Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

A Humanistic Leadership perspective on Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. Why is it important and why you should care about it as a manager.

1. What is emotional intelligence?

To me – this is about how you deal with other people as people. In order to get work done you probably have to work with another person. That person has their own stresses, desires, fears and hopes and insecurities. In order to work successfully with them, you have to manage their responses to your requests so that they are inclined to help you. Someone with good emotional intelligence understands this reality and knows how to deal with it effectively so that they can get the work they need to get done completed with as little stress on the people doing the work as possible.

2. How can it lead to bigger salaries?

People who are good at working with other people and getting other people to work with them tend to get more work done. They have good reputations since people like working with them. They also know how to ask for the salary they want and need without fainting or without being a jerk about it.

3. How can it lead to more job satisfaction?

The nice thing about being nice is that this skill is a connecting skill. People who work at seeing their co-workers as fully human worthy of respect – feel more connected and less conflicted. This leads to better feelings of job satisfaction. A lot of times people think taking other people into account in your planning is hard work. After all why should you go out of your way to make sure other people feel good. The answer is you do this for you. Not only will being nice help you slide through life better, you will feel better about yourself if you do it. When I give trainings on this topic I present a stressful situation and ask – if you respond to this stress by sharing your stress with others and getting angry – how do you feel?  Now – how about if you respond to your stress and the stress of others with compassion for yourself and others – how do you feel now? The answer is everyone feels better if they manage to respond to stress with compassion. It also yields better results. So double plus good.

4. What industries are EI most important in?

Any industry that requires you to interact with your fellow humans. But especially customer service as that is the field where you are most likely to deal with cranky people who are having trouble and really need someone to hold their hand.

5. Why does emotional intelligence matter?

Every single person on this planet requires the assistance of other people. The most effective way to get that assistance is to be nice to them. This requires us to not act selfishly but to instead consider our impact on the other person so we can tweak our behavior to maximize the positivity in the other person. This is what enlightened self interest is all about. Helping others to help yourself.

6. How can you measure your EI? Your employees?

You can track how often you get frustrated with others and respond negatively vs how often you respond to stress with compassion.  Over time, you will see an improvement in outcomes and relationships when you do this.  Most people tell me that they see an immediate improvement and this become self-reinforcing though it still requires conscious practice.

With employees – the more this is practiced the less interpersonal conflict you would expect to see. You would see more collaborative problem solving then butting of heads. This should also translate into less employee turnovers and complaints.

7. Other Thoughts? 

Emotional intelligence can be learned and practiced. It’s a mindset of valuing and respecting other people that sets this positive feedback loop in motion. This is why philosophic training is so helpful. The problem isn’t simply that a skill set is lacking. We have to understand why we should do this and more importantly – how to think about it so that we actually do this and reap the benefits from doing it.

The best course I have on this is my in depth program - Living Made Simpler. It is six hours long and will take you on a philosophy journey to help you better understand your own responses so that you can more effectively interact with the people around you.

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