How Emotional Intelligence Checks Boxes for Savvy Workers

Posted By Terri Williams on March 29, 2017 at 7:45 am
How Emotional Intelligence Checks Boxes for Savvy Workers

Employees who expect to be successful in the workplace need a variety of skills in their toolkits. Education and competence are no-brainers. Employers also want workers to have soft skills. However, emotional intelligence also is key.

A recent Office Team survey reveals the following:

  • 95% of human resources managers and 99% of workers believe that emotional intelligence is important
  • 92% of workers believe they have strong emotional intelligence; 61% of them admit that they sometimes let their emotions get the best of them.

However, perception is not always reality. Employees (and managers) tend to overestimate their positive attributes while downplaying their flaws. In fact, one of the arguments against pay transparency is that most employees don’t believe they’re paid what they’re worth – even if they’re actually paid above market value – and salary comparisons could lead to workplace friction.

What is emotional intelligence?

Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam, tells GoodCall®, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your emotions.” She adds, “It’s also about being able to understand and influence the emotions of others.”

However, resisting the urge to choke that irritating co-worker doesn’t necessarily mean that an employee has a high level of emotional intelligence. That level of restraint when dealing with workplace stress is required of everyone.

According to Britton, emotional intelligence has 5 key components:

  • Self-awareness – realizing when negative emotions are about to take over.
  • Self-regulation – thinking before acting.
  • Motivation – choosing to be enthusiastic and thinking about the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Empathy – understanding the viewpoints of others.
  • Social skills – being friendly, showing genuine interest in others, communicating well.

Why emotional intelligence is important

Both day-to-day success and long-term career advancement are dependent on the ability to work well with others. Employees and bosses – as well as clients and customers – have personalities that may not always mesh.

“Being able to effectively manage communications with various parties is a must, and having emotional intelligence means you’re a better listener, more collaborative, empathic and notice nonverbal cues,” Britton explains.

And she adds, “Professionals who have high emotional intelligence also tend to be better leaders.”

On the other hand, employees who lack emotional intelligence are less likely to think before they act. “Not keeping your emotions in check can be a reputation-killer,” according to Britton. “Our survey reveals that 86% of employees said when a colleague doesn’t control his or her emotions, it affects their perception of that person’s level of professionalism.”   

Exhibiting emotional intelligence during interviews

Employers are looking for candidates who a demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence. Typically, they don’t just blindly accept an applicant’s claims, but Britton says there are several ways to draw attention to these skills.

  • In your application materials and during the interview, give examples of how you overcame objections, resolved conflicts and increased team effectiveness.
  • Make sure to highlight your interpersonal and communication skills in your resume and when responding to interview questions.
  • Be ready to answer behavioral interview questions. Employers will want to hear how you’ve handled past environments and situations.
  • Have a prep call with individuals you’ve listed as references to make sure they can speak to your qualities and are primed to provide specific examples of how your emotional intelligence shined through.

James Goodnow, a lawyer and shareholder at Fennemore Craig law firm, tells GoodCall® that emotional intelligence is very important to his organization, and the firm actually is using new ways to evaluate candidates. “In some groups, like the one I work in, for instance, we have job candidates engage in mock client intake interviews.”

Goodnow explains that these types of situations allow the law firm to observe the candidate in a real-world setting. “When we sit down face-to-face with the candidate, we use situational questioning – asking the candidate how he or she would react to different scenarios.”

Since most candidates will reply that they’re good with people, Goodnow says situational questions that result in instinctive responses (as opposed to prepared answers) are a better gauge.

Companies also use other ways to determine whether candidates have emotional intelligence. Britton says that 70% of HR managers use reference checks, and 32% use personality or psychometric tests.

Worried about your level of emotional intelligence? Get a quick read on it with this free quiz.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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