As a manager or business owner, it can sometimes feel difficult to connect with and understand your employees. You may feel like they are against you or struggle to anticipate their reactions to your managerial decisions. If so, you may want to improve your emotional intelligence to understand your employees better.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) (sometimes referred to as a person’s emotional quotient or EQ) sums up a person’s ability to identify, understand, manage, and make use of their own emotions, and the emotions of those around them. It affects how easily a person builds relationships, connects with people around them, and resolves conflict. With high emotional intelligence, you can easily connect with your feelings, make informed decisions about your highest goals and priorities, and take action on those ideals.

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A person’s emotional intelligence can be divided into 5 aspects:

  1. Internal Motivation: the ability self-direct and be productive
  2. Self-Regulation: control over one’s own emotions in the face of change or conflict
  3. Self-Awareness: understanding how one’s feelings and behaviors are perceived by others
  4. Empathy: the ability to perceive, understand, and often mirror others’ feelings, moods, and reactions
  5. Social Awareness: communication with others and understanding group dynamics

You can read more about the 5 Aspects of Emotional Intelligence in this blog post.

How Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Understand Your Employees

Emotional Intelligence is an important tool in every part of your life. It can improve your relationships with a spouse or partner, friends, family, and coworkers. In an employment context, emotional intelligence is often key to understanding your employees, especially when workplace conflict is high.

EQ can help you manage stress and moderate emotions – your own and your team members’ – when relations are strained at work. Self-awareness and social awareness can improve your ability to better convey your positions, and understand how they are being received. Empathy can help you understand your employees’ struggles and express sympathy toward their position, even if you disagree with their opinions. Ultimately, emotional intelligence is a tool for better relationship management at work. Using it can help you:

  • Connect authentically and deeply with direct reports
  • Build trust with your team members
  • Navigate complex social dynamics
  • Listen to employees’ concerns
  • Understand the emotional and social context of employees’ concerns
  • Communicate needs and desires in a way they can be received
  • Evaluate new hires and promotion candidates
  • Dispel tensions between teammates
  • Avoid emotional outbursts during high-stress periods

The core of emotional intelligence is in understanding and communicating with those around you. By increasing your own emotional quotient, you can improve your connection with your team members, so you better understand their needs and their perspectives. This in turn will reduce conflict and help you mediate any disputes that may arise.

How to Increase Your Own Emotional Quotient

Not everyone enters the workplace, or even becomes a manager with high emotional intelligence. But it is a skill that can be learned. However, learning to increase your emotional intelligence isn’t as easy as reading a book. You will need to practice those skills to develop the emotional “muscle memory” of self-awareness and regulation. Otherwise when you get stressed you may regress to less adaptive management strategies.

One of the best ways to increase your emotional intelligence is to work with a leadership coach to learn EQ strategies and practice them outside of high-stress settings. A coach can help you consider methods for communicating your feelings, and test out responses to emotions expressed by your team. They can also provide strategies for addressing workplace conflict and understanding your employees. That, in turn will make you a better manager that your team wants to work for.

David Stanislaw is a leadership and executive coach with over 30 years’ experience helping managers and leaders understand their employees and manage teams effectively. Contact us to meet with David and bring on a thought partner for your business goals today.