Emotional intelligence has been shown to boost your chances of promotion and makes for a more effective management environment. It relies on our communication with those around us, whether that’s knowing when to be chirpy and positive or when to just sit back and listen.

Emotional intelligence features a pretty essential set of soft skills to have — so how can we leverage it to work for us in the workplace?

1. Empathy and leadership

Empathy will help you notice the way people are feeling beyond what they are expressing through verbal or physical signals. For example, it might be that one of your team members is more anxious than usual despite trying to convey assurance and positivity.

By picking up on anxiousness or other nonpositive signals, you should be able to ask yourself what might be affecting your colleague. Is it something you should be sensitive about? Is it something that might be your responsibility to adjust?

An empathetic leader or colleague is much easier to open up to, and as you practice empathy, you’ll find that people begin to trust you more.

Empathy will also help you fight unconscious bias, which in turn will lead to a more open and diverse workplace.

It can also be extremely useful in formal workplace communications. Over the last year, internal communications professionals have had to deal with an enormous shift. People are not only having to adjust to working alone and potentially feeling isolated, but many have experienced external stress from the pandemic as well.

In today’s remote working environment, it can be even harder to demonstrate emotional intelligence. Next time you jump onto a video call online, try to pick up on the nonverbal signals of your colleague, even though they’re likely to be much harder to read than in person.

Knowing how people are really feeling — and coping — can make sending internal communications that much easier. Perhaps it’s time to emphasize the wins, suggest a few interesting webinar platforms for online learning, or spread some extra motivation around.

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2. Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is one soft skill that is so essential to management positions — but it’s pretty useful wherever you sit in an organization.

One critical element of conflict resolution is the ability to know when not to talk — and just listen. Active listening involves giving the other side time to speak and giving yourself time to reflect on what is being said before jumping in with defenses or solutions.

This can be especially useful if you’re mediating a conflict. If you’re on a three-way call and both sides have grievances, it’s crucial that you’re able to actively listen to their issues without demeaning either party or trying to patch up what you think the problem is.

It might be that having a neutral third party involved will allow both sides to stay calm and work out their issues alone, or it might be that, after some consideration, you can offer a solution that appeals to both sides. Either way, your ability to resolve conflicts will leave your team happier and more cohesive — and therefore much more productive.

Conflict resolution isn’t necessarily useful only within teams, either. It can present itself in a much more subtle and nefarious way when working with external clients.

You can use your emotional intelligence here by actively listening to your collaborators and leveraging feedback constructively and politely. Using this approach, you should be able to present compromises that work for both groups, meaning you can meet the challenge but not stress out your team in the process.

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3. Giving and Accepting Feedback

One of the best ways to learn and grow at work is through feedback — but in many companies, feedback only flows one way.

In teams where junior employees are encouraged to have an open dialogue with their senior colleagues and management, flaws are uncovered and can be addressed easily rather than festering and causing resentment.

Push for a more open way of gathering feedback, and you’ll likely see some improvements in everyone’s happiness. For example, it might be that your staff are dealing with multiple unnecessary calls every day and that using a simple call routing program would save them both time and headaches.

However, you might have to engage your emotional intelligence to not see criticism as a personal attack, especially the first few times. If receiving feedback always feels like an insult, it’s important to take a few deep breaths and put the situation into perspective.

Is the feedback unjust? Or is it just pointing out something you’d rather not acknowledge?

By remaining calm and positive, we should be able to address any concerns.

4. Encouraging and Incentivizing Teams

Did you know that emotionally intelligent (also known as EQ) leaders often have teams that are more productive than their low-EQ counterparts? The reason is that good leaders are innately motivating: they know what problems other people will be facing and they know how to surmount these problems while staying positive.

Perhaps you propose using Kanban-style tools to keep team goals on track and easily measure success so it can be celebrated later. You might also hit the right note between pushing your team to excel and celebrating their successes.

Interestingly, one characteristic of high-EQ people is often their ability to stay calm, cheery and self-motivated. Colleagues — even those who don’t hold high EQs themselves — are drawn to these positive qualities.

By fostering a calm workplace atmosphere, you also encourage people to approach more challenging tasks: they know that they’re supported and won’t be discouraged by the idea of failure.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of keeping tabs on everyone’s emotional well-being and their performance and goals? Investing in human resources software could take some of the stress out, and you’ll be able to focus more closely on the human aspect.

Emotional Intelligence — Key Takeaways

Though it might feel like something you’re either born with or not, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be practiced like any other.

Rather contrarily, CEOs show lower levels of EQ than their subordinates — not because they’re all sociopaths, as the common myth suggests, but rather because they spend less time dealing with people and their problems. They lose their emotional intelligence over time, despite having most probably used it to reach their current position.

Emotional intelligence is all about the people around you and how you all communicate. Stay calm, analyze emotions (both yours and others’) before you react to them, and ensure that you are truly listening to what is being said. Your EQ will be rising in no time — and you could be reaping the benefits of supercharged emotional intelligence.