What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can You Use It At Work

What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can You Use It At Work

Lately, emotional intelligence has been a buzz word. If you’re not already familiar with the term, you should start paying attention because emotional intelligence could help you obtain a job and succeed in the workplace. Learn more about emotional intelligence and how it might benefit you and your career.

Defining Emotional Intelligence

You may have a general idea of what emotional intelligence means, but do you truly understand the term? If you want to know how this quality can help you at work, you need to be aware of the definition. Simply put, emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to control how they feel and to effectively impact the way people around them feel.

One example of emotional intelligence is navigating your personal relationships. When a conflict comes up, how do you react? If you can diffuse a conflict and maintain your composure, you have good emotional intelligence. Handling change, working past obstacles, and interviewing for jobs all involve some level of emotional intelligence.

Using Emotional Intelligence at Work

There are five elements of emotional intelligence that impact your performance and success in the workplace. Here’s a closer look at each element:


To have this quality, you need to know your own thoughts and feelings. You also need to understand how your feelings affect everyone else. When you are faced with a conflict at work, stop and think about how you’re feeling. Are you thinking logically? If necessary, take a few deep breaths or practice a quick meditation. This helps you be more aware and less reactive.


Once you master self-awareness, you can work on self-regulation. This refers to the way you control your behavior and feelings. When there’s a problem, how do you handle it? Someone with emotional intelligence can stop before they make a rash decision or say a hurtful comment. Before they act, they regulate themselves. It’s important to note that self-regulation doesn’t mean suppressing the way you feel. Rather, it means you can handle your emotions in a productive way. Self-regulation comes with time and practice, and it’s something everyone can improve upon.


If you can keep yourself motivated at work, you will boost your productivity. Some people need their boss to constantly keep them pushing, but this isn’t healthy. When no one is looking, do you still urge yourself to succeed? Emotional intelligence requires you to be an expert at self-motivation. You need to find a sense of accomplishment in finishing your tasks well and on time. As an added benefit, people who motivate themselves usually push others to succeed.


In every workplace, there’s a team mentality. You need to work well with others in order to perform well. And one of the keys to teamwork is empathy. As a component of emotional intelligence, empathy is a crucial skill. You need to be able to see issues from other perspectives. Before you judge someone or form an opinion, you should be able to put yourself in their shoes.

Social Skills

Not everyone is born with social skills. For some, this aspect of emotional intelligence takes a great deal of work. You need to learn how to communicate well with others. If you have active listening skills, you’re on your way to having excellent social skills. You can practice your social skills by participating in group projects and leading discussions. Whether you're at work or at home, you can practice social skills.

What's the Value of Emotional Intelligence at Work?

There's more than one way that your emotional intelligence can help you with your career. Here are a few ways in which you can benefit:

Better Interactions

Your emotional intelligence can improve the interactions you have with coworkers, clients, and managers. When you know how to read people and handle your own emotions, you can have better relationships. As an added benefit, you and everyone around you is likely to be happier. You can have meaningful relationships with your colleagues.

Motivate Co-Workers

People with emotional intelligence often lift up their co-workers. Because you have empathy, you know how others are feeling and you know what might push them to do better. If you have or want a leadership role, you need this skill. It will help you rise above the rest and succeed.

Career Progression

In order for your career to progress, you need to know how to handle yourself and others. You can be a great worker, but that's not enough to advance your career. If you don't talk to the right people or handle yourself a certain way, you're unlikely to advance. You can use your emotional intelligence to get a promotion or find a new job.

Tips for Improving Emotional Intelligence

If you feel as if you're lacking emotional intelligence, you don't need to despair. There are a few ways in which you can improve this quality.

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

When people react, they often do so without analyzing the situation. Start thinking about how you actually feel and what you're doing as a reaction to that feeling. It takes time to truly acknowledge your emotions.

Request Feedback

It's difficult to take criticism without having a negative reaction. But the next time you receive feedback, try a new approach. Instead of being hurt or upset, think about the criticism. How does it apply to you? Ask for them to elaborate or give examples.

Be Mindful

Overall, you should just be more mindful. It's like a muscle. If you don't make an effort to use it, the muscle becomes weak. Everyday, try to do at least one thing to be mindful. It could be something as simple as helping a friend, listening to a manager, or calming your anger.

Using Emotional Intelligence to Your Advantage

Once you start improving your emotional intelligence, you should see changes in the workplace. It's only a matter of time before you come across a great opportunity or improve a relationship. In the end, emotional intelligence could be the key to your career.

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