Over the last decade, more companies are giving attention to the emotional intelligence of their employees. Backed by thousands of studies, high emotional intelligence has been shown to improve job performance, leadership skills, employee interactions, relationships, mental and physical health, and happiness in employees. Most companies have employees that fall all over the emotional intelligence spectrum. How can a company work to bring everyone to a place of higher emotional intelligence? Here are five ways to increase emotional intelligence in the workplace.

  • Improve Self-Awareness– It is not only how you see yourself, but also how others see and interpret what you say and do. Creating ways for employees to receive honest feedback from the people around them can help improve self-awareness. Feedback can come through the use of a 360-evaluation system, where others offer anonymous, honest feedback. It can occur through a variety of feedback team building exercises, hiring a coach or through supervision. Once employees have honest feedback about themselves, they can work on self-development to improve. Self-awareness brings the focus from others to others’ perspectives.
  • Improve Listening Skills– The world today is packed full of ways to communicate, and listening can be in the form of hearing or reading. Too often, people are listening or reading from a mindset of responding, which can take away from what is actually being said. By improving listening skills, it slows down the response as the person learns to pay attention to the message being relayed. A slowed response time improves emotional intelligence by limiting poor communications that can take place without thought. There is a wide variety of listening skills exercises that can be done regularly at set meetings.
  • Promote Curiosity– A curious person asks more questions to gain understanding about what they are seeing, hearing, or reading. Teaching employees to be curious helps to build stronger working relationships with understanding. Motivate employees to approach tricky situations, feedback, and problems with curiosity through their use of language. Using “I” statements or asking how the other person interpreted what was said or done. If an employee reports feeling that they are not valued, ask the employee to describe what being valued might look like to them.
  • Emotion Management– Is the foundation of emotional intelligence. No one appreciates someone that impulsively reacts or over-reacts emotionally, and it can be challenging to manage. By improving self-awareness, listening skills and curiosity will help employees manage their emotions and become more mindful of their responses. Setting the tone by leadership having strong emotional control can help create a culture of emotion management.
  • Gratitude and Appreciation– When people are focused more on gratitude and appreciation; it naturally improves their emotional intelligence. Have employees to start a gratitude practice by listing five different things each day. Searching for five new items a day to be grateful for can shift the focus from lack to abundance. Being grateful makes the appreciation of others flow. The use of appreciation also promotes the use of strength-based language that helps reduce negativity.

Businesses that build employees with emotional intelligence reap the benefits. For example, employees develop better relationships internally and externally, it decreases complaints and improves problems solving, production, turnover rates, and profitability.