The ability to understand and regulate your own emotions and the emotions of others can prove to be a vital skill in business. It’s key to maintaining composure, effective work strategies and can be integral to your ability to negotiate and close sales. So what if it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to you?
You can find lots of really insightful questionnaires online to work out your level of emotional intelligence. For example companies like MySkillsProfile and TalentSmart are a great resource for highlighting the areas that you need to improve in. Of course, if you’re getting top marks you can stop reading now!
A great way to better understand your own emotions is to consider connecting how you feel to similar feelings in the past. It can help to overcome negative emotions as you go through the process of working out what it was that helped last time and made you arrive at a moment of change.
For example you could be feeling a little out of sorts, and upon connecting it the last time you had these sort of symptoms, realise it was because you were under pressure from a manager. By rationalising the symptoms, it can help to alleviate them and identify the source of the problem.
It can also be particularly useful for mental blocks or periods of productivity; when you feel unable to work, think back to the last time you felt the same way, make the connection and you’ll realise what worked last time.
This is not just about listening to others, but listening to yourself. When you’re feeling certain negative emotions it’s very easy to steamroll over the top of them with flawed positivity or escapism. By embracing the way you really feel you won’t be simply bottling up the emotions, so it’s a great way to avoid burnout, and preventing the negative emotions from coming out at the wrong times.
Equally, try to apply this to other people within your company. Really listening to other people instead of spending the time working out how you’re going to respond is key to understanding their motivations and what makes them tick, which are hugely important to your leadership ability.
One of the key things that people with high Emotional Intelligence are great at is separating work and their home life. They understand that this can have a huge impact on their ability to control stress and keep working at an optimum. It also prevents your work problems from becoming a part of your private life which can make them appear bigger than they are.
The best way to combat this? Turn your work emails off on your phone. If you need to stay late to get some work finished, that’s always preferable to taking it home with you. As much as possible try to avoid using your mobile in the hour or so before bed, as the blue light it emits can seriously damage your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
One of the keys to really understanding what makes people tick is to go beyond exactly what they’re saying. The best way to do this is to understand the kind of non-verbals that people use every day. A good measure of honesty can be the level of eye contact you receive for example, or the inflections in someone voice might hint at the fact that they’re not feeling quite as pleased as they might appear.
The reason why this can be so important is that often in leadership or negotiation positions it’s absolutely vital that you go beyond what people are saying directly. If you can get to the heart of how they’re really feeling you’re in a much stronger position to motivate or influence them.
We all seem to be living increasingly busy lives, and one of the important things that you might not be making time for is taking stock of your own emotions. However, it’s absolutely essential to take the time to self-reflect if you want to improve your EQ.
Start by taking 10 minutes a day to write about the big things that happened in your day and how they made you feel; making sure you analyse the cause of negative emotions is the first step towards solving them. Even if there’s not an immediate solution, understanding why they came about can help to lower the impact. Remember, it’s about recognition and not judgement; if you’re overly harsh about the way that you’re feeling it’s not going to help change it.
Now that you understand your own emotions better, and are starting to understand what makes others tick, it’s time to start regulating them. Try to take a minute to assess your emotions in the workplace before you let them inform your decisions. This prevents any unresolved negative emotions taking precedence over your decisions instead of more thoughtful and honest assessments.
Matt Arnerich works as a content writer over at the UK's leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. He specialises in careers advice for young people looking to get into graduate jobs and internships, although writes across the spectrum of recruitment, job hunt tips and personal development. Check out the Inspiring Interns blog for specialist graduate careers advice, or if you're looking to hire a graduate, then get in touch!
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