The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is extremely important to have in both your personal and work lives. It is defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Emotional intelligence allows you to connect with people and relate to others, and also allows you control over your emotions—so you can have thoughtful discussions as opposed to getting angry and yelling when you are upset.
EQ (Emotional Quotient) shouldn’t be confused with IQ (Intelligence Quotient). IQ is the measure of your intelligence, whereas EQ is strictly emotional. Although having a high IQ is good, it is more important to have the ability to control your emotions—especially in the workplace.
Components of EQ
There are 5 factors to Emotional Intelligence:
- Self-Awareness – Being aware of your emotions and the physical sensations associated with them, gives you the ability to know how to react to different people and various situations. People who are self-aware generally are self-confident too.
- Self-Regulation – Regulating your emotions, whilst difficult, is necessary to manage your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.
- Motivation – People who are self-motivated tend to be more positive and optimistic in their approach. They are more flexible with their work, and possess the ability to handle any situation with resiliency.
- Empathy – Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is very important, especially in leadership roles. It ensures a good mutual connection between employees, and helps you understand other people’s thoughts and opinions.
- Social Skills – Someone who can recognise other people’s emotions is a social skill, but being able to interact with them based on this information is another issue altogether. A high EQ person always cares for others and also tends to get along well with everyone.
Why is Emotional Intelligence important?
Your level of emotional intelligence can define your relationships. Being aware of the emotions of those around you cultivates compassion, and being able to control your emotions in stressful situations means you can supress the need to say something hurtful in the heat of the moment.
There are also links between emotional intelligence and personal health. If you have a lower EQ you are most likely to feel higher levels of stress and loneliness than someone with a high EQ. As humans, we tend to avoid people we associate negative emotions with. A low EQ person who gets into situations where they don’t understand the thoughts and feelings of another person, and reacts in a way that will negatively affect them, then they aren’t exactly someone others want to be around. They come across as rude and unfeeling, which isn’t the correct way to build relationships and make friends. This low EQ person will feel loneliness as a result of this alienation, and negative interactions only add to the stress.
As a high EQ person is the exact opposite, their lack of stress and loneliness means that they tend to have a better mental health, stronger immune system, lower blood sugar, and improved cardiovascular health.
Therefore, it is essential for anyone with a low EQ to learn how to recognise and react accordingly to the emotions of others—as well as their own—in order to improve both mental and physical health.
Why is Emotional Intelligence needed in leadership?
Emotional Intelligence is a part of being human, and helps you take care of yourself and others. EQ is essential in the workplace. Someone with a high EQ could inspire and lead others, and ensures strong relationships. It doesn’t matter if you excel at your job and have great workmanship; if you are incapable of understanding your team’s needs and working through issues with a degree of emotional awareness, it creates a negative atmosphere. A boss who doesn’t care that your child is sick and that you need to leave to take care of them, and only cares about your tasks being left incomplete, isn’t going to inspire motivation or even a desire from the workforce to do their jobs well.
Take a look at these examples of someone with a high EQ and someone with a low EQ:
High Emotional Intelligence:
- Good Listener
- Curious about people and their feelings
- Able to let go of mistakes
- Expect nothing in return for their help/kindness
Low Emotional Intelligence:
- Poor Listener
- No understanding/care about other people’s emotions
A leader with a high EQ can convey and relate to others better and in more effective ways; it cuts down any ego issues, allowing you to admit and learn from your mistakes; having control over your emotions allows you to have thoughtful discussions with your employees, and are more likely to achieve a positive outcome; it ensures leaders are good at listening and can take criticism positively; and helps you stay calm when under pressure.
All of these points are essential for any leader to work cohesively with their team and produce quality work. Being led by someone who doesn’t understand—or even want to understand—the feelings of others, is demanding, and takes out their stresses on you, doesn’t promote an emotionally healthy and motivated team. Employees are less likely to offer favours like putting in overtime to finish a task, preferring to do the bare minimum, and will more than likely quit rather than subject themselves to that kind of leadership.
How to improve your EQ?
There are seven ways to improve emotional intelligence:
- Reflect on your emotions: If you are more aware of your emotions, then you will know how to control them depending on the situation.
- Get perspective: What we see may not always be the truth. Get someone else’s perspective of emotional behaviour in the workplace and see if what you are both perceiving from a colleague is the same.
- Observe: Make sure you are observing other people’s emotions as well as your own, so you are aware of how to approach them in certain situations.
- Pause: Think twice before saying something you’ll regret later. In tense situations or discussions, take a breath before responding. It gives you time to decide what to say next, especially if your first thought was to respond in a negative way.
- Be empathetic: It’s so important you take the other person’s thoughts and feelings into consideration. Take a look at the “why” of their behaviour to better understand their motivation and how to help them.
- Choose to learn from criticism: No one likes to be criticised, even when it’s meant to be constructive. So we miss out on the opportunity to grow and become a better leader because of our ego. Take on the criticism, evaluate if there is any truth to it, and figure out how to improve—be honest with yourself!
- Practice, practice, practice: The only way you’ll be able to gain control over your emotions in all situations is to have patience and stay positive. Practice identifying other people’s emotional state as well as your own.
- Beware stress: Feeling stressed out can lead to being short-tempered and irritable, which makes controlling your emotions all the more difficult. Be aware that your emotions are more likely to leak out in conversation with others who have nothing to do with it, and you might come across like you are annoyed at them. Remind yourself what you are really annoyed about, and it will help separate it from other situations.
- Non-verbal communication: Your body can say a lot about you and your emotional state. Keep your body language open and relaxed no matter what you are feeling. That way your employees will know they can still approach you without risk of a negative reaction.
The perfect HPD courses for EQ development
At HPD we have various courses to help you become a better leader, and for your team to learn how to better communicate with each other. Our Personal Effectiveness Program is an inspiring personal development experience, which offers insight into understanding your personal impact, how you can help individuals understand themselves and others in their team, and improve their interpersonal dynamics.
Our Leadership Development Program is individually designed for all levels of leadership, from first line managers on their first rung, to strategic board workshops. Delegates will leave our program with better personal awareness, improved influencing and persuading skills, the ability to delegate more effectively, better problem solving skills, and improved decision making skills, to name a few.
HPD also run Team Workshops for new teams embarking upon new projects, mature teams that need an injection of motivation to get them re-energised, or high performing teams that are looking for those extra 1%ers to make the difference when operating at world class level. Teams will walk away with a better understanding of team dynamics, how to utilise each other’s strengths, an increased ability to work in collaboration, and improved communication skills.