We all know the feeling: Your boss has handed you another assignment, calling it a “promotion.” Yet you already feel like you’re cracking under your existing workload; no one else at the office is willing to help; and you’re wondering how to wade through the pressure without getting fired.
Surmounting these obstacles requires emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence measures your ability to be aware of your emotions, to manage them, and to be aware of other peoples’ emotions and manage them as well.
“We’re finding that, in the workplace, it seems to be a very good predictor of success in peoples’ jobs,” says Dr. Steven Stein, founder of Multi Health Systems, which develops and publishes tests for psychologists, psychiatrists, and human resource professionals.
People with high emotional intelligence tend to be more productive, more popular, and better team players.
They possess many qualities that put them in a natural leadership position. They listen to other peoples’ opinions, and take them into account.
In contrast, studies that focused on cognitive intelligence found that people with high cognitive intelligence tended to be “a bit more standoffish, a bit more arrogant, they came across differently in the workplace,” Stein says.
There are a number of ways to improve your emotional intelligence.
For instance, Stein says, you can start by being more assertive: “(Be) able to say what you think and feel in a way that doesn’t offend others.”
Another is managing workload. “If people take a look at their workloads, and break it up into those things that are essential to get the job done, those things that can be delayed, and those things that can be delegated, they’ll be much more productive, than by trying to accomplish many things that are beyond their capability.”
An intelligent conversation with your supervisor explaining this also helps, Stein says.
A third way is by having social support. “If you have a best friend at work,” Stein says, “that really helps you become happier and more productive.”
Emotional intelligence isn’t just relevant for the workplace, he notes.
“When we tested hundreds of managers and people at work the ones with higher emotional intelligence were doing better with other aspects of their lives,” he says.
“They were exercising more, they were eating better, so we felt there must be some kind of link.”