How is EI Important in the Workplace?
Dr. Robert Tett, author of the Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment (MEIA), is featured in a series of videos to explain emotional intelligence (EI).
Workplace Emotional Intelligence
On multiple time scales, work makes up a huge chuck of life. Typically a third or more of each 24-hour day, 5 days a week, about 50 weeks a year. And for many people, over 50 years spanning 1 or more careers. Emotions are also a big part of life. Both in ourselves and in the people around us so the workplace offers plenty of opportunity for EI to have an impact.
There are 4 aspects of work where EI plays out. An especially critical arenas of leadership which I’ll address separately. The other 3 are the self, coworkers and customer service.
Relevance to Self
Workplace EI is important in the self because work often entails demands that stretch ones emotional comfort zone, requiring awareness and control of ones owns feelings in order to be productive and happy.
A primary target of EI at work is stress. Whether due to conflict or unclear goals, anger or frustration, boredom or lack of motivation, or as arises in some jobs, the threat of physical harm. Losing ones job or facing demotion can be especially stressful and demoralizing. All those things can interfere with ones job performance and satisfaction leading to a downward spiral if left unchecked-possibly culminating in termination whether self-imposed or otherwise. Workers lacking EI tend to be confused about their feelings and what affects them. So they are at increased risk of failure or withdrawal. High EI, on the other hand, gives the worker special resources in managing work stressors. By aiding in the identification and management of those stressors and by promoting recovery. EI applied to the self is one very important way it plays out in the workplace.
Relevance to Coworkers
Further demands for EI are created by coworkers. There are two angles here. The first is altruistic. Mainly to use EI to improve the coworkers well-being and promote their success. The second is utilitarian. To use EI to make coworkers easier to deal with. Finding a way to offset a normally pessimistic coworker’s negative outlook, for example. Or calming down an angry coworker so he doesn’t go looking for an argument can be beneficial for the worker, the entire work group, as well as the self. This will be especially important in teamwork. Where each member’s productivity, commitment, and sense of efficacy are tied to how well others are performing their own tasks.
Relevance to Customer Service
Customers are important in every job. Customer service agents have to maintain composure, and a positive, helpful demeanor all the time. When dealing with even the crankiest and most demanding customers. In general, work calling for emotional self-control is called emotional labor. Besides customer service other jobs high in emotional labor include social worker, health care provider, and in many cases, a leader. Emotions are a big part of all those jobs. And emotional intelligence, accordingly, has a big role to play in performing all those jobs well.
Learn more about the Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment for Workplace (MEIA-W).
Download our EI at Work infographic here.