How many times have you or someone you know let their emotions go? Whether it was anger, sadness, joy, or anything else, everyone has experienced emotions. Emotions play a part in how we go about our daily lives. Yet if we acted solely on our emotions to determine our actions, we wouldn’t be making the best decisions. By looking at our emotions and learning how to understand and utilize them, we can improve our social aspect of our life – whether it’s in the workplace or outside the office.
Emotional intelligence is different than cognitive intelligence such that emotional intelligence affects social functioning. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and control your emotions. Someone who could be very smart and have a high IQ, but could be very socially awkward. This person would be described as someone who has acute cognitive ability, but weak emotional ability. According to the ability model of emotional intelligence, EI consists of perceiving emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and managing emotions. Perceiving emotions is how we understand others’ expressions and tones, including our own. Using emotions is how we utilize them to best perform the job, assignment, or obligation we have. Understanding an emotion is how we comprehend different emotions we come across. Finally, managing emotions is how we can best utilize the emotions we experience. This core understanding will help shape our abilities with emotions.
A type of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. According to the textbook, self-awareness refers to “the ability of an individual to understand the types of emotions he or she is experiencing, the willingness to acknowledge them, and the capability to express them naturally.” This can be simplified to being aware of your emotions and how they will impact yourself and other people. Self-awareness is one of the best ways to understand one’s self. Self-awareness can be synonymous with conscientiousness. When you realize who you are and what you can do, you can begin to responsibly undertake tasks. You’ll know what you can do, what the scope of your skills are, and what you are willing to accept help on.
In addition to self-awareness, there is a form known as other awareness. This is our ability to recognize and understand emotions expressed by other people. This is an important ability to possess in the workplace, especially if working in the service industry or you meet with clients frequently. Being able to ‘read’ a client or patient is essential to provide the best form of service because you are able to understand that person and know what they are looking for. Other awareness is also important in your own office. To even have a simple conversation with a coworker you utilize other awareness, even if you are doing it subconsciously.
The third aspect to emotional intelligence is emotion regulation. This is the ability to recover from emotional experiences quickly. If, for example, you were walking home listening to music and somebody on a bicycle bumped you and got mad at you and shouted at you. If you can regulate your emotions, you can recover from that experience quickly, continue walking home, and not let it ruin your day. If you couldn’t regulate your emotions properly, you might chase the cyclist down or throw something at him, and trouble would happen. In a workplace setting, if you received news at work – like a pay raise, pay cut, new assignments, etc – you need to be able to control your reactions to the news and recover your emotions to not inhibit your work.
The fourth facet of emotional intelligence is the use of emotions. Basically, it’s how people express their emotions for what they are trying to accomplish. So you can recognize emotions and regulate emotions, but do you know how to use them? Come finals week, everyone is scrambling to prepare for finals and finish projects, but lot of people have trouble even beginning to study or write a paper. I, myself, am relatively low in this aspect of emotional intelligence, seeing how it took me quite a while to even begin writing this blog post.
By understanding emotional intelligence, one will be able to successfully apply it to his or her workplace. Emotional intelligence plays a major role in nearly every aspect at work, whether we realize it or not. When we are given a mundane task to perform, we utilize emotion regulation to compose ourselves. We then apply the use of emotions to be able to start the project. Awareness is crucial to being successful in the social aspect of business. Whether it is meeting with clients, having a staff meeting, or simply socializing in the workplace, we need to be able to read the other person’s emotions and adjust our own appropriately. Someone in sales needs to have high ability in the aspects of both self-awareness and other awareness alike. Can you imagine a socially awkward individual trying to close a big deal with executives? It probably wouldn’t happen.
Copestake, S., Gray, N. S., & Snowden, R. J. (2013). Emotional intelligence and psychopathy: A comparison of trait and ability measures. Emotion, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031746
Farh, C. I. C. C., Seo, M., & Tesluk, P. E. (2012). Emotional intelligence, teamwork effectiveness, and job performance: The moderating role of job context. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(4), 890-900. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0027377
Shellenbarger, S. (2012, August 15). Dealing With a Boss Who Yells - WSJ.com. Retrieved April 14, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444772404577589302193682244.html