The term “emotional intelligence” has become commonplace in our society when discussing relationships. Initially, romantic relationships come to mind, but emotional intelligence has earned its space in every kind of relationship there is.

The workplace cannot escape the new-age acceptance and normality of prioritizing emotional intelligence for successful relationship communication. And, that’s because it has proved itself to be an efficient and effective tool for leaders and teams to feel satisfied with their company culture and improve workflow.

In fact, a 2014 study done by Administrative Science Quarterly revealed that workers on teams with a strong company culture were more satisfied with their roles, had fewer absentees, and most importantly, less burnout than competing teams with weak company culture. They were also, generally, in cheerier moods and completed their tasks with greater speed and quality. Team members also had fewer trips to the emergency room, supporting the correlation between mental, emotional, and physical health. 

Now, obviously, we understand the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, but now let’s break down what that term really means and what you have to do to truly embody it.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is defined as being able to perceive, understand, and manage one’s own feelings and emotions. According to Psychologist, Daniel Goleman, there are five key components that factor into one being coined emotionally intelligent. These components are: being self-aware, self-regulating, proper social skills, empathy, and intrinsic motivation.

Each of these components plays a key role in effectively demonstrating emotional intelligence throughout the workplace environment. This is a skill that is vital for both leaders and team members. Let’s examine each component closely and discuss how it is beneficial to company culture.

Be Self-Aware

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Being self-aware is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, many of us perceive ourselves much differently than others do. In some cases, we may be harder on ourselves than the people around us are, especially during times of deduced failure or rejection. In other cases, we may perceive that we are innately right morally in situations that we may not actually be right. This is where being self-aware becomes important and can help you to avoid tension and issues in the workplace.

By becoming more self-aware, you will be able to see yourself from an outside perspective or in other words, how others see you. This is useful as a leader or a team member as you will be able to work on how to properly translate yourself to others and avoid coming off the ‘wrong’ way.

Being self-aware will allow you to detach from your emotions when it comes to how you’re acting and reacting and see yourself as you are, rather than tying in how you feel. Emotions have huge power over us as humans and they can certainly sway the way you identify, observe, and evaluate situations. But, detaching from emotions is not an easy task.

To become more self-aware and say ‘goodbye’ to those emotional biases pushing you to-and-fro, here are some steps to take:

  • Take Note Of Your Feelings – Notice the way you feel and how it makes you want to act or react. Also, take note of how it affects your communication with others. Do you see patterns arising? If so, think about how these patterns work their way into your daily life in the workplace. Are they creating toxicity?
  • Look At Your Emotional Strengths and Weaknesses – After observing your feelings, you will begin to see where your strengths, as well as your weaknesses, lie. It’s important to look at both sides so you can effectively correct your weaknesses by making improvements in your daily life.
  • Emotions Are Fleeting – Like everything else in life, emotions are temporary, and that is something you must remember. It is not uncommon to get a flash of anger when an employee calls out of work or a burst of sadness when hearing distressing news, but being self-aware can help you deal with those emotional hits in a healthy way.

Learn How To Self-Regulate

Self-regulation and adaptation go hand-in-hand. Someone who practices good self-regulation is able to hold back the urge of acting impulsively during stressful and tense situations. Instead, they hold onto those fleeting emotions, analyze them, and come up with a plan to deal with and communicate about the issue at hand.

Here are some exercises that will help improve self-regulation:

  • Find A Technique To Manage Stress – Physical exercise, meditation, or a creative hobby are all great tools that will help you manage stress and decrease your overall stress level. This is useful because when situations do get tense, it’ll be easier for you to hold back your emotional impulses.
  • Stay Calm – It is vital that you accept the fact that you do not have control over everything. There will always be factors out of your control. Once, you accept that you will be able to look for effective solutions that do not do more harm than good.
  • Think First – Before making a decision, you must think. Giving yourself the time to think things over will lead to a wiser and more rational decision.

Work On Your Social Skills

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Being in business and working in a company environment demands a personality that is likable. However, it’s not just about being personal, but also about recognizing other people’s emotions. This helps leaders and team members to respond appropriately in every situation they may find themselves in.

Workers with good social skills are also better at sharing their ideas and communicating them so others understand. This helps to support a collaborative work environment. Team members with good social skills will also be able to jump into the role of leader when needed.

Here are some quick ways to improve your social skills in the workplace:

  • Listen – This may be a kindergarten lesson, but active listening does not always occur in a workplace environment, and that can cause a lot of problems with miscommunication and respect. Actively listening requires showing attention. This can be done by asking questions, nodding, eye contact, or providing feedback. Being an active listener will emulate that you care about the project at hand and the team member or members you are communicating with.
  • Observe Non-Verbal Communication – Being aware of non-verbal communication can provide insight into what a team member or leader is really thinking. Having this as a tool will help you to respond to them accordingly.
  • Be Persuasive – Being personable, charming, and persuasive is a great social skill to hone. This allows leaders and team members to influence others in the workplace and contribute ideas that will be respected because of your presence.
  • Say ‘No’ To Office Drama – Never get involved or caught up in petty office drama. However, do understand that some drama is unavoidable and should be handled in order to fix broken pieces of the team and release tension.

Practice Empathy

By being empathetic, you are able to essentially take a walk in another person’s shoes and see situations through their eyes. But, it’s not all about seeing it’s also about feeling, which is where the heart of empathy is rooted.

Furthermore, by seeing and feeling from another person’s perspective, you are able to better respond to these emotions in an appropriate way. Empathy in the workplace is key to understanding the different complex dynamics between different team members and leaders. You will be able to see who holds the power in these relationships and decide how your communication and workflow should roll out.

There are two key ways to practice empathy in the workplace:

  • Point-of-View – Even when you think a leader or team member may be wrong, it is mission-critical that you try to see and feel the situation from their point-of-view. This will help you to essentially find a meeting point between two opposing arguments, which will help to solve any workplace issue.
  • Notice Your Response – Making sure others know that you respect them by recognizing their efforts is very important. Let team members contribute input during meetings, and even if you do not agree with what they are saying, respect them by utilizing active listening to show them that their voice matters.

Intrinsic Motivation

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Leaders and team members who are emotionally intelligent tend to want to accomplish goals for their own sake. This is what is called intrinsic motivation. These people are seeking external praise or rewards from other people in the workplace, they are simply working passionately for themselves.

Money and fame are wonderful bonuses, but intrinsic motivation is longer lasting and provides a stronger drive than the superficial gains. People with intrinsic motivation inspire others in the workplace to work hard too — it’s as if their passion is contagious! Plus, they recognize that all problems are solvable and they rarely throw in the towel in the face of conflict.

To improve your intrinsic motivation, here are a couple of things to focus on:

  • Take Note of What You Love – No one likes every aspect of their job, but many people can find bits and pieces that they really do enjoy. It’s important to recognize what you love about your role and your company and keep that in the front of your brain for inspiration.
  • Stay Positive – People who are pessimistic can bring the vibe of a workplace environment down. Be someone who brings it up by remaining positive even during tense situations. Just changing your mindset will lift your spirit and help you enjoy your work more.


  • What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, and manage your feelings and emotions.

  • How Do You Become Self-Aware?

You can become self-aware by taking note of your feelings, looking at your emotional strengths and weaknesses, and understanding that emotions are fleeting.

  • How Do You Learn to Self-Regulate?

You can learn self-regulation by finding a way to relieve stress, staying calm, and thinking before you act.

  • How Do You Improve Your Social Skills?

You can improve social skills by listening to others, observing non-verbal communication, being persuasive, and not getting involved with petty office drama.

  • How Can You Practice Empathy?

You can practice empathy by seeing things from another’s point-of-view and taking note of your responses to others.

  • How Do You Tap Into Your Intrinsic Motivation?

You can tap into your intrinsic motivation by noting what you love about your role and by staying positive.