As we move forward through the 21st century, there is a growing belief
that companies need to be people-smart as well as business-smart in order to
be successful in an increasingly complex and competitive global business
environment. Using the concept of emotional intelligence, many
forward-looking companies have begun to think about employees and customers
as people, not cogs in a revenue-generating machine.
The term “emotional intelligence” was coined by Peter Salovey of Yale
University and Jack Mayer of the University of New Hampshire as they were
researching factors that enable people to function well in society. But
Daniel P. Goldman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, brought the
idea to the general public and the workplace. Emotional Intelligence is
usually defined by five “emotional quotient” (EQ) skill dimensions:
1. Self-Awareness of feelings--Knowing how
you are feeling. WHY you are feeling that way, and using the
self-awareness to make better personal and professional decisions.
2. Emotional self-regulation--Reining in strong
negative emotions, like anger and anxiety, and mobilizing positive
personal and organizational support to enhance that control.
3. Self-monitoring and goal setting--Having
short-and long-term goals. Making specific, measurable plans to
achieve then with a spirit of hope and optimism.
4. Empathy and perspective taking--Showing
sensitivity and genuine appreciation for the feelings and opinions of
5. Social and communication skills--The ability to work as part
of a team effectively, using skills such as leadership, problem
solving and decision-making, careful listening, the spirit of
give-and-take, and clear verbal and nonverbal communication.
Strategies for building the “EQ” of your workplace encompass the
- Create a sense of shared
mission and a vision for the future.
- Communicate respect for
people at all levels for their ideas and the contributions they
make to the organization.
- Give feedback designed to
improve performance, help solve workplace problems, and enhance
people and their capabilities, not criticize and diminish.
- Ensure that all employees
have the tools, training and resources needed to succeed.
- Celebrate achievements of
individuals, teams and the overall company.
- Recognized significant life
events and milestones of everyone within the organization.
- Encourage humor, optimism,
and creativity as key tools for everyday success.
- Solve problems by encouraging a wide range of
thinking and reacting to benefit from a variety of perspectives.
The following is an example of how the dimensions of “EQ” and
customer service would work together:
- When dealing with a frustrated customer, employees with a high EQ
- Are conscious of their own
reactions to the customer’s intensity.
- Don’t let their own tension
add to the anxiety level of the situation.
- Determine specifically what the
customer is most upset about.
- Focus on satisfying the
customer, trying to understand the situation from their point of
- Talk calmly and clearly, listen
carefully, and look to address the emotions of the customer, as well
as the situation, in a positive way.
When the individuals in a work environment have a
high overall level of Emotional Intelligence, it perpetuates better
teamwork, more sharing, greater energy and enthusiasm for being in the
workplace, and a feeling among employees that they are “part of
something,” not just collecting a paycheck.
In the emotionally intelligent workplace, employees
know that their ideas and their feelings matter. The power of caring,
creativity, and collaboration is unleashed, ultimately resulting in
reduced employee turnover, greater innovation and productivity, and a
But it is NOT the case that having an emotional
intelligence ability automatically assures effective job performance.
For example, an employee may be empathetic, but not have learned
on-the-job skills to make them a great salesperson or great at working
with people from diverse backgrounds. Companies must invest more time in
training employees at all levels to be sure that opportunities for the
new skills to be practiced in job situations exist.
While there is no precise blue print for creating
these conditions, many companies are using training focused on team
building, communication skills and goal setting strategies to enhance
their workplace Emotional Intelligence.
“When individuals in a work environment have a high
overall level of emotional intelligence, it perpetuates better teamwork,
greater creativity, productivity, and more enthusiasm for being in the