Emotional Intelligence at Work and in Business

What is the role of Emotional Intelligence at the workplace and in Business today? The meaning of emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EQ (‘’emotional quotient’’), was coined by psychologists in the 1990s. However, it was popularized by Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist in 1995. According to Goleman, emotional intelligence is perceived as an individual’s ability to recognize, understand, manage and reason with emotions, in oneself and others. Although in the past, emotional intelligence was considered a hot topic only in the psychology field, its importance quickly spread into other areas, including workplace environments and businesses, with many managers considering it as one of the most important employee skills.

Why is emotional intelligence such a valued workplace skilled? When evaluating job performance, emotional intelligence plays an equally important role as skills and capabilities. Companies that focus on emotional intelligence are more likely to be successful in the long term than companies who still follow the old school management philosophy. The former examine many aspects of their employees’ attitude, such as the way the employees conduct themselves, the way they interact with others, how they can deal with stress, how they deal with difficult situations, and how they manage conflict resolutions. (Emotional Intelligence, 2010). When employees have not developed emotional intelligence skills, they risk being poor decision makers and problem solvers. In addition, the employees may have passive or aggressive communication styles, refuse to work in teams or be unable to listen and empathize with others around them. (Emotional Intelligence, 2010).

When trying to understand the concept of emotional intelligence, it is vital to understand Goleman’s model. The model involves a range of competencies which can be divided into personal and social ones.

Beginning with personal competences there are two main areas an individual can focus on to improve his emotional intelligence skills:  Self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness means that an employee is conscious of different aspects of himself including his emotions and feelings. To succeed in that, one should pay attention to how one feels and how one communicates with others. Moreover, it is good practice to remember that emotions are fleeting. The second pillar of personal competences, self-regulation, means that the employee is not only aware of his emotions, but is also able to manage his feelings. Finding techniques to release workplace stress, and thinking before making decisions are ways to start improving self-regulation within the workplace environment. (Goleman, 1995).

In terms of the social competences of emotional intelligence, Goleman (1995), identified three key areas of improvement: Social skills, empathy and motivation. Usually employees that have high emotional intelligence, have strong social skills which lead them to better communication inside the workplace. To improve their social skills in the workplace, employees should listen to what other people have to say, learn to read the body language of their colleagues and be able to exert influence within the workplace. Furthermore, a successful emotional intelligence means high level of empathy, not only by recognizing how others feel, but also by knowing how people respond to these emotions. Finally, people who have strong emotional intelligence tend to be more motivated to achieve goals and are passionate about what they do. These employees rather than fixate on things they do not like about their jobs, choose to focus on what they love about it, and always try to maintain a positive attitude. (Goleman, 1995).

The role of emotional intelligence within an organization plays an important role, and it is going to become even more important in the business world in the future, leading most companies to incorporate emotional intelligence within their organizational management philosophy. The improvement of emotional intelligence skills is an imperative area for the development of an individual. It will enable one not only in well-being but also in succeeding in one’s workplace environment.


  • Emotional Intelligence, 2010.
  • Goleman, D. , 1995, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.

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