Mastering Emotional Intelligence: A Strategic Guide to Navigating Workplace Dynamics

Mastering Emotional Intelligence: A Strategic Guide to Navigating Workplace Dynamics

A Conversation Between Doubting Dexter and Reassuring Ria


Doubting Dexter: You must keep emotions out of your work to be rational and level-headed.

Reassuring Ria: Appropriate expression of emotions does not hinder rational thinking. Appropriate handling of emotions is necessary for enabling rational thinking.


Doubting Dexter: Emotions do not have any positive impact in the workplace.

Reassuring Ria: Wrong! Zeal, enthusiasm, and motivation directly impact the quality of one’s work.


Doubting Dexter: When a team member makes a mistake, you must give them a piece of your mind to ensure they learn their lesson.

Reassuring Ria: An angry outburst only demoralizes the other person. Controlling your anger and providing constructive feedback are much more helpful to rectify mistakes.


Doubting Dexter: If you show empathy as a manager, your team members will take you for granted and slip on deliverables.

Reassuring Ria: It is the opposite. Emotional Intelligence will help you be assertive without being threatening. It will even help you motivate others better by tapping into their intrinsic zeal.


Doubting Dexter: Relationship-building is a waste of time. It distracts you from your real work.

Reassuring Ria: Building a solid network of relationships with key stakeholders and team members ensures that you will get timely help and cooperation when you need it the most.


Doubting Dexter: In negotiations, you must distance yourself from the other person’s emotions to take a tough stance.

Reassuring Ria: No. Being emotionally attuned will help you understand the other person’s priorities better, which will help you craft a win-win solution.


What is Emotional Intelligence?


  • Emotional Intelligence “is the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions”. (Salovey & Mayer 1990)
  • Emotional Intelligence is the art of bringing intelligence to emotions. i.e., constructively responding to emotions.


What does Emotional Intelligence consist of?


Emotional Intelligence has 5 components:


  1. Self-Awareness
What it is:
  • Self-awareness is recognizing a feeling within us as it happens, as well as related thoughts.
  • It is NOT an attention that gets carried away by emotions, overreacting and amplifying it. Rather it is a state of being a non-reactive observer of our emotions, even when they are turbulent.
  • The key skill here is to identify and name the emotions being aroused.


How does it help:
  • Failing to notice our emotions makes us susceptible to expressing them in a dysfunctional way out of unawareness.
  • It gives us a stronger sense of direction at work and a surer sense of the decisions we make.



  1. Self-Management
What it is:
  • Self-management is the ability to soothe oneself and remain calm under pressure, shake off rampant anxiety, gloom, or irritability. It is the art of not letting emotional excess impact you negatively.
  • Self-management builds on Self-Awareness: you can only manage an emotion if you are aware of it.
  • It is NOT suppression of emotion: every feeling has its value. What is needed is the ability to express emotions appropriately rather than in a dysfunctional fashion.


How does it help:
  • People who are poor in this ability are constantly battling feelings of distress which impairs their ability to be effective at work and leadership roles.
  • Those who excel at it can function effectively in a wide range of challenging situations and are more satisfied in general.



  1. Motivating Oneself
What it is:

Marshaling emotions in service of a goal:

  • Emotional self-control – delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness – underlies accomplishment of every sort.
  • Maintaining optimism and hope in the face of setbacks and challenges is a key characteristic of high performers.
  • Being able to get into “flow” – a state of focus and immersion – enables outstanding performance of all kinds.


How does it help:
  • It is difficult to perform when one’s mind is distracted by distressing emotions and thoughts.
  • People who have this skill are more productive, creative, and effective in whatever they undertake.



  1. Empathy
What it is:
  • Empathy involves social awareness – the ability to recognize emotions in others.
  • Empathy builds on Self-Awareness – the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we will be in reading the feelings of others.
  • Empathetic people are more attuned to what others need or want.
  • Listening effectively is essential to empathy. Paraphrasing and Probing are 2 key skills that enable this.
  • A deeper layer of listening is “Empathetic Listening” – intuiting another’s feelings by reading non-verbal cues like tone of voice, gesture, and facial expression.


How does it help:
  • Empathy is crucial to performing in any profession that involves cooperating with people like sales, management, and leadership.
  • A lack of empathy translates into indifference to the needs, wants, pains, and frustrations of the other.



  1. Relationship Management
What it is:
  • The art of relationships is, in large part, a skill in managing emotions in others.
  • They are social abilities that allow one to shape an encounter, mobilize and inspire others, thrive in interpersonal relationships, persuade and influence, to put others at ease.
  • Relationship Management requires the ripeness of two other emotional skills – self-management and empathy.
  • Relationship Management is comprised of a wide umbrella of skills.
    Some of them are:
  1. Building rapport (emotional attunement) with the other
  2. Setting the emotional tone of an interaction. This is at the heart of Influence.
  3. Organizing groups – initiating and coordinating the efforts of a group of people.
  4. Negotiating solutions – preventing conflicts or resolving the ones that flare up.
  5. Personal connection – recognizing and responding fittingly to people’s feelings and concerns.
  6. Social analysis – having insights about a group or network of people’s feelings, motives, and concerns.


How does it help:
  • People who excel at Relationship Management skills have social success, charm, and even charisma. It is a key ingredient of effective leadership.



Daniel Goleman’s EI model


Emotional Intelligence is learnable!


  • People differ in their abilities in each of these domains – we are more adept at some of these abilities and inept in others.
  • However, anyone can learn the skills of Emotional Intelligence with effort and practice.
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