Professional Development Work Relationships

5 Steps to Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence at Work

Written by Sheryl Posnick

Emotional intelligence at work won’t just help you be a better coworker and employee. It is instrumental if you want to become a leader, or a mover and shaker within your field.

Figuring out what other people may be thinking, wanting, feeling, and needing, and being sensitive and adaptable to those things will also, of course, make you a better person. Developing these skills would be a win-win personally and professionally, and may just be the secret weapon you need to distinguish yourself and achieve that extra level of success.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to start honing (and eventually mastering) your emotional intelligence at work. Start early and see how your career can change.

1. Self-Assess

It’s not just about knowing who you are, or what you like, or even what your wants and needs are. It’s not even merely being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about understanding these things and having the confidence to work from within them, with an aim of accepting your current state, but constantly striving to improve. If you master this, and know exactly where and who you are—in work and in life—you’ll be much better equipped to get where you need to go.

2. Self-regulate

Develop your inner Zen master. Keeping your cool in a crisis will help distinguish you for leadership. And being disciplined enough to control your emotions and disruptive or destructive tendencies might eventually reroute them entirely. Cultivate calm and positivity. Worst case scenario, you’ll stress much less. Best case, you’ll become the office guru, then Queen of the Universe.

3. Practice empathy

You may think your manager or your co-worker is a total jerk, maybe even an incompetent one. But before you write them off, try to imagine being in their shoes. Are there complicating factors in their lives that you may or may not know about that might be affecting their work or behavior? If you can try and imagine how others might be feeling, you’ll be better able to feel for them—and able to exercise compassion. The selfish upside here is that you’ll get much better at understanding what motivates people, and able to maneuver yourself and your team accordingly.

4. Relate to people

Real connections are hard to come by. Cultivate them. Don’t just treat people like stepping stones and distractedly try to maintain your relationships. Work at it. It’s much easier to do if you work on #3 and actually listen to and care about people. And it’s crucial for developing #5.

5. Communicate

You’ve heard a million times that effective communication is the biggest key to leadership and real success. That’s probably because it’s true. Cultivating all of the above skills will help you to avoid misunderstandings, miscommunications, bruised feelings, and mixed signals. It will make your team stronger, and it will make you better—at your job and at your life. You’ll have a much easier time developing your sense of purpose and working on your own and with your team to achieve that purpose.


About the author

Sheryl Posnick

Sheryl Posnick is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founder and president of Red Letter Content, an editorial company with a focus on educational, test preparation, and career readiness materials.