Work on your emotional quotient

by Belinda Wan (bwan@sph.com.sg)
published on 30 June 2016

Being emotionally intelligent is crucial for better interaction with others

Apart from the necessary skills and competencies, we also need to be emotionally intelligent in order to do our jobs well.

Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ), refers to one’s ability to recognise one’s emotions and that of others. It means being able to discern between different feelings and identify them appropriately, and use emotional information to guide one’s thinking and behaviour.

Why emotional intelligence matters

Human resource development professional Sriman Venkatesan said emotional intelligence enables people to listen to others’ points of view without getting emotional.

“It allows us to exhibit the right response to challenging situations at work, such as dealing with a hostile colleague or customer. It also reduces stress levels and negative energy at the workplace, improving employee morale and productivity,” he said.

Mr Paul Heng, the founder and executive coach of a career consulting firm, said there are two aspects to emotional intelligence.

He said: “One is understanding our own emotional make-up – what makes us happy or upset. The other is empathy – understanding how others are feeling by putting ourselves in their shoes.”

Our EQ affects our behaviour

What is the difference between people who are emotionally intelligent and those who are not?

Mr Venkatesan said: “A person with a high EQ does not get easily frustrated. He or she is able to adjust his or her behaviour to minimise any adverse impact on others’ feelings.

“Such a person will bring out the best possible behaviour from others through his or her tact and sensitivity.”

Mr Venkatesan said a person with a low EQ is insensitive to the impact of his or her words and actions on others. He or she may be generally disliked, and has little credibility. Such a person has little positive influence on others.

A person with a high EQ often exhibits good self-control. This means he or she is not likely to laugh loudly or shout across the room, said Mr Heng.

“The person will also be able to focus discussions on issues at hand instead of specific individuals, and be mindful of how his or her actions, words and behaviour impact others.”

Conversely, people with a low EQ are often inconsiderate, boisterous, and tend to have poor objectivity, said Mr Heng.

Emotional intelligence benefits everyone

How can a high EQ enable us to perform better at work?

Mr Heng said: “Whether we are leaders or followers, all working people are adults. This means we are expected to behave in a professional manner, and be able to work well in a team. 

“One of the key indicators of how well we do this is how we manage ourselves, and get along with others. This is where having a relatively higher EQ matters. Imagine how unwelcoming it must be to work with a colleague who is unable to manage his or her emotions well.”

Part of emotional intelligence entails exerting good control over ourselves.

Mr Heng recommended deep breathing techniques, as well as counting to 10 before speaking or responding.

“Being acutely conscious of the presence, needs and feelings of others in any given circumstances also helps,” he said.  

Having a high EQ enables us to form better relationships with others.

Mr Venkatesan said: “This helps us to speak and act in a manner that is less likely to hurt them, and win their credibility and cooperation.”

Emotional intelligence allows us to work more effectively and professionally, and be considerate towards others, said Mr Heng.

In fact, the positive effects will not only be felt by one person.

“If each team member manages their emotions well and is always considerate of others, the team will work better and more harmoniously together,” said Mr Heng.

Want a higher EQ?

Here are some quick tips from Mr Venkatesan.

Understand its importance

Knowing that emotional intelligence is crucial in our lives, relationships and work will motivate you to work on your EQ.

Be self-aware

When they are practiced regularly, techniques like meditation and mindfulness can help you to stay calm.

Stop judging

Being more empathetic towards others will enable you to understand why they behave the way they do.

Observe others

Learning from well-regarded people may help you to improve your EQ.