How to Apply Emotional Intelligence at Work

Posted on
March 15, 2021
“There is no separation of mind and emotions; emotions, thinking, and learning are all linked”
Eric Jensen.

How do you act under pressure? Do you usually stay calm? Can you be objective and understand all points of view when you are in conflict with your coworkers or clients? Or do you get on the defensive?

Emotional intelligence leadership is a skill and not a talent. Emotional intelligence at the workplace is an essential life ability and it makes all the difference in business too.

In fact, having emotional intelligence is four times more important than IQ for professional success, and if you’re in the business world, having a high level of emotional intelligence will provide you a powerful tool in your arsenal.

Many psychologists and human behavior experts believe that a person's emotional intelligence influences success more than their intellectual ability. Let's remember the cases of geniuses like Newton, Nietzsche or Van Gogh.

We find in history geniuses in their field, like Nietzsche, who ended up depressed and with all kinds of mental and emotional issues after years of suffering. Or Vincent Van Gogh who ended his life with a shot that took him two days of agony. Or Isaac Newton who was the most brilliant physicist until the appearance of Einstein, and suffered depression and lived tormented by his angry and choleric character.

They were really smart men and they had unique talents for expressing their ideas and feelings, but they didn't have psychological tools to prevent suffering despite their talents and knowledge. What we want to say is that emotional intelligence slips in as a way to achieve the longed-for happiness and balance in all aspects of life.

Advantages of emotional intelligence in business 

“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel” - Marshall B. Rosenberg

Self-knowledge positively affects self-esteem and self-confidence in everyday situations. It also allows people to evaluate their value system and beliefs, helps to detect strengths and weaknesses to improve and is necessary to make better decisions in life.

  • Better motivation
  • Better work environment
  • Better communication
  • Better perception of oneself as a person and at work
  • The processes of change and improvement are easier and faster
  • Increases efficiency and effectiveness of people and teams at work
  • Improves self-knowledge and decision-making
  • Improves work performance
  • Protects and prevents stress
  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Promotes personal development
  • Reduces anxiety and helps overcome depression
  • Among many other benefits

Developing emotional intelligence

Nurture positive emotions
“As much as 80% of adult success comes from EQ
Daniel Goleman.

Despite the fact that several psychologists already pointed out the insufficiency of cognitive and rational elements as the only indicators of intelligence decades ago, the concept of emotional intelligence became popular just recently with Daniel Goleman. Before Goleman, psychologists divided emotional intelligence into two categories:

  • Interpersonal intelligence. It implies understanding and including the emotions of the others and having the ability to react according to the state of mind of the other one.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence. It involves understanding and comprehending one's emotions, taking them into account when making decisions and being able to regulate emotions according to the situation.

According to Goleman, we use emotional intelligence in sales through 4 fundamental pillars:

1. Self-awareness

Self-aware people put themselves under a microscope to understand their strengths and what they need to improve on. By trying to see how the world sees them, they manage to separate the good and bad sides of their personalities.

A strong self-awareness helps smart business people to prepare for obstacles and objections that potential consumers may raise. This happens because they manage to look at themselves from the consumer's perspective. This is the secret recipe that allows emotionally intelligent sales consultants to always appear prepared to handle tough times.

2. Self-management

The classic behavior of business people with good self-management is that they allow themselves a few seconds to breathe, think, process, assimilate, and reflect before speaking or acting. Especially in heated-up situations.

This skill plays a critical role in heated situations, whether it's dealing with a prospect's objection, surrounding a difficult situation with a client, or bringing an idea internally to your boss.

3. Social awareness

How empathetic are you? We recommend taking the Mindtools Empathy Quiz to find out.

Empathy is an attitude related to high social awareness and people with this attitude practice active listening because they want to understand the people with whom they’re talking.

The best practitioners of this skill can connect comfortably with almost anyone. They work hard to see the world from other people’s perspectives, often earning them the status of a trusted advisor. 

A high level of social awareness guarantees calm and clear communication in stressful situations. And it is what allows emotionally intelligent business people to act as surgeons, delicately but not frantically. Making important decisions, but not aggressive. And above all, they maintain their authority when the situation is difficult and don’t panic. They maintain their composure and calm in volatile situations and with a wide view of the big picture.

People with developed emotional intelligence know how to give importance to their own needs and other people's feelings. These types of social abilities are not only important in personal life, but also affect the way you manage your work.

4. Relationship management

A huge part of relationship management is about having empathy. Empathy is one of the most difficult social skills to get but one of the most necessary in business. The understanding and ability to put oneself in other people's shoes is essential in business.

