Emotional Intelligence at Work: Why is it Important?

August 7, 2018

Emotional intelligence is a subject that’s talked about a lot, even outside the academic field. Traditional intelligence refers to our ability to solve problems logically. On the other hand, emotional intelligence is related to our ability to understand and manage our own emotions as well as other people’s. 

Although we can apply the abilities related to this skill in many different situations, it’s especially important to be emotionally intelligent at work. People who have chosen to apply emotional intelligence skills in this context have noticed great improvements, both in their job satisfaction and their relationship with their coworkers. Some experts even say that being emotionally intelligent is key when wanting to get more income.

In today’s article, we’re going to teach you how to apply emotional intelligence at work, focusing on three key aspects: job hunting, professional performance, and leadership. However, before diving into the subject, let’s talk a bit more about what emotional intelligence is and what it implies.

Five people discussing ideas at work.

What is emotional intelligence?

Goleman, the creator of this definition, said it was composed of five different abilities:

  • Self-knowledge: The ability to understand your own feelings and moods. In addition, it implies knowing who you are, your values, your goals, and your abilities.
  • Self-regulation: The ability you have to control your emotions. That way, you can use them in your favor instead of having to fight against them.
  • Motivation: This refers to your ability to set demanding goals and focus on reaching them despite the adversities.
  • Empathy: Also known as the ability to understand other people’s feelings, emotions, and needs. Sometimes, empathy is described as “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”.
  • Social abilities: A set of skills that can help you relate to others more effectively. This includes abilities such as leadership, persuasion, and social intuition.

These five dimensions are essential to developing emotional intelligence at work. However, some of them will be more useful than others depending on the situation.

Emotional intelligence at work: how to use it when looking for a new job

In order to apply emotional intelligence at work, it’s necessary to have it beforehand. Emotional intelligence is a fundamental ability to get a new job.

Nowadays, getting an “interesting job” doesn’t depend only on strong abilities. Empathy, the way you communicate, and your social abilities will set your success at work. Due to the great competition that currently exists in the job market, the decision made by the human resources department could be more influenced by emotions (theirs and yours) than by your actual resume.

“The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart weare, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other. ”

-Daniel Goleman-

Woman thinking at work.

Moreover, self-regulation is also a key factor when looking to get a new job. Without it, it’ll be very difficult for you to move forward after the first few setbacks. You’ll lose motivation and finding a job you like will be even harder.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

The use of emotional intelligence at work doesn’t end once you get the job. On the contrary, in challenging environments such as the ones in modern companies, the abilities we previously discussed are vital. They’re not only important for your performance at work but also for your well-being.

Furthermore, according to a survey, 30% of workers in Spain claim to be dissatisfied with their job. Even though this number is within the average, it’s still pretty high. There are many factors that can influence this figure, but there’s no doubt that the lack of emotional intelligence is one of them.

  • How will you be able to choose a job you like if you don’t understand yourself beforehand? (Self-knowledge).
  • When something goes wrong, will you let apathy take control of your life or will you try to move forward? (Self-regulation, motivation).
  • Will you be able to understand your coworkers and have a good relationship with them despite how different you could be from them? (Empathy, social abilities).

Emotional intelligence for managers

Finally, what would happen if you were managing a work team? You could think they’re the ones who need to be emotionally intelligent, right?

A boss with emotional intelligence talking to a happy employee.

Well, you’re wrong. The abilities that a boss or an executive have to motivate and understand their employees are key in order to achieve a pleasant work environment. Without them, leadership won’t be aimed at what’s best for the team, which might lead to arguments between coworkers.

“Leadership is not domination. It’s the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.”

-Daniel Goleman-