Studies show that employees with higher emotional intelligence at work (EI) have better advantages. They tend to have a higher level of leadership and interpersonal skills, and the ability to manage stress. This is a crucial factor that defines and helps workers move up to the ladder of success. How does emotional intelligence help remote workers cope with working from home? Do emotionally intelligent people have an advantage over others in being more productive in the remote setting?
But before we delve deeper to find the answers, let’s define emotional intelligence.
What exactly is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ) refers to a person’s way of dealing with situations. It shows their ability to discern, handle, and manage their emotions. In a nutshell, it involves acting appropriately in the work environment and in any social setting. It’s about understanding your emotions and others’ so you can leverage the given elements to enhance your career, wellbeing, relationships, and overall quality of life. Some people naturally have higher emotional intelligence. But worry not because it is also a skill that can be enhanced through constant practice and training.
People with high EI vs. People with low EI
Individuals with high emotional intelligence at work show the following capabilities:
- Solve problems better and faster
- Make sound and practical decisions
- Keep their cool under pressure
- Have greater empathy
- Resolve conflicts effectively
- Reflect, listen, and respond objectively to constructive criticisms
On the other hand, people with a low emotional quotient manifests the following:
- Avoid taking accountability for mistakes or errors
- Tend to play the victim role
- Display aggressive or passive communication style
- Dismiss others’ opinions and are highly critical of others
- Refuse to cooperate or work with the team
Why is emotional intelligence indispensable in the workplace?
Emotional intelligence addresses the fundamental needs of employees. These fundamental needs are in the context of emotional, interpersonal, and social. When employees are valued and appreciated, they become motivated to work. And this makes a company successful at all levels. A healthy environment is important in any workplace. We must not disregard the importance of emotional intelligence at work. There are many good impacts that it brings to the workplace.
A Yale study revealed that employees’ creativity and productivity are linked to the emotionally intelligent behavior of their supervisors. When people perceive that their superiors and colleagues care about them and their opinions, they become more motivated to do their jobs. Teams of individuals that possess high emotional intelligence show deeper and better support to create a healthy, positive, and successful company culture. They are more adaptable to change, open to innovation, and more flexible during difficult times.
Why emotional intelligence remains vital in remote work
As pandemic continues to shape the new normal, remote work has become an alternative method for many companies. Work from home has become an option for those who do not want to compromise the safety of their employees. Without the traditional work environment and culture, you may think that emotional intelligence at work does not matter in a remote setting. But a Slack survey revealed that many remote workers complained about losing their ‘sense of belongingness’ when they work from home. Other surveys reported that their productivity level has significantly decreased.
Remote working had some negative impacts on different employees. Some felt isolated, burnout, and had mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Moreover, the threats of COVID-19 to businesses raise concerns about job and financial security. Physical and emotional health are also affected, as well as childcare, and others. All these things can impact the performance of the workers. This issue needs immediate resolution. But due to limited interactions through Zoom meetings, emails, calls, and other remote work tools, it is easy to overlook that some of the employees need assistance unless they talk about it. This is where employers and employees should harness their emotional intelligence.
On the part of employers, leading their workers with emotional intelligence is very critical. It is important to reignite the motivation, productivity, and creativity of people who suffered or are suffering from bouts of burnout, isolation, traumas, and losses.
Effective techniques to achieve these goals include:
- Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings via Zoom or video chat
- Prioritizing and personalizing communication with every employee
- Showing empathy to people suffering from first-hand or second-hand trauma
- Utilizing conference calls or group video meetings to encourage everyone to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences
- Recognizing and celebrating small and big successes
- Finding common ground with the teams and employees
How does remote working leverage your emotional intelligence?
On a positive note, remote working offers a myriad of opportunities for you. It includes flexibility that lets you manage your work environment. You get access to various collaboration and communication tools, making you more tech-savvy. Furthermore, a virtual work environment allows you to enhance and leverage your emotional intelligence at work, which is comprised of the following factors:
- Self-awareness – the ability to identify your emotions and their effects on yourself and other people. It also refers to your confidence and self-esteem levels.
- Maturity – the ability to manage your emotions appropriately and effectively. It also refers to adaptability skills, a strong sense of self-motivation, and optimism during stressful situations.
- Social skills – the ability to recognize and understand people’s emotional states. It also refers to showing empathy.
- Rapport – the ability to manage relationships and conflicts. It also refers to the ability to support, motivate, and lead others.
Effective ways to increase your emotional intelligence at work and home
If you are emotionally intelligent, you can easily adapt to the remote work setting. Perhaps, you even wished to work from home and avoid the daily grind of traffic or commuting to your workplace. Now, you are given a chance of a lifetime, which can be the future of work. Hence, it is essential to become more intentional in increasing your level of emotional intelligence. It is so that you can cope up with the dynamics of remote working.
Here are some easy ways to do it:
1. Enhance your self-awareness
- Assess your emotions regularly. It is necessary to pay attention to your feelings. It is to ensure that you are responding objectively. Do not allow your emotions to influence your responses or decisions.
- Reflect on the role that your emotions play in your daily tasks.
- Take stock of your emotional weaknesses and strengths to find out if they are improving or hurting your working relationships, communication, and performance.
- Always remember that every emotion is fleeting. Never make rash decisions that are based on intense feelings of anger, impatience, or frustration.
2. Practice self-management
- Create boundaries like having a dedicated workstation where you can work without interruptions or distractions
- Set up a work routine and structure your daily tasks to complete your to-do lists
- Take regular breaks like when you are in the traditional office setting
- Check-in and show up on time to bond with your teammates before the actual work
3. Improve your self-regulation skills
- Accept that you are not always in control and some situations are inevitable
- Keep your cool and avoid reacting impulsively
- Look for appropriate ways to express your feelings
- Do not bottle up your emotions
- Find strategies to release work-related stress such as doing physical exercises or having a hobby that helps you relax after a day’s work
- Make a rational choice by giving yourself enough time to calm down and consider the options or consequences
4. Improve your social skills
- Develop relationships by getting to know your colleagues beyond their organizational role
- Be an active member of the team
- Strive to preserve your sense of connection with co-workers
- Be an active listener by asking questions, showing full attention, or providing feedback
- Avoid office drama and stay out of office politics that can happen even in a virtual setting
- Pay attention to subtle cues or nonverbal signals that include body language, facial expression, voice tone, volume, or pace of speech
- Hone your skills in persuading others to consider your opinions and ideas
5. Be more motivated
- Focus on the aspects of your job that you love and enjoy doing
- Work on your motivation by taking on new challenges
- Be committed to your work goals by strategizing on how to produce quality output
- Never give up when facing big obstacles
- Keep your positive attitude to motivate and inspire others
6. Show empathy
- Respond appropriately to what others are feeling
- Understand the dynamics between managers and employees
- Pay attention to your actions or responses to others’ ideas or input
- See things from the point of view of other people
- Find a middle ground and show a willingness to compromise when necessary
7. Communicate directly or indirectly
- Update your status on the company’s chat tool
- Provide context if you are going offline and when you are going back after an away status
- Have face-to-face video calls with your colleagues especially if you are working with the team or a project collaborator to build closer relationships
- Agree on ground rules especially if your team is working in different time zones
- Remain visible and approachable by being virtually present when your colleagues need any kind of assistance
Cultivating a healthy and positive emotional intelligence at work amidst the current pandemic crisis is a real challenge to everyone. While remote work offers advantages, there are also challenges that need to be resolved by being proactive and recognizing the need for a growth mindset. It all begins by embracing the new policies of remote working and being passionate about your chosen field.