An emotionally intelligent workplace is one which does not rely solely on technical expertise for making hiring and promotion decisions. An emotionally intelligent workplace supports staff from behind the scenes, allowing those who do the work to take the credit and creating an environment that helps talent shine.
These are just a few of the things I learned from David Cory on September 28 when he spoke to us at our most recent Workplace Fairness luncheon. In short, our emotional intelligence governs many decisions we make, usually quite unwittingly. Consider the impact on decisions of our first impressions – the handshake, dress, even tone of voice. We go to school to learn technical skills, but often fail to consider the role our emotions play in our day-to-day decisions.
When I invite individuals to introduce themselves in my conflict resolution classes, I often ask them for their single word for conflict. Out of 20 words, typically 4 or 5 are emotion words: fear, anger, anxiety. The definition of Emotional Intelligence (from Mayer and Salovey, 1990) is “The ability of the brain to process emotions and emotional information.” Emotional intelligence is requisite for conflict resolution, and as David pointed out, for hiring decisions.
We leave the acquisition of these skills to chance. Children left alone learn all about bullying and cliquing. Adults revert to this behaviour in less emotionally intelligent workplaces.
What drives discretionary effort? One’s relationship with the boss. It is a myth that good leaders need technical competence; it is more important to build an atmosphere in the workplace which is motivational and inspirational, supporting technically-expert staff to do their best work from behind the scenes.
So how do you measure EI? And if you can measure it, how do you go about improving it? David pointed us to one available tool.
Developed by Dr. Reuven Bar-On, the EQI 2 (http://www.eitrainingcompany.com/about-eitc/eq-assessment/) identifies skills in five areas:
- Stress management
- Self perception
- Self expression
- Decision making
- Interpersonal skills
Following an assessment, individual coaching sessions can be geared towards addressing weaker areas. One-on-one work with a performance coach helps individuals gain specific strategies and confidence to improve their emotional fitness quotient.
The keys to improving your emotional intelligence quotient are captured with the acronym SOSSA:
S – Self. Understand yourself. Do not hesitate to be honest with yourself about your areas of weakness.
O – Others. Understand others and help others. Social responsibility will elevate your emotional fitness.
S – Situations. Pay attention to situations and how they affect reactions and behaviours.
S – Stress. Pay attention to stress and its impacts.
A – Attitude. Learn optimism.
Thank you David Cory (http://www.eitrainingcompany.com/) for a very interesting session. I will be carefully considering and evaluating my own emotional intelligence. My personal goal is to pay more attention to situations and how they affect reactions and behaviours, optimistically of course.