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Workplace Emotional intelligence - the game changer

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If you think the war for talent is hard, wait until you dig deep into the war for retention. I think one major factor in winning retention is getting your workforce to understand themselves. And how they approach crucial relationships, particularly in the workplace?

Much of our work success is based on our skills, knowledge and experience; but another part depends on how we get on with our team members, managers, staff who report to us, suppliers and clients. And if I put two people with the practical skills together, who succeeds? - the one with the understanding of how to manage themselves and build relationships, empathise, and positively influence themselves and others, or the one that can't control their emotions and causes upset and issues within the office? No brainer, right?

As Aristotle says, “Anyone can become angry - that’s easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time for the right purpose and in the right way – that’s a tough one.”

Not that Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is about being angry, or being soft, or being direct, nice or sympathetic.

We need to know what makes people tick, and then use this knowledge to interact effectively. It's about understanding emotions in ourselves and others. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions. It's complex and sometimes can feel intangible, and it doesn't come naturally to everyone. But it can be developed.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, expert & author on emotional intelligence, explains how it is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

Personal competence is made up of:

Self-awareness - your ability to be accurately aware of your emotions

Self-management - your ability to use your awareness to manage and flex your behaviour

Social competence is made up of:

Social awareness - your ability to accurately understand what's really going on with other people’s moods, emotions and behaviours

Relationship management - your ability to use your awareness of your and others emotions to form and manage successful relationships or interactions

Based on the above principles there are a number of “assessments” in the market to help you understand your EI, but it is worth mentioning that most are self or others reporting and so don’t always measure the ability. The assessments cover the likes of Happiness, Optimism, Self-esteem, Emotion Regulation, Impulse Control, Stress Management, Empathy, Emotion Perception, Emotion Expression, Relationships, Emotion Management, Assertiveness, Social Awareness.

So here’s my quick 5 tips in helping you increase workplace Emotional Intelligence:

Practise active listening skills.

Listen for clarity and true understanding of what's being said. Look for the non verbal details and the body language. This allows you to respond properly rather than just waiting your turn to speak, and shows respect.

Respond to conflict.

Don't react to it, respond to it. During instances of conflict, emotional outbursts and feelings of anger are common. Try to stay calm during stressful situations. Don't make impulsive decisions that can lead to even bigger problems. Understand that in times of conflict the aim is to find a resolution, and then make a conscious choice to focus on ensuring that you are behaving in line with your actions and words.

Learn to take criticism well.

Try not to be defensive or offended. Take a moment to understand what is behind the criticism, where it is coming from. Ask more questions to help learn, then reflect and see where changes could be made.

Empathise with others.

Know how to empathise. Understand that empathy is a trait that shows emotional strength, not weakness. Empathy helps you to relate to others on a basic human level. It helps with mutual respect and understanding between people with differing opinions and situations.

Be approachable and sociable.

Smile and show a positivity of words, actions and body language. Use appropriate social skills based on the people around you. Communicate clearly whether the communication is verbal or nonverbal and work on having great interpersonal skills.

Over the last few years I have become a strong believer that emotional intelligence is the key to interpersonal connections within the workplace and the foundation for a number of skills—it impacts most everything you say and do each day. Emotional intelligence is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence. And if you start winning that battle the war for retention will be that little bit easier.

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