Leaders and managers in organizations are increasingly starting to realize and recognize the importance of emotional intelligence training. Many employees and their managers have so much on their plates that they are increasingly stressed all the time. As a result, they tend to unintentionally damage relationships. Besides stress management, many are increasingly realizing the importance of emotional intelligence as an important soft skill to effectively manage others at the workplace. This has led to increasing demand for emotional intelligence training in Kenya.
I think it’s important that I explain what emotional intelligence is before your company can consider it for training you will have evaluated and made a decision coming from a point of knowledge.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to the constant state of being aware of your emotions as they take place. It refers to gaining awareness and therefore controls over your emotions. This means that an emotionally intelligent person is not in the mercies of their emotions. Instead, they can take charge and control their emotions before they cause harm.
For example, say you are a manager and several people are working under you. You are under high amounts of pressure and those working for you can’t seem to be working hard enough or delivering the right results. You know it’s your role to push them. When you ask for a report you realize that it has been wrongly done, there are mistakes some of which you consider silly and now you’re really agitated. The first thing that comes to mind is to call the person responsible and yell at them for five minutes straight telling them how stupid they are and how they don’t know what’s at stake. Imagine this is the situation and you actually yelled these words. You feel justified to have done so, right?
After you are done yelling, the now terrified employee either hurries away in tears or waits until you calm down and gives a very reasonable explanation about why the report was not done according to expectations. If their explanation is really reasonable, how do you feel now? Guilty for yelling at someone for something they didn’t deserve? Ashamed of your behavior? You are now aware that you have damaged the relationship you have with your subordinates that they will barely come to you for a solution.
Look at this situation as an emotionally intelligent person. Before you start yelling, you catch yourself. You ask politely, “Eerm, Mary, what happened? This report has errors and it’s barely complete? Did something go wrong? Is there any information you are missing?” Mary goes ahead and explains the situation. “Oh, you should have said so early enough, I would have helped you out. I’m sending you the information right away. Is there someone else that is stuck?” Mary goes and tells everyone else that whoever is stuck can come to you for solutions. You manage to help out a few stuck people and before the end of the day, you have your report, all done with no error.
In the second situation, you recognized your emotion of anger, just before it exploded, and managed to put it under your control. The consequences are good. You have a finished report, employees that respect you, good relationships with your employees and your behavior is nothing to be ashamed of.
Anger is just one of the emotions you may feel. There is sadness, bad mood, fear, anxiety among others that you can take charge of before they take charge of you. Do you know that person at work that always passes their bad moods to everyone at work that you speculate that things are not so good at home? Or do you sometimes get so much anxiety about an upcoming event that you indulge in a behavior that you are better off avoiding such as drinking? Did you ever get so sad about something that you could feel a hole in your belly for weeks? All these are inevitable emotions, but they can be managed by gaining emotional intelligence.
So why do we need emotional intelligence training at the workplace?
Daniel Goleman in his book emotional intelligence explores five different elements of emotional intelligence. These are; self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill. We shall, therefore, look at the importance of all these elements at the workplace and how they can be improved through emotional intelligence training.
Self-awareness is knowing one’s emotions. It is recognizing a feeling as it happens- Daniel Goleman.
Self-awareness is the basis of emotional intelligence. As we earlier mentioned that emotional intelligence is becoming aware of emotions as they take place, you can see it involves awareness. A self-aware person does not lose themselves in the mercies of what is happening around them. Instead, they are aware of their strengths and shortcomings, their limits and therefore take charge of the situations surrounding them.
A self-aware person has explored into their identity, their personality, and their self-concept. At the workplace, a person who has not explored into their identity is likely not to take a stand and they are easily swayed by others. I know you have someone in mind that always seems to be moving with the current. This kind of person has not understood their identity and they don’t know what they stand for.
Self-awareness also involves understanding your personality. Who you are is as a result of your genes and your surroundings as well. This means the reason you are outgoing or reserves partly to do with how you were born and also how you grew up. This is an important part of self-awareness to learn since it influences your thoughts and feelings which influence your behavior. In the workplace, for example, an open space can be a joy for some and a pain for others, who are more comfortable working alone.
The importance of having self-awareness in relation to personality in this case, for example, can make a person know, ‘I work best when I am alone. When everyone is at work in our open office, I am highly distracted and can barely get any work done. Knowing this, to do my best work, I will come in early in the morning, or leave after working hours so I don’t lag behind’. This is a self-aware person that after introspection, they have recognized when they are most productive and done something about it to ensure they give their best to their job.
