The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success. It’s a huge building block to a strong set of developed soft skills. Besides giving you a better understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of your coworkers and peers, it allows you to distance yourself from personal emotions when you walk into your workplace. Having high emotional intelligence allows you to be professional in any situation. Those in possession of emotional intelligence have a few key traits in common.
- Self-Awareness. Our perception of ourselves doesn’t often match how we’re actually perceived by others. Being self-aware is a skill that takes work to develop; it’s great to think about your accomplishments but it’s tougher to think about your losses and what you can do to avoid those in the future. But when you’re self-aware, you know and celebrate your strengths while still acknowledging your weaknesses. This is crucial to success because you need to be actively working to improve your skills at a competitive workplace; that’s difficult to do if you aren’t sure what your strengths and weaknesses are.
- Empathy. This is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and views of those around you. You will never agree completely with everyone you work with at every moment. That’s unrealistic. But with empathy, you’re able to see where the other person is coming from and understand why they are approaching a problem a certain way. Besides allowing you to avoid stereotyping or unnecessary arguments, it’s easier to address someone’s concerns if you know what’s holding them back.
- Motivation. Not only are you motivated to succeed when you have high emotional intelligence, you can see a path forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you never make a mistake or take a wrong turn; things happen. But you’re able to see the long term goal and plan accordingly. More than just coming in on time and working exactly 40 hours every week, being motivated is taking the steps to go the extra mile.
Whether you work in a service field (customer service, restaurant, hotel, etc.) or in a very solitary profession (writer, painter, web designer), emotional intelligence is what is going to help you navigate through any interaction. People who are strong in this area have an easier time relating to others, communicating tasks to coworkers, and dealing well with stressful issues that can pop up. As a strong, confident employee you’ll have more opportunities to be as successful as possible! If you’re not sure where you’re at with these skills, or just want a quick refresher course, check out the Career Readiness Bootcamp to reboot your soft skills!