John Donne said, “No man is an island.” We agree. Offices should not be an environment where employees feel isolated. The best offices feature collaboration, interaction and best of all a sense of community. When your office has a sense of harmony and your workers feel respected and heard, your company will be more successful—and not just on a personal level. Studies show that employees who are happy at the office are better workers.
So how do you create a happy environment for you and your employees? Try adding emotional intelligence to your list of job skills.
Emotional intelligence, as defined by researchers Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, is the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.
How do you identify feelings in others and yourself? With practice. It turns out that emotional intelligence isn’t some innate gift given to us at birth, but a skill, like any other you learn for your job.
Emotional Intelligence can be broken into five steps for you and your employees to work on. Once you’ve mastered all five steps, you’ll be amazed at your effectiveness as a communicator and motivator.
1. Self-awareness: As with most mindful activities, the first step is to look within. Work on accurately identifying your emotions and what causes them. Do you feel anxious before a big meeting? Take a moment to acknowledge the emotion and consider why it arose.
2. Self-regulation: The second step is realizing that just because you feel an emotion, doesn’t mean it has power over you. If you feel angry, take a moment to acknowledge the emotion, then decide if acting on it is appropriate. Instead of giving into an impulse, recognize that your emotions don’t control you, they are just there to give you information. If you decide that the emotion isn’t helpful to you (ie: anger won’t help you communicate with a coworker in a meeting), take a mindful minute to focus on your breathing until you feel calm and prepared to continue.
3. Motivation: Identify the emotions that drive you in a positive manner. Do you feel accomplished after a concise and productive meeting? Use that feeling of accomplishment to keep yourself focused and engaged.
4. Empathy: Empathy doesn’t mean that you have to agree with other people, it simply means that you’re aware of their emotions and acknowledge them. If you understand what a coworker is feeling, you’ll be better able to communicate with them. Acknowledging what your coworkers feel and think is one of the more effective ways to get them to trust your judgment and feel respected.
5. Social skills: The last step to emotional intelligence is honing your social skills. No, we don’t mean logging on to Facebook. For this exercise, you’ll have to turn off the electronics and dive back into human interaction. Chat with someone at the office and concentrate on listening to what they say. When you feel comfortable interacting, communicating your wants and needs in an effective way becomes easier.
Emotional Intelligence may not be taught in business school, though that may be changing soon, but it’s an essential skill for everyone in the workforce. When you help build a work environment based around communication, motivation and empathy you become a better employee and a more effective boss.
Practicing taking a breath before a meeting. Does it help you focus?