Q: I often hear about emotional intelligence and how important it is not only in our personal life but also at work. Can you tell me more about this topic?
A: Thank you for your question. Here are thoughts from Ronnie Ann (workcoachcafe.com).
I first heard the term emotional intelligence linked to work in a coaching class. The teacher assigned us Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. As I began reading, I realized so much of what Goleman was talking about was just common sense – something we need much more of at work.
Basically, emotional intelligence is about understanding our emotions (and the emotions of those around us) and learning to manage the way we handle them – in the workplace as well as in the rest of our lives. How you manage your emotions at work – feelings like anger, jealousy, feeling slighted, feeling misunderstood, feeling under-appreciated, resentment, hopelessness, insecurity, fear, anxiety, feeling isolated, feeling powerless, etc. – can make all the difference to your career and daily work life. Now we all feel at least some of these feelings (emotions) at one time or another; but the trick is… how do you handle your own reactions in the workplace? What can you do to consciously and intentionally manage those feelings so the real you can shine through?
1. First and foremost…don’t give up your power!
Each and every one of us feels powerless at some time or another – and all too often such feelings arise in the workplace. It’s really important for you to know you are not alone in this. When you feel trapped, our power shrinks – as does your ability to see solutions right before your eyes. So even if you’re staying in a job because your family depends on you to bring home that paycheck, give yourself credit for making that choice – and for the strength it takes to do just that. Rather than feeling like a victim, you can start to think about ways to use your power to get yourself into a better situation, either with your current company (there are often ways we don’t see) or elsewhere. But you won’t get anywhere if you feel powerless to affect your own fate!
2. Build strong relationships at work. One of the most important things you can do – something that can shape your entire work experience and career – is to start to build a strong support network from the first day you begin a job. Slowly, over time, these alliances will be there to help you move ahead, and also when you need support accomplishing every day assignments. Now some people will resist your attempts based on their own agendas or views of the world. Don’t let that bother you. Focus on those relationships you can build by being helpful and supportive (and creative and capable) as you get chances to work together. Most importantly, base the relationships on positive actions and not office gossip or complaints.
3. Your attitude at work. If you come in with a sour attitude or always see them as wrong and you as right, you are the one who loses out. I remember a woman I worked with who is extremely bright and talented. But she spent each day feeling slighted (oh those feelings) and telling people off. And then she was angry when people didn’t want to work with her or she got passed over for promotions.
4. When emotions hold you prisoner. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you find yourself getting caught up in a rush of anger or frustration. At times like these, remember your power to choose and help change things for yourself. Also remember that letting your emotions control you takes the control out of your hands. (Also be aware of things you might have done or are doing to set yourself up as a target.).
5. Beware the blame game. The blame game is when you point your finger at everyone and everything except yourself, blaming the world for your misfortunes. This is simply spinning your wheels. As I’ve mentioned before, when you get caught up in emotions or useless behaviors, you lose precious time and perspective that could be helping you create a more enjoyable experience for yourself in this job and in future jobs. It’s important to vent at times and to both acknowledge and discuss your feelings, but if your days are filled with blame and venting at the workplace, you’re only setting yourself up for more dissatisfaction. People react to who they see and not who you really might be – or what you could offer them if you could only step past those wheelspinning behaviors. Basically, what they see is what (the impression) they get.
6. Being right just doesn’t matter. “Of course it does!” I hear one or two of you shouting at the screen. Oh…sure it feels great. But if you spend your day being caught up in being right – and making sure everyone knows you are – you’re focusing on the wrong things and you’ll only wind up diverting yourself from getting ahead. More time spinning your wheels. To revert to my grade school years…nobody likes a smarty pants! In the workplace, actions speak louder than words. Prove your worth not by being right all the time but by being someone who helps things get done and problems solved. Down the road, people will see you know what you’re doing. You don’t have to be right in every case to be extremely effective and appreciated.
7. Seeing possibility. When we get out of seeing the anger and hurt and all that is missing in our work lives, we open up to seeing what might turn into real opportunity. Possibility is all around us if we just learn how to look for it.