Learning & Development, Recruiting

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

It may be hard to believe, but the now popular concept of “emotional intelligence” (EQ) has actually been around for quite some time. In fact, it was first put forth back in 1990—40+ years ago—by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer and was later popularized by Dan Goleman in his book of the same name.

Soft Skills in High Demand

Decades later, employers continue to recognize the usefulness of EQ and soft skills. In fact, as technology continues to prove an effective substitute for human workers when it comes to technical tasks, the ability to work with and manage others—along with other quintessentially “human” abilities—is increasingly sought after.

“Workers are trained to trumpet technical skills and personal achievements on their resumés, and talk them up in job interviews,” writes Joanna York in an article for BBC Worklife. “However, to succeed at work, either personally or as part of a team, an entirely different skill set is coming to the fore. Leaders are increasingly looking for ‘emotional intelligence’, also known as ‘EQ’. This range of competencies encompasses our ability to understand and manage our own and others’ feelings, then use this knowledge to build positive, productive connections.”

Encouraging EQ

It’s not enough for employers to simply decide to see EQ as valuable, however. Companies also need to be able to encourage the appreciation of EQ among a workforce that has largely been conditioned to see EQ as relatively worthless.

In general, York says, being emotionally intelligent may require different approaches and taking a human-first approach to relationships—putting “our own and others’ feelings first.” That, she says, “may be a challenging mindset transition, yet the benefits can be profound, increasing morale, productivity, wellbeing and personal influence—all traits employers are demanding now, more than ever.”

As improving technologies continue to take over many of the tasks traditionally performed by humans, uniquely human capabilities like EQ are increasingly sought after to give companies a competitive edge. This means that employers need to both seek out and nurture EQ among candidates and employees to stay competitive into the future.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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