Emotional Intelligence (EI) is defined as having the wherewithal to identify and understand your own emotions and perceive the emotions of those around you. Today, supported by a wide body of research, emotional intelligence is recognised as a valuable skill that supports a high standard of interpersonal relationships within the workplace. It is a skill that social scientists believe can be developed through education and practice. 


When it comes to self-fulfillment and success in life and work, EQ (or emotional intelligence) matters just as much or more than intelligence quotient (IQ). Emotionally intelligent people are better at cultivating fulfilling relationships due to their effective communication skills, competence in conflict resolution and depths of empathy. Their ability to connect fosters a sense of belonging and support, which contributes to overall their happiness. What is more, they handle stress and obstacles with resilience, and use emotion regulation to maintain an optimistic view. 


Developing emotional intelligence has both personal and professional benefits. As a manager, being able to identify and control your own emotions – and recognise your team members’ emotions – gives you the understanding and insight to guide and help them. EI also supports sound decision-making skills and the ability to thrive while dealing with constant change.  


The 5 facets of emotional intelligence are 

  • Self-awareness: An individual with high EI is not only aware of what emotions they are feeling but can put words to their feelings.  
  • Self-regulation: This involves identifying what may be an unproductive emotion and putting a damper on it or resisting any impulsive action.  
  • Motivation: A motivated person understands that the reward of their reaching their personal goals is worth the time and effort spent achieving them, even if there are obstacles. 
  • Empathy: Empathy refers to tuning in to get the measure of another person’s emotions.  
  • Competent social skills: Higher EI levels can help a person to build relationships, communicate better with others and maintain solid relationships.  

 Emotional intelligence is extremely important and beneficial for an organisation. It is pivotal in enabling leaders to work well with and supervise others. 


Here are 4 benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace: 

1. Being aware of one’s own emotions: Having emotional awareness means you can access how you feel and provides the opportunity to manage your emotions in the following ways:   

    • It leads to being mindful of feeling an emotion. 
    • It equips you to label each emotion accurately, e.g., happy, sad or afraid. 
    • It brings understanding of the causes and consequences of particular emotions. 
    • It provides control in expressing emotions appropriately – to yourself and others. 
    • It allows you to regulate emotions if necessary.

2. Understanding nonverbal communication: By accurately interpreting the nonverbal cues of your employees you gain insight into their feelings and attitudes. For example, if you notice an employee displaying signs of frustration with a colleague through their body language, you might take them aside to find out the cause. You have the chance to mediate to fix the problem before it can take root or escalate.

 3. Nurturing a positive work environment: By being attuned to team members’ emotions (and therefore their needs and problems), managers can create a more positive work environment that supports collaboration, creativity and innovation. Emotional intelligence is essential to conflict management in the workplace through providing leaders with the ability to help employees through tense situations, tactfully bringing disagreements to light, and then defining solutions that the whole team can get behind. This can lead to better teamwork, higher quality output, and improved productivity.


4. Encouraging employees to develop strong interpersonal skills: Demonstrating emotional intelligence can have a positive knock-on effect. When leaders display emotional intelligence, it encourages people across the organisation to do the same. It supports an environment where everyone is encouraged to think about their emotions rather than acting on impulse. This develops their ability to settle conflicts, builds stronger relationships, helps to reduce stress levels, and increases job satisfaction, which boosts productivity 


5. Growing leadership skills: Emotional intelligence and leadership skills go hand. Leaders with a high level of emotional intelligence are better equipped to make sound decisions. Their ability to identify and control their emotions allows them to remain calm and focused in stressful situations. It helps them to stimulate and inspire excellent work by understanding their employees’ and teams’ motivations.  


How to go about developing emotional intelligence in employees 

EI can be further developed by helping your employees understand the tools they can use to identify, process and manage their emotions.   


Here are 3 steps to nurturing emotional intelligence in employees: 

 1. Assess their current level 

Before you can help your employees improve their EI, you need to know where each of them currently stands, and which areas need work. There are several tools available in the marketplace to assess EI. These will identify their strengths and weaknesses within the 5 facets of emotional intelligence.  

2. Provide coaching and feedback 

Once you have determined your employees’ emotional intelligence levels you can provide them with coaching to help them grow and learn. The purpose of coaching is to unlock people’s potential to maximise their own performance. It helps them to learn for themselves through a coach asking open-ended questions, listening actively, and guiding your employees to discover their own insights. Providing regular feedback as to their progress is a way an employer can give specific, constructive information to provide insight into their performance.  

3. Provide opportunities and resources 

Employers can help their employees develop their emotional intelligence by providing them with practical opportunities and resources to practice and develop their EI. For example, a team leader could assign his team a series of challenging projects that requires them to work with diverse people across the organisation and to use their EI skills to overcome obstacles and deliver specific results.  

Employers could also provide and encourage their employees to participate in training programmes, workshops, or online courses that teach them the concepts and techniques of EI. Emotional intelligence can be developed through mastering practices such as self-reflection; it can be advanced through empathy development, stress management training, social awareness education and workshops focused on conflict resolution skills. In addition, leaders can recommend books, articles, podcasts, or videos that offer insights and tips on EI – and weave EI topics into team discussion time.  



Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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