Which type of professional are you?
Type A: Someone starts crying in your office. You think, “Oh boy. Tears. What do I do?”
Type B: You’re meeting with someone at work and you start crying. You think, “Oh boy. Here come the tears.”
Type C: Regardless of who cries at work, you think, “Hi, tears! Nothing uncomfortable here.”
Whether you work virtually, in person, or in a hybrid arrangement, crying happens at work. You’re either the cried to, the crier, or both. And as an HR professional or leader, you probably can also identify employees who embody each type.
You know Type A’s who think, “I don’t know what to say when someone starts crying to me, especially at work. That’s just the way I am.”
And you know Type B’s who think, “When I talk about anything stressful or emotional, I can’t help but cry. That’s just the way I am.”
No matter a person’s type, one thing can help during sensitive situations at work: emotional intelligence (EQ). This applies to any sensitive situation, not just crying.
When employees develop their EQ, teams can minimize workplace conflict, have productive conversations, give and receive effective feedback, and much more. And good news: Although your employees may think, “That’s just the way I am,” everyone can develop EQ. If someone in your organization wants to become a Type C, you can help them get there.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ): It’s not just the next buzzword.
If we look at the history of the workplace, leaders have always valued intelligence, well, in the traditional sense. If an employee was smart, it didn’t matter if they were an asshat to other people. In fact, crass behavior was often rewarded.
If we consider today’s workplace, we see a shift. Since younger generations expect a more balanced and integrated professional self, today’s leaders need to develop both their IQ and their EQ. When defining emotional intelligence (EQ), Daniel Goleman writes, “In practical terms, [EQ] means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions – both our own and others.”
If EQ still seems buzzwordy to you, let’s look at its impact.
The Impact of EQ in the Workplace
When employees in an organization lack EQ, costly things can happen. Here are a few scenarios:
- An employee who feels underappreciated, disengages, and underperforms.
- An employee who feels disconnected from purpose and people overworks and burns out.
- An employee who doesn’t know how to process their emotions stirs up unhealthy conflict.
On the flip side, data shows that when organizations prioritize EQ, they thrive. Wiley’s 2020 Agile Organization Survey Results reports that “Eighty percent of those surveyed have worked on a team where low EQ hurt productivity; an equal percentage said they’ve seen low EQ create a toxic culture.” In The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace, Cherniss and Goleman explain that “EI accounts for 85 to 90 percent of
the success of organizational leaders.” And a 2020 study, conducted during the pandemic, reports, “…the scientific literature shows the importance of psychosocial risks and emotional intelligence in the health and well-being of workers, their satisfaction with their work, and even their risk of developing burnout syndrome.”
EQ is not just a buzzword; It’s essential to the success of your workplace, the health of your leaders, and your bottom line.
How to Strengthen EQ in Your Team
To strengthen the EQ of your team, employees must learn how to read emotional and interpersonal needs and adjust to different situations. Here are three quick ways to strengthen EQ in your organization.
- Make space to talk about emotions. During the pandemic, Brené Brown began starting her meetings with a two-word check in. “We take turns sharing two words that describe how we’re feeling that day. We all have the human need to see others and to be seen,” Brown said.
- Expose your team to different types of self-regulation. Add a 10-minute meditation to your next meeting or sponsor a virtual yoga session for your team. Every employee should have ways to process their work-related stress.
- Conduct an Active Listening training. A huge piece of EQ is being able to actively and attentively listen to other people—managers, coworkers, and peers. Here’s a list of active listening exercises to try in your organization.
If your team wants to move beyond beginner exercises, consider investing in a training program that helps employees recognize their EQ strengths and learn EQ-informed leadership strategies. One of our favorites, Everything DiSC® Agile EQ™, leverages individual preferences and tendencies to help teams navigate complex interactions. Participants learn how to adapt to changing circumstances, rise to meet new challenges, and get the most out of every interaction.
Whether your team is made up of Type As, Bs, or Cs, investing in EQ can be transformative. When we look at the most influential, transformative, and inspirational leaders, they all stress EQ—and the research backs this up!
Want to learn more about EQ at work? Let’s chat.