Emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) is one of the most in-demand skills in 2020. So, what is emotional intelligence? Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry explains that emotional intelligence ‘is the other kind of smart’. It is that intangible ‘something’ that helps us tune into the kaleidoscope of human emotions, and measures how adept we are at adjusting our behaviour depending on the mood of a colleague, partner, family member, or even our own internal feelings. It is critical for managers, and involves cultivating empathy and human understanding.
Emotional intelligence has become more essential in the workplace because we’ve become more collaborative. Today we work largely in teams rather than in isolation and savvy companies are realising that recognising emotions exist can lead to healthier environments. The five components of emotional intelligence are:
People with higher emotional intelligence are more likely to be aware of their own, and others’ emotions and act accordingly. They are also more adaptable to change – a must in our fast changing digital age where tasks are more likely to be automated as we place our trust in machines to take over duties.
So how can you boost your emotional intelligence?
Improve your listening skills – Most people are by nature bad listeners. According to the Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab, people spend 60% of their conversations talking about themselves; and when others are talking, we are busy trying to come up with a response – so we are not really listening.
It is important to wait until some has finished talking before you respond, ask questions – be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say and pay attention to our talk/listen ratio.
Manage stress more effectively – Sometimes easier said than done!! It is all too easy to lose your cool when you are busy and a co-worker (or your boss) is demanding your attention; but emotionally intelligent people understand the importance of de-escalating anxiety whenever possible.
In this situation, you can manage stress by relinquishing some control, and admitting that you may need extra help.
Give good feedback – Emotionally intelligent people are good communicators and giving good feedback is part of the skill – even if it might be negative.
Thinking about how you are going to deliver the feedback, and what you are going to say – rather than just blurting it out can have a major impact. Try to make feedback constructive, rather than destructive.
Evaluate your empathy – Always try to put yourself in another person’s shoes if you don’t understand where they are coming from. Becoming more empathetic starts with being curious about why others are behaving the way they are. Try to understand their emotions – even if you don’t agree. Share your own thoughts and feelings – nothing builds trust faster than being open yourself.
Emotional intelligence is not only a transferrable soft skill that is now considered just as important as other soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and attention to detail; it is a skill that can make a candidate more competitive and successful in the job market. Companies that are hiring want to ensure that they choose candidates who will integrate as seamlessly as possible into exiting teams. As a result, organisations are now testing for emotional intelligence as part of their hiring processes. Even the smartest person needs good people skills and no longer is IQ alone enough!