Psychology Today explains that emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as understand and navigate the emotional responses of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few key areas:
Emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions;
The ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and
The ability to manage emotions while interacting with others, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.
For managers and people leaders -- where the stakes are high -- having emotional intelligence can spell the difference between effectively driving performance or losing valuable talent. When applied in a business setting, high EQ helps all employees communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict -- a process during which you build stronger relationships, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most. Add to this, the remote & hybrid context we now work in, and EQ becomes even more important, useful, and necessary for future-of-work success.
Key Elements of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
According to American psychologist Daniel Goleman, who helped popularize emotional intelligence, there are five foundational components of emotional intelligence -- all of which are essential for better performance in the workplace:
Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances. When you can put self-management into practice, you display an ability to redirect disruptive moods and impulses, reframe your feelings with positivity and align them with activity.
Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the impressions you leave on others. When you’re self-aware, you often appear confident and receptive to constructive criticism.
Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization. These social skills are necessary to guide people effectively in a specific direction and influence them in any particular way.
Motivation: You work with passion and portray an optimistic attitude. There is intrinsic energy to continue improving oneself and the business. With motivation, there is a sense of accomplishment, and reaching goals is enjoyed for the sake of the achievement alone.
Empathy & relationship management – You have insight into the emotional state of others. You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict. In business, showing empathy means you’re sensitive to cross-cultural differences, and are more inclined to support others and be open to collaborating more meaningfully with others.
Why Emotional Intelligence is Important
So let’s get down to business. It’s widely known that intellectual ability or your intelligence quotient (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to achieve success in life or in business. In fact, experts agree that IQ explains only about 30 percent predictive performance, whereas EQ explains 60 percent of predictive performance. (The other 10 percent correlates to varying factors based on situation/circumstance, culture, and location of the business.)
In fact, for those aspiring to lead teams, it’s also well-known that emotional intelligence is a key element of effective leadership. The ability to be perceptively in tune with yourself and your emotions, as well as having sound situational awareness can be a powerful tool for leading teams -- at the organizational, business unit, or functional levels. As one of the leading management training grounds that has produced more Fortune 500 CEOs, Procter & Gamble has proven that the best leaders, managers, and employees are agile in their behaviors and work styles, especially in learning how to adapt to each team member differently.
No matter your role, EQ is directly related to your communication -- it’s how you both internally and externally possess, express, and impact others. There have been a number of studies on the complex topic of nonverbal communication with varying results. However, most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. This study showed that effective communication is 7% the words we say and 93% tone and body language.
How do these findings translate at work? Well, think about your col