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How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

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October is Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month, a reminder of the powerful role emotional intelligence (EQ) plays in the workplace today. Research shows that up to 45% of job success is down to your EQ –  the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions and those of others.

People with high levels of EQ have a more positive outlook on life and are able to see things from other people’s points of view. This enables them to communicate effectively, prevent or resolve conflict and encourage collaboration and creativity instead.  

The great news is that your EQ, unlike your IQ, isn’t fixed and can be developed over time. Below are 5 practical steps to help you hone your EQ skills so you can build strong relationships based on shared experiences and trust. You will then reap the rewards of improved performance and a greater sense of mental wellbeing in the workplace.  

1. Be mindful

The first step to harnessing your EQ is to develop your self-awareness. Being mindful and focusing on the present will allow you to monitor your feelings and emotions so you can gain greater self-knowledge and change your behaviour. It is only by understanding your own feelings and experiences that you can hope to get a clearer insight into those of others. 

2. Be curious

People with high levels of EQ are genuinely curious about others. Take the time to find out what makes ‘others’ tick. A great way to do this is to ask clever questions that will give you greater insight into what’s important to them. Try to reserve judgement; your aim should be to get a deeper understanding of their perspective. This will help make them feel valued.

Remember people buy people – so you need to create a balanced relationship by treating the people you interact with as equals.

3. Listen attentively

This may sound obvious but to be emotionally intelligent you need to listen fully. In reality this can be easier said than done. There are three levels of listening: superficial listening – when you’re only pretending to hear what the other person is saying; selective listening – when you’re only hearing the things you want to hear; and attentive listening which requires drawing on all of your EQ skills to listen live in the moment.

Listening attentively takes real effort and concentration to read the other party’s body language and tone of voice so you can understand the true meaning behind their words.

4. Find common ground

Build on the information you have gathered by asking the right questions and listening attentively to the answers to make a connection and establish any common ground. This will help you create a balanced relationship based on trust, loyalty and shared experiences. You will soon reap the benefits of increased collaboration and teamwork that will drive your commercial performance and improve your mental well-being.

5. Adopt A ‘can-do’ approach

By dialling up your EQ and being solution-oriented instead of getting stuck in the doldrums when times are hard, you will generate a positive mood that is contagious. This ability to bounce back from setbacks is what enables emotionally intelligent people to keep their eyes focused on the end goal so they have a clear understanding of what needs to be achieved going forward.

Finally, it’s important to remember that developing your EQ doesn’t just happen overnight. These so called ‘soft skills’ are often the hardest to learn. According to the 10,000-hour rule, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world class in any field. So, adopt a growth mindset and commit to weaving these EQ skills into your everyday life. By taking the time to review your performance and ask yourself what worked well and what you would do differently next time, you will soon see your EQ levels rise.

Nicole Soames is CEO of Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coaching company. She is the author of  The Coaching Book

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