By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Emotional intelligence or EQ is an individual’s ability to recognize, understand and manage their feelings and emotions, as well as those of others. EQ has become known for its correlation to success in work, to motivation and to personal well-being. In business, high-EQ people have become desirable to employers due to the various advantages they bring such as enhanced communication skills, compassion, teamwork and productivity. For managers, emotional intelligence allows them to better understand and motivate their team. Here are some ways to increase your emotional intelligence:
• Practice empathy. Empathy involves recognizing, understanding and feeling the emotions of others. Being able to understand another person's problems, as well as to convey that understanding, provides comfort and is a great skill to employ in the workplace.
• Offer praise. Praising others on a regular basis trains your brain to focus on the positive aspects in others, which encourages empathy so you can more deeply understand people’s needs and motivations. Praise can also prepare you for tough discussions by decreasing defensiveness and encouraging open dialog.
• Listen to others. Listening allows us to better understand the needs and emotions of others, enabling solutions that benefit more people. This will help you build trust and respect.
• View criticism as a way to grow. Criticism can be hurtful, but it can always be helpful, as it discloses the true viewpoints of others. When faced with criticism, look at how you can improve and grow from the feedback.
• Try to control your thoughts. Practice directing your thoughts rather than automatically placing blame when something negative occurs. Consider other explanations and pause before acting with emotion. Pausing will also give you time to reflect on an appropriate response so you are able to communicate in a calm, non-threatening way.
It's likely that emotional intelligence is going to continue to become even more important in the business world in the future. EQ in the workplace is a valued skill in relation to business decisions, high-pressure situations, conflict resolution, and more. Employees and managers with a high level of EQ will be able to handle these situations most effectively.