Emotional Intelligence At Workplace

By the time Kumar reached office, he was late by 30 minutes, and, Ezaz was waiting for him. Kumar was heading HR in the organisation, while Ezaz was the head of Finance.  “One more of my team members has resigned this morning. How am I going to handle the audit now?  You could not even fill the vacancy created by the exit of David four months ago.” Ezaz quipped in anger as he entered Kumar’s cabin which was adjacent to his. “That’s for you to figure out. That’s precisely what you are being paid for” retorted Kumar, still trying to switch his laptop on.

 

Such a response enraged Ezaz and he yelled, “It is such arrogance of the HR department which is the root cause of most of the problems here…I am not going to tolerate this anymore.” This ensued into a bitter argument between Ezaz and Kumar, including blaming each other’s subordinates, and, it was audible to their team members sitting outside the cabins. While they reconciled later and took damage control measures, this incident disturbed the harmony between the two teams.

 

Little did Ezaz know that Kumar had narrowly escaped an accident while driving to the office.  Kumar’s nerves had not yet settled by the time he reached office.  Kumar, being hazzled, in spite of knowing fully well regarding an upcoming audit, could not understand Ezaz’s worries and anger. Handling the audit with one team member completely gone and another half-gone was an uphill task.

 

If one of them had at least been cognisant of the rising impulses and handled the discussion without anger, or, had a scheduled and well-prepared discussion some time later, this could have been avoided.  In some similar cases, the spats though not verbal, transform into silent ego battles, and, do not get mended for great lengths of time. Quite often, they lead to ‘office politics.’ If colleagues can be empathetic to one another, workplaces would become a great deal better and consequentially more successful. This is just one example depicting the need for a higher state of emotional intelligence at the workplace. Emotional intelligence, as the name suggests, is about being intelligent with Emotions.

 

Thoughts about feelings

 

So, what is intelligence and what is emotion? Simply put, Intelligence is the ability to absorb relevant information from various sources, process it, and, derive a meaningful output. Emotion is relatively hard to define, and, is explained as a feeling or a cluster of feelings, and the related psychological and biological states. It relates to instinctive or intuitive feelings as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

 

In Quotes “Intelligence is the ability to absorb relevant information from various sources, process it, and, derive a meaningful output. Emotion is relatively hard to define, and, is explained as a feeling or a cluster of feelings, and the related psychological and biological states.”

 

There are two processes our brain hosts - thinking and feeling. While thinking dwells on intelligence, feelings relate to emotional triggers in the mind, and, are derived more from instincts. Thinking and feeling are strongly intertwined and the richness of one depends on the strength of the other. If you can really think (or analyse) about your feelings and those of the others around you, you would be able to understand them well and make appropriate choices.

 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to spot and understand information related to the emotions of self as well as others, think (process the information), and, act appropriately for the best possible outcome.

 

Following are some interesting facts regarding thoughts and emotions:

 

1. Emotions precede thoughts.  Our emotional reactions are the first to surface in response to an event, much faster than our thoughts. It is almost like lightning that precedes thunder. In many cases, we first develop a feeling of like/ dislike towards things or individuals, and, then think to justify.

 

2. Thoughts seek to reason whereas emotions stem from instincts or a blend of instincts and are seldom logical.

 

3. Emotions in raw state are far more overpowering and can push us into action even before we consciously understand the event and draw a reasoned conclusion.

 

4. Emotions have physiological repercussions whereas thoughts necessarily need not lead to physiological responses.

 

Life minus emotions = void

 

Imagine a life without emotions. All through our life, we crave for giving and receiving love, affection, admiration and other such emotions that can culminate into happiness. As humans, we constantly strive to build and sustain happiness in life. We are, but emotional beings. Without emotions, our lives would be empty. Irrespective of the intelligence that one may possess, it becomes irrelevant if the ability to feel /experience emotions is missing. Developing intelligence in handling emotions well enriches the fabric of life.

 

Five ingredients for the EI recipe

 

The five building blocks of emotional intelligence are:

 

Self-Awareness: Self-Awareness is knowing what is happening in oneself. It is about the ability to recognize the feelings within self as they originate, and, put a name to the feeling. Words are powerful in shaping our thoughts and feelings. Putting a name helps us develop the right feeling/thought about it. Self-awareness is the very first step in the path of self-development.

 

Self-Regulation: Self-Regulation is the ability to handle feelings so that they are appropriate and not becoming a slave of feelings. It is about the ability to not live in a state of denial.

 

Internal Motivation: Internal Motivation is the ability to cultivate the right mindset and state of emotion in the journey towards a goal. Being overwhelmed by initial success or getting bogged down by hurdles can derail the journey itself.

 

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to identify with or understand the perspectives and motivations of others and to comprehend their emotional state. Individuals, who are good at empathy quickly spot opportunities to make others feel good, understand their motivation hotspots, and can use them effectively.

 

Social Skills/Relationship Management: These are skills in managing emotions in others. People adept with such skills are social stars and are non-manipulative. They are generally good communicators, interactive, and are good at building and managing relationships.

 

Emotions @ work

Emotions can energize or de-energize thoughts. For instance, if you believe that doing a particular task would fetch you recognition and reward. This belief results in a feeling of motivation and helps in completing the task better and faster. If you believe (even if it is a wrong notion) that the credit of your achievement would not be given to you or would be stolen by someone else, it would result in a feeling of demotivation, and thereby, a lack of interest in performing the task. In both the cases, the task and ability of the individual is the same. It is just the feeling of motivation or demotivation which influences the result, irrespective of whether the feeling originated from the right perception or not. An emotionally intelligent manager would be able to identify the feelings and the undercurrents involved, and, manage people and work in an effective manner and can build happier and highly effective teams.

 

HRM @ Emotional Intelligence – Cultivating EI

 

HR Department would expectedly be the custodian of cultivating EI in organisations, in partnership with other business leaders. Some of the ways that can be adopted are:

 

1. Awareness sessions on EI: EI has only gained partial awareness among the general public. The very awareness of EI and consciousness of the concept would lead to a certain degree of improvement. It would help if awareness sessions are conducted as a series of interventions rather than as a onetime event.

 

2. Building self-awareness: Various tools are available online and with EI experts to measure the EI in each individual. Providing access to such tools is an effective way to build self-awareness. Among other options available are 360 degree feedback exercises regarding EI.

 

3. Visual Displays and Literature: They can help EI to constantly exist in the realm of consciousness of associates, and, thereby result in improvement. Individual journals may be provided where employees can write their observations regarding their own EI during each day. This helps individuals study themselves, draw patterns in their own behaviour, and map out a corrective action plan and its implementation.

 

4. Recognition: Recognition to those employees who are role models of EI can also be an effective approach. Idolize them so that others emulate them.

 

In Quotes “Cultivating EI would bring calm to associates’ thinking and can enrich the quality of their thoughts. They can be more objective in thinking without being influenced by individual biases. The benefits to the both of them, the individuals as well as the organisation are multiple and obvious.”

 

Cultivating EI would bring calm to associates’ thinking and can enrich the quality of their thoughts. They can be more objective in thinking without being influenced by individual biases. The benefits to the both of them, the individuals as well as the organisation are multiple and obvious.

Suresh Datla is Head, HR Operations, Tupperware India and is also actively involved in development of a few Worldwide HR projects for Tupperware Brands Inc. A keen enthusiast in Training & Development Initiatives, Organizational Culture & Behaviour sciences, he has a blend of experience both in Manufacturing and IT sectors. Suresh can be reached at [email protected]

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