Emotional intelligence is a confusing concept. When you have never seen anyone work on becoming an emotionally intelligent person, you have no idea what you’re looking for. The idea that you’re supposed to understand your emotions and gain control of your emotions seems easy.
But, it’s a lot harder to think of examples. This is especially true when you want to find emotional intelligence in the workplace examples. Read through this list of 10 examples to start understanding what emotional intelligence looks like for you.
This post is all about emotional intelligence in the workplace examples.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to self-regulate your own emotions and understand the emotions of others. People with high emotional intelligence recognize when they’re getting to a high emotional level or increasingly reactive to a situation.
Instead of hurting other people or lashing out because of their internal emotions, they regulate themselves. This can look like taking deep breaths, taking a break from difficult situations, or letting the other person know you can’t have a calm, productive conversation at the moment.
Someone who lacks emotional intelligence will take their emotions out on other people. They do this because they don’t realize that their reactivity and emotional responses are caused by some internal struggle that may or may not be influenced by other people or external factors.
Emotionally intelligent people have the self awareness to question where their feelings come from, to process them, and to apply the emotions of other people.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE EXAMPLES:
1. Practice conflict resolution strategies
Conflict is inevitable. If you aren’t arguing with someone, then there is an issue in your relationship. Every relationship requires communication skills and, by extension, conflict to better meet the needs of everyone involved.
You can’t expect your best friend or partner to automatically understand what your needs are and how to meet them. This is even more true when you have to talk about your needs and you’ve never done that before.
If no one in your family showed you how to figure out what your needs are and talk about them, you have no idea how to go about it. This makes it even easier to argue in your relationship and not understand how to solve it.
When people don’t understand what their needs are, conflict becomes more frustrating because you don’t realize why you feel unsafe or unhappy in your relationship. So, thinking about your needs and what feels good in a relationship is a good start to learning how to resolve conflict.
Once you practice expressing your needs at home, you can translate this into creating an emotionally intelligent workplace. This looks like asking people what they need from you and letting them know what you need from them.
Most arguments are just two people talking about their needs and how to develop better relationships that meet both. This relationship can be in the workplace, romantic, or familial.
2. Identify the keys to providing constructive criticism
Constructive criticism is the best way to provide someone with useful feedback that you want them to apply to their work. It comes from a place of empathy, in which you understand that criticism can be painful to hear. We’ve all gotten criticism that has hurt.
One of the most important emotional intelligence skills is empathizing with others. We take our emotional intelligence and we apply social skills and social awareness to it. Whether we’re working or at home, empathy comes from us understanding how other people feel.
The only way we can do this is by understanding how we feel and recognizing when we don’t want to make others feel bad because we don’t like feeling bad. So, we can constructive criticism by framing our criticism from a place of strength.
Instead of telling a coworker they gave a customer the wrong information, we can let them know that information has been updated and provide them with a resource to refer back to next time.
Maybe we even relate to them and say the information is changing so quickly that we get behind too. This criticism corrects them without being cruel. Whenever we get the chance to correct someone or critique them, we have to recognize that this is a privilege.
The person with the right answer or more experience is the one who has the power. Emotional intelligence allows us to see the power dynamic going on and to use constructive criticism to both build someone up and let them know how they can improve next time.
It all comes to respect and empathy, which helps to remember what it feels like for someone to take advantage of unequal power in a relationship.
3. Build mutual respect between you and your coworkers
The hardest part about building respect between you and others is that you can’t control their actions. The goal behind respect is that people treat you the way they’d want to be treated and you do the same.
This gets difficult when they don’t treat you with respect and you still work on treating them with respect despite their actions. The importance of emotional intelligence is that you realize their emotional state and social interactions with you likely have nothing to do with you.
If you treat them with compassion and respect, then their actions represent their emotions. Emotional intelligence helps us recognize that someone else’s actions have a lot of causes, most of which have to do with stuff we can’t see.
Maybe your coworker is fighting with their spouse or your boss has to fire someone who they value as a part of the company. When we develop a high EI, we learn to treat people with kindness regardless of how they treat us because we know that it’s the right thing to do.
It’s important to develop boundaries and limit someone’s presence in your life when they mistreat you, but we can’t always do that at work.
We have to let an annoying coworker be rude to us because they probably have a low emotional intelligence, which reflects badly on them and not us. At the end of the day, we can walk away and feel good about ourselves for not letting their attitude affect us.
4. Learn how to engage in effective communication
Effective, open communication is easy most of the time. All it requires is for you to be honest without being cruel. Let your coworker know you finished your portion of the project and it’s ready for them to finish up.
Tell your boss that you appreciate them giving you another project to lead, but you don’t have time for it right now. Effective communication is all about clarifying what’s on your mind without playing games and without being needlessly mean.
Telling your coworker to hurry up and do their half of the project is mean and ineffective. Not only does it discount everything you’ve learned from increasing your emotional intelligence, but it will probably also cause them to get mad at you.
