How To Score High Emotional Intelligence In the Workplace

Working Remotely

High emotional intelligence in the workplace often leads to success and career advancement. Learn how to use and improve yours when working remotely now:

How would you rate your emotional intelligence in the workplace?

Not quite sure what that means or how yours stacks up? 

You’re in the right place.

Emotional intelligence is a trending topic for remote teams and one of the most in-demand skills for recruiters and hiring teams. In fact, nearly 75% of hiring managers value an employee’s emotional intelligence more than their intelligence quotient (IQ).

Why? Because recent research shows [*][*][*]:

  • Emotional intelligence may be 4x better at predicting a person’s success than their IQ.
  • High emotional intelligence (EI) often correlates with stronger interpersonal, leadership, and stress management skills. It also positively contributes to job satisfaction.
  • Managers with stellar emotional intelligence outperform annual revenue goals by up to 20%.
  • 90% of a company’s top performers have high EI scores. That translates to earning an average $29,000 more than those with low emotional intelligence.

Now you see why EI is such a big deal. Bad news? Emotional intelligence can be more challenging yet just as essential to your career when working remotely. 

So in today’s guide, we’ll discuss what emotional intelligence in the workplace looks like, when and how to use it, and how to improve yours. Let’s start with the basics:

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is defined as your ability to identify and manage your emotions as well as recognize the feelings of others.

According to Psychology Today, American psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer introduced the concept of emotional intelligence or the emotional quotient (EQ) in the 1990s [*]. 

Then Daniel Goleman, another psychologist, published the book that would bring it to the public: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

The founders say there are five key elements of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is recognizing the emotions you’re feeling and understanding where they come from
. It’s identifying the cause-and-effect relationship between how your feelings may influence your thoughts and actions and affect others.

2. Self-Regulation
Self-regulation is the ability to control your emotions
. Once you correctly identify them (self-awareness), it’s not about hiding your feelings but learning when it’s best to express or act on them in the appropriate manner.

3. Motivation
Motivation is defined as the reason you behave a certain way
. People with high emotional intelligence don’t let the way they feel determine their actions. Instead, they seek to understand their emotions to help them better manage tasks, problem-solve obstacles, and achieve their goals. 

4. Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others and alter your behavior based on those perceptions
. Empathy is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. It helps people hear and understand each other, which makes it easier to provide the best support, mood, or tone for the situation.

5. Social Skills
Social skills encompass how well you’re able to interact with others
. They include active listening, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and leadership.

Social skills help you build rapport with your peers and leaders, forge relationships with clients, and maintain those connections. People scoring high in this area tend to make friends easily because others can’t help but feel comfortable, heard, and understood around them.

So Why Do We Need Emotional Intelligence In the Workplace?

Now that you know what emotional intelligence is, you’re probably not surprised that remote companies want those with high EI on their teams.

High emotional intelligence increases an employee’s chances of:
  • Making better decisions
  • Solving problems sooner
  • Dealing with unexpected issues and stress
  • Coping with and adapting to constant changes
  • Diffusing tension and resolving conflicts 
  • Responding well to constructive criticism
  • Communicating effectively and accepting others’ ideas  
  • Building and maintaining collaborative relationships with peers and leaders

You’d probably admire anyone with those abilities and enjoy working with them. People with high EI make the remote workplace a better, more productive place to be -- and sometimes all it takes is a well-timed check-in with a thoughtful emoji to do so. 

Unfortunately, science hasn’t given us a definite way of measuring emotional intelligence yet. And whatever’s difficult to measure usually becomes more challenging to improve.

Employees who lack emotional intelligence often:
  • Avoid taking responsibility for poor judgment calls or mistakes and errors
  • Play the role of the victim
  • Use passive-aggressive behavior
  • Have trouble collaborating and being a team player
  • Overly criticize leaders and peers and dismiss other opinions
  • Fail to communicate effectively and take every misunderstanding as a personal slight

People who fall in the low EI category might create a toxic work environment for everyone else on the team. Don’t be that person. 

How To Build Or Improve Your Emotional Intelligence for Work

Though psychologists disagree on whether emotional intelligence is something you’re born with or have to learn, they all agree that EI can be cultivated and improved with practice.

Researchers in one study even learned that participants who trained key emotional intelligence aspects earned lasting improvements in their physical and mental health, social relationships, and stress levels [*].

So let’s go back to those five hallmarks of EI we mentioned earlier. Each ability breaks down how you perceive, understand, and manage your emotions. 

You may excel at one of these and be crummy at another. So start with a self-assessment to identify the areas you want to build or improve first. Then use these tips:

To Improve Your Self-Awareness In the Remote Workplace

To be self-aware, you must learn how to correctly identify your emotions, understand where they come from, and monitor your reactions. Try some of these ideas to make this process easier:

Start naming your emotions throughout the day. Check in with your headspace every so often to get better acquainted with your changing emotional states. Identify subtle, positive feelings and loud, negative ones alike. Being able to ID your emotions in the moment is the first step to managing what comes next.

Assess your emotional strengths and weaknesses. How well do you communicate with your peers? Are you often impatient or annoyed with your boss? Recognize areas for improvement, and you’ll be able to brainstorm workarounds to get there.

