Emotional intelligence in the workplace

Historically, emotions have had a bad rap in the business world.

Good decision-making has typically highlighted clear logic, rational analysis, and excellent critical thinking.  All of these venerate cool logic over messy things like emotions, intuition or gut feelings.

In fact, with some organisations, the mantra has been “when you come to work, leave emotions at home!” Yep – hang it like you would a coat on a coat-stand before you enter the work place.

Fortunately though, we now have a greater appreciation of the rightful place of emotions in our work lives as well. Effective managers and leaders are those who not only have the intellectual and technical smarts but also have good regard for emotions.  They are aware of their own and other peoples’ feelings and emotions and can activate, inspire and respond to these at the right time and in an appropriate manner.

Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is the domain that embraces this.

This includes skills such as self-awareness, self- management, authenticity, social awareness and social skills or relationship management.

Marketers and those in sales have always told us, “People buy on emotions but later justify with logic.”  Likewise in our organisations – whether consciously or unconsciously – our feelings and emotions have a strong impact on our behaviour, decision-making and performance.  Our levels of engagement, morale, commitment and well-being all get impacted.

If you have any doubt, just reflect back to an earlier workplace and manager who inspired you and was great to work with, compared to someone who had the opposite effect. When you think about these two managers with different styles, what feelings come up for you?

And what was the impact of that relationship on your performance and ultimately your career trajectory?

The reality is we need both logic and emotions.  It is not either/or.  It is about embracing both.

Sadly we do not get much education and training in the emotional domain. By the time we hit the workplace, all our unresolved conflicts and unhelpful communication patterns, needs and desires get played out often with negative consequences.

But the good news is that the skills of emotional intelligence can be learned anytime in our lives.

Engaging people in decisions that affect their work, results in healthy benefits to the bottom line and to the recognition of the role of emotions in the workplace.


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Jasbindar Singh

Jasbindar is a business psychologist, leadership excellence coach and author of 'Get your Groove Back'. www.jasbindarsingh.com