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Emotional Intelligence at Work: What It Is and How You Can Improve It

Bonny Calfy | October 10, 2023

Emotional intelligence, often called EQ, is quickly becoming a cornerstone in career progression. But despite its rise to prominence, the concept of EQ, shorthand for emotional quotient, can still be hard to grasp.

EQ includes the ability to be aware of one’s feelings, manage them and control how they’re expressed. Another part of EQ is being able to navigate interpersonal relationships with empathy and fairness. EQ is the strongest predictor of workplace performance, with a whopping 90% of top performers possessing high emotional intelligence, according to TalentSmartEQ.

Whether you’re hitting a plateau at work or striving for that next big promotion, honing your EQ could be your ticket to career success. With that in mind, here are some ways to sharpen your EQ skills in the workplace.

Identify your strengths (and your weaknesses)

Before you can improve your emotional intelligence, it’s important to know where you currently stand. You can do this by:

  • Writing down your assets and deficiencies. Identifying your strong suits — as well as your areas for growth — can heighten your sense of self-awareness. This is the critical first step in improving your EQ.
  • Asking your manager for one-on-one feedback. Without feedback, growth wouldn’t be possible. Schedule some time with your supervisor to discuss your strengths and growth opportunities. And if they aren’t already, see if these talks can be part of your weekly or monthly routine.
  • Taking an online EQ assessment. There’s a wide variety of EQ tests on the internet, many of which are free. Just be sure it’s from a reputable source that can provide accurate results.

Whether you do it independently or with your manager, identifying your strengths and weaknesses will give you the info you need to emphasize your strong suits and improve as an individual and teammate.

Cultivate your emotional intelligence over time

Fortunately, emotional intelligence isn’t static; it can grow and strengthen over time. Think of it as a muscle you can bulk up with the right exercises.

Which exercises should you incorporate into your EQ routine? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hone your listening skills. Active listening is more than just hearing words. It’s understanding and interpreting them. When conversing with co-workers, give them all your attention so you can fully grasp what they’re saying and read between the lines, if necessary.
  • Heighten your emotional awareness. Are you angry, frustrated or just a little bit annoyed? Knowing the difference will help you recognize and process your emotions and do it in a healthy way.
  • Boost your empathy. Step into your colleagues’ shoes and try to view situations from their perspectives. Doing so will lead to more productive conversations and conflict resolution.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings. If a situation tests your EQ, jot down what you were thinking and feeling at that moment. This will allow you to reflect on your reactions and identify potential growth areas.

By incorporating these practices into your routine, your career will benefit in numerous ways, from refining your social and listening skills to cultivating your leadership qualities. But remember: Just as a muscle takes time to grow, it takes repetition and patience to improve your EQ. Stick with it, and the results will follow.

Seize your next opportunity

A higher EQ means having a better understanding of yourself, giving you the positivity, adaptability and resilience needed to grow. But at the same time, it’s important to put yourself in an environment conducive to EQ growth.

At Paycom, we offer myriad avenues for your emotional intelligence to blossom. Whether through training and career advancement opportunities or our in-house educators and resources, we strive to provide our people with everything they need to grow as individuals.

Ready to join a progressive, dynamic workplace and put those EQ skills to the test? Apply to Paycom today.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.