What Are Emotional Intelligence Skills? (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Emotional intelligence is essential for successfully navigating relationships at work and in your personal life and like other in-demand qualities, becoming emotionally intelligent requires patience and determination. By learning what skills show emotional intelligence and discovering how to develop them, you can improve your interactions. In this article, we discuss emotional intelligence skills, present five qualities that show you're emotionally intelligent, describe how to improve them, and provide examples of demonstrating emotional intelligence.

What are emotional intelligence skills?

Emotional intelligence skills describe your ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of individuals you interact with at work or in your personal life. These qualities involve understanding how emotions impact behaviours. If you're emotionally intelligent, you're aware of your feelings and how your interactions affect others. Showing high emotional intelligence helps build lasting connections and leave good impressions, especially in customer service, management, or team environments.

Read more: What Is Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace? (With Helpful Tips)

Why is emotional intelligence important?

Here are the benefits of developing emotional intelligence skills:

  • Helps you become a better leader: Being emotionally intelligent by understanding your teammates and addressing their emotional needs can help you succeed as a leader.

  • Develops professional relationships: Acknowledging how your colleagues, friends, and family members feel can help you support their endeavours and build closer relationships.

  • Helps you resolve conflicts: Occasional conflicts may occur in the workplace. Understanding how team members respond to these situations can help resolve disputes efficiently.

  • Builds self-confidence: Understanding your emotions can help you become more confident in stating your opinions at work.

  • Helps you manage time effectively: Understanding your emotions can help you better manage your schedule. For example, if you understand how you feel about a project, you can determine ways to motivate yourself and predict how long it might take to complete it.

  • Helps you adapt to changes quickly: Emotional intelligence can help you accept your emotions and adjust to changes at work. For example, if your employer changes a policy that impacts your schedule, being emotionally intelligent can help you manage your response to this new situation.

  • Improves the work environment: Becoming emotionally intelligent can encourage your colleagues to improve their ability to manage feelings and behaviours, creating a positive work culture.

Five emotional intelligence skills to develop

Here are five emotional intelligence qualities to improve your relationships:

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to identify your strengths, limitations, emotions, motivations, and core values. It involves clearly understanding your character traits and skill set and how others might describe them. If you know your strengths and motivations, you can recognize better ways to apply them at work. Similarly, acknowledging your weaknesses and limitations can help you improve and build trust and transparency in your team.

2. Self-management

Self-management, or self-regulation, refers to how you manage your emotions, behaviours, and impulses. If you're aware of these feelings, you can respond appropriately to situations and maintain a positive outlook while solving issues. For example, if a colleague expresses frustration with a problem, you can use self-management skills to remain calm and offer help. Self-regulation can help you successfully navigate tense situations by processing your emotions before responding and adjusting them to create the desired effect.

3. Motivation

Motivation refers to your ability to inspire yourself and others to complete a task. It's a desire to work on an assignment to reach a goal. For example, you may feel motivated to complete all tasks on your to-do list before the workday ends. Being motivated shows employers you value company goals and care about helping your teammates reach milestones. It involves maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging positive change.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand opinions, experiences, and emotions. It involves listening actively to an individual's situation and caring about their feelings. While empathy and sympathy are similar concepts, they have different meanings. Unlike sympathy, empathy involves respecting an individual's feelings without necessarily sharing them. For example, if a colleague recently became ill, you might show empathy by understanding if they request time away from work to recover.

5. Social skills

Social skills refer to how you perceive emotions and communicate with others. They define your ability to develop and maintain social contacts by understanding emotional needs and responses. For example, if you have excellent social skills, you can typically address and resolve conflicts before they become urgent.

Read more: Social Skills: Definition and Examples

How to improve your emotional intelligence

Follow these steps to improve your emotional intelligence skills:

1. Use journaling techniques

Journaling involves tracking your thoughts, projects, interactions, and meetings. By writing them on paper or digitally, you can identify specific patterns in your behaviour and reactions. For example, you may become more aware of your emotional triggers by noting and analyzing your activities.

2. Perform a 360-degree assessment

A 360-degree assessment involves requesting feedback from your manager, colleagues, and peers while also performing a self-assessment. Through this process, you can gain valuable insights into how your professional contacts perceive your strengths and weaknesses and discover areas for improvement. For example, you may identify better ways to show empathy or new methods for self-management.

3. Be attentive to your emotions

Before you can accurately understand how others feel, it's often important to first understand your feelings, why you feel certain emotions, and how you respond to them. This can help you become more self-aware and empathetic at work.

4. Consider taking courses or participating in training programs

If you're interested in enhancing your ability to manage emotions, taking online courses can help. These courses offer the flexibility to complete coursework on your own time and connect with a community of individuals that share similar interests. Review the organization offering the training program and evaluate the possible benefits of taking one.

5. Practise active listening

Active listening is the ability to focus on a speaker, understand their message, and respond thoughtfully. It involves handling distractions when communicating with others and engaging with their message. You can use non-verbal cues, such as nodding and paraphrasing the speaker's message. You can truly understand their emotions by actively listening to your professional contacts.

Read more: Active Listening Skills: A Key to Effective Communication in the Workplace

Examples of emotional intelligence in the workplace

Here are situations that can show your emotional intelligence abilities at work:

During a phone call

This example shows how you can demonstrate emotional intelligence during phone conversations:

Ian receives a phone call from a client who felt she didn't receive excellent customer service. While Ian wasn't the representative who initially attended to the customer, he listened actively to her complaints with a calm and empathetic demeanour. He also practises self-regulation by maintaining a positive attitude throughout the call to prevent the situation from escalating.

During a meeting

This example shows how you can demonstrate emotional intelligence during meetings:

Hannah notices her colleagues are quieter than usual and not contributing to the discussion. While it may seem they aren't attentive, Hannah decides to have a casual conversation with them to understand their reasons. She learns that her colleagues had a conflict before the meeting and helps them resolve it by acting as a mediator.

During a project review

This example shows how you can demonstrate emotional intelligence during project reviews:

George recently received constructive criticism in a quarterly project review with company executives. He practises self-regulation by processing his thoughts, realizing that they also discussed positive aspects of his work. George decides to feel motivated about how he can make his work better.

FAQs about emotional intelligence

Review these common questions and helpful answers about showing emotional intelligence:

How do you measure emotional intelligence?

Using various methods, you can measure emotional intelligence, such as the Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment Workplace (MEIA-W). This assessment consists of multiple personality-based questions that measure empathy, non-verbal communication, creative thinking, and motivating emotions. Another assessment is the Work Group Emotional Intelligence Profile (WEIP), which focuses on a team's emotional intelligence in scaled responses from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."

How do you highlight emotional intelligence skills on your application documents?

You can highlight your emotional intelligence on your resume and cover letter by describing specific situations when you use them in professional settings. Focus on how you can apply these skills to your expected role. By successfully outlining your emotional intelligence qualities, you can improve your chances of getting the job you want.

What is the difference between emotional quotient (EQ) and intellectual quotient (IQ)?

While IQ measures your relative intelligence, EQ evaluates your ability to recognize and manage emotions. IQ focuses on hard skills, such as visual and spatial processing, quantitative reasoning, and creativity. Hard skills are qualities you learn through training, education, and practice. In comparison, EQ focuses on soft skills, such as empathy, self-management, and effective communication. Soft skills define how you interact with others.

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