Emotional Intelligence Skills for the Workplace (Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 3, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated August 3, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Having high emotional intelligence and the ability to successfully manage your emotions in challenging situations will likely improve the outcome of your actions. Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill, but improving it takes patience and determination. In this article, we explain what emotional intelligence is, ways in which you can improve it and how you can successfully use it in the workplace.

Related: Emotional Intelligence at Work: 4 Easy Ways To Build Your EQ

Emotional intelligence, also called EQ, is the ability to identify and manage both your own emotions and the emotions of the people you interact with. Jenn, a certified career coach at Indeed, shares four ways to strengthen the fundamentals of EQ.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, also known as “emotional quotient” (EQ), is a person’s ability to successfully identify and manage their emotions and those of the people around them. They use emotional intelligence to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. People with high emotional intelligence are generally more successful in both their personal and professional lives since they tend to develop stronger personal relationships.

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Having emotional intelligence can help you avoid those situations when you might act on impulse rather than fact. Understanding and managing your emotions and those of others can help you be more successful in your personal and professional life.

Emotional intelligence can be helpful when you are:

  • Having difficult conversations and want to avoid hurting others’ feelings

  • Managing your emotions when feeling stressed or overwhelmed

  • Improving relationships with others

  • Resolving conflict

  • Coaching and motivating others

  • Creating a collaborative environment

Read more: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Four main attributes of emotional intelligence

There are four primary attributes of emotional intelligence. They are:

1. Self-management

Self-management skills, such as problem-solving, good communication, resistance to stress, time management, good memory and a healthy lifestyle, are generally crucial for an individual's well-being in both their personal and professional activities.

Related: Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Self-awareness

Being self-aware is the ability to identify and acknowledge your own emotions and the way they affect your behavior and general attitude. This enables you to better understand your strengths and weaknesses, giving you a more realistic perspective of your general ability.

Read more: What is Self-Awareness? Tips on Being More Mindful at Work

3. Social awareness

Social awareness is related to the understanding of the emotional needs and responses of the people around you. Showing empathy, noticing various emotional cues from others and recognizing a group's hierarchy are likely to lead to better social outcomes.

4. Relationship management

Creating healthy, functional and productive relationships with others is usually based on a person's ability to clearly communicate their thoughts, influence others with their words and actions and successfully work within a team.

Related: 5 Ways To Develop Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

How to improve your emotional intelligence skills

Here are some ways to strengthen your emotional intelligence skills:

1. Self-management

The main component of successful self-management is being organized. Maintaining a clear schedule and a healthy lifestyle are typically the first steps toward improving self-management. Another major component is the ability to overcome stressful situations and staying organized also helps you focus on what you need to do.

Improve your self-management by:

  • Asking for constructive feedback

  • Knowing your values

  • Learning new skills

  • Holding yourself accountable

  • Practicing being calm

  • Set goals

2. Self-awareness

Improving self-awareness starts by understanding and connecting with your emotions, to determine how they affect your thoughts and actions. Determining what brings you joy, sadness, anger and fear is the first step towards controlling these emotions and not letting them affect your judgment.

Improve your self-awareness by:

  • Working on accepting your emotions

  • Looking at challenges as opportunities

  • Practicing your communication skills

  • Recognizing that you have a choice in how you respond

  • Finding ways to manage difficult emotions

3. Social awareness

The most straightforward way of improving social awareness is by paying close attention to the subtle actions and reactions of those around you. Over time, you will improve your ability to perceive and understand other people's emotional responses, enabling you to better empathize with their feelings.

Improve your social awareness by:

  • Learning conflict resolution

  • Practicing active listening

  • Asking open-ended questions

  • Showing interest in others

  • Learning how to praise others

4. Relationship management

Your relationship management skills generally improve when other components of emotional intelligence do. A person who can successfully self-manage has high self-awareness and can understand the emotions of those around them has a higher chance of developing long-lasting and healthy relationships.

Improve your relationship management by:

  • Sharing your own feelings

  • Putting yourself in someone else’s position

  • Paying attention to body language

  • Imagining yourself in someone else’s place.

  • Listening to other people

Related: 55 Tips for How To Improve Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence skills in the workplace

Most jobs involve stressful situations and constant interaction with other people. These situations make emotional intelligence skills a valuable professional asset. Here are some tips to improve emotional intelligence in the workplace:

Keep your body in good shape

Controlling your thoughts and emotions and being aware of those around you is easier when you have physical energy and stamina. Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day will keep you energetic and focused throughout the day.

Establish emotional barriers

A good way to keep emotions separate from work decisions is by establishing emotional barriers. While you can be sympathetic and available for your co-workers or employees’ individual issues, you must not let that knowledge or relationship affect work decisions. Keeping a strictly professional relationship with everyone in the workplace will help you maintain your objective views.

Keep a flexible mindset

Having long-term goals can be helpful for your professional development, yet the outcomes of your short-term actions have the potential to change the context. The ability to maintain a flexible mindset and adjust long-term goals based on new information is important for the workplace.

Understand and consider your organization's values

Being aligned with your organization's core values is usually a major component of emotional well-being. Finding an organization that suits your personality is typically a good way of improving your emotional intelligence.

How to highlight emotional intelligence skills

High emotional intelligence levels potentially increase your odds of getting a job, so demonstrating them throughout the recruitment process is important for your success. Here’s how to showcase your emotional intelligence to your potential employer:

Resume and cover letter

Many job descriptions indirectly require candidates to have emotional intelligence with prerequisites such as good communication skills, teamwork skills and the ability to manage others. Highlighting your emotional intelligence in your resume and cover letter can potentially increase your odds of getting that job. Describe specific instances in previous professional situations where you demonstrated emotional intelligence as self-control, self-awareness, social awareness or relationship management.
Potential employers are generally interested in understanding how you can use your skills for the benefit of the hiring company.

Related: Skills Recruiters Look for in Resumes

Job interviews

Most potential employers actively look for signs of emotional intelligence in candidates but there are no official methods, rules or guidelines for accurately measuring it. This is why emotional intelligence typically needs to be demonstrated throughout the entire interview.

The most basic way to show your emotional intelligence is by actively listening to the interviewer's words and responding in a way that shows you have the mental awareness to properly hear what someone has to say. Also, make sure to demonstrate a passion for what you do and excitement about the potential opportunity as genuinely showing positive emotions is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Finally, keeping a constantly positive outlook and showing that you can see opportunity in failure are also crucial to demonstrating you have a healthy mindset and good emotional intelligence skills.

Related: Mastering the Final Interview (With Example Questions and Answers

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