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5 Tips to be more Emotionally Intelligent at Work

Bindu Bhatia

In the world talking about artificial intelligence, emotional intelligence has taken the top position when it comes to soft skills of the professionals.

I remember coaching a very senior executive who said he used to get extremely uncomfortable when someone from his team or stakeholders/clients started showing any type of emotions. He was always driven by logic and didn’t understand the need for anyone to know or show emotions. It wasn’t considered as an important aspect a decade ago. However, today, the need to have emotional intelligent leaders has grown multi-folds. Thanks to the VUCA world, social media, growing customer service needs, millennial workforce, and a lot more reasons, one cannot ignore the importance of emotional intelligence. IQ helps the professional to survive however EQ will ensure that he/she WINS in the professional & personal space.

While there are a lot of models available to understand the concept of Emotional Intelligence, few talk about how to take conscious steps at work to be more emotionally intelligent. Here are 5 Applied Emotional Intelligence techniques that can help you build winning relationships at work with your stakeholders and teams –

1. Emotional Vocabulary : While there are 6 basic emotions that most people associate with, do you know there are more 600+ words in English vocabulary to describe emotions. Consciously, start using few more words describing emotions in your daily language. Sentences including words from emotional vocabulary are more STICKY! Small little changes in your vocabulary can create a magic in your relationships. Start these baby steps today and feel the difference.

Simple day to day examples

I. Nice to see you : : I’m delighted to see you

ii. You articulate things really well : : I love the way you articulate things

iii. This needs to be done within timelines : : It will be awesome to get this on time as promised

2. Micro-Observations: I remember in a lot of meetings, an enthusiastic soul is all absorbed by his/her own presentation. Even if you try giving them signs, they continue to say what they have up on the slides, without paying attention to the room’s emotional temperature. So the next time you are presenting,

Pic 1

I. Consciously pay a little more attention to the small changes in the body language of the listeners – gulping water, little or no eye movement, tight facial muscles etc. and if you notice no interest, it’s time to capture their attention again, instead of going on with your slides.

ii. Tweak your content to keep your audience interested, identify their styles.

3. Give safer platforms to your team members or stakeholders to share their emotions : While you are waiting for your meetings to start, offsites or generally lighter days on the floor, smoke or lunch breaks, have some meaningful conversations, ask questions that kindle the limbic (emotional) brain. Some people might find this very awkward, remember you are only helping them build their Emotional Intelligence! There might be some discomfort in the beginning, but everyone will like it eventually. It feels human! Do try it out maybe in safer forums to begin with.

Few examples to begin conversations in initial stages:

  •  What was your most defining moment of life, or in the project?
  • What was the most challenging part?
  • How did you cope up with all the stress?
  • How are you feeling about this? 
  • Who’s the best stakeholder you have ever had, what made them special? 
  • What’s the part you enjoy the most in this team? How do you feel about it?

4. Flex to the social styles: “Meaning of the communication is as good as it is understood”; one formula or way of communication doesn’t suit everyone. So yes, while you may be very proud of your own vocabulary, if the person you are talking to doesn’t understand, it’s a communication failure.

For your most important stakeholders or conversations, pay a little more attention to their communication styles – Are you more data centric? Are you relationship oriented? Or are you result oriented?. How do they generally communicate, what would they like to hear. Shifting this gear can completely change the way you communicate.

5. During tough conversations: Pay attention to the mental hierarchy that you are operating from. Do you in your mind feel that you are more than or less than that person? An emotionally intelligent leader takes an equal position (I’m ok and you are ok) specially during tough conversations where collaboration is required.

The inner dialogue is something like this: 

  • We can agree to disagree
  • You and I are both equally good human beings 
  • Our intentions are good, we might have difference in opinion though 
  • I’m sure you are saying this with some background, let me understand this better

Summing Up

A well researched fact is that an emotionally intelligent team can produce 20 percent better results. EQ plays a big role in personal life as well, and thus taking small steps can create huge changes in the way your mutual experiences.

A few points to ponder - 

  • Controlling emotions make people physically sick, managing emotions can be liberating for all. Learn the difference! 
  • It’s not a great idea to say “Keep your emotions out of the room” – instead say “Let discuss how you feel about this”
  • Embrace and respect everyone’s emotions even if they are making you uncomfortable. 
  • When you are not able to manage your emotions, take a break. 
  • Don’t kill yourself for being emotional, treat “emotions” with grace and dignity. Identify your triggers and learn how to respond better.

Bindu Bhatia

MD & Founder of NeuCode Talent Academy, she has spent last 20 years in Leadership development, Coaching and driving talent & gender diversity agenda for multinational clients across industry sectors and geographies.


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