"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." —Maya Angelou
How many times have you heard that "being emotional" is negative for one's work life, and that IQ (general intelligence) is more necessary than EQ (emotional intelligence) for a successful career? Have you been told, or have you implicitly understood, that crying at the workplace is an absolute no-no? Have you been told to "calm down" when talking passionately about an important subject or issue at work?
What's at play here is a myth that needs to be debunked—the myth that emotion is not productive, inappropriate for the workplace, and generally unnecessary.
But as more and more researchers are discovering, emotions are our primary source of feedback and motivation in the workplace. Most of the time, emotions are not at odds with good judgment or sound reasoning. In fact, they usually have the opposite effect: they inspire us to listen to what's really happening, to use good judgment, and to pay closer attention to a decision or work relationship that awakens fear and stress.
Here are three ways you can tap into your emotional intelligence to improve your work life:
- Perspective - Step outside of yourself and put yourself in a coworker's position. What motivates him or her? What are his or her goals? What is his or her perspective on an issue you've been struggling with? Do the same with your customers, boss(es), and direct reports. Opening up and thinking about different perspectives can help widen your overall understanding of your organization and how you fit within it.
- Conflict - When a conflict occurs within your organization, pay close attention to what the two sides are saying: often, there is more brewing under the surface. What emotions are present for the parties in conflict? Again, what are their unique perspectives on the issue? Think outside of your own role within the conflict and widen your viewpoint to see it from a different angle.
- Feedback - Perhaps the most important part of becoming more emotionally intelligent is being able to use feedback from your heart, not just your head, to make crucial decisions, innovate, and inspire change. Being in tune with your emotions shapes more trusting relationships with those around you, gives you an inner compass to live by, and can guide you to new possibilities.
How have you expanded your emotional intelligence? How has it changed your overall career, daily work life, or personal life?