We have all heard the term "Emotional Intelligence (also known as emotional quotient, or EQ)," but what does it mean? Why is it important? And why does it even matter? First, emotional intelligence "refers to the ability to perceive, manage, and evaluate emotions." 

Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill for companies, their leaders, and their teams as it's necessary to understand, interpret, and respond to the feelings of others. Thankfully, Emotional Intelligence can be learned and strengthened. EQ in the Workplace is key to creating a thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative environment for yourself and your team. 
 

Pause

Before we can jump in and start practicing Emotional Intelligence, let's first reflect on how we handle emotions in the Workplace. There's this unspoken belief that we're meant to compartmentalize our feelings at work and that work and emotions are not intertwined. I think we all know that's not true. Our feelings are with us at all points in the day and impact our behaviors, energy, and decisions. 

Now for EQ to be effective - we need to start from within, so ask yourself:
  • How do I handle my emotions at work? 
  • How do my emotions influence how I respond? 
You can't better the well-being of your team without first knowing how you operate on an emotional level. 
 

Play 

Now that you've taken the time to reflect, it's time to start practicing emotional intelligence within the workday. 
 
Here are three ways to practice EQ every day: 

Establish a Safe & Comfortable Environment

Start creating a safe and comfortable environment for your team. The first way to start doing this is to build trust within your team. Be open about your emotions or if you're having a tough day. Remind your team that it's OK to be upset or frustrated. Start sharing ways that you work through emotions (by understanding, interpreting, and responding to that emotion). 
Most people are not great mind readers, this is also true of your team. Being open with your team about how you’re feeling gives them the opportunity to understand you better, build trust, and not make the wrong assumption. You might have gotten bad news before you arrived at work, and if you don’t tell your team they might assume you are mad or frustrated with them and create a completely different story in their heads that will not help you work together in the future.
 

Listen Actively

Active listening helps to recognize other perspectives, feelings, and experiences. Active listening can look like putting your phone or laptop away, taking notes, and asking questions. 
 

Recognize Emotions Through Non-Verbal Cues 

Establishing a safe and comfortable environment and active listening are the stepping stones to creating an environment where people can verbally express their views and emotions. OK, but what about those oh-so-critical non-verbal cues? For example, body posture, eye rolls, inconsistent behaviors, deep sighs, so many small movements tell a bigger story on how our team is feeling. 
As you notice non-verbal behaviors stay open and curious. Don’t assume you know what they mean. Before you react to a non-verbal cue, ask that team member if your assumption is correct and allow them to be honest. This is especially important when members of your team have different lived experiences than you do. For example a deep sigh could signal many things and how you interpret it is often shaped by your personal experiences. Keep in mind our interpretations of others are not always correct. This is why feedback is necessary.
 

Perform

Emotional Intelligence at a high level is practicing empathy and paying attention to the feelings of those around you as well as yourself. A good leader typically has a high emotional intelligence level, and it's those skills that help develop more effective workplaces. Like anything, EQ starts at the top, so lead by example, practice these activities daily and with each team member.

Managers - when practicing EQ, ask for feedback! You may notice shifts in behavior or body language, and while it's great that you're aware of these things, how you confront or speak to an employee is not a one-size-fits-all. Each team member is different, so when addressing your team or individual members, ask for feedback on what they need to succeed. Reminder it's OK if you don’t know how to help right away, and remember if you receive any constructive feedback, listen actively and understand that it's coming from a place of care and concern.

We are making emotionally charged decisions every day, and through emotional intelligence, we can understand the origin of these emotions. Emotional Intelligence within teams has never been more critical. We are surrounded by unique individuals with different cultures and experiences. EQ in the workplace comes down to understanding, expressing, managing, building positive relationships, and solving problems under pressure. 

As managers, directors, V.P.'s, and CEOs, learning about and practicing emotional intelligence can help build a stronger, more collaborative team. Not sure where to start? ImprovEQ has your back. Join our Leadership Playground and gain professional training and personalized guidance designed to help you become a more effective manager in leading and engaging your people. 
 
Getting started is easy; schedule a complimentary call with us to discuss the right solutions for you and your team. 
Feeling drained, overwhelmed, or stuck with work or your team? 

Don't worry, you're not alone! Let's tackle it together with a free strategy kickoff.
In this 30-minute chat, we'll focus on you and your leadership challenges. Let's chat, brainstorm, and find ways to inject more creativity, connection, and confidence into how you work or lead.

Learn more at www.improvEQ.com

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