Wilson College Online Blog

Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important in the Workplace

Written by: Wilson College   •  May 21, 2024
A smiling business person holds a tablet in an office.

Research shows why emotional intelligence (EI) is important in the workplace. Employees with high emotional intelligence consistently score among the top performers, reporting higher productivity, better team retention rates, and higher engagement.

Emotional intelligence benefits employees as well. According to a TalentSmartEQ study of over 42,000 people, those with high emotional intelligence earn $29,000 more on average than those with low emotional intelligence. Even a one-point increase in emotional intelligence translates to $1,300 more in annual salary.

What exactly is emotional intelligence? Can you learn business skills such as emotional awareness and regulation? Furthermore, why is emotional intelligence in business so important?

What’s Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to understand and manage emotions. High emotional intelligence can mean better emotional regulation skills, stronger interpersonal communication, and more effective decision-making skills. In contrast, low emotional intelligence can lead to stress, conflicts, and poor teamwork.

An awareness of emotions underlies emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent employees bring both self-awareness and social awareness to the workplace. The term “self-awareness” refers to the ability to identify one’s emotions, while the term “social awareness” refers to the ability to identify others’ emotions.

After mastering emotional awareness, emotionally intelligent employees must regulate their emotions while empathizing with coworkers. Essentially, this component comprises how one reacts to emotions. Emotional regulation means greater adaptability and impulse control, while the ability to empathize with others strengthens workplace cohesion and defuses conflicts.

Finally, emotional intelligence plays an important role in motivation and leadership. By understanding their own motivations, emotionally intelligent employees can reach professional goals. Also, effective leaders draw on emotional intelligence to connect with employees and achieve organizational goals.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace? Emotional intelligence is closely tied to the soft skills that many employers want, including communication, teamwork, and leadership. Employees with high emotional intelligence bring these strengths to the workplace.

Organizations rely on employees with high emotional intelligence to improve teamwork, communicate effectively, and lead projects. In fact, research shows that emotional intelligence in business translates into higher salaries and more promotions, according to a recent Forbes article. Improving emotional intelligence offers several benefits in the workplace, including better team cohesion, the ability to resolve conflicts, and stronger decision-making skills.

Team Communication

Effective teamwork requires strong communication skills. Emotional intelligence allows team members to improve their communication while defusing potential conflicts.

Emotional intelligence can also help team leaders and members build a collaborative culture. For example, team leaders with strong self-regulation skills can prevent negative emotions from adding to the stress level of team members. Instead, they can encourage a positive working relationship.

Conflict Resolution

Team members may disagree on how to achieve strategic goals. Employees may resist organizational changes, or a supervisor may worry that a direct report’s stress level may create problems on a project. Emotional intelligence can help workers resolve conflict in a way that encourages consensus and growth.

Every workplace deals with conflict. Successful conflict resolution skills require an understanding of emotional stress. Furthermore, emotional intelligence skills, such as active listening, help employees resolve disagreements.

Decision-Making

Low emotional intelligence can negatively impact the decision-making process. Workers may make impulsive decisions without weighing the consequences. Similarly, low emotional intelligence can cause decision-making driven by emotion rather than by data or strategy.

Strengthening emotional intelligence can improve decision-making in several ways. First, decision-makers will be able to distinguish emotional considerations from truly relevant considerations. Second, emotional intelligence helps leaders process feedback from team members, including through nonverbal communication, offering valuable context for choices.

Finally, emotionally intelligent employees bring greater self-awareness; this means their decisions will better align with their abilities.

Motivation

In the workplace, motivation represents an important consideration for individual contributors, team leaders, and managers. By strengthening emotional intelligence, employees can understand their own motivations to achieve professional goals. Similarly, those in leadership roles can promote shared goals for their teams to encourage and reward success.

After identifying what motivates team members, leaders can leverage their understanding of emotions to provide constructive, motivational feedback to employees. Emotional intelligence can also help managers identify the types of leadership approaches that best match their organizations, team members, and professional goals.

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence Skills

At any career stage, investing in emotional intelligence can pay off. Here are some tips to develop emotional intelligence for business settings:

  • Strengthen active listening skills. Developing active listening skills improves social awareness and emotional intelligence. When interacting with coworkers, employees should give their full attention. Avoid interruptions to encourage a positive, collaborative relationship.

  • Identify stress triggers. Self-awareness represents a key component of emotional intelligence. By identifying stress triggers, employees can improve their ability to remain calm in challenging circumstances. For example, an employee who finds noisy spaces stressful can consider modifying their work environment.

  • Watch nonverbal communication. In the workplace, paying attention to nonverbal communication can strengthen emotional intelligence. When interacting with coworkers, employees can watch for signs of stress, burnout, or depression to modify their approach and offer support.

  • Ask for feedback. Asking a supervisor or trusted coworker for constructive feedback can help employees develop emotional intelligence. Feedback may identify specific areas for improvement and provide a road map for strengthening self-awareness, communication, and self-management abilities.

While strengthening emotional intelligence, employees can also focus on their communication skills, empathy, and relationship-building skills. These skills benefit everyone from entry-level employees to senior executives.

Launch Your Business Career With a Degree From Wilson College Online

A business degree can help you develop interpersonal, decision-making, and leadership skills. The online business programs at Wilson College Online incorporate practical training with a focus on in-demand emotional intelligence skills, such as communication and teamwork. You’ll strengthen critical abilities while leading team projects and solving real-world business problems.

Wilson College Online offers bachelor’s programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, and strategic communication. You can also earn a Master of Organizational Leadership (MAOL) degree. These programs cultivate empathetic leadership styles to prepare graduates to become top performers in business. Reach out to Wilson College Online today to learn more about earning your business degree online.

Recommended Readings

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

What Can You Do With a Business Management Degree?

Accounting vs. Finance: Which Degree Should You Pursue?

Sources:

Forbes, “The Importance of Emotional Intelligence at Work”

ManageMagazine, The 10 Benefits Of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Mental Health America, What Is Emotional Intelligence and How Does It Apply to the Workplace?

Simply Psychology, “How to Improve Emotional Intelligence”

TalentSmartEQ, Increasing Your Salary With Emotional Intelligence

Verywell Mind, “5 Key Emotional Intelligence Skills”

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