Emotional intelligence is the key to success in the workplace. But what if you aren’t quite up to par?
Like IQ, EQ levels may vary. While some individuals may have an innate understanding of their emotions and the emotions of the people around them, others need to work a little harder to hone the skills associated with emotional intelligence.
Today we’re exploring a few common signs of low emotional intelligence and some practical ways you can raise your EQ.
5 Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence
- Getting stressed easily
While we all get stressed – especially in today’s hectic workplace – those with higher levels of emotional intelligence are better able to manage their emotions and cultivate healthy coping mechanisms.
Emotional regulation and resilience go hand in hand, helping people to recognise when stress, anxiety and other unhelpful emotions are taking hold.
- Showing only ‘good’ emotions
We often feel the need to put up a front and push down any negative emotions. But treating emotions as an obstacle rather than a simple fact of life can result in an unhealthy relationship with our feelings. Because we feel bad, we believe that we are bad – we see our emotions as us, rather than as indicators of whatever is going on in our lives.
Those with lower EQ levels avoid talking about their feelings – often because they can’t fully comprehend their emotional state, are unable to articulate it or are unwilling to engage with it.
- Difficulty with expression
Those with lower EQ levels may find it difficult to articulate exactly what they wish to say. They may also struggle to assert themselves, their needs or their opinions in the workplace.
Employees with a higher EQ, on the other hand, can more easily recognise the response a given situation requires, formulate an appropriate reaction and influence others.
- Fixating on mistakes
While those with higher EQs see every mistake as a learning opportunity, others may take them more to heart. They may either take it too personally, resulting in greater levels of anxiety around their performance, or not at all, meaning they are unable to draw from the lesson in the future. And without intrinsic motivation – a key aspect of emotional intelligence – employees may find it difficult to recover from setbacks.
- Struggling with criticism
Those with a lower EQ may also struggle to accept feedback, unable to separate the comments from their sense of self. Criticism is an attack on them, rather than an assessment of their performance.
What is my EQ?
Curious about where you stand on the EQ scale? Try taking this EQ test from Berkeley. You can also try the more comprehensive Emotional Intelligence Appraisal created by Dr Travis Bradberry and Dr Jean Greaves.
Can my EQ be improved?
If your EQ is lacking, there’s no reason to panic. Like any skill, emotional intelligence can be honed with the right training and practice.
- Identify which areas you need to work on.
EQ is broken down into five different components:
- Emotional regulation
- Social and relationship skills
You may thrive at some but be lacking in others. For example, perhaps you are a highly empathetic person who struggles to be self-motivated (or vice versa). Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to target the skills you most need and allow you to improve.
- Don’t react – respond.
Take a pause before speaking or acting to give yourself room to think. Assess what you are feeling and consider possible reasons for your initial reaction. This can help you better identify your triggers. If you’ve had a strong reaction, this gives you time to let yourself cool down.
Active listening is an essential skill here. Rather than listening until it is your turn to speak, paying attention to the details of the conversation – verbal and non-verbal – will allow you to gain a better understanding of what the other person is actually saying and how they may be feeling.
- Take feedback on board.
The only way to increase your EQ is to recognise your weaknesses. By seeking avenues for improvement – whether it’s training, educational books or mentoring – and taking constructive criticism into consideration, you’ll be able to better address your blind areas.
When you receive a piece of feedback, take a moment and think: where is this person coming from? (Often, they just want to help.) How does this affect my performance and the people around me? How can I work towards resolving this issue?
Looking to help the people in your organisation boost their EQ? We offer a range of courses designed to hone every aspect of emotional intelligence. Browse our selection or reach out to our team today.