7 Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
In the workplace, emotional intelligence (EI) can be closely tied to the mental health of employees. By understanding and managing their emotions effectively, employees can experience improved self-esteem, life satisfaction, and overall well-being. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced productivity and job satisfaction.
It’s worth noting that emotional intelligence is not an inherent quality, but a skill that can be developed with practice and training.
This is because issues with mental health are often due to the inability to manage distressing emotions. Therefore, cultivating emotional intelligence skills can have a positive impact on mental health, reducing the prevalence of disorders and improving overall well-being in the workplace.
Understanding how to manage stress on your team and educating your entire organization on mental health best practices is one important way to improve morale and make your workplace a safe, welcoming place for all employees. And, as the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the ability to navigate difficult emotions and build strong relationships will be essential.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage, understand and regulate emotions for oneself and help others do the same. It’s an increasingly popular skill in the workplace, especially among leaders, because of the benefits that stem from it.
“It’s a powerful tool for managing a peaceful mind,” says Martyn Newman PhD, executive chairman of RocheMartin, in this video. “It’s really one of the most profound frameworks, I think from a clinical-psychological point of view, for helping people manage and maintain happiness and their mental health.”
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THE CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
The challenges that stand in the way of developing high emotional intelligence often come from within. Some struggle with self-awareness and self-management — or knowing themselves and how their emotions affect them.
Naturally, external factors also affect one’s ability to develop this skill. Learning how to interpret others’ emotions and feelings can help develop higher emotional intelligence. However, it’s not always easy to read others. Even tougher, the practice of building and maintaining healthy relationships takes time.
Specifically, people who seek to elevate their emotional intelligence run into these challenges:
- Being open to feedback: It can be difficult to hear negative feedback about our emotions, especially if we are not used to it. However, feedback is essential for learning and growing.
- Being open to change: Changing our emotional habits can be challenging, especially if we have been doing things the same way for a long time. However, change is necessary for growth.
- Managing difficult emotions: Everyone experiences difficult emotions from time to time. However, people with high emotional intelligence are better able to manage these emotions in a healthy way.
- Building strong relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships takes time and effort. It can be challenging to find people who we connect with and who support us.
Developing and maintaining high EI can be challenging. It requires us to be open to feedback, willing to change, and able to manage difficult emotions. However, the rewards of high EI are significant. People with high EI are more likely to be successful in their careers, have healthier relationships, and live happier lives.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR TEAM’S EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Improving EI in the workplace requires a commitment from your organization’s leaders, as well as careful consideration and planning. Here are some ways you might begin this journey:
- Raise Awareness: Conduct regular workshops or seminars to educate employees about the importance of mental health, emotional wellness, and self-care.
- Develop and Implement Employee Mental Health Resources: These could include online resources, mental health days, counseling services, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). This provides employees with the tools to manage their mental health effectively.
- Train Managers in Mental Health Support: Managers should be trained to recognize the signs of mental health issues and how to handle such situations sensitively. They should also promote a positive work environment that encourages open dialogue about mental health.
- Implement Emotional Wellness Programs: Such programs may focus on developing skills like mindfulness, empathy, resilience, and problem-solving, all of which contribute to emotional wellness.
- Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and set boundaries between work and personal life. This can significantly improve their mental health and emotional well-being.
- Model Healthy Mental Wellness Practices: Managers can lead by example by setting work boundaries, reducing stress, and promoting a culture of respect and understanding.
- Provide Mental Health Training for all Employees: This training should aim to increase understanding of mental health, develop skills to manage stress and emotional challenges, and foster a supportive work environment.
Remember, it's crucial to tailor these strategies to the specific needs and contexts of your workplace. Continual evaluation and feedback are also important to ensure the effectiveness of these interventions.
As leaders strive to improve their emotional intelligence at work, Skillsoft offers several courses that teach about psychological safety, anger management and more. See the Emotional Intelligence channel here.