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Cultivating emotional intelligence in the workplace

Season 1: Finding and keeping great people

Charlie Gladstone Author and Creative Entrepreneur

Cultivating emotional intelligence in the workplace

Women having work discussion

Bringing happiness and a sense of community to others, and helping them earn a livelihood, is something I’m incredibly proud of. I want people to value and enjoy being at work, and I advocate it daily. It comes from the heart. But also, I know that the happier people are and the more valued they feel, the more productive they are and the more important to my team they become.

This is in no small part thanks to the emotional intelligence I cultivate in myself and my team. It has a deep power and helps nurture a culture of positive productivity.

The principles of emotional intelligence can sound rather simple. In reality, it takes dedication and no end of patience, kindness and empathy. Yet as you become more emotionally intelligent, it can be a game-changer for you and your business.

These are my top tips for positively managing emotions in the workplace, informed by more than three decades of my leadership experience:

Know yourself

You might think you understand how and why you behave as you do, but if you take the time to closely observe your behaviours and your triggers, you’ll gain much clearer insight. You’ll begin to spot patterns and make connections.

Control yourself

Next, you need to learn how to control your emotions. It’s not about repressing feelings. Rather, it’s about self-control and regulating your emotions. In turn, you’ll feel calmer and become a more positive influence on others.

Observe others

The key to understanding people is to simply stop and listen. Properly. Observe others with awareness and empathy, and always without judgement. You’ll get to know them. And then, if necessary, you can help them.

Don’t react

Even when somebody flies off the handle, the best thing you can do is not react. That doesn’t mean you can’t take action, but if you remain calm and empathic, respect is quickly nurtured and differences of opinion can be resolved.

You’re not perfect

Displaying emotional intelligence includes going easy on yourself. You’re not perfect, thank goodness. If you’re having an off day, that’s ok. Just remember to try to be aware of how you feel.

Say no to ego

We can’t remove the ego entirely. But self-aggrandising, conceited and arrogant tendencies and behaviours serve no communal purpose. Remove these from the room and relations will be much easier.

Remain calm

The best way to stay in control of your emotions is to never lose your temper. But if you do, then please, make sure you regret it! Assess the situation, understand the trigger, and learn from it for the future.

In conclusion . . .

Emotional intelligence is innate within us all. I believe that. We have to understand and learn to manage our emotions. But in difficult situations—and the modern workplace is full of them—try to remain calm and composed so you have clarity of thought. Tune into that inner wisdom. It will serve you and your team well.

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  • All good information and ditto to Pierina V’s comments below, her comments were as good as the article above. These are things we learned in first grade? I guess the point of emotional intelligence is we have forgotten or don’t practice what we inherently know is right. We need to just follow the sage advice of treating others, as we would like to be treated, that’s it in a nutshell. Goes for Companies and Employees. Simple albeit challenging. Companies’ concerns are sustainability, followed by profitability. Mr. Gladstone and Ms. V eloquently give us food for thought (Thanks!! to you both). In essence they are saying empathy starts each day in the bathroom mirror, I think. I would add that, if people find themselves in a toxic work environment, prudently look for better opportunities elsewhere.

  • I appreciate what Mr. Gladstone said in his article and he absolutely right.
    What we need is more ‘authenticity’ among people. To achieve authenticity especially in the working environment people need to feel respected and validated for who they are and their work. This goes both ways – management and employees – meaning for each of them to own responsibility in keeping a healthy balance between their true nature and their accomplishments on the job without defining themselves by the last. Also it is important to own responsibility for their emotions which need to be under control in the sense of ‘Be The Master of Yourself’. Only then there will be a common willingness to accept someone else’s emotions and validate them. Only then empathy will find a growing ground and only then it will be possible to increase emotional intelligence among groups of people. However, all this has to start with a healthy management (mentally and emotionally) who leads as an example because we rarely find people who will be able to motivate themselves without looking up to someone or something. So, if that someone or something doesn’t do it right then it will be easy to say: “Why should I?”