You can take a free self-awareness course to learn more about self-awareness and how it can increase your emotional intelligence. In fact, I offer part of this course as part of emotional intelligence training.
Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel- Horace Walpole
As I mentioned earlier, when you regulate your emotions, you take charge and control over the situation. It’s important that you learn to manage your impulses as they take place, rather than act rashly and without caution. Building relationships at the workplace is crucial and lack of self-regulation can lead to their damage. Are you a slave of your emotions? Do people flee when they see you come in since you’re so unpredictable they don’t know what to expect from you? How is this affecting your relationships?
A large part of the aim of emotional intelligence training is to train you to be the manager of your emotions, not a slave of them. I am sure you have felt an emotion such as anxiety sometimes. This is whereby you find yourself worrying about the situation all the time. Chronic repetitive worries can be detrimental to your life. In fact, a counter-argument shows that procrastination is not a time management problem, but an anxiety problem. You are likely to procrastinate doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Rather than confront it, you choose to flee and so something else, hoping to come to it later. However, fleeing it does not get it out of your mind, you only worry about it some more and this kind of worrying only increases your anxiety.
While I cannot discuss all the emotions that you need self-regulation for, emotional intelligence training teaches you to self-regulate and not become a slave of emotions such as anger, worry and anxiety, low moods, sadness, and even laziness.
“Vision will get you inspired. Discipline will take you there.” ~Christine Caine.
It is no secret that any workplace requires discipline to get work done. Commitment from each individual in an organization is what contributes to achieving organizational goals. In emotional intelligence training, Goleman teaches about self-regulation which is the core of self-discipline. If you are a manager, I know you prefer that people have intrinsic motivated and are driven individually, rather than being motivated and driven by a set of rules that you have put in place.
Wouldn’t you rather people did their work unsupervised rather that only work when you’re there to supervise and start chatting among themselves as soon as you walk away. You must have asked now and again, how can I motivate my people? How can I motivate myself all the time? How can I get things done in a timely manner without waiting till deadlines are flashing in front of my eyes?
By developing self-discipline, any individual can achieve the set goals. This is whereby you tell yourself to get things done even when you don’t feel like it. It’s not every day that we wake up feeling like we can conquer the world. All the same, no matter how we feel, there are things to be done. Self-regulation is the part of emotional intelligence training that focuses on helping you stay motivated even when your body is working against you. Emotional intelligence training will help you break bad habits and develop some good habits through self-regulation. It is what your productivity needs.
Most organizations are successful due to the right systems that they have put in place. The unsuccessful ones have no systems or have systems that don’t work. How can an organization create a system that works, and have employees follow the system until it becomes a habit? All this is through achieving self-discipline. Simon Sinek, in his book, Start with Why, he shows how the right systems for organizations work when leaders can sell the system ideas and what it is supposed to achieve the right way to the employees. Once they start and develop the discipline to get things done in a certain way, it becomes routine and they no longer struggle to do what is expected of them.
“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” Charles Duhigg
It is no secret that leadership involves influence. It involves creating a relationship with others so as to influence them towards achieving a certain goal. For you to be an effective leader therefore, it is important to develop empathy. Empathy is whereby you can put yourself in the shoes of the other person and understand their feelings.
No relationship, whether personal or professional, can be developed without empathy. This is why emotional intelligence not only involves working on your own relationship with yourself and your emotions but with others as well. Learning empathy helps with ethics in the workplace. Further, an empathic manager and employee are likely to create great working space for others, since they put others into consideration in decision making. Discussing empathy alone is not sufficient without combining with the last element of emotional intelligence training which is social skills.
We are social beings. We thrive in relationships; both personal and professional relationships. If you would like to develop healthy relationships at the workplace, then this section of emotional intelligence training is just for you.
If you are a leader and a manager, you do recognize the importance of forming good and genuine relationships with those you work with. This is the basis of leadership as for people to be motivated, they have to work from intrinsic motivation. How can you create a leadership style that drives others to be intrinsically motivated? By forming relationships with them and creating an influence such as they feel compelled on their own will to work towards goal achievement.
As an employee as well, you recognize the importance of having good relationships. This is achieved through networking. There is no way you can create a good network if you are not good at social relationships. Emotional intelligence means forming friendships with a purpose. The basic principle of forming good friendships is being a good friend for starters and this starts with possessing some social skills.
From the above elements, you can see how each of the elements of emotional intelligence training are important to you at a personal level and at the workplace, you may, therefore, have recognized the importance of emotional intelligence training so as to be able to take charge of your emotions, self-regulate, motivate yourself and create great relationships both personally and professionally.