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3 EI (Emotional Intelligence) Traits That Transform The Workplace

Blog | Building Culture   |   June 4, 2015

by Janina Aritao

Knowledge and expertise are only half of the formula for a great team. The other half is personal and social competence—otherwise known as Emotional Intelligence. As the workplace is a complex web of people and processes, EI is crucial for achieving harmony, efficiency, team growth, and business growth.

“Emotional intelligence affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.” Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, says in a recent article on, linking emotional intelligence with workplace success.

“When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack,” Bradberry states.

Higher EI among staff or team members results in highly effective, people-oriented work environments. Here are three main qualities that each person can cultivate to achieve a sense of harmony and positive culture in the workplace:

1. Compassion

A strong sense of empathy for peers and colleagues

In this Harvard Business Review article, Daniel Goleman shares that “Compassion makes the difference between understanding and caring…I think that in the workplace, that attitude has a hugely positive effect, whether it’s in how we relate to our peers or how we are as a leader, or how we relate to clients and customers. A positive disposition toward another person creates the kind of resonance that builds trust and loyalty and makes interactions harmonious. And the opposite of that — when you do nothing to show that you care — creates distrust, disharmony, and causes huge dysfunction at home and in business.”

Goleman points to research conducted on top salespeople and client managers that revealed that “the lowest level of performance was a kind of ‘I’m going to get the best deal I can now, and I don’t care how this affects the other person’ attitude, which means that you might make the sale but that you lose the relationship. But at the top end, the stars were typified by the attitude, ‘I am working for the client as well as myself. I’m going to be completely straight with them, and I’m going to act as their advisor. If the deal I have is not the best deal they can get I’m going to let them know because that’s going to strengthen the relationship, even though I might lose this specific sale.’ And I think that captures the difference between the “me first” and the “let’s all do well” attitude that I’m getting at.”

2. Communication

Relating to others with a strong sense of self awareness and social awareness

How well you know yourself and your peers or co-workers affects the way you communicate, and what you communicate.

Authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves introduce the term emotional hijacking in Emotional Intelligence 2.0, to describe moments when emotions control behaviour. For example, a person with low EI under extreme stress will easily lose control and may unintentionally act disrespectfully towards colleagues or staff. Impulsively spurting out angry words in a high-pressure situation communicates a lack of control and a disregard for others’ feelings and welfare.“Relationship management is your ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully,” Bradberry and Greaves state.

Communication reveals how you value others. And while self-control is crucial in communication, honesty, sincerity, and authenticity are also ways to respect and honor your peers in your communication.

Communication goes beyond conveying information as well. We can only discern what, how, and even when to communicate by being good listeners and observers. “Listening and observing are the most important elements of social awareness,” is another key insight shared by Bradberry and Greaves.

3. Confidence

The ability to stay calm, controlled, and deliberate

“Ninety percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control,” Travis Bradberry says in this Huffington Post article.

Emotional intelligence equips us to manage the demands of today’s workplace. Confidence in this context is having that sense of security in your own capabilities, as well as realizing that there is a solution to every crisis. Confidence exhibits the wisdom to choose to problem-solve rather than panic; to see past smaller, immediate needs, and prioritize larger, more important goals—team goals and organizational goals.

“While it is true that some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, high EI can be developed even if you aren’t born with it,” Bradberry and Greaves state.

But for all the research that links EI with better performance and higher income, each person’s emotional intelligence is directly linked to their values. It all boils down to people and relationships. Compassion, Communication, Confidence–these 3 Cs are all about building self-awareness and social awareness to serve others better and interact more effectively. EI strengthens team relationships and acknowledges the value of each person in the company. As the Emotional Intelligence of each individual develops, the team is strengthened, and the business moves forward, with a formidable people-centric foundation.

Janina is a Senior Consultant at ROHEI who loves to draw alphabets.

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