Imagine this scenario – John has been appointed recently as the team lead for a large group of individuals. On his very first day, one of his team members tells him that he seemed nervous during his introductory meeting. They point out that his body language seemed off and he looked unenthusiastic during the entire team briefing. How do you think John should respond to such criticism? Should he consider it to be a personal attack or an opportunity to reflect on his actions and improve his demeanour?
Well, if you think he should receive the criticism constructively irrespective of it coming from someone junior to him, then it portrays your level of emotional intelligence. On the contrary, if you think his immediate response should be to take offense and behave differently toward the employee owing to his bruised ego, then this article is for you.
What makes an emotionally intelligent person different?
The biggest difference between someone who is emotionally intelligent and one who isn’t is their ability to harness their emotions. This will act as an asset in your workspace and can help you lead a balanced life. Here are some common traits that people with good emotional intelligence portray, which help them navigate the corporate world.
They are self-aware
Being self-aware means that you know your strengths and weaknesses so you can make informed decisions. This can help you identify your key contributions to the team and contribute with more confidence. If your strength lies in inspiring your team to extract optimum productivity, utilize your time in achieving it. If your weakness lies in confrontation or negotiating a beneficial deal, try to allocate it to someone else. The objective is to play to everyone’s strengths and enhance the quality of output achieved. It also denotes that you know which negative situations trigger you and avoid them.
They are empathetic to others
Once you understand yourself on a deeper level, you can become empathetic to others as well. This means you can relate to others and provide the support they require. Imagine a member of your team who is struggling to communicate during virtual calls. You can either reprimand them for it and force them to be more proactive or put yourself in their shoes and understand why they are behaving so.
Maybe they feel insecure about turning their video and audio on during virtual calls but wish to bring value to the team. You will only know if you probe deeper and try to rectify the issue. Emotionally intelligent people can read social cues and emotional language which helps them understand what people are experiencing. They are intuitive and can predict actions that will hurt others and avoid them. Sometimes they care a lot about how their actions are received and change themselves to make the other person feel comfortable.
They welcome change and embrace new opportunities
Because of their ability to control their emotions, people with emotional intelligence are able to handle change better. They are able to handle stress better and use various healthy measures to regulate themselves. In fact, they keep looking for new opportunities to explore and build themselves. They have a strong sense of self which makes them eager to welcome change and learn something new. If you are managing a team of eclectic individuals, try to welcome changes and improvements through what each individual has to offer. Reach out to your team and help them cope with organisational change by being empathetic and listening to what your team has to say.
They value progress, not perfection
Another common trait that emotionally intelligent people have embraced is the fact that perfection cannot be attained. They respect themselves for who they are and embrace their shortcomings. Life is full of new opportunities and if you are trying to be perfect in everything, you will never learn to the fullest of your potential.
“People think I have stopped growing when I say I am not trying to be perfect. I am constantly on a journey of self-improvement and believe that is progress in itself. I am a team lead at my agency and have come to terms with the fact that I needn’t be perfect to add value to my team. Everyone is at a different stage of growth and the goal is to keep learning from your mistakes,” says Mr. Ram, content team lead at a reputed digital marketing agency in Coimbatore.
They have work-life balance
Ever felt burnt out after spending hours together at work? Well, it’s time to take a step back and spend time with your friends and family. Emotionally intelligent people know how to maintain a friendly rapport with their co-workers while still being able to extract work from them.
Focusing only on one aspect of your life will make you neglect all others – resulting in sacrificing your health, happiness, and personal connections. Allocate time for family, friends, and yourself. Pursue your hobbies and set some time aside to unwind after a productive day at work. Try not to bring the workspace home with you.
They know how to be assertive
There is a vast difference between being aggressive and being assertive. Advocate for yourself without losing your control and being disrespectful. Don’t allow your insecurities to make you behave in a dominating way – this will ruin the reputation your team members have formed about you. Emotionally intelligent people can enforce their boundaries and communicate their points across without making the other person feel cornered.
“I always had a problem confronting my teammate – we were good friends and used to go for coffee breaks during work. Every time I wanted to call out his mistake in a report, I would feel guilty as I knew what he was going through personally. At one point, I exploded and aggressively cornered him for making repeated mistakes. Thinking back to this incident after a year, I feel I shouldn’t have been so dominating and allowed the issues to fester for so long. I should have dealt with the issues on the spot and resolved them then and there,” says Mrs. Aishwarya, IT Executive at a tech solutions company in Chennai.
Gratitude is key
It is a sign of deep emotional intelligence if you take the time to appreciate what you have and show gratitude for how fortunate you are. This does not mean you should compare yourself to others and identify what you lack. It means you should focus more on the good in life and stay grounded in reality. The key is to stay humble and appreciate what you have. It is okay to dream, but never let your dreams make you feel inferior about where you are in the present moment.
They are open to receiving feedback
This leads us full circle to where we began with John. How would you react to the scenario mentioned at the beginning of this article? Are you open to reflecting on other people’s perspectives, or would you take their opinions personally? Do you feel people are turning a blind eye to all the good you did by bringing to light only the things you did not do well?
If John were someone with good emotional intelligence, he would know that the goal is not to project himself as the best. The goal is to emerge as a better person by taking people’s criticism in his stride and improving his skills. He would have to accept the feedback in a calm manner and thank the individual for bringing it to his attention. He would have dedicated some time for introspection and worked on his presentation skills – successfully nailing the meeting the next time.
An emotionally intelligent person knows how to tackle sticky situations without anyone getting hurt. They are not only able to manage their own emotions, but the emotions of others as well. They are able to understand all angles of a discussion and can see where people are coming from in a situation. A high emotional intelligence is beneficial in leadership roles. Through hard work and self-awareness, it is possible to cultivate a higher EQ.