Create a healthy pre-work routine. Do whatever will put you in a productive, optimistic mood to start your workday on the right foot. Meditation, journaling, and exercise are all excellent ideas to add when creating your personal WFH schedule.

Remember, emotions don’t last forever. You may be peeved when your boss dumps a last-minute project in your queue on a Friday afternoon, but don’t quit your job without a plan

Serious decisions need a sound, clear head, and intense emotions usually alter that state. Catch yourself anytime your feelings are turned up to 11, and take a pause until they drop back down.

To Make Self-Regulation Come Natural

Practice makes perfect. Just because you can identify emotions doesn’t mean you know what to do with them. Bottling these up may lead to an unexpected blowout later. But shooting off a nasty email when you receive harsh criticism isn’t the answer either.

Learn how to shift gears. Self-regulation can lessen the effects intense emotions have on you. Then they’ll become easier to deal with. So whenever you sense a negative situation, shift gears to lighten the mood. Focus on the positive, take your anxious energy out for a walk, or clear your head with your favorite playlist.

Counteract workplace stress. It’s harder to remain calm and level-headed when you’re on the brink of burnout. So find healthy ways to relieve workplace tension and prevent getting to a breaking point. 

Yoga, meditation, regular exercise, time with loved ones, and hobbies or interests you enjoy can all give you something to look forward to and help regulate your emotions.

To Boost Motivation In the Workplace

People with high emotional intelligence are motivated by internal rewards, like the sense of accomplishment you feel when you discover a creative solution for an annoying obstacle. 

Unlike external rewards (like money or praise), intrinsic motivation makes workplace achievements more fulfilling. You’ll be more excited to take on new challenges. And that enthusiasm usually spreads like wildfire. 

To boost motivation:

Set SMART goals. Snagging gold stars begins with setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. These parameters help you work toward goals you can actually achieve (not unrealistic ones made under stress). Each time you accomplish one, you’ll rack up motivation to conquer the next. 

Focus on the best parts of your job. When you’re feeling frustrated or uninspired, think about what you love most about what you do. Consider the rush you get when you wrap a big project or receive incredible feedback from a client. Pin those on your mental vision board and find your way to them.

Err on the side of optimism. Try to avoid the immediate worst-case scenario when strong emotions bubble up. Think about what could go right. Stay positive, and it will inspire and motivate others too.

To Improve Empathy With Remote Coworkers 

Being able to step in another person’s shoes helps you understand how they feel and what they need. It can illuminate dynamics between your peers and leaders. 

But it’s tough to do this when you’re communicating remotely and not in person (and even more challenging when working with people from different countries and cultures). So try to:

Make a genuine effort to connect. Go beyond the basic Slack DM and try to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level. Find out what they’re interested in outside of work, what they’re really good at, and how they approach their tasks. 

Their personality, goals, and country’s work culture may provide context for their actions and a better understanding of how they contribute to the team.

Try on a new point of view. Considering someone else’s POV can be difficult, especially if your beliefs are the total opposite of theirs. But if you see where the other person is coming from, you can figure out a middle ground between their ideas and yours.

Give everyone’s voice a chance. Before vetoing every idea that isn’t yours, acknowledge that everyone’s input has merit. Encourage your team to feel comfortable bouncing imperfect ideas off each other, which may then lead to iterations that really work.

Become the kudos fairy. Regularly praise your coworkers for jobs well done. Make them feel seen, valued, and respected, then others will follow your lead.

To Level Up Your Social Skills

Stellar social skills help remote employees communicate more effectively and collaborate better. You can use these non-cheesy team-building ideas to level up your crew. Then to upgrade your social skills:

Practice active listening. Really pay attention to what people are saying, how they’re saying it, and even what emojis they’re using in their messages. Ask questions and provide relevant feedback. Don’t just nod and wait for them to stop speaking.

These actions confirm you care about what they have to say and the project you’re working on.

Learn how to read nonverbal communication. During your virtual meetings, look for facial cues, body language, and unconscious signals people send to communicate their feelings and emotions. 

For example, if someone’s feeling uncomfortable, you wouldn’t prod them with a ton of questions. If everyone’s rolling their eyes when someone hogs the floor, you may need to call on specific team members for their ideas.

Watch a few quick body language and nonverbal communication videos on YouTube, and you’ll be a pro at this.

Stay out of office drama, but offer to help resolve conflicts. Using your empathy skills, hear out both sides and try to find a compromise that keeps your team moving forward and positive vibing.

Practice your social skills by finding a community when you work remotely and engaging with it often.

Emotional Intelligence May Be Your Competitive Advantage In a Remote Job Search

Over 40% of organizations say emotional intelligence is a must-have skill they’re looking for in new employees [*]. So now that you know how to use emotional intelligence at work and why it matters, it’s time to craft a game plan to improve yours. 

Raise your EI meter, and you’ll not only improve your wellbeing, but you’ll become invaluable to any remote team. Add the skills we highlighted today to your resume, and you’ll stand out to employers and have organizations vying for an interview.

Check out a few remote jobs in your industry on We Work Remotely now!

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