Emotional intelligence is now a corporate buzzword but many people don’t realize that developing this skill can help you get ahead at work and also make it easier to cope with work-related stress. Here’s what you need to know…

Contributor: Dr. Kristen Race

What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean?

The term ‘emotional intelligence’ and has been around since the 1990s when it was popularized by Daniel Goldman in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. According to researchers, people with higher emotional intelligence tend to be perceived more positively by others. They also tend to have better relationships at work, are more psychologically balanced, and are high achievers.

The Institute of Health and Human Potential defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as: 

“The ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.”

The prefrontal cortex, otherwise known as the ‘smart part’ of the brain, plays an important role in developing emotional intelligence. There’s some overlap between developing emotional and general intelligence so those who develop both tend to be better performers, high achievers, and also tend to get paid higher salaries.

Studies find that emotional intelligence is associated with better performance, higher pay, better positions, and better peer and supervisor ratings of interpersonal facilitation (people skills) and stress tolerance.”

~ Dr. Kristen Race

The Key to Developing Emotional Intelligence at Work

So how do you develop emotional intelligence? You can start with a little mindfulness. Three of the five key elements of emotional intelligence are related to mindfulness: self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy. 

Some ways to develop emotional intelligence at work include:

  • Being more mindful about how you speak and how your words come across to others
  • Knowing your stressors and being mindful about how you react to them
  • Managing negative emotions in a productive way and constructive way
  • Bouncing back from adversity intelligently and making notes of past mistakes
  • Practicing empathy with others so you can relate and communicate better with team members, clients, and anyone else you interact with

Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed with consistent effort. You can do a quick self-evaluation to be more aware about how you’re reacting or behaving in certain situations. Practicing self-awareness, being an active listener, and responding to conflict constructively are all vital EQ skills for your professional career.

Companies are already seeing a link between emotional intelligence and mindfulness — the core of emotional intelligence requires training the mind, and this is part of developing strong leadership skills. 

What are your thoughts on emotional intelligence in the workplace? Share in the comments below!

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