Emotional intelligence and the workplace

By Maxwell Ranasinghe, Senior Lecturer - Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing

EI emphasizes the capacity to perceive emotions, and manage them effectively. In practice, your success in the workplace depends on your ability to handle yourself. It is proven that IQ takes second position to emotional intelligence in determining outstanding job performance.

Education and technical skills will not make star performers. Previously it was thought education and technical skills were the assured path to success.

Now it has been revealed gaining this makes them more emotionally unbalanced, as evident in youth problems such as drug abuse, inability to take criticism, etc. Positive impacts of Emotional Intelligence

Maxwell Ranasinghe

1. Improvement in personal productivity
2. Development of leadership qualities
3. Ability in handling conflicts
4. Create satisfaction in customers
5. Holistic approach to problem solving
6. Reduce labour turnover
7. Happier workforce and industrial peace

Core areas of emotional intelligence

According to Daniel Goleman there are two basic areas of competencies that create emotional intelligence, Personal competence and Social competence.
Personal competence

A. Self- awareness
Knowing one's internal state, preferences, resources and intuitions matter.

B. Self-regulation
Managing one's internal states, impulses and resources

C. Motivation
Emotional tendencies that guide or facilitate reaching goals
Social competence
These competencies determine how we handle relationships with others.

A. Empathy
Awareness of others' feelings, needs and concerns

B. Social skills
Ability in inducing desirable responses in others
Personnel who require emotional intelligence
Byron Stock & Associates, emotional intelligence training experts say that almost all levels of staff need training in emotional intelligence. They have specially listed the following categories and elaborated why they should have emotional intelligence.

A). Executives
Executives must make decisions that make or break their companies. They must rely on more people to achieve results for which they are personally held accountable. This pressure can create feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression. High EI skills are the distinguishing characteristics that separate star performing executives from average ones.

B). High potential people
Unforeseen events occur that delay or derail critical business initiatives. They have daily contact with customers, suppliers and even competitors who are often irate. These situations cause anxiety and fear and lead to poor decisions and multi-million dollar blunders.

C). Managers and Supervisors
Managers' and Supervisors' behaviour and treatment of people determine turnover and retention. They influence the attitudes, performance, and satisfaction of employees. Enhancing EI skills enable them to regulate their emotions.

D). Team leaders
Team leaders are accountable for maintaining a positive environment where diverse, non-local individuals can work together. They must eliminate roadblocks and organizational barriers. Enhancing EI skills enables them to maintain a positive attitude.

E). Sales people
They often find themselves in adversarial situations over price, features, etc. They can generate anxiety, fear, or anger. Enhancing EI skills allows sales people to have more control and empathize with the customer.

Teams shoulder responsibility for major organizational initiatives. They are under pressure to work smoothly with people they may never meet. It's normal to feel angry when a team member doesn't deliver, resources are taken away, and you are still expected to meet tight deadlines.

G). Customer Service Representatives
Customer Service Representatives deal with angry, frustrated customers. They find themselves being verbally abused through no fault of theirs. Enhancing EI skills can help manage their emotional reactiveness to angry customers.

H). Technical Professionals
Technical Professionals are challenged to create and interact with a multitude of people and do tasks they would like to avoid. This could cause agitation Negative emotions cause "emotional hijacking" - a physiological response in the brain that literally keeps people from thinking clearly. Enhancing EI skills enables them to manage their own emotional reactiveness.

A practical approach in improving one's emotional intelligence

1. Take responsibility for your emotions and happiness.
2. Examine your feelings rather than the actions or motives of other people.
3. Learn to relax when your emotions are running high and get up and move when you are feeling down.
4. Look for the humour or life's lesson in a negative situation.
5. Be honest with yourself. Acknowledge your negative feelings, look for their source, and come up with a way to solve the underlying problem.

7. Show respect by respecting other people's feelings.
8. Avoid people who invalidate or don't respect your feelings.
9. Listen twice as much as you talk.

10. Pay attention to non-verbal communication: We communicate with our whole selves. Watch faces, listen to tone of voice and take note of body language.

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