains are 12 elements. For example, within the domain of self-awareness there are two key competencies: organisational awareness and empathy.
The good news is that EI – also referred to as EQ – can be learned or developed over time.
“IQ is generally considered a ‘state’,” says Crystl Bateman, an industrial psychologist at The Change Lab. “This means that it will remain the same throughout one’s life. EQ, on the other hand, is considered more of a ‘trait’. It is more fluid and complex than IQ, with the ability to be developed or learned over time.
More and more today, we see corporates implementing programmes or coaching to develop EQ.”
Corporate coaching to facilitate EQ
Let’s say a certain hot-headed individual consistently loses his temper at work, upsetting his colleagues and prompting his manager to recommend coaching.
A corporate coach would first gain the employee’s commitment to the process. Thereafter, the coach and employee would make use of various tools and exercises to increase the employee’s self-awareness.
The coach would seek to help the employee understand:
- Why he reacts the way he does;
- How his behaviour is impacting others in the workplace; and
- How a change in behaviour might be beneficial.
“The success of corporate coaching has led larger corporates to put considerable effort into increasing internal coaching abilities, either within their change management or their HR teams,” says Crystl.
Emotional Intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness & relationship manage-ment.
Indicators of Emotional Intelligence
“Managers and employees displaying high EQ tend to be excellent team players,” says Crystl.
“They tend not to get involved in office politics. They are less defensive, and yet still assertive enough to make a contribution where required.
“They are attuned to others within the organisation – helpful, empathetic, and yet not absorbed by rescuing. In an interview environment, a candidate with a high EQ would appear comfortable and relaxed, displaying a high self-regard.”
Developing emotional intelligence in high stress environments
Strong management, coaching and a good mentor are the keys to facilitating learned emotional competencies.
Of course, other structures and habits that support one’s ability to respond calmly and intelligently within stressful environments are:
- Maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet; and
- Practising mindfulness throughout the day when completing simple tasks.
Harvard Business Review (2017). Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On?, [Online], Available: http://bit.ly/2jV5xWK, [6 February 2017]
In an interview, a candidate with high EQ appears comfortable and relaxed, displaying a high self-regard.