Monday, April 27, 2009

Emotional Intelligence – How important it is in workplace

Emotional Intelligence as a necessity in workplace is fast gaining popularity these days. It has been observed and shown that because of their wide range of abilities, people with high emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life than those with lower EQ (emotional quotient) even if their general IQ is average.

But before delving into its importance, let’s consider what it is all about.

Emotional intelligence as a concept was made popular by Daniel Goleman in his world famous book -- 'Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ', which is based on research by various eminent scientists such as Peter Salovey, John Meyer, Howard Gardner, etc. In simpler words, Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions.

Similarly, Emotional Quotient is defined as a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods, and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation.

Actually, it is not hard to see what we are talking about here. Leaving aside the management jargon, it is as simple as being strong both physically and emotionally and to withstand emotional pressures at work. Even in our day to day life, we all are aware of certain people who simple cannot get hold of their emotions. They are too emotional to talk to. We avoid talking to certain type of persons who react rather strongly to things.There are some who cry at slightest trouble (especially women), some lose their temper at slightest provocation (especially men) and some who react even violently to certain situations.

This is exactly, what is being termed as emotional intelligence. That is intelligence to know and understand your emotions and not only understand but also being able to control them. So, when a person can understand his/her own reactions to situations and people, they are able to behave in much more appropriate manner at the workplace. And they are considered as more “matured” and reasonable to work with, for obvious reasons. Add to this the ability to understand other people also; relate to their situation, show understanding of their particular problem or issue , from their point of view and you get a person who can deal with people, understand their moods and issues and work accordingly. Who would not want to work with such people?

So, How does this behavioral intelligence translates into workplace success?

An employee with high emotional intelligence can manage and control his or her own impulses, communicate with others effectively by understanding others better and listening to them more effectively, handle unexpected changes easily, adapts to various situations, and solves problems. These employees are generally optimistic and do not react too overtly to any situation. The clarity in thinking and their composure in stressful and chaotic situations separates top performers from weak performers in the workplace. Obviously such people are a boon for any organization, but the vice versa is also true. That is, many people who are otherwise of average intelligence and good technical skills but emotionally weak lose out in career growth because of their weakness in controlling their emotions.

Experts have identified some emotional intelligence competencies that have been proven to contribute more to workplace achievement than technical skills, cognitive ability, and standard personality traits. These are but not limited to:

1. Empathy: Our awareness of others' feelings, needs, and concerns. This helps to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives, and showing an active interest in their concerns and interests. Also those in customer handling positions are able to anticipate, recognize, and meet customers' needs.

2. Social Skills. Getting other people to respond to you in a certain way or getting the desired responses from others. This is especially useful if you are in leadership position and can use these skills to influence subordinates and get desired results.

3. Personal Competencies: These skills help to manage our own emotions through self awareness, preferences, and intuition. Being aware of one's strengths and weaknesses leads to self-confidence and allows such people to effectively use their strengths while trying to improve on the weaknesses.

4. Restrain negative feelings and Reinforce positive behavior: the ability to control negativities such as anger and self-doubt, and instead focus on positive ones such as confidence and congeniality.

5. Maintaining good balance between work and family: Another important skill is to have a healthy work –family balance. As human beings it is good to have a cushion against negativity in any one sphere of life. We need to have a good strong family support system to help us enjoy both aspects of life.

Therefore, it is a good idea to spend some time getting to know one self and our responses in typical situations. Getting a better handle on your emotions will lead you to have a better control and progress in your careers.

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