Emotional intelligence and other soft skills in business

Humans are by essence emotional beings. And contrary to what you might think, emotions are not detrimental in the workplace. In fact, research has shown that emotions have a place in the workplace. They are even essential to the productivity and motivation of teams. Moreover, these same researches show that IQ is not a sufficient indicator to measure an individual's intelligence, especially in the work environment. Emotional intelligence also plays a key role... 

Emotional intelligence and other soft skills in business

Emotional intelligence, a top soft skill in business

The ability to listen to one's emotions, to manage them and to make the most of them is a major asset in private life... But it is also a major asset on the professional level. Indeed, emotional intelligence is now one of the most sought-after soft skills. Here is everything you need to know about this skill.

What is emotional intelligence?

Researchers and psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey define emotional intelligence as "the ability to perceive, recognize and express emotions, to integrate them to facilitate thinking, to understand emotions and to control them in order to promote personal growth. 

The notion of "intelligence" indicates that the reasoning process intervenes with emotions and that emotional intelligence guides rather than opposes logical reasoning. Numerous studies have shown that the ability to identify and regulate emotions has a positive impact on the health and well-being of individuals, as well as on performance and the ability to succeed on a professional level.

A brief history of emotional intelligence

Psychologists Salovey and Mayer defined the concept of emotional intelligence for the first time in 1990. In 1983, Howard Gardner suggested the theory of multiple intelligences, which challenges the dominance of the well-known Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Among these types of intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, or socio-emotional intelligence, allows the individual to adapt to his interlocutors, to their ways of acting and reacting. Individuals with this type of intelligence can thus identify differences in character, personality or motives for action in the people with whom they interact. Their empathy, as well as their sense of cooperation and tolerance, help them anticipate unstated intentions and expectations, especially in the workplace.

These skills are extremely useful in the professional environment, as they help to be proactive, to quickly resolve problems before they get out of hand and to implement viable, effective and, above all, universally accepted solutions.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman, psychologist and journalist, released " Emotional Intelligence ", a book in which he challenged the systematic use of IQ as the only criterion for evaluating intelligence. According to this psychologist, IQ can only explain 20% of professional success. This book has largely contributed to the popularization of the concept of emotional intelligence. The author states that the influence of this soft skill "can be as important or even greater than that of IQ". 

These studies eventually attracted the attention of companies, which began to take a closer look at these concepts in the 1990s. In an effort to rationalize recruitment, more and more companies are now taking into account emotional intelligence in HR.

The added value of emotional intelligence

Everyone agrees that emotional intelligence is crucial to personal success, but what about its contribution on the professional level, especially in business? 

Salovey and Goleman, among other researchers, assert that individuals who are aware of their emotions are able to better manage their lives, both in a personal and professional context. Those who are in control of their emotions are more resilient in the face of unexpected events, failures and the difficulties... They are therefore better equipped to succeed, both personally and professionally. These individuals also have a high level of productivity. They are efficient and motivated and spare no effort to achieve their goals.

On the other hand, individuals with a highly developed sense of empathy are able to perceive others' feelings. This skill paves the way to successful careers in education and training, since they understand how to pass on knowledge. But they are also highly proficient in the fields of commerce, management and coaching.

People with high emotional intelligence are three times less likely to suffer from burn-out because of their ability to channel their energy and manage their emotions in the most difficult moments. They are more likely to make informed decisions, which predisposes them to hold positions of responsibility, within the HR department or top management.

On another level, emotional intelligence is a vector of collective performance. This aspect is very important because a company only generates value when it is able to make its employees work as a team and in synergy. To successfully meet this challenge and achieve strategic objectives, it is crucial to create a climate of trust, mutual understanding, exchange and respect. This is even more important when working in a multicultural team.

Thanks to emotional intelligence, managers and HR managers are able to build this kind of environment through their ability to decode the emotions of their employees and to resolve conflicts, or even prevent them from escalating and creating a toxic and harmful atmosphere.

Emotional intelligence is therefore at the service of collective intelligence, which in turn drives performance and collective success.

How to develop emotional intelligence?

Unlike IQ, which slows down or stops evolving after adolescence, emotional intelligence (EQ) continues to develop over the years because it comes from experience. The good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed in the same way as one would develop his or her skills in a sport or artistic practice. Most people are indeed endowed with emotional intelligence, but it can sometimes be restricted or limited due to the lack of adequate conditions for its development.

Fortunately, it is possible to remove the obstacles that prevent emotions from taking their rightful place. There is no shortage of solutions. Some personal development courses, sometimes specialized in the work environment, are a good start.

Coaching is also an effective way to focus on specific aspects of emotional intelligence, as is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Working on mindfulness also allows us to be more receptive to our emotions and how they manifest themselves. The practice of mindfulness and active listening can help to better identify our emotions and develop empathy in order to better interact and communicate with others.

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