Simultaneously, self-control is also a fundamental skill for life in general, but if we talk about business, it acquires a higher power. Knowing how to control your emotions, especially negative ones, is essential to control the image you project to the rest of the world and customers.

In addition, increasing your motivation will get you on the right track. People who care about increasing their motivation in their daily lives are more apt to achieve their goals.

In sum, emotional intelligence is the skill to understand and manage emotions effectively in oneself and with other people. It means exercising empathy, communicating clearly and solving problems by thinking about the big picture and positive returns. 

How to improve your emotional intelligence

Let's take a closer look at the human brain. At the end of the day, we’re all slaves to our senses as we collect information with our eyes and ears, it first passes through our limbic system or emotional brain. Then, it reaches our cerebral cortex or rational brain. In the end, our brain first processes new information and then processes it emotionally.

Knowing this about your brain's operating system, you can begin working on your emotional intelligence. Understand what you feel before thinking and working from it.

1. Pay attention to your emotions

In modern life, we run around, busy with work and with our relationships. As a result, we don't stop to think about how we feel. The problem with this is that we run the risk of hurting ourselves and others by not facing our emotions. No one wants to come home and find someone in a bad mood all the time and doesn't know why. 

Psychology Today suggests that when you're angry, don't jump to a negative conclusion right away. For example, if someone doesn't call you back, and your first thought is that he or she is ignoring you. But, try to see the situation from a different angle. Maybe she's too busy. By avoiding personalizing other people's behavior we can perceive their emotions objectively. It’s important to remember that you can't control other people's actions, only how you feel about them.

2. Consider situations as challenges, not as a problem

We often label situations as problems by anticipating the circumstances. We alter the order of the pre-established workflow by opening up to end up feeling overwhelmed. All human beings face tough moments during their lives. The difference is the way we face difficulties. Some people have more resilience than others, but what does this mean?

Resilience is the capacity to overcome adversity and even to emerge strengthened from the situation. Being resilient doesn't mean not feeling discomfort, emotional pain or difficulty in the face of adversity, but rather overcoming events and adapting well over time.

This perspective is useful to perceive the challenges within a problem. When months or years go by and you look back, you will most likely say, that problem I had was a blessing in disguise. Have faith in it and minimize the importance of what weakens you. It's all in your ability to decide whether to give it importance or not.

3. Change your beliefs

A belief consists of three elements: thought + emotion + action.

Sometimes beliefs are good, healthy and loving or on the contrary toxic or harmful. It is the beliefs that determine whether you live a life you like, or whether you are unhappy most of the time.

Many of these beliefs are not easy to detect because they are unconscious and therefore not evident, but this doesn't mean that they are not exercising their powerful influence from the rear. Revising your beliefs to replace them with other healthier ones will bring enormous benefits to your life. Just repeat in your mind everyday the new beliefs and you’ll notice the difference. 

4. We don’t know it all and sometimes we need help

It's common to find people who refuse to ask for help. Sometimes because of the belief that when they ask for help it is synonymous with lack of competence, weakness, etc. Other times, the reasons are even more emotional, people feel ashamed of what they are experiencing and they deny themselves to receive help.

At least, look for a mentor or free advice on the internet. You're not alone and you can improve your self-control. Emotional intelligence is a concept that helps us understand how we can intelligently and adaptively influence both our emotions and our interpretation of the emotional states of others. This aspect of human psychology has a fundamental role in our way of socializing and in the strategies to adapt to the environment that we live in.

Take responsibility for your actions

“Experience is not what happens to you — it’s how you interpret what happens to you” - Aldous Huxley.

Working on your self-development is the most important work. Your emotions and your behavior come from you, so you're responsible for handling them.

If you feel hurt by something someone said and you hurt him or her in turn, you cannot hide the fact that he or she made you act that way. Your reaction is your responsibility. If you accept that you're responsible for how you feel and how you behave towards others this will positively impact all areas of your life.

Imagine a work situation in which a lack of empathy and poor regulation of one's own emotions causes continual discussions with your boss or a co-worker. In the long run, these discussions can create a bad working environment, and as a consequence, a stressful atmosphere.

Now, imagine that you are the boss and that mismanagement of your emotions makes you intolerant. It is clear that your subordinates will suffer from your lack of emotional control, which can become a source of stress for the workers you manage. That's why emotional intelligence at work is so important.

Don't forget to tell us about your experience. Contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

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