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Siobhán Godden on EQ

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Emotional Intelligence

One of the things I hear a lot in the business world when trying to sell that they’re people-centric organisation, is that employees are their best asset. The intention behind this is good, it's trying to say that the success of any organisation is its workers, whether they’re salespeople bringing in the revenue, technical experts creating a product or service or the support functions ensuring they have the tool to do it. But assets are a ‘thing’ an object to be owned and utilised, not very human when thinking about it!

Human Resources professionals have had a tough gig the last few years, the relentlessness of change alongside the balancing act of supporting employees during a pandemic and supporting businesses with the mounting financial pressures. What the pandemic has taught us is that work life balance, wellbeing (both physical and mental) and interesting work is important to our happiness, and employees are demanding it! If you don’t meet their needs then they will work somewhere that does, and you’ll struggle to attract the best people in a tight labour market.

In the competitive strive on productivity, there is the realisation that having happy employees, where there is psychological safety perform better – this shouldn’t be news right! So how do we put the ‘human’ back into Human Resources and the focus for employers? Emotional Intelligence could be the key.

Emotions have traditionally been feminised, men learn technical skills, and become experts, whereas language around emotions is soft, even the term soft skills. Emotions are fluffy, it means being nice to everyone all the time… does it? On the contrary emotional intelligence gives you the tools to have those difficult conversations!

If we start reframing emotions as a science it helps to make it accessible (having worked predominantly in engineering and technology sectors, putting a scientific lens on it really resonates!) . Emotions have a purpose; evolution has developed it within us because it’s telling us something. If we reframe how we think about emotions, if we start to acknowledge them, understand them, label them and listen to what they’re telling us, we can manage them (stop anger leading to rage). Nelson Mandela famously said, “don’t allow anger to control your reason, but rather your reason control your anger”. Emotions also help us to identify our values so we can strive for them and recognise when they’re being compromised.

The best thing about Emotional Intelligence is it can be learnt! Unlike IQ, which is largely fixed, EQ can be developed. Scientific journalist, author and psychologist, Daniel Goleman, popularised the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) in 1995, in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. He developed a framework of five key components that make up emotional intelligence, plus a range of skills that can be developed and improved, so it’s possible for anyone to become more emotionally intelligent.

Goleman breaks down EQ into five components:

#1. Self-awareness

#2. Self-regulation

#3. Motivation

#4. Empathy

#5. Social skills

Self-Awareness helps us understand our own biases and what triggers us so that we can work towards creating an inclusiveness

Self-regulation allows you to become approachable, able to deal with conflict, and create a nurturing environment. This isn’t easy to do as neuroscience has taught us that our emotional brain is faster than our newer rationale brain.

Motivation and understanding what we’re passionate about drives our performance, in fact optimism is one of the key characteristics of success.

Empathy is a superpower! Being able to understand other reactions to defuse conflict, listening to diverse perspectives to foster innovation, and understanding what your employees and colleagues need from you so that they can also perform at their best.

Social skills such as active listening (really listening), verbal communication, body language and persuasiveness enables you to connect with your team and break down organisational silos.

When looking at many organisations’ People Strategies, EQ can make an impact on all of them, from wellbeing, diversity to leadership development. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. Please reach out to me, if your want to learn more about how working on EQ can help your organisation!!


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