Emotional Intelligence: A Guide to the Crucial Workplace Skill

Your emotions can affect you and everyone that interacts with you at work. Make sure those effects are positive rather than negative!

What is emotional intelligence and is it important?

Emotional intelligence is “understanding and managing your own emotions but also recognizing and understanding the impact that you can have on others’ emotions.” We are human beings not human doings. That means we cannot simply check our emotions at the door when we come to work. Above all, our emotions are bound to impact others in the workplace. Having high emotional intelligence can help us ensure that impact is positive.  

To understand emotional intelligence, it is easier to break it down into different pieces. As outlined by Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence is comprised of twelve different elements.

12 Elements of Emotional Intelligence

1. Emotional Self-Awareness

First, we must be able to identify our own emotions and the ways they impact your own life. Your emotions can affect your performance a work, even unconsciously.  

2. Emotional Self-Control

Once you know your emotions and their impact, you can focus on regulating them. Keep your disruptive emotions in check to maintain composure under stressful conditions.

3. Positive Outlook

Positivity is the ability to see the best in people and situations. Doing so allows you to move forward in pursuing goals despite any roadblocks or setbacks.

4. Achievement Orientation

You achieve this (see what we did there?) by striving to meet or exceed a standard of excellence. Embrace challenges, take calculated risks, and always look for ways to do things better.

5. Adaptability

Being adaptable means you can easily adjust how you reach your goals. Remain flexible and open to new ideas and approaches. This skill is especially useful when things change quickly or unexpectedly.

6. Empathy

Empathy is all about being able to sense and understand others’ feelings. You want to know why they see things the way they do, and actively care about their concerns.

7. Organizational Awareness

In addition to emotional self-awareness, it’s important to be aware of the emotions of other team members and groups. Try to identify influencers, networks, and the dynamics, especially those that matter in decision-making.

8. Influence

Influence refers to having the ability to positively impact and meaningfully engage others. In turn, you’ll gain their support and they will hold your opinion in high regards.   

9. Coach and Mentor

Being a true coach or mentor means guiding others down a path of continued learning and development. Understand their goals, challenge them, offer timely feedback, and support them.

10. Inspirational Leadership

To inspire others, you need to bring your best. Bringing your best self will motivate others around a shared mission or purpose. Inspired people get the job done.

11. Teamwork

You guessed it…teamwork is the ability to work with others toward a shared goal. Build morale, foster relationships, and share responsibility among the group to amplify your team’s success.

12. Conflict Management

Conflict management is needed to navigate through tense situations. Tactfully bring disagreements into the open, seek to understand many perspectives, and search for common ground to find solutions people can agree to.


Next, think about which of the above skills you have mastered. Which ones do you still need to fine-tune? Remember: all these skills can be learned. Some may come naturally while others may not. But, with practice, you can hone your emotional intelligence.

If you’re looking to learn more about emotional intelligence, check out our podcast episode!