July 9, 2021 | Barb Carr

Improve Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

emotional intelligence in the workplace

Energy is a limited resource, and that is just one good reason why emotional intelligence in the workplace is so critical to performing well on the job. Giving energy to the wrong things during the workday is not productive, and robs us of energy we could be giving to improving our own performance. Improving emotional intelligence also leaves us with more energy to enjoy our time after work!

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the measure of one’s ability to be aware of and manage his or her emotions. Becoming more aware of our emotions helps us to understand ourselves better, and managing emotions helps us to communicate more effectively and build better relationships.

Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?

The good news is that emotional intelligence is easy to improve. There are hundreds of ways! One way we can easily improve it is to take responsibility for our own feelings in the workplace when someone says something that brings up negative emotions. The first step is being aware of the emotion and taking responsibility for it. For example, “Ah, I feel really angry about a comment my boss just made.” The second is equally important – deciding your response.

Taking responsibility for your own feelings in the workplace does not mean you are justifying someone’s poor behavior. It simply means that you are owning how you feel about the behavior. Psychology professionals will argue that the boss can’t *make* you feel any certain way. Each of us has a different set of belief systems about how the world should be and different triggers that influence how we think, then feel. This is not a suggestion to “just think positive” when you experience negative emotions either – cognitive and rational emotive behavior methods do not advocate that. Negative feelings are very real and should be acknowledged. It’s all data that informs us about how to respond.

Outcomes in work communications are better when you take a minute to check in with yourself, own the feeling, and then step forward in a non-blaming way. For example, approach the boss about the comment, “When you said Mark will be taking over the project I was working on, I noticed I felt upset because I have already put a lot of time into it.” This is better than a blame statement like, “You really upset me when you put Mark on that project after all the work I’ve done on it.” See the slight difference in the wording? You are essentially stating, “This happened, and I felt this way about it” instead of, “I’m blaming you for making me feel this way.” How you communicate your feelings will either gain respect in the workplace or make others feel they can’t trust you.

You choose your response.

The next time you feel bothered by what a boss or co-worker said, consider that your response to their behavior is in your hands. You can’t change the circumstance or another person’s behavior, but you can change yourself. Create a better outcome by improving your emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Career Development & Opportunities
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