How to Develop Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: Tips and Strategies

Have you ever had a misunderstanding at work and walked away wondering what the other person’s problem was? Do you ever get overly frustrated at work or lose motivation?

Increasing your emotional intelligence can improve these and many other experiences at work (and in life). The workplace is a perfect opportunity to practice the five components of emotional intelligence that we’ll explore below. Our tips and strategies will show you how.

What Is Emotional Intelligence? How Can It Help You?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a set of skills for identifying, understanding, and influencing emotions in yourself and others. Your level of EQ can be evaluated with a standardized test, and you can improve your personal EQ through practice.

EQ consists of five components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Internal motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Self-regulation

Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, told business leaders that intelligence and vision must be coupled with high EQ for them to reach the highest levels of success. It showed that measurable business results are connected to EQ.

Why can EQ make you more successful? People with high EQ

  • Navigate through tense situations more easily, which lowers their stress levels.
  • Are good at motivating themselves and staying highly engaged at work.
  • Are better equipped to choose productive responses to difficult, negative stimuli rather than simply reacting.
  • Can identify and redirect the emotions of others.
  • Model emotionally intelligent behavior, which inspires and motivates their teams to be more effective.

As you get better at understanding and managing emotional responses, you can learn to use all of your emotions—even the negative ones—to fuel your productivity and check items off your task list.

Improve Emotional Intelligence by Practicing at Work

Would you like to know how to develop emotional intelligence in the workplace? A variety of skills that fall under each of the five components of EQ are listed below, and you can practice them while you deal with difficult situations at the office.

That said, it’s important to remember to go slowly. Rather than trying to master every skill at once, pick a single category and work on those skills until they become habitual. Start on another category only when you’re ready.

When choosing which aspects of EQ to work on first, think about which components would give you the greatest and most immediate benefit at work.

1. Self-Awareness

To build a foundational awareness of your own emotions, develop a written inventory of your common emotional states and reactions at work:

  • Observe your feelings for a week, writing down each emotion and the event that triggered it.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses by studying performance reviews and gathering feedback from trustworthy colleagues.
  • Reflect on your observations and write down strategies for turning your negative reactions into positive responses.

2. Internal Motivation

To build your internal motivation, try the following techniques:

  • Rediscover what interests you most about your work (beyond receiving a paycheck).
  • Form a plan to work within those interests more often.
  • Set goals that excite you and are related to your areas of interest, and create a plan to celebrate when you achieve them.
  • Catch yourself being self-critical during your workday and transform personal criticism into encouragement and optimism instead.

3. Empathy

Use the following exercises and strategies to become better at empathizing with others:

  • Imagine yourself having the viewpoint of someone with whom you disagree. Try to think about how he or she could be correct based on his or her values and perspective.
  • State your understanding of the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself whether you would rather be right than negotiate for a good resolution (and be honest).
  • Try to meet the emotional needs of others before asking them to satisfy yours.

4. Social Skills

Social skills are essential when managing and working with others. To develop yours,

  • Practice listening actively during conversations and asking more questions to better understand others.
  • Get to know the unique reactions, personalities, and preferences of each of your coworkers, and personalize how you approach and interact with each person.
  • Practice being in command of your emotions during interactions with others.
  • Improve your ability to persuade others through both logic and emotion.

5. Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the habit of responding to and controlling your own emotions to achieve a positive result. To get better at maintaining your composure, try the following tactics:

  • Wait for a few hours or a day before reacting to an emotional situation.
  • Mentally prepare yourself for any negative emotions you commonly feel at work.
  • Think of achievable actions you can take to improve your day, your work, and your company.
  • Integrate stress-relieving activities into your life.

Steps Toward Your Success

Remember, when you’re planning how to develop your emotional intelligence in the workplace, choose just one component of EQ and identify some actions you could take right away to improve your skills in that area.

As your skills increase, you’ll get excited about your results and want to learn more—and your success can only increase with each new step you take!

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About the Author

CMOE Team

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.