Internal Communication

How to Grow Emotional Intelligence to Help You Cope with Stress at Work

... at any given circumstances.

The idea of emotional intelligence represents an attempt to understand and explain the actions and behavior of people - the age-old question of why we do what we do, albeit in a specific context. This idea was born back in the 1920s, but it was largely popularized in 1995 by a science journalist Daniel Goleman.

It was Goleman’s claim that emotional intelligence is intrinsically connected to the amygdala, the part of our brain that controls our instinctive emotional reactions to threatening and tasking situations. Per Goleman, emotional intelligence is developed from the early stages of our lives and further informed by our experiences, particularly highly stressful ones.

Relevant for our topic - i.e. emotional management and psychological safety at work - it delves into areas such as leadership, conflict management, or employee motivation

Emotional intelligence can help us cope with a variety of work-related challenges
 - even in extreme situations!

The center of Goleman’s concept was his belief that humans are born with varying capacities for emotional intelligence, which determine our potential to develop different emotional competencies that help us deal with a wide variety of social interactions. 

This raises the question of how much emotional intelligence is inherited and to what extent it can be learned? Also, how can one even measure whether someone is emotionally intelligent or not? And finally, how can it help us cope with a variety of work-related challenges even in extreme situations such as the coronavirus outbreak?

The True Value of Emotional Intelligence Explained in Numbers

The very term of emotional intelligence (EQ) is appealing because it advocates an understanding of the complexities of human interaction. It is directly related to bringing compassion, empathy, and wisdom to organizations. Emotional intelligence also delivers impressive bottom-line results and organizations are finding value from EQ primarily in leadership development, sales, and retention.

There are numerous examples to prove this. In his book “Flip the Script: How to Turn the Tables and Win in Business and Life”, Bill Wackermann states that at L’Oreal, sales agents confirmed that certain emotional competencies added an annual net revenue increase of $2,558,360.

He also writes that the US Air Force also saved $2.7 million in recruiting costs by using an EQ profile. (Note: these examples are provided in ordinary circumstances, and would definitely be different in the wake of a world-wide economic crisis). 

These are all the reasons why it is important to measure EQ among employees. Basic instructions and sample links can be found at the bottom of this article.

EQ & Psychological Safety at Work

There are 5 elemental reasons why emotional intelligence is beneficial for psychological safety at work. Here we explain some of them. 

1. Recognizing behavioral patterns helps with overcoming professional challenges

Let's put it this way: EQ helps you deal with the situation when it doesn’t go your way by making you understand the choices you’re about to make and the ways you interact with others.

Keeping your guard down in the most stressful situations is crucial for your professional and personal welfare, and it takes a lot of self-care and determination to succeed in this challenge.

2. EQ helps you separate professional life from the private one

“Don’t bring your work home” might be easier said than done for many. If you’re working in a competitive environment, there is a good chance you and your teammates have been working extra hours just for the work’s sake or, shall we put it, the need for putting something “extra” on the company table. Unfortunately, this type of professional behavior is commonly followed by a heavy burden in your private life.

Practicing emotional intelligence can help you deal with this challenge more efficiently. Recognizing the importance of work-life balance in terms that put your personal wellbeing and family life above all work-related pressure, but never letting your professional focus down is a hard, but important task. Creating this balance will help you a lot in the long run. 

* This particular step might seem even more challenging in the wake of self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, so please share your thoughts and advice on how to keep this balance during such extraordinary times. 

Practicing emotional intelligence can help you adjust your work-life balance.

3. Being emotionally intelligent makes you a better team player

This is literally a no-brainer! For instance, you might have a supervisor with a limited amount of patience who is not very approachable. And on the other hand, there is this other manager who is always ready to listen carefully and lend a hand whenever needed.

Understanding how to approach different types of people in a professional manner highly depends on your EQ and your readiness to adapt to new circumstances.

4. It makes you communicate more clearly 

Communication in the work environment is always a two-way sword. Sometimes things run smoothly, but other times, you might feel the burden of choosing the correct word for any given situation.

For some people, this challenge doesn’t come easy, but for others, any professional conversation, no matter how complex or tacky it might be, seems easy, like a regular chit-chat. This shows that their EQ competence in this regard is at a very high level.

Practicing your communication skills will help you deal with this challenge more efficiently.

5. Helps you make a distance from a toxic work environment

Not every workplace seems like a kindergarten. For the handful of lucky ones, their place of work seems like a second home. For a majority of people, this is just a place where they spend 8 hours per day using their skills.

Unfortunately for some, the workplace is far from a pleasant environment, particularly in stressful periods. Keeping your boundaries up and growing your EQ (as well with your patience) might help you isolate yourself from the toxic influence and come out of this game as a winner.

Special Note Regarding EQ Measurement Techniques

Measuring EQ helps us answer such questions as:

  • Do we understand the scope of our strengths and limitations?
  • How do we handle emotional challenges brought about the times of crisis?
  • Can we perform under pressure?
  • Are we able to keep our emotions in check under stress?
  • How well do we adapt to changing circumstances?
  • What are the sources of our motivation?

Those are all the reasons why you should consider testing your employees’ EQ amid the pandemic outbreak and predict their response to this crisis.

Today we find various methods for EQ testing, primarily the one developed by Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso, and Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue). The TEIQue sample report prepared by Thomas International for a fictitious employee can be found HERE and is well worth a read if you're interested in further research on this topic.

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