Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

What is Emotional Intelligence?


Emotional intelligence is the ability to:


  • Be aware of, name, and manage one’s emotions;
  • Be aware of, name and understand other’s emotions, and;
  • Relate to others in effective ways both personally and professionally
    in a wide range of contexts and roles.


How does Low Emotional Intelligence Show Up At Work?


Some of the manifestations of low emotional intelligence at work are:

  • Blaming others
  • Victim statements such as “If only he/she would . . .”
  • An inability to hear critical feedback
  • Diverse opinions that are not welcomed or valued
  • Passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive communication
  • Leaders who do not listen and become out of touch with those they lead


In Daniel Goleman’s book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” he gives an example of a leader with low understanding of the effect of negative feedback to one of his team, as follows:


A team leader had worked hard with others team members to develop a software product. After the product was being presented to a senior manager in a meeting with all involved present, the senior manager’s reaction was


“These specifications are ridiculous. They have no chance in getting past my desk.”


The team leader and his team were deflated, utterly embarrassed and reduced to silence. The team leader liked his place of work and following this incident contemplated leaving but decided to approach the senior manager. The senior manager didn’t realise how devastating his remark had been and thought that the work had promise but needed some development. He belatedly apologised.
Many managers are too willing to criticise but frugal with their praise.


The propensity to criticise is compounded by the delay in giving feedback, sometimes no feedback is given for long periods. This leads to a build up of frustration and one day the manager blows up about it.


Too often people criticise when things boil over and when they are too angry to contain themselves and that is when they give the criticism in the worst way, in a tone of biting sarcasm. This is the worst way to motivate someone.


Emotional Intelligence and High Performance


Daniel Goleman makes a strong case for a link between well-developed emotional intelligence and workplace performance.


Goleman found that 67% of all competencies deemed essential for high performance were related to emotional intelligence.


Furthermore, one’s emotional intelligence mattered twice as much as one’s technical knowledge or IQ for this high performance.