Use Emotional Intelligence to Succeed at the Workplace

What makes our personal or professional lives good, bad, or miserable depends upon how we act and behave with our families and those at our workplaces. To prepare to act and behave for positive outcome, we need to learn to feel emotions, observe behaviors, and listen to people. We are usually taught these skills by our parents as we grow up, and we teach our children while we raise them. For example, when I was a little boy, I pinched my cousin because she was not sharing the toys with me, but she started crying when I pinched her. My uncle was observing us and asked me to go and sit with him. After I sat down and started complaining about my cousin, he softly pinched me. I felt the pinch and told him it hurt. He said, “Yes, pinching hurts people. That’s why you should not pinch your cousin.” Afterward, he instructed me to politely ask my cousin to share the toys with me. He also asked my cousin to listen to my request that she share the toys. She agreed to my polite request, and we played together happily. Growing up and playing with my cousins may have been easy but working with grownups is not easy.

In addition to learning from our parents, we learn how to act and behave based on our interactions with our family members, friends, teachers, coworkers, and managers at work. As we go through our life cycles, we forget how to feel, observe, and listen, particularly in our workplaces. We separate our home lives and work lives. There is nothing wrong with separating our personal and professional lives, but both parts of our lives require interactions with human beings who have emotions. We spend approximately one-third of our lives with our families, one-third with our work families, and one-third sleeping. Therefore, to be successful in any environment where interaction with human beings is necessary, we need to learn to feel emotions, observe behavior, and listen to what others say. If we learn these three skills, we will begin to use emotional intelligence to succeed in the workplace and in our lives.

What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the synergy that is generated by managing emotions. It is an individual human process used to achieve desired performance outcomes. Therefore, emotional intelligence differs from person to person.

Understanding How Emotional Intelligence Works
Every individual has emotional energy, but the level of energy may differ from individual to individual. How individuals choose to use their emotional intelligence, consciously or unconsciously, depends on the events that trigger those emotions and the individuals’ emotional intensity. The event that triggers the emotions, the emotional energy, and the emotional intensity generate emotional intelligence that can be used to achieve an individual’s desired outcome, and there are three possible types of outcomes: 1) positive, 2) neutral, and 3) negative.

Achieving the desired outcome depends on how well individuals manage their own emotions and how well they understand others’ emotions. Managing emotions involves analysis and control of the emotional trigger, regulation of the intensity of the emotions that are the result of the trigger, and amount of emotional energy to be used. Every individual has these abilities, and they go through this emotion management process both on a conscious and an unconscious level. Understanding the emotional intelligence process will help individuals manage this process consciously, leading to the successful achievement of their desired outcomes.

Emotional Intelligence at Work
I like to learn by observing individuals and groups. Group meetings at work, sporting events, social gatherings, etc. are all good opportunities to observe emotional intelligence. During a recent outing at a sports eatery, I was watching a world cup soccer game. There was a group sitting around the bar, and the group members were giving each other powerful high fives and handshakes and shouting at the television as if they were controlling the game. The members of the group sitting on the left side were jumping off of their chairs and participating in a victory dance every time the team advanced near the goal or made a goal. The group sitting on the right side was enjoying the excitement of the game as a family. The experience at the eatery supported my belief that every individual has emotional energy, that the level of the emotional intensity differs from individual to individual, and that emotional energy is triggered by an event. The three groups at the eatery exhibited different levels of emotional intensity, and they used emotional intelligence in an attempt to achieve their desired performance outcomes, and all three groups at the eatery had different desire outcomes. The group near the bar tried to control the outcome of the game by shouting at television, the group on the left was interested in enjoying the game, and the group on the right side was interested in enjoying a nice meal with the soccer-loving crowd. I have observed sporting events, social events, and group meetings for years, and my recent eatery experience confirmed my belief that there are three possible outcomes when emotions are managed: positive, neutral, and negative outcomes.

The research shows that the use of emotional intelligence in selected areas of business and management may positively impact the performance of a firm. The best way to measure the level of emotional intelligence is to socialize with a person or group. During this process, feel others’ emotions, observe their behaviors, and listen to what they say. Please share your ideas or thoughts on how we can share information about emotional intelligence with businesses around the world.

© 2014 Mohammed R. Ahmed
Ahmed, M.R. (2014). Use Emotional Intelligence to Succeed at the Workplace (Working Paper No. 1).

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