So, instead of them doing the thing you want them to do, you get them upset and they just want to argue. When you get the urge to lie about or hide your intentions in a conversation, ask yourself why.
Consider what about this conversation makes it difficult to be honest. You won’t feel comfortable with everyone, so you shouldn’t expect to. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to grow as a person and better understand yourself.
5. Identify your intrinsic motivation to improve your emotional intelligence
At its core, emotional intelligence is about personal growth. You want to experience the benefits of emotional intelligence like healthier conflict and easier collaboration with your team members. Emotional intelligence starts and ends with your internal motivation to grow.
Business leaders indeed develop their emotional intelligence to become intelligent leaders who can motivate and work with their employees. In the workplace, emotional intelligence can often function as a way to survive.
It’s difficult to work with someone who doesn’t know how to communicate kindly or empathetically, which are examples of emotional intelligence.
So, it’s true that the concept of emotional intelligence is crucial for you to enjoy your work environments and become better at your job. However, it’s also true that you probably need to develop emotional intelligence to get through the day sometimes.
You won’t always go to work with positive emotions, go through the motions, and leave still in a good mood. There are days when you need to rely on your emotional intelligence to avoid letting your bad mood impact your job.
Let this be your intrinsic motivation and, if this doesn’t feel right, do some reflection to figure it out, so you stay motivated when giving up seems easier than pushing through.
6. Monitor your mental health to maintain emotional intelligence
If your house is burning, you’re not going to worry about cooking dinner. You’d focus on the primary issue at hand, which is stopping the fire from burning your house down.
When you apply this idea to your mental health in the context of work or emotional intelligence, it works the same way. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, burnout, or some other mental health issue, you can’t operate at full capacity.
You can’t show up as yourself to work or your personal life. Your body and mind are focusing on getting through the day rather than developing your emotional intelligence or trying not to mistreat anyone.
One of the most important components of emotional intelligence is recognizing when you need to cut yourself some slack.
Let yourself breathe and be kind to yourself. Avoid powering through your mental health issues instead of practicing self-care and slowing down. Treat yourself with the same respect you’d want to treat others with.
7. Continue working on personal development outside of work
The workplace is different from home. We all know this because have a work persona that coworkers see and we take it off when we go home. So, it’s easy to focus on personal growth and development at work and leave that there.
While emotional intelligence may seem like life or death at work, where you can get fired for being rude or difficult, it can seem a lot less important at home. When you’re at home, you don’t have the direct impact of your attitude on your finances.
If you have a bad day at work every now and then, it won’t reflect badly on you. But, when you routinely show up in a bad mood or mean, the people around you will not want to work with you. It’s the same way at home, except you can get fired from your job and lose that income.
At home, your partner can tell you to sleep on the couch or they can break up with you. But, realistically, the threat of having no income is much scarier than losing personal relationships.
This is all to say that you would probably not want to give up your job or strong relationships and yet it’s much easier to stop growing in your personal life compared to work.
8. Practice active listening in conversations at work
Emotional intelligence helps you direct your attention when it’s the last thing you want to do. It reminds you that this person deserves your attention when they’re talking to you because they’re a human being. Even if you don’t care about anything that they’re saying, they do.
Show them that you’re paying attention by nodding, making eye contact, and responding to them verbally. When you do this, you’ll make them feel valued and seen by you, and you may be the only person who has done that today.
Emotional intelligence can remind you to care about them feeling seen because you like to feel seen. It sucks when you’re talking to someone and they ignore you or engage in some other activity.
Maybe they are listening and they’re focusing intently on your words, but they give you no indication. It hurts and it makes you less likely to communicate with them again in the future. Remember that feeling and apply it to conversations at work.
9. Ask yourself repeatedly about your job satisfaction
Always question your job satisfaction. Since emotional intelligence is used to understand other people’s emotions, it can often feel like we only need to use it for that reason. But, emotional intelligence is a tool we can use to make sure we’re happy.
We can use it to keep our job when we want to by choosing not to yell at someone who deserves it. We can also use it to connect with people and develop positive relationships based on our interpersonal skills.
Emotional self-control gives us the freedom to choose when we reveal our emotions to people and feel closer to them. It also helps us decide when we want to avoid that in favor of keeping people happy who keep us employed.
Unfortunately, the side effect of this is that we might forget we’re still in control. We can use our emotional intelligence to keep our emotions from getting involved in different situations so that we decide if and when we leave.
10. Notice your negative emotions and learn about them
Take the time to acknowledge your negative emotions. Emotional intelligence is a lot easier when you’re focusing on learning about your positive emotions. However, it is never more important than when you’re asking about your negative emotions.
This doesn’t mean you avoid them or repress them because they’re uncomfortable. Instead, you take a deep breath and keep doing that until you feel your sadness, anger, or pain come to the surface.
Maybe your throat aches or you start crying or you feel in a different place in your body. Feel your emotions and ask where they are coming from. Identify any patterns and what may have caused that emotion to come up.
You can use emotional intelligence to control your emotions while also using it to hopefully limit some of the negative emotions and handle them with care when they come up.