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Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in the Workplace


What makes a person successful? A variety of factors help, including a good academic record, solid work experience, and networking connections who are willing to help open doors. But when it comes to really making your mark in your chosen field, you’ll need more than that. Emotional intelligence can make all the difference.

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Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and former New York Times reporter, wrote a book on the subject called Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Goleman says he first came across the idea in an article in a small, academic journal written by two psychologists, John Mayer, now at the University of New Hampshire, and Peter Salovey at Yale. Emotional intelligence is often now referred to as “EQ.”

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What Is EQ?

EQ consists of three things that affect our experience of life, how we interact with other people, and how we interact with the world around us.  

  1. EQ is the ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions;
  2. EQ is the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others; and  
  3. EQ is the ability to relate to others in effective ways both personally and professionally in a wide range of contexts and roles. EQ requires some flexibility.

EQ in the Workplace

Some people are not comfortable with the emotion anger. Instead of recognizing and responding to anger in appropriate ways, some people are more likely to deny that they are angry. This denial leads to passive-aggressive behavior. For example, your co-worker is mad at you so she “forgets” to give you an important message.

When emotionally intelligent people are upset with someone, they are more likely to talk to the person and attempt to work things out. This way, problems may get solved quickly, efficiently, and without anyone not getting an important message. This is just one example of how people with EQ are helpful in the workplace. EQ correlates with clear and efficient communication, often expressed with objectivity.

Another reason those with high EQ are more productive at work is they are better able to take in constructive criticism and feedback. This openness results in their improved performance and productivity over time.

Those with lower EQs are more likely to blame other people for problems in the workplace and feel victimized. Those with higher EQs are better able to see how their own behavior affects the group, and to behave in a way that is helpful.

If you want to improve your own EQ, try listening to others with an open mind. Take in what they are saying and how they seem to be feeling, but recognize your own emotions while you do so. When you feel stress, you need to take care of yourself. Identify ways that help you reduce stress; it could be taking a walk or simply taking a moment to sit at your desk and drink some water. Different things work for different people, but you must identify what stresses you out, when you are stressed, and how you can help yourself.

In addition to increasing your own awareness of your emotions, remember to utilize non-verbal cues with others. Remember to look at them and pay attention when they are speaking. This will make communication in the office easier, and you will be on the road to enhancing your own EQ.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you work in a place in which people have a high EQ? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Kimberly Hope
Kimberly Hope

A person can be very intelligent and work hard but if they suffer from an mental illness that was caused by parental abuse, it can affect their entire life and success.


I completed my EQ profile from a book by Jon Mayer and in each quadrant I measured a 10 and had a perfect square while others were high in some areas & low in others. I did it again a yr later and had the same results, both times the HR rep said that she’d never seen that in 20 yrs. I was just curious as to how HR uses the results of these profiles.

JJ Miller
JJ Miller

I am a Chef and work in a potentially, high stress environment. I consider my EQ to be really good when dealing with peers, even difficult ones, but I find it VERY difficult when superiors are rude. In the thick of a situation, I become angry, tense and self conscious. I can later on discuss the situation calmly, but at the time I can think of nothing else but the injustice.

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