Emotional Intelligence (Emotional Quota (EQ)) is the ability to recognise and manage your own — and other people’s — emotions. EQ is integral to the professional workplace, for it contributes to the mental and physical wellbeing of individuals and the collective mentality of the team.
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, AND REACTORS
Know your strengths and weaknesses — not only to wager in interviews, but to leverage what is working, and to see what may be holding you back in achieving goals. Similarly, know what your reactors are and how they make you feel in order to deal with your emotions in a productive way, while being aware of how your reactions can — or are — affecting others. Such self-awareness can improve your self-management by allowing you to learn more about what motivates you (separate to monetary rewards) and by encouraging you to be driven by curiosity and passion (not financial obligation). In addition, gratitude is a powerful positive emotion that is often underestimated and underused; having a sense of appreciation and a feeling of gratefulness helps you gain an appreciation of what is right.
RIGHT, WRONG, AND BIAS
The age-old adage ‘put yourself in another person’s shoes’ applies here; try to understand other people’s perspectives and gauge how they are feeling. This can liberate you from negative reactions that may damage your integrity and impact your health. When someone ‘sets you off’, and you are too quick to react, the result may mean that you physically tense up and cloud your brain with exaggerations or a distorted reality. It can be said that highly skilled workers identify what is right, what is wrong, and what is bias.
By allowing yourself to empathise with others, you become a collaborator — working with, and not against, team members. Empathy works hand-in-hand with social skills, negotiating the needs of others with your own, and showing leadership by understanding what others require from you. Furthermore, it allows you to read the emotions of others and adjust your behaviour accordingly.
Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent people:
- Show kindness, praise other people, and are humble
- Swallow their pride and apologise
- Forgive and forget (they do not ‘kitchen sink’ in arguments by bringing up past mistakes)
- Do not get offended easily, and take toxic people with a ‘grain of salt’
- Have good manners (say ‘good morning’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’, do not interrupt people, don’t check their phone in meetings, avoid complaining, and clean up after themselves)
Unfortunately, where there is light, there is shade. There are some people that abuse their ability to read other people; these are the manipulators, who ascertain the weakness or vulnerability of others to use against them or for self-gain. It is important to address the manipulators in the workforce and direct them to Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) where they can seek resources to help them use their skills for good.
Characteristics of manipulators:
- Use strong body language (e.g. leaning over you, raising their voice, etc.)
- As lots of questions to probe you to discover your weaknesses, which can come hand in hand with speaking quickly
- Exaggerate facts and overemphasise specific points, hide the truth, and only portray one side of the story, which can lead to the spread of rumours
- Push to talk to you in a space where they are in control, or you are vulnerable (e.g. alone in their office, the most private meeting room, etc.)
- They give you a limited time to act, which leads to agreeing to unreasonable demands and, when you cannot or did not deliver, they give you the silent treatment
SENSORY OVERLOAD AND STRESSORS
In June, Lynsey Kennedy-Wood from Down Syndrome Queensland presented a webinar about Positive Behaviour Supports, in which she explained how sensory overload in some children can trigger unwanted behaviours. In order to deter these behaviours, teachers are encouraged to learn what the child enjoys doing (i.e. running errands or listening to music), so that, when the child is getting frustrated and upset, the teacher can defuse the situation by asking the child if they would like to do something they enjoy to deescalate unwanted behaviour.
Regulating our own emotions as adults is a learnt skill. In the workplace, employees can face many stressors including noisy open-plan spaces, or monotonous tasks that they despise. Being able to recognise what our triggers are and how to regulate ourselves is an important life skill. Whether we listen to music to drown out the noise from the open-plan office, or take a quick walk outside before starting the monotonous task, engaging in something we enjoy helps to ensure we are levelling our emotions and not subjecting others to our unwanted behaviours.
FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOUR ASSESSMENT
I appreciated Lynsey’s problem-solving outlook: do not let a problem become severe, as it will be hard to eradicate. Using a Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA) helps to address unwanted behaviours, devise a way forward, and teach self-awareness.
The FBA consists of five steps:
- Define the Behaviour
- Collect Data
- Plan an Intervention
This problem-solving technique can be applied to addressing problems in the workplace like low morale, dysfunctional space, or inadequate support. When evaluating (Step 5.), if the action is not working, do the assessment again and persevere until the desired outcome is achieved.
Below is an example of what a FBA may look like in the workforce:
- The Finance team appears to be stressed as they are responding in a ‘short’ manner with closed body language.
- Finance is currently located next to a department that receives a high volume of calls. The office noise level is the loudest in this area
- The location is too noisy for Finance.
- Administration is currently located in the quietest spot; this team is highly mobile and often works away from their desk. If Administration are happy to, they can swap their location with Finance.
- Finance and Administration appear to be adjusting to their new location well; body language is more relaxed. A slight adjustment was needed for Administration to have access to a meeting room for sensitive calls, as the noise disruption was hindering their conversations. As these calls are few, Administration is happy with this solution.
Naturally, these plans can be a lot more detailed to include cost involved/budgetary requirements, support needed (i.e. IT assistance), and you can expand the data by interviewing team members or conducting a survey to learn how people feel.
DETOX AND BE POSITIVE
The flip side of EQ is that, despite being able to recognise your own and other’s feelings, if you do not take care of yourself, EQ will become a chore. We all need to take time to disconnect — detox from the constant communication (don’t check emails or answer work calls).
I encourage you to take a few moments to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and to reflect on your encounters with others — are they positive?