The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

By Kim Hart, Marketing Support Specialist

Often, there are several outside-of-work factors that affect our at-work disposition, and no one is ever completely free of that. In addition to the pressures of life outside of work, sometimes, we can’t help but to feel like we’re going to explode when our computer crashes after working on a 3-day project, or feel hurt when a coworker lets us down. Regardless of the cause, the ability to control our own emotions and to evaluate and perceive them in others is an invaluable skill to possess, especially in the workplace.

This awareness is commonly known as emotional intelligence, or EQ, and is a key factor in working cooperatively and harmoniously with others. Having a high level of emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual ability, and it actually often trumps it. For example, a candidate’s resume, test scores and alma mater may be extremely impressive. However, when placed in a challenging situation with others in the workplace, they easily get upset, irritated and take out their frustrations negatively on others.  In some cases, some of the “smartest” people can often be the least in tune with their own emotions, and especially unaware of those of the people around them.  In this regard, having a high emotional intelligence would trump a stellar college GPA.

There are two keys to being an all-star in the field of emotional intelligence. The first is being able to understand one’s emotions, sense when they may become outwardly inappropriate, and decide how long they will last. Very few people can completely suppress their emotions, especially when they are passionate (either positive or negative). However, it is important to recognize when to self-regulate and put on a professional face. Knowing when to harness an inappropriate emotion can make all the difference in a professional situation, and affect the outcome in the long term.

The other key to emotional intelligence is the ability to empathize with others. Being able to understand and harness your own emotions allow you to understand, interpret and even predict them in others. Ok, so you’re not a mind reader. But being able to empathize, or understand how others feel, will help you recognize and control the signals you send back to them. An emotionally intelligent worker is therefore able to better communicate with others and understand the social complexities of the business, including problem-solving and adapting to change. In many circumstances, companies interpret a candidate’s potential based on emotional intelligence, often referred to as “soft skills”. I’ve heard it said that, “Employees can always be trained to develop technical skills, but excellent soft skills are the natural foundation for a solid candidate.”

Where do you stand on the emotional intelligence scale? If you’re curious, you can test your “EQ” online.