Emotional intelligence — also referred to as emotional quotient or EQ — is more of a soft skill in the business world but no less important than technical skills. Due to the shift in many businesses from in-office operations to remote working, EQ and the ability to increase the emotional intelligence (EI) of teams is more important than ever.
Measuring EQ is based on the ability of individuals to identify, regulate and control their own emotions and pick up on cues about the emotional states of others around them. With this knowledge, people can operate in social settings and adjust their actions, tone of voice and approach toward others accordingly.
There are five key traits that comprise EQ, used both to regulate our own emotions and identify and respond to the feelings of others. These traits include:
• Regulating your emotions.
• Recognizing and identifying different emotions in yourself and others.
• Labeling these emotions with precise words and objective terminology.
• Expressing emotions in the proper context and understanding emotional expressions of different cultures.
• Understanding the consequences of expressing emotions in a certain manner.
These traits are divided into two main areas of focus: the ability to recognize different feelings and the ability to regulate emotions based on your desired goals. Many times, nonverbal cues are necessary to identify emotions in others as well as the intents of people from different cultures when expressing emotions.
Determining one’s EQ level is a little different than simply taking a test. EQ takes into account an individual’s ability to first identify and then use the information to make the right choices for thoughts and actions. Emotions have a tremendous impact on our ability to make decisions, perform our best at home and in the workplace, take care of our physical and mental needs, and build and maintain important relationships.
People are complex, and when dealing with people in various emotional states, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Moving to remote interactions — including telecommuting, communication via phone calls and emails — versus in-person interactions and the rise of videoconferencing have all made EQ more important. The more subtle forms of nonverbal communication are often lost in these types of interactions. Loss of nuance has made it more difficult for teams to communicate in high-pressure settings or when something isn’t going right with the project.
Now, co-workers need to rely more on upfront communication, including stress levels and “just having a bad day,” where they were once able to simply look over at a co-worker and note that they seemed stressed. It’s useful to understand that, while the scope of emotional intelligence expands beyond language, there are some clues in the way a person speaks that can reveal their level of EQ.
Being proactive and recognizing when communication sounds unintentionally terse is important. There are “low EQ” responses and “high EQ” responses, and the higher ones tend to be less direct and include more feel-good verbiage.
There are several things that managers and team leaders can do to help their associates develop higher EQ:
• Encourage focusing during remote meetings, giving speakers and the topic their full attention.
• Listen and think about what was said before responding. Practice active listening skills.
• Be clear about communications and definitive about expectations and deadlines.
• Ensure that they are accessible and available for team needs.
Building a culture strong in EQ takes time, but the benefits can be far-reaching, including teams being more in tune with one another and having a workplace culture with less interpersonal conflict. Building greater understanding between different cultures and the different emotional expressions of each also helps bring together teams working remotely across the globe. Savvy business owners and managers can implement a stronger development of EQ for better results.