Traditionally a person who displays emotions at workplace is looked upon with askance and emotions are not completely welcome in our work lives. Many of us are conditioned to leave emotions at home. As professionals, it is believed that in order to be effective, we need to base all our team strategies and decisions only upon cold, logical intelligence.  And yet it cannot be denied that emotions are a fundamental part of who we are and in the way we respond and relate to others.We cannot just leave our emotions behind at home when we go to work. Actually, doing that more often results in sudden flaring up of suppressed emotions, causing ugly conflicts at work place. Frequent flare-ups often result in hostility and deflated morale among colleagues.

emotional20intelligence20it20carlow1The solution around this is to view emotions in a completely different way as another kind of intelligence". An intelligence that, if we learn to assess can become a touchstone to great collaborations, a higher level of influence on others, more productivity and effectiveness. This intelligence is called as Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

What differentiates human beings from animals is the emotions. Emotions have immense practical value that helps us to be more flexible and adaptable as the current changing trends at work places demands. It is said that farthest distance is the distance from mind to the heart. By learning and utilizing EQ, this distance can be shortened and create teams of astonishing capacity and efficiency.

Charles Darwin was one of the first to recognize the value of our emotions. He considered our gut reactions, those raw feelings that give us sweaty palms, a churning stomach and tense muscles, to be important for human survival. An emotional system energizes behaviors needed to stay alive. It is an adaptive, intelligent and functional system. This explains why even though lacking in physical prowess compared with that of animals, humans have triumphed over all the other living beings and have been able to harness the energies of nature in a major way. Many species of animals have become extinct in the process of evolution, yet humans have evolved in an extremely adaptable and intelligent way.

Emotional Intelligence at the Workplace:
I have seen many potential employees, highly talented and intelligent people who fizzled out into emotional1 insignificant roles. This failure was majorly due to poor working relationships, conflicts with superiors and refusing to adapt. These people had a high IQ(Intelligence Quotient) but low EQ. Unlike IQ, EQ is not acquired or fixed from birth. It can be developed by learning and assessing from experiences. While we all experience emotions, we can make a choice to either express or suppress them. The win-win situation would be to express emotions to benefit us and to benefit others.

Today the changing trends at work places are such that instead of hierarchical pyramids and authoritarian leaderships, more and more organizations are adopting flatter structures. In such an environment, employees need to be able to lead themselves. They must be self-motivated self-starters who can work well with others in the group. Without EQ, this would be quite difficult. Balancing the heart and head is the prerequisite in business and to succeed.

How de we learn to raise our level of Emotional Intelligence?
Many aspects of EQ involve skills that we need to develop, that become habitual through practice. This takes time, there are no shortcuts to achieving it. Therefore it is an ongoing process.

There are five essential competencies that build upon each other to raise our level of EQ. These competencies are:
1) Self-Awareness.
3) Self-Regulation.
2) Self-Motivation.
4) Empathy.
5) Building Effective Relationships.

1) Self-Awareness: It is a very important factor that supports all other competencies. It comes first because if we do not know how we are feeling, how can we possibly understand how another person is feeling. Self-awareness is to know what drives us and what our passions and failings are.
It leads to relationships that are constructive and positive, both personally as well as professionally. The more we know ourselves, the better we are able to control and choose what kind of behaviors we display in a work setting.

How to increase our self-awarenes?
**Examine your impressions and interpretations. These generally are your inner thoughts that reflect your own understanding and notions.
**Tune in to your senses. Your senses can help you pick up a world of information about yourself, people, situations etc.
**Get in touch with your feelings. Sometimes it is painful to tune into your feelings, so we try to ignore them or deny them. It is better to understand them, acknowledge them and move on.
** Pay attention to your actions. Be aware of your body language. It speaks a lot more than our words do.

2) Self-Regulation: After we learn to listen to our own gut feelings and emotions, the next step is to regulate those feelings and manage them to do more good. Our passions can be contagious and may energize others, but anger flare-ups can damage relationships beyond repair. Checking such negative emotions is what regulating and managing feelings is about. When we are angry, we cannot think rationally and lose capacity to make appropriate decisions. Our perspective is lost. By learning to manage emotions, we become more adaptable and tactful in stressful situations. Those employees who  manage their emotions well are very good in their mood management. They are able to handle stress better and their communication is more consistent and positive.

How to manage emotions well?
** Monitor your self-talk. Most often we use negative self-talk because we work out of fear of failure. Awareness of our feelings leads to accepting responsibility, making appropriate choices and results in appropriate actions. Resulting feeling of empowerment makes you feel good about yourself mad makes you more confident.

cartoon1** Accept responsibility for your emotional responses in the workplace.  When you are willing to be accountable, you are acknowledging and asserting your own power.

** Anticipate emotional triggers: Things that you dread doing and set you off. Plan and prepare yourself in advance and diffuse the situation. Especially in women, PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) can set off series of mood swings, negative feelings, irritability etc. which may not be understood and accepted by their colleagues. Preparing to deal with PMS by exercises, medication etc. may prove beneficial in dealing with severe PMS symptoms.

** Use humor! Humor during tense situations can help lighten up moods and loosen up people. Humor will also make you less critical of others, but care should be taken that the humor you use is not offensive and is not used to ridicule others.

** Take deep breaths. Increasing the oxygen flow to the brain clarifies thinking, releases tension and has an overall soothing effect on the mind and body.

3) Self-Motivation: This is very important since self-motivation is the building block towards success. This is what drives us towards our goals in face of setbacks and obstacles. People who are low on self-motivation have a hard time committing themselves to a goal or following through the commitments that are already made. For those who are high on self-motivation, visualizing a goal and taking necessary steps to get there is an easy task, because they have learnt to use their negative experiences as a spur to drive them further towards their goals.  Such people realize that every job has its own set of problems and less-than-desirable elements, but they do not let such things get in their way and nevertheless plough on ahead right up to the finishing line.

4) Empathy: Once we have accepted and learnt to manage our own feelings and emotions, it is time to look around you. Emotional Intelligence means tuning in to your own feelings as well as tuning into the feelings of your colleagues. It means responding to others appropriately and understanding them. For further discussion on empathy, please see my article

5) Building Effective Relationships: This fifth competency is about interacting with people successfully. Leaders who are good at effective relationships are the bosses that people want to work for. Given the time we live in with plenty of job opportunities, if people are not happy working for you, they will simply leave. This would mean instability, discontinuity of service and disruption of the organization. This will also mean additional expenses of hiring and training replacement staff. More than anything else, it is the leadership practice that impacts a work environment to a great extent.

In order to improve Effective Relationships:
Employ all your competencies - Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation and Empathy to:
-Influence and persuade others.
-Build consensus and support  team goals.
-Motivate and inspire others in the team to reach their goals.

The basic areas that make a relationship are:
** Meeting each others' needs: Thinking only of your own needs means the relationship is exploitative. This is a big no-no when you work as a team.

** Relating to each other over time. There is a need to develop rapport. For this, nurture an environment of mutual trust and comfort.

**Exchanging information about your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Relating to each other goes beyond exchanging mere facts. An open dialogue goes a long way in building trust.

Building these five competencies within you and constantly evaluating and analyzing them will make you a Credible Leader, the leader that people would want to look up to!




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