When you hear the term emotional intelligence, you may think of relationships with family and friends. But it’s important at work too. Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own emotions and those of the people around you.
Although this might sound simple, it can take time to learn. But helping employees build their emotional intelligence comes with major benefits. Employees with high emotional intelligence have an easier time making good decisions and are better at handling stress and dealing with change. High emotional intelligence also helps create and maintain collaborative relationships.
Emotional intelligence at work is something that can be taught. Read on for some helpful exercises.
Build relationships to build empathy
Empathy—the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings—is a powerful tool that allows employees to better understand each other and your customers. It’s a valuable skill, given that 84% of CEOs feel that empathy creates better outcomes in business.
What’s more, building empathy can be a lot of fun. Provide your staff members with opportunities to get to know each other and your clients. Spending time together allows people to find things they have in common—which helps them build empathy.
Send staff and clients a wine tumbler along with an invite for an online happy hour. If your staff members are at the office, give them an hour outside of work to chat and play a game like Mölkky or bean bag toss.
Focus on active listening
Communication problems cause a variety of challenges in every business. If not resolved, these issues can lead to turnover of clients and employees. The good news is active listening, or listening to understand instead of to answer, helps prevent communication problems—and it’s easy to learn. Here are some tips you can share with your entire staff:
- Focus on the speaker: Maintain eye contact and avoid thinking of your response while they’re speaking.
- Interpret what they’re saying: Look for nonverbal cues like body language, facial expression and tone of voice.
- Summarize and confirm understanding: Ask questions and confirm you understand what the speaker needs.
A teamwork puzzle makes a great training giveaway to help staff remember these steps in the moment.
Understand one’s own emotions
In addition to understanding other people’s emotions, it’s also important that staff understands their own emotions—and how those emotions affect each situation.
For example, a staff member may react differently to a dissatisfied customer depending on their current emotional state. Are they experiencing stress? If so, they may react with a fixed mindset and a less helpful approach. Are they feeling good and positive? If so, they may address the situation as an opportunity to improve.
To help staff to see how their emotions affect them, suggest they journal daily with a focus on emotion and what prompted it. Have them write down how each emotion triggers a reaction. And have them note ways to handle any negative emotions they may experience. A journal and pen are the perfect training giveaways for this exercise.
Offer ways to de-stress
One of the biggest ways you can help employees on their emotional intelligence journey is by showing them you’ve got their backs and you’re there to help. Finding ways to help them de-stress shows you’re committed to their success. For example:
- Offer a virtual yoga class one or two times per week.
- Share a book or online training on mindfulness techniques.
- Designate an area of your office as a meditation or prayer room that staff can access whenever they need to.
Emotional intelligence brings everyone together
Better emotional intelligence at work creates better staff and customer connections and lowers stress levels and resistance to change. And those are just the beginning of the benefits.