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December 27, 2021 Haeli Harris

Emotional Intelligence at Work: Your Key to a Great Company Culture

One key to creating great company culture is emotional intelligence at work.

In this article, we’ll define emotional intelligence in the workplace, why it matters at work, and key ways to improve it.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s abilities and awareness of personal and interpersonal emotions, communication, and relationships.

In other words, emotional intelligence is how well people operate in relationships with others and how well they understand and manage emotions.

It’s a term coined in the 1995 book by Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence. The book is regularly updated and remains a popular reference for emotional intelligence.

One source describes the 4 key areas of emotional intelligence in this way:

  1. Self-awareness: Recognizing your emotional state and your emotions’ effects.
  2. Self-management: Using what you know about your emotional states to inform your actions and direct your behavior.
  3. Social awareness: Recognizing the emotional states of others and seeking to understand what’s happening from their perspective.
  4. Relationship management: Incorporating your knowledge of everyone’s emotional states to help manage relationships and conversations.

We all have an emotional intelligence “EQ,” that tells us how adept we are at personal interactions, asking for what we need, and having positive relationships. By knowing your EQ, you can understand your strengths and weaknesses and improve.

Why Emotional Intelligence at Work Matters

Being a productive, cooperative team member is crucial to being a good worker.

Geat customer service is a direct indicator of high emotional intelligence levels. Any business relationship benefits from being emotionally intelligent.

When the whole company works well together, it’s evidence of great company culture. Emotional intelligence at work means fewer miscommunication mishaps, easier workflows, and better relationships among workers.

Related: What is Company Culture? (And Does it Matter?)

Cultivating empathy and compassion goes a long way. In the business world, being flexible enough to see something from someone else’s point of view can mean more productive meetings, more successful business transactions, and improved employee morale.

How to Promote Workplace Emotional Intelligence

To start an emotional intelligence program at work, you could look for a consultant to give each employee an assessment and build an emotional intelligence program.

Or, you can run the program yourself!. The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has a technical resource for an emotional intelligence program that may be helpful for leaders like you.

You could also create an optional program for employees to assess themselves and work towards greater emotional intelligence.

There is, of course, an app for that (more on that in a second!).

Here are some key ways you can promote emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Emotion tracking apps

Step 1: Track Your Own Emotions

Start tracking your own emotions at work throughout the day. Apps like Happiness and Emotion Sense do similar things: at various times throughout the day, the app reminds you to note how you’re feeling and what you’re doing.

After a few days of this, you may begin to notice trends in your workday. You’ll be able to track how you feel at certain times of day, after interacting with certain people, and how long it’s been since you ate something or took a break.

All this information is a great way to get started on the first aspect of emotional intelligence, which is awareness of your own emotions.

Related: 7 Problems That Employee Stress Management Programs Solve

Step 2: Change Your Behavior

Armed with this knowledge, you can move to step 2—using an understanding of your emotions to direct your behavior.

When you know that 2 pm is your worst time of day (tired, hungry, unfocused, crabby mood), you can try to reschedule important meetings for a different time of day. Or, even if you can’t reschedule, you can know you’re not going to be on your best game, and you can make a note to double-check your work when you’re feeling more focused and have a clearer mind.

Step 3: Notice Others’ Emotions

After spending quite a bit of time understanding your own emotions and how they affect your behavior, it will become more natural to notice other people’s emotions and behaviors. This will help you make deeper connections with your direct reports and help you teach employees how to do the same.

Developing empathy and seeing things from another’s point of view can be a crucial way to reduce miscommunication.

After all, you know how you make decisions when you’re grumpy, tired, or feeling left out. So when you see what’s happening for someone else, you can have compassion and not take things personally.

Related: 5 Steps to Increase Employee Happiness

Emotional Intelligence at Work Your Key to a Great Company Culture—3 workers smiling and talking at a desk

Step 4: Integrate

Combining everything you have learned so far will make this part easy. Even if other people aren’t doing this same kind of work, cultivating your emotional intelligence at work can make your professional and personal life more enjoyable.

When emotional intelligence grows, relationships work smoother, people feel heard, and self-awareness keeps everything in perspective.

To help boost emotional intelligence for your team, consider adding a holistic mental health program to your benefits package! Mental health programs can help employees manage their emotions better through therapy, meditation, and so much more.

THE UN-EAP

On-demand employee counseling, plus proactive care – yoga, meditation, and more – all in one employee wellbeing app.

Haeli Harris

Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Lead Counselor at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, UT & HI
Registered Yoga Teacher 200
Trauma Conscious Yoga (2021)
Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Education
Bachelor's of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Utah
Master's of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Northcentral University

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE