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6 Ways to Improve Your EQ for More Productivity at Work

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Businesswoman Working In Office

This is a guest post by Eddy Baller. He is a confidence coach who specializes in overcoming shyness and relationship skills. He helps guys crush personal obstacles to become the kind of men that women desire and men respect. Contact Eddy to learn about confidence and dating coaching.


We usually look at productivity being about the techniques or strategies we use to organize our work. The Pomodoro technique, email management, blocking off time on our calendar all can increase efficiency. These are external modifications which are easy to implement and effective, but there’s another way which can have a positive effect from the inside out.

One way to increase workplace productivity which usually doesn’t come up is emotional intelligence, or “EQ”. It may be because EQ is harder to improve than say, adding the Pomodoro technique to your work day. It takes a deep understanding of our innermost feelings, sensitivity to others and the will to condition our emotional responses to different situations.

The payoff can be dramatic though, and affects our productivity, networking ability, and personal life. By improving our EQ’s we improve the quality of life for ourselves and everyone around us.

“Emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice.” – Dr. Travis Bradberry, Talentsmart.com

What’s EQ?

emotional intelligence

In his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, Daniel Goleman described the research findings of John D. Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey of Yale University. It was found that 67% of skills associated with positive job performance were tied to emotional intelligence.

“Those were days when the preeminence of IQ as the standard of excellence in life was unquestioned; a debate raged over whether it was set in our genes or due to experience. But here, suddenly, was a new way of thinking about the ingredients of life success.” – Daniel Goleman

EQ is about how we relate to other people and even ourselves. We’ve all known people who seemed unaware of how other people perceive them, or who couldn’t seem to read others around them. Being unaware of ourselves and others can have a negative impact on the quality of our work and our ability to make connections.

On the positive side of things, a high EQ can mean better productivity, relationships, networking, collaborations, and stress relief on the job. It can mean more allies and support for when we really need them and more positive reactions from the people we interact with.

The 5 components of Emotional Intelligence

EQ is broken down into 5 main components which affect the way we deal with people.

Self-awareness – The ability to know what we’re feeling, strengths, weaknesses and understand where our feelings come from. Also an awareness of how our actions and moods affect other people around us.

Motivation – The drive to do more along with high standards for our work.

Self-regulation – This component relates to our ability to keep a “cool head” and avoid blowing up on others. High self regulation allows us to deal with stressful or negative situations in a calm rational way. It can prevent conflicts and butting heads before they happen.

Empathy – Empathetic individuals have the ability to put themselves in other people’s situations for better understanding. Even when we don’t agree, putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes makes it easier to negotiate and create solutions.

Social skills –  The ability to effectively get our message across and understand what other people are trying to say. Social skills allow us to maneuver any social situation with tact and charm.

Some signs of low EQ

Two businessmen arguing in office

People with a low EQ can tend to “rub” others the wrong way, cause fights, and leave disputes unresolved.

Here are some of the signs:

Argumentative

Low EQ people are not sensitive to the emotions of others so tend to get in more arguments. Since they can’t put themselves into other people’s positions, they have a hard time understanding other points of view which don’t agree with their own. When tension gets high they double down instead of using diplomatic measures.

Not Understanding other people’s feelings

Other people’s emotions will often go unnoticed which can increase tensions. This can lead to making the wrong social moves because emotional context is out of the picture.

Blaming Others

People with low EQ will avoid taking responsibility for the way their behavior has affected others. Often times they will play the victim.

Lack of emotional control

Self regulation is difficult when EQ is low. It can result in insults, outburst and exaggerated claims about a situation. A lack of emotional control can also maintain conflicts which could be solved easily with some basic problem solving.

Stress and EQ

Stressed businessman

Self awareness, one of the five main components of EQ, allows people to monitor their stress levels. This means being able to take a break or use anti stress measures to deal with emotional needs before they get out of hand.

It also helps to recognize when your own stress is affecting other people and communicate openly instead of bottling up emotions. Needless to say, better stress management also means better productivity. High stress levels lead to disengagement and missed work.

“One of the things that happens when you’re under stress is you’re not paying attention to your impact on other people. Stress impacts your ability to do well at work and can impact the way you react to other people around you such as your supervisors.” – Steven Stein

Highly stressed employees will miss almost twice as much work as those with normal stress levels. In a study of 22,347 employees across 12 countries, highly stressed employees took an average of 4.6 sick days per year Vs. only 2.6 days for those with low stress levels.

How improving EQ can boost productivity

Morale

When morale is high in the office it has a contagious effect. People are happier to go to work, stay longer hours, and take less sick days.

Better communication

When people are communicating effectively it leads to less conflicts and less mistakes are made on the job. Less mistakes in the workplace means that the same job doesn’t have to be done twice.

Solve conflicts

Even with better communication conflicts are inedible. With so many different personalities mixing together misunderstandings are going to happen. With a higher EQ people can work through conflicts to resolve them quickly and bring the peace back. Less time on office politics means more focus on important work.

Improved emotional control

Avoiding emotional flare ups helps to keep the peace and a higher degree of focus. Emotional flare ups can diminish the quality and output of work.

Stress relief

As was already mentioned, stress relief from having a higher EQ means less sick days. Stress is very fatiguing too, and as we all know, a fatigued body and mind isn’t a productive body and mind.

More collaboration

The social skills and empathy from a high EQ can work directly to our advantage for collaborations. Working well with others means getting more work done and faster.

Ability to take constructive criticism

We can’t always get it right, so some constructive criticism can help to improve the quality of our work as well as expectations. A higher EQ means we won’t take it personally and can get back on track more quickly instead of brooding over perceived slights.

“Pepsi found that executives with high EQs generated 10% more productivity, had 87% less turnover, brought $3.75M more value to the company, and increased ROI by 1000%. L’Oreal found that salespeople with a high EQ sold $2.5M more than others. And when Sheraton decided to incorporate an EQ initiative, their market share grew by 24%.” – Huffpost

How to improve EQ

Businesswoman attending a client at office

Active listening

Active listening means that we’re listening to what the other person has to say, not waiting to respond. Many people only listen in order to respond with something about themselves, or a counter point. In active listening, we absorb what the other person is saying to understand them.

Active listening can be used to improve our EQ’s because it creates sensitivity to other people’s communication, and helps understand what they’re trying to say.

One way to do this I like to call the “Snowball technique” because the conversation expands with each piece of information.

  1. Pay attention to their words – Listen to what he/she is saying, especially small details. This will come in handy later in the conversation. Each fact can become an independent conversation topic on it’s own if you’re paying attention.
  2. Repeat and reword – Now that you’ve heard what she has to say, reply back by repeating what she just said but in your own words. This will further cement your understanding, avoid miscommunication, and show her you’re listening. You can start with, “So you’re saying X” or “You mean to say X?”
  3. Add your opinion – Adding your opinion will keep it conversational and avoid a one sided conversation or interview mode from happening. Just make sure you bring it full circle back to the person in front of you.
  4. Dig deeper – Here’s where you can really find out her true motivations or interest. By going below the surface you’ll avoid superficial conversations which don’t create real connections. This will also give you more insight into the feelings and motivations of other people. Of course, context matters, so in a professional conversation you’re going to want to keep it professional. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about him/her though. The way to do this is by asking why person A likes X, or why they got into X. When people tell me what kind of work they do I’ll typically ask why they got into it.
  5. Recall – She may have mentioned it five minutes ago, but since you were paying attention you’ll be able to bring it up again. This is especially helpful if it’s directly related to the main topic but it doesn;t have to be. It can be another thread of conversation which will help you learn more about him/her and create a deeper connection and understanding. You can do this by saying, “You mentioned X a few minutes ago…”

Listen to your body

Pay attention to the signals your body is giving to the world. This will help create deeper self awareness because our body language usually tells the story of what’s happening inside. Many people with low EQ’s don’t realize how much of an open book they are to others, and how much a negative display of body language can ruin the mood.

When you feel negative, insecure, or happy, what is your body doing? Pause briefly to note what you’re communicating non verbally. This is a great chance to reverse bad body language too. Changing the way we hold ourselves is the best way to change how we feel. In turn, that will affect how others feel around us.

Observe other people’s reactions

Pay attention to other people’s reactions to our words or behavior. Maybe someone is a bit sensitive, but maybe we rubbed them the wrong way because of a lack of sensitivity. We can’t control what others do but we can control ourselves, so adopt a proactive approach to other people’s emotions.

Acknowledge good work and give praise freely. You’ll get a chance to see more a more positive reception and people will return the good vibes.

Seek collaborations

Corporate business team

Working directly with others on a project can help us develop more sensitivity. It requires paying attention though, so keep your awareness levels high. Observe how everyone works together and the various social dynamics at play.

Pause before reacting

Raising our EQ requires being able to think through situations instead of reacting to them. Misunderstandings can arise quickly when we don’t pause to process new information. By pausing, we develop better self regulation and can use it as an opportunity to empathize. This empathy, or putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, can quickly diffuse a potential conflict because even if we don’t agree, we’ll understand their thinking better.

Make it a habit to pause before reacting to anything which comes your way.

Verbalize or write your feelings

Writing down or verbalizing how we feel can help increase sensitivity to those feelings. It will also lower stress by allowing for a way to vent, and lowering stress always helps us improve productivity. If we understand more about what makes us happy or sad, then we can proactively do the things which improve our demeanors.


This is a guest post by Eddy Baller. He is a confidence coach who specializes in overcoming shyness and relationship skills. He helps guys crush personal obstacles to become the kind of men that women desire and men respect. Contact Eddy to learn about confidence and dating coaching

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