The skills needed in the future workplace are going to be the ‘softer’, more nuanced, human skills, those which cannot be automated or replaced by technology, such as creative problem solving and people management. As The World Economic Forum predicts, emotional intelligence (EI) ranks in the top ten of those future skills.
Emotional intelligence is really an alternative to the traditional IQ score. It measures our ability to perceive and manage our emotions, as well as the emotions of others, and to do so in a healthy, more productive way. It’s a critical ingredient for success in life, relationships and especially our performance in the workplace.
Some argue that emotional intelligence is an inherent trait, one we’re born with, that’s set for life, while others argue that like any other skill, EI is one that can be learned and improved upon with practice.
Making the latter assumption, and in drawing from modern psychology, here are a few tips for enhancing and improving your own emotional intelligence, in order to develop a highly marketable and timeless skill-set for the future.
Observe Your Emotions Regularly
A key to cultivating EI is to prevent unconscious, reactionary behavior. Thoughtful, managed responses are the sign of elevated EI. When we pay attention and practice observing how we feel regularly, we can start to trust ourselves and our emotions, and therefore start to manage them more effectively.
Observe Your Behavior Regularly
We have to also bring awareness to how these emotions drive our behavior if we are going to be able to shift it and increase the health and productivity of our responses. Does being angry impact your communication skills? Does feeling frustrated decrease your productivity? Notice how your behavior coincides with your emotions without judgement. Cultivating this awareness will naturally dictate improvements.
It’s easy to blame other people and outside circumstances for the way we are feeling or behaving, but the only person responsible for your emotions and your actions is you. You may not be able to control the things that happen to you or around you, other people’s behavior, the economy, or other factors. But you can control your own responses. In order to improve the outcomes, without having the power to change the events, you must take responsibility for yourself and your responses. They’re all you can control.
Respond Rather than Reacting
The nuance between a response and a reaction is the decision to have it. Reacting is an unconscious response to an emotional trigger whereas responding includes the consideration and the conscious decision to behave in a certain way as a result. Unconscious reactions are a sign of low emotional intelligence. Practice pausing once emotionally triggered, and giving yourself time to consider and decide on your actions consciously instead.
Emotional intelligence will be a key skill for the future in any workplace or industry, and it can be improved upon with practice. It’s about understanding and controlling our own emotions and behavior so that we can better engage with others. Understanding how we feel, why we behave the way we do, and taking responsibility are the first steps to doing so, as well as practicing a pause when triggered. This will help us reduce unconscious reactions and opt for considerate responses instead.