The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Remote Workers — Andy Sto

What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?

Most of us are familiar with the intelligence quotient or IQ as it’s commonly referred to. But nowadays another metric is becoming even more important, this is the lesser-known EQ or emotional quotient. This is the measure of how emotionally in-tune you are — to both your emotions and those of others. And the importance of this is increasing because in the workplace more weight is being put on being able to manage emotions in positive ways, overcome challenges, defuse conflict, and empathize with others.

Self-management

The ability to control impulsive behaviors and feelings. It’s also the ability to manage your emotions in healthy ways, be a self-starter, do what you said you’d do, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Self-Awareness

You can identify your own emotions and are able to recognize how they affect your behavior and thoughts. You know your weaknesses, strengths, limitations, and have self-confidence.

Relationship Management

You are able to develop and maintain good and healthy relationships. You can clearly communicate as well as inspire and influence others, manage conflict, and work well in teams.

Social Awareness

You can empathize with others. Specifically, you can understand the needs, emotions, and concerns of other people. This is through picking up on emotional cues and feeling comfortable socially and recognizing the power dynamics in a group or conversation.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence in The Workplace

Not only can emotional intelligence help to forge deeper relationships with your coworkers or clients, it can also allow for managers to develop into leaders. The difference between someone who merely manages a group of people and one that leads, oftentimes is emotional intelligence. This is because when you are aware and in-tune to not only how others are feeling, but how your actions make them feel, you can be much more inspiring. And it’s suggested that while traditional intelligence is associated with leadership success, it’s not enough. People who are successful at leading also have a high EQ too.

Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Remote Workers and Distributed Teams

The importance of emotional intelligence for remote workers and distributed teams is very similar to the importance in a physical work environment as previously mentioned. However, it’s arguably even more important when you’re working remotely. While some components of EI like interpreting body language are neutralized as communication doesn’t occur face-to-face, other components are drastically more important. Ultimately, EI is “ all about empathy, inclusion, and respect “ which are traits that are much more important in a remote working environment. This is because since the work environment isn’t a controlled one like a physical office space, the challenges that your coworkers or clients are facing are unknown to you.

Emotional Intelligence and the Future of Remote Work

As workplaces becoming increasingly decentralized and more remote-work oriented, the need to address the current shortcomings of remote work. This includes both the problems that are unique to remote working and those that are shared with an in-person work environment as well. Two capabilities of a leader that can help to improve the remote working environment are creativity and effective communication. Creativity allows for boldness and flexibility in how things are thought about and problems are addressed. It can also mean changing how employees work, changing the priorities and objectives of the business, or even pivoting in the products or services that you or the business offers. And effective communication means that the communication channels should be open, and everyone should try to communicate clearly, calmly, honestly, and consistently. This is to be as inclusive as possible as well as reducing uncertainty or confusion.

How to Improve Your EQ

Now that you’re aware of the importance of emotional intelligence, you may realize that perhaps you need to improve some (or many) of the elements of emotional intelligence. Here are some ways that you can cultivate and practice various components of emotional intelligence.

List First — And Actively

Listening doesn’t mean just being there while someone else talks to you while you passively listen. This doesn’t do much good for either you or the other person. Active listening means showing attention to the other person. Ask questions and provide feedback. This goes for whoever you are talking to whether it’s a colleague, client, or employee. Active listening can show that you have an interest in what they have to say and can help to create a deeper connection and to also increase their worth knowing that you care.

Carefully Communicate

When you aren’t talking in-person and face-to-face, the words you say and how you say them can carry even more weight than they otherwise would. This is why what you say, and how you say it can be very important. Even in a Zoom meeting, it can sometimes be difficult to come across how you would in real life. So, to avoid inadvertently coming across in a mean or otherwise negative way, think a bit more careful about your tone and word choice. Trying to convey sensitivity, self-control, and a positive mindset are all good characteristics to try to incorporate in your digital communication.

Be Visible (And Approachable)

While this may be more important for those in a leadership role, it can be just as important for colleagues or towards clients that you are visible and approachable. By being difficult to reach and/or not very welcoming in your demeanor, you can make clear communication much more difficult and make it more likely that jobs won’t be done correctly or for another negative externality to occur.

Name Your Emotions

The first step in being able to address the negative feelings and emotions that can arise is being able to name them. So, when certain emotions arise try naming them. Studies have even shown that even just by simply identifying an emotion, you can begin to calm your brain down. This is thought to be due to overcoming the initial fight or flight response that occurs in your brain.

Journal Your Emotions

In addition to naming your emotions, you can pay attention to your emotions and document what happens when certain emotions arise. This can include feelings in your body, how your voice changes, your thoughts, how long it lasts, and what caused it. Similarly, to naming your emotions, understanding how your body reacts is another first step to improve your emotional intelligence.

Develop Strategies to Manage Your Emotions

Try different techniques to help you react more appropriately and positively to tough situations. These can include going for a walk or taking a ‘time-out’, deep breathing, or trying to reframe the situation and take some positive elements from it. There is no single cure-all so try out different techniques and see what works the best. You can do this for some of your most commonly triggered emotions and then create a strategy aimed specifically at each one.

Put Negative Events into Perspective

Most of the time the problems and challenges that we face are really not that huge. While it may seem at the time it’s a figurative life or death situation, it’s often not. By examining the situation from multiple perspectives and trying to find some positive takeaways you can help move past such situations.

Identify the Emotions of Others

This is a key element when it comes to addressing the problems that others may be facing. And it can also be a good way to build your ability to be more socially aware. You can practice your emotional intelligence by identifying other people’s emotions here.

Learn to See Conflict as An Opportunity, Not A Hurdle

Ultimately, we will have many conflicts in our work experience. And while they often bring up negative feelings and emotions, and can seem difficult to get past, you can build on each one. This can help to improve your overall emotional intelligence.

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Digital Nomad focused in #remotework and #digitalnomadism

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