In the midst of many uncertainties for workers – from recession fears to record-high burnout levels – utilizing emotional intelligence at work can be the hidden key to keeping employees engaged, motivated and valued.
Despite the importance of emotional intelligence, a recent Preply study found that about half of the respondents’ bosses lacked emotional intelligence. On the flip side, they reported that human resources departments were the most likely to have emotionally intelligent people.
Emotional intelligence at work is more important than ever, according to the study. Seventy-nine percent of respondents agreed that emotional intelligence has become more important at work in recent years, and 73% think it’s more important than IQ.
Here’s how emotional intelligence can impact the workplace.
What emotional intelligence at work looks like
Emotional intelligence – the capacity to recognize, manage, and use your own emotions and those of others, according to Preply – in the workplace can help employees cultivate relationships with one another, improve culture and solve potential conflicts.
Displaying emotional intelligence at work isn’t complicated – most employees just want to hear a simple acknowledgment of the work they’re doing or feel understood by leaders.
According to the survey, phrases that mean the most to employees include:
- I appreciate you/your work (34%)
- What can I do to help? (19%)
- I hear you/I’m listening (13%), and
- What are your thoughts? (13%).
Other meaningful phrases include “I trust you” and “Is everything OK?”
Displaying empathy and concern for others is one of the most important aspects of emotional intelligence. Other attributes that are important to workers include:
- Having great listening skills
- Accepting responsibility for mistakes
- Managing emotions in difficult situations
- Being self-confident and self-accepting, and
- Accepting and embracing change.
How companies can promote emotional intelligence at work
With the importance of emotional intelligence increasing over the past few years, many workplaces and departments may fall behind when prioritizing emotionally intelligent communication and interaction.
Here are a few considerations to help increase emotional intelligence across your workplace.
Provide training. Preply’s study showed that certain generations – namely millennials – were seen as the most emotionally intelligent, but other generations, such as boomers, were seen as less emotionally intelligent. Providing training in emotionally intelligent communication – which over half of the respondents (53%) wished their company would offer – can help keep employees on the same page.
Encourage employees to proofread digital communications. Sixty-three percent of respondents say that digital communication makes it harder to be emotionally intelligent, so you may want to encourage employees to give digital communications a once-over to ensure they have the right tone and convey the right message.
Prioritize hiring emotionally intelligent employees. Many of the best candidates have emotional intelligence, and hiring these candidates can help promote emotional intelligence in the workplace. Consider adding an interview question related to emotional intelligence, such as “Describe a time when you had to engage in a difficult conversation with a co-worker. How did you handle it?”