McKinsey & Company declared in 2018 that the need for Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills would outpace the demand for cognitive skills through 2030. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum in 2021 stated that companies must prioritize wellbeing in the workplace. Many individuals lacking in emotional intelligence face several difficulties managing stress-related issues which could end up harming their overall wellbeing.
This fact is endorsed by different studies which suggest a strong association between stress and emotional intelligence (1). Stressed individuals demonstrate lower emotional intelligence and are unable to adopt the appropriate positive methods and techniques needed to minimize the negative effects of stress on physical and mental health (2). An effective response to stress often involves using coping strategies found in higher EI that develop important behavioral patterns and are highly favorable in such situations (3).
According to David Goleman, EI is “the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.” He argues that Emotional Intelligence is as important as IQ for success, both inside and outside of the workplace in part due to the direct correlation of emotional self-awareness and a healthy stress response. Some recent research shows EI may even be more important than IQ in some instances. The book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 written by Travis Bradberry is one of the best books to read on this subject. It has an assessment to get you started and then various different modalities to help increase your EI.
Can Emotional Intelligence Improve Wellbeing?
With the arrival of positive psychology and the extent it has grown over the last two decades, there has been an increased emphasis on areas such as focusing on positive traits (strengths), positive emotions, and their contribution to wellbeing. Recent research suggests a strong correlation between emotional intelligence and positive wellbeing. Specifically, emotional intelligence has been shown to positively impact key psychological components, such as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and self-acceptance. This highlights the importance of cultivating emotional intelligence for increased wellbeing. Empirical evidence that emotional intelligence is associated with emotional wellbeing comes from research indicating that higher emotional intelligence is associated with less depression (4), greater optimism (5), and greater life satisfaction (6).
Wellbeing and emotional intelligence are part of the puzzle to build a thriving organization, however, the glue to keeping everything in place is empathy. Empathy is an aspect of emotional intelligence that helps you understand what others feel and may motivate you to action. Many intelligent people are good at stepping into another person’s shoes and understanding their feelings, but empathy is more than just recognizing how others are feeling: it also involves how you respond to these emotions.
Empathy in the workplace allows people to understand different dynamics between colleagues, supervisors, and leadership. It also allows people to recognize who holds power and how it influences the behaviors, feelings, and interactions that flow from each relationship. Empathy plays a key role in healthy and productive working relationships. By learning to empathize with our colleagues, we can not only create a better work environment for everyone but also develop more meaningful relationships. With increased empathy comes greater self-awareness and understanding of our own emotions. We become more conscious of how our actions affect those around us. It may seem complicated to build empathy in the workplace, but sometimes the simple steps make the most significant impact in shifting the culture of your organization and increasing EI. Lifting individuals and teams and recognizing that emotions build stronger communities, creates more trust, and helps people feel cared for. With the environment continuing to feel uncertain, engaging employees in this way is more important than ever. With loud calls from employees to reduce burnout, implement systemic fixes, and increase retention, managers in any industry can implement strategies immediately by listening deeply for emotions and reflect on that person with understanding, as well as provide appreciation, connection, and community.
1. Ask questions and actively listen to the response.
2. Let people know your doors are open and you are available to support.
3. Recognize the challenge another human may be facing.
4. Look inward to identify the emotion that challenges or provokes you.
5. Transfer the emotion into productive actions and respond appropriately to the other person.
6. Expose yourself to new stories and life experiences by volunteering at shelters, hospitals, and/or community centers.
7. Recognize the challenge another human may be facing.
Written by Colleen Reilly for Forbes ~ June 20, 2023