Emotional Intelligence – An Important Concern For Parents and Teachers of Every Student
I confess to enjoying the Harvard Business Review papers that describe many important issues about stress, workplace stress, work behavior, emotional intelligence and a range of other important organizational factors. Their research is robust, pertinent, and always helpful. There is a consistent theme that emotional intelligence is one of the most essential attributes promoting (or denying) your effectiveness in the work place. Their recent research points to the important role of what they call ‘group emotional intelligence’ in meeting organizational goals and objectives. Given the amount of emphasis in most organizations on collaboration and team work this is not surprising. Obviously, if people working on a team have high levels of self-awareness and ‘other’ awareness (being able to understand and use strategies to work with the personal styles of team members) then the team will have greater harmony and increase productivity.
But in this article I’m not going to talk about group intelligence, instead, I want to give some useful tips to help readers reduce workplace stress based on the components of emotional intelligence. But first let me refresh your knowledge of what constitutes emotional intelligence. In my clinical work, I use an instrument called the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory. This is BarOn’s definition of emotional intelligence from the test manual: “Emotional intelligence pertains to the emotional, personal, and social dimensions of intelligence. Emotional intelligence comprises abilities related to understanding oneself and others, relating to people, adapting to changing environmental demands, and managing emotions”.
Let me make this a bit more practical by describing the intelligence émotionnelle scales used: Intrapersonal (Self-Regard, Emotional Self Awareness, Assertiveness, Independence, and Self-Actualization); Interpersonal Scales (Empathy, Social Responsibility, Interpersonal Relationship); Adaptability Scales (Reality Testing, Flexibility, Problem Solving); Stress Management Scales (Stress Tolerance, Impulse Control); and General Mood Scales (Optimism, Happiness). Yes, I know, this could get quite detailed and complex and I could probably write a dozen articles just on elements of the scale. I will select four of the emotional intelligence factors and describe how paying attention to these at work will reduce workplace stress and increase positive teamwork and collaboration. The four factors that I’ll select are social responsibility, interpersonal relationships, stress tolerance, and impulse control.
At work, as in relationships, you have certain choices you can make. You can act like a mature, thoughtful, empathic, and responsible person or you can indulge what Freud called in his personality theory the id. This nasty little piece of who we are was described by Freud as blind, instinctual, irrational strivings. If you give in to your id responses, you will show very little social responsibility and you will become an aggravating and difficult colleague. Being prepared to give and take, to understand the other person’s point of view, to maintain perspective and keep a larger view, and be generous in your relationships with others will increase harmony and decrease workplace stress for you and your colleagues.
It’s not unrealistic to say that there two types of people in this world – the givers and the takers. When I’m involved in marriage counseling I do a quick assessment to see which end of the spectrum is the chief personal style of each partner. Obviously, if you have two takers and no compromise you will have a marital battleground where each partner slugs away to get as much they can from the other. If you have a giver and taker then you will find one person whose life opportunities are sacrificed to the selfish interests of the other. When you have two givers, you’ll probably have a comfortable, generous, caring, reciprocal sharing relationship – you know you are on a winner. In many ways, you can see the same system operating in the workplace with some people fighting tooth and nail to win at every opportunity. Developing collaborative teams requires people to be sensitive and committed to building positive, respectful, sharing relationships. When these relationships are the dominant interpersonal characteristics of work teams everyone’s workplace stress is reduced.