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The importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace: how to develop emotional skills in your team

Managing the technical skills of your staff members is something that companies are used to doing, although not all do it with the same level of success. However, manage human interactions it is a relatively recent phenomenon, and we still find many organizations that do not carry out any measures in this regard.

Society has changed, and the ways of working have too. Today's workers neither think nor feel like those of decades ago. For this reason, companies that have not been able to adapt are having problems attracting and retaining talent.

In this scenario, emotional intelligence (EI) takes on a special role as a key tool to effectively manage those human interactions to which we have just referred, and to achieve the maximum possible well-being in the workplace. A well-being that will lead employees to give the best of themselves and perform at maximum power. Something that will help the company to gain in productivity and become increasingly competitive within its sector.

Table of Contents

What is emotional intelligence and why has it become so important in the workplace?

Emotional intelligence can be understood as a construct that encompasses different capacities of the human being. Capabilities that allow you understand, use and manage their own emotions more effectively. Within it we can find skills such as emotional self-control, empathy, and conflict management.

The higher a person's level of emotional intelligence, the better able they are to cope with stress and to establish healthy and balanced relationships in the different areas of your life, including labor.

Through it you reach the self knowledge, and this is a good starting point to discover strengths and weaknesses in oneself and take steps to enhance the good and diminish the effect that those not so good parts of a subject's personality have.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

It is increasingly common to hear about this topic in the field of Human Resources. In fact, emotional intelligence has come to be regarded as the most important soft skill that an employee can have, regardless of whether he occupies a managerial position or if he has just started his career at the lowest levels of the organization.

In the workplace, this skill helps people in the workplace Decision-making process. It allows them to evaluate all the available information in a calmer and more analytical way and, in this way, decide based solely on logical criteria, instead of being carried away by the emotion of the moment.

On the other hand, it is essential to be able to carry out a effective communication. Because it allows you to express ideas and feelings in a clearer and more assertive way. At the same time, as a higher level of empathy is derived from emotional intelligence, it is much easier to practice a active listening and put yourself in the place of others. This benefits the company on many levels, because it helps to avoid misunderstandings, allows a quick resolution of conflicts in case they arise, and creates harmonious interpersonal relationships between team members.

Emotional intelligence is a competence that should be well developed in the entire workforce, as we mentioned before, but it becomes even more important in the case of leaders. 

A effective leadership requires large doses of this ability. Because whoever is in charge of a work team must be able to prevent and resolve conflicts, foster a climate of collaboration, build trust, and inspire and motivate their subordinates.

How to develop emotional skills in a work team?

Daniel Goleman, psychologist who formulated the theory of emotional intelligence, pointed out that this is divided into four "domains" and that within them there are 12 competencies. These are skills that can be developed with training and practice.

EI domains and competencies

self awareness

  • emotional self-awareness

self management

  • emotional self control
  • Adaptability
  • goal orientation
  • Positive attitude

social competence

  • Empathy
  • organizational awareness

relationship management

  • Influence
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork
  • inspirational leadership

Starting from this base, and from the fact that Goleman himself talks about the skills that make up emotional intelligence can be developed, it is clear that companies can do a lot to contribute to the development of the emotional skills of their employees.

Provide information on emotional intelligence

It will be hard to convince employees to take steps like conducting an emotional assessment if you don't make it clear to them first. what is EI and what advantages does it have for them work on the development of skills and competencies that are part of it.

It is recommended to start training with the essential theoretical aspects, although these can be transferred to the template in a much more dynamic way. Instead of the typical conference, it is possible to use state-of-the-art techniques such as gamification or interaction with Artificial Intelligence that gradually explains the most important issues.

After the theoretical training, or at the same time that it is taught, you can move on to the practice. The idea is that staff members can apply the EI concepts they have learned, in situations that might arise in their work. For example, proposing conflict simulations or role-playing sessions in which each employee assumes a certain role and has to act according to it.

Foster emotional awareness

It involves encouraging the members of a work team to be more aware of their own emotions and discover the way in which they can influence their job performance and their relationships with others.

To achieve this goal, one can start with a emotional self-assessment, providing a list of common emotions and a scale to help rate them. When a person feels one of the emotions on their list, they take note of when it appears and what effect it is having on their behavior.

A slightly more complex version of this is to carry a emotion recording diary. A notebook in which each employee collects the most significant emotions they have felt during their workday and analyzes their consequences.

Any of these measures help employees to be much more aware of their emotions and about the behaviors or events that can trigger them, as well as the effect they have on their work performance and the way they relate to others.

When a person reaches a good level of emotional awareness, he is able to recognize those situations that cause stress, anxiety, anger, etc., and can face them with a cooler head, preventing emotions from taking over the situation and their way of acting.

Create an environment of trust

At this point, employees know what emotional intelligence is and are learning how to develop it. They have started to get to know themselves better and now they must take the next step to further grow those skills.

In this phase it becomes essential to have an environment of trust in which workers feel safe to express their ideas, their thoughts, their opinions and, above all, their emotions. Each team member must be sure that no one will belittle him or make fun of him if he shows his emotions.

Reaching this goal is possible by applying different strategies, but one of the most effective is encourage transparency and openness. Create a space where everyone can freely express their opinions and concerns without fear of being judged.

Many members of the staff are going to feel identified with what another person exposes, and this is going to create an emotional connection and build trust

Also, you have to practice active listening. That those opinions and ideas expressed do not fall on deaf ears, but that they are valued to the extent that they deserve it and action is taken to solve what has become a focus of concern.

The fear of expressing thoughts and emotions is difficult to overcome. For this reason, even if an environment of maximum trust has been generated, it is important respect confidentiality.

Emotional intelligence not only seeks to make human beings aware of their emotions. He goes one step further and wants us to be able to apply that awareness to guide our actions and our relationships with others. But keep in mind that the developing emotional skills takes time and effort. It is a gradual progress in which the commitment of the organization and its employees is essential to achieve success. These skills are not developed from one moment to the next, but today is a good day to start working on them.

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