A pervasive myth still exists. This myth stifles wellbeing and performance at work.
The myth is that emotions don’t belong at work. That workers can flip a switch and shed all of their fear, joy, sorrow, and hope at the door of work. This myth leads many to behave cold and stoical throughout their professional lives.
Not only is feeling feelings part of being human, but research shows that when coworkers drop their polished professional presence, those around them experience a boost in trust, kindness, performance, and connection. Divorcing ourselves from our personal lives is not only unfortunate, but it’s bad business.
This is why emotional intelligence will be the hallmark of the most successful leaders and organizations of the future. In my recent article, 5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is the Future of Work, I highlight how technology, Generation Z, and neuroscience are all contributing to emotional intelligence being the future of work.
The ability to identify and manage one’s personal emotions and the emotions of others will be an advantageous skill for leaders as mental health concerns, depression, and loneliness continue to rise in the modern workforce.
If leaders can’t get comfortable wading into emotional waters, they run the risk of never fully solving the problems of their team or customers because empathy, a core pillar of emotional intelligence, is required to fully problem solve. As Bill Gates stated in his 2014 Stanford University commencement speech, “If we have optimism, but we don’t have empathy then it doesn’t matter how much we master the secrets of science. We’re not really solving problems; we’re just working on puzzles.”
Emotions aren’t a problem to solve but a tension to manage. How leaders successfully manage that daily tension is with emotional intelligence.
According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, emotional intelligence is a better predictor of academic success, job performance, and life success than someone’s intelligence quotient (IQ). And, unlike IQ, people can increase their emotional intelligence throughout life. Here are three steps to become more emotionally intelligent.
A line exists between sharing our feelings that builds trust and oversharing which erodes trust. Oversharing can undermine influence, elicit discomfort in others, and demonstrate a lack of self-awareness.
Most people either let their emotions drive the car of their life or they lock their emotion out of the car. Neither are ideal. Emotions help us navigate the world. They shouldn’t be driving or locked out but rather in the passenger seat where they are visible, included, and used for guidance.
Emotional expression is a wide spectrum. At one extreme are under emoters, people who prefer just the facts or have a hard time accessing their feelings. At the other extreme are over emoters, people who are constantly sharing their feelings. Neither of these extremes are healthy. Those who are prone to oversharing, consider editing. Those who are more reserved, look for moments to open up and be more vulnerable or relatable.
Emotional intelligence is about finding the balance on this spectrum. Recognize and manage feelings without being controlled by them.
Strike the right emotional balance with selective sharing. Open up while still prioritizing psychological safety and stability for both yourself and others. Selective sharing can be achieved in the following ways:
Emotional intelligence question to ask yourself: What emotional expression do I bring to work each day?
Emotional intelligence seems to be inextricably linked to vulnerability. While vulnerability can be a valuable tool, too often—for leaders especially—it can position someone as weak and erode confidence among a team. Leaders should instead strive for relatability.
By definition, being relatable establishes a social or sympathetic relationship with others. Asking “Am I relatable?” or “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?" force you to consider the circumstances of the person you're interacting with which creates an opportunity to empathize.
Here are two ways others can relate to you as a person, not just a professional.
Emotional intelligence questions to ask yourself: Am I relatable? What’s it like to be on the other side of me?
Famed entrepreneur and author, Jim Rohn, said “As a leader, you should always start with where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” Too often people listen for an opportunity to insert their comment, point, or argument. Instead, emotionally intelligent leaders will actively listen to understand and identify the emotion behind the story or behavior.
Here are a few phrases to assist with active listening.
Emotional intelligence question to ask yourself: Am I listening to comment or understand and identify?
Are emotions messy? Yes. Are emotions inescapable? Yes. The choice to sweep under the rug or steward to success is up to leaders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins, CSP® (Certified Speaking Professional)™, is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker, virtual trainer, and author of Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All-In. For a decade, he has helped organizations lessen worker loneliness, create inclusive cultures, and prepare for the future of work. He is also co-founder of LessLonely.com, the premier resource for addressing workplace loneliness. Follow his latest insights at @RyanAndSteven.
Need help strengthening the connections across your team or organization? Contact us today to see how our experts, assessments, or other services can help.