Where to start in developing emotional intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is becoming an increasingly important skill in the business environment. Even more so, we’re seeing an abundance of research and published articles on the most successful leaders are leaning on their emotional intelligence skills to lead through a global pandemic. The latest research from Capgemini shows that people with higher levels of emotional intelligence experience a number of benefits like better emotional and mental wellbeing at work and at home, and teams with emotionally intelligent leaders benefit from improved productivity, engagement and commitment.

Below we share 12 tips you can get started with today to develop emotional intelligence. These tips are presented from Genos International’s Development tips workbooks which accompany all Genos Emotional Intelligence Assessments.

1. Reflect on the way you feel and consider how your feelings are influencing your decisions, behaviour and performance.

Take some time to think about how you’re feeling in a certain situation. Do this when you’re feeling positive and also when you’re feeling stressed. Label these emotions and practice discussing these emotions with others if you feel comfortable doing so. It is important to be aware of how your own feelings may affect how you interpret events and note that these emotions may contribute bias to your thinking and decision making.

2. Ask your peers for feedback on your performance.

 ‘Often, we don’t realize that other people view us much differently than we view ourselves, and vice versa. It’s not about right or wrong; it’s simply understanding how perceptions differ, and the consequences those differences create.’ – Inc.com

Asking your peers for feedback can always be helpful, as it can help you realise what you are doing that may have a positive or negative effect on others. However, what is equally important is acting on this feedback. If you are unsure of anything, ask for clarity. Do not try to justify things by saying ‘yes, but because…’. This feedback is how they perceive you, so it’s important to be empathetic and willing to listen to others.

3. Make time to get to know your peers in more depth, such as what they find challenging at work.

Spending some time getting to know the people you work with can be a great way to improve your emotional intelligence. By knowing more about your peers, you can learn to understand them better, how they’re feeling and what challenges they may be facing. If that seems difficult right now, try to schedule some networking outside of work hours.

4. Paying attention to the way others are feeling and adjusting yourself to fit with them.

‘Emotionally Intelligent people pick up on others’ emotions and body language and use that information to enhance their communication skills.’ – Inc.com

If there are people on your team who you do not naturally fit well with, try to look at your personality types. Once you see the areas in which your personalities differ, try to adjust some of your behaviours or style to mirror theirs, e.g. use similar body language or tone. This can make working relationship smoother – a key part in awareness of others.

5. Think about the time, place and situation you are in.

Before reacting to a situation, think about the time and place. Will you achieve the outcome you’re looking for at 9am on a Monday or would you be better off waiting to have a conversation over a coffee break later in the day? Blunt expression without any consideration of these factors can result in defensive behaviour from others. Focusing on becoming more self-aware and aware of others is key to developing emotional intelligence.

‘When you work on pausing before speaking or acting, you create a habit of thinking first.’ – Inc.com

6. Ask others how they feel about issues and challenges at work.

It is important to allow others to express their thoughts about issues or challenges in work that may affect their work. Ask open questions to encourage a discussion about what they think or feel about how they work or changes that could be made.

7. Talk to the people who will be impacted by the decisions you make to get their perspective.

 ‘Bringing employees onboard when making decisions about the company’s future helps strengthen your relationship with each employee.’ – Smallbusiness.com

When making decisions that affect other people’s work it’s important to consult them. While you need to reflect on your own gut-feeling about the situation, you should also talk to the people it affects, assessing their thoughts and feelings about the decision. This can be done by asking open-ended questions to encourage discussion, or brainstorming with them during the decision-making process.

8. Communicate the decision and your rationale for it to stakeholders.

Once a decision has been made, it’s important to take time to communicate not only the decision but the reasoning behind it to key stakeholders. A great way to do this is to consider the working styles and roles of each stakeholder and communicate in a suitable manner.

9. Responding effectively in stressful situations.

Stress can affect our interpretation of events, so, where possible it can be helpful to put some time between a stressful incident and our response to it. Take some time to think about the different ways the situation could be handled and which one will achieve your desired outcome. Walk away from your desk or revisit the topic later on when you’re not feeling stressed.

10. Improving Yourself.

Reflecting on your strengths and limitations and setting goals to encourage continuous improvement. It can also help to ask others for feedback on a regular basis to evaluate your improvements and see what areas need more work.

11. Provide useful support to others.

Emotionally intelligent people come off as approachable. They smile and give off a positive presence.’ – Inc.com

A lot of the time people just need someone to ‘vent’ to, other times people might be looking for advice or help about a particular challenge they are facing. Sometimes taking a coaching or mentoring approach can be really helpful, encourage them to come up with their own solutions and if necessary add your own suggestions with specific examples.

12. Help others apply problem-solving and perspective-taking techniques.

Encourage people to start talking and thinking to find solutions to their problems. Ask them probing questions like what happened, what an ideal solution would be and the most useful thing they can do that could result in the best outcome.

What tips do you have for developing emotional intelligence?

By following these tips, you can begin developing emotional intelligence and start to improve your work and the relationships with those you work with. Emotionally intelligent people are better able to connect, communicate and collaborate. If you’d like to learn more about emotional intelligence development programs from Genos, visit our website.

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