Business is business – cut and dry, black and white, serious, productive, professional, and of course – stripped of any emotion.

In America, a culture exists in which we have come to accept that emotions don’t play a role within the walls of our workplace. We believe this approach will lead to focus and efficiency.

We want our employees to be intelligent, not emotional. We want intelligence and emotion to keep their distance from one another, we want them in opposition, only emerging in their respective sectors of our life. Intelligence at work, emotions at home.

The only problem with this theory is that it’s impossible. Humans can’t turn off emotions, even in settings where it’s considered unprofessional. When working in a team environment, communicating about salary, or creating a work schedule, we’re going to have an emotional reaction to what’s being said and done. The sooner we realize that emotions exist at work regardless of some unspoken cultural policy, the sooner we can begin to use this inevitable human quality to our advantage.

Enter: emotional intelligence.

We all have emotions, but the level of grace and maturity in which we handle such emotions determines our level of emotional intelligence, or EQ. Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as, “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

Emotional intelligence relies on the idea that success is dependent on personal traits, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and people skills. These five qualities were named as the categories of emotional intelligence by psychologist, science journalist, and bestselling author Daniel Goleman in his popular books, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence.

If we master each of the five skills, we will be better at communicating interpersonally and contributing to the overall benefit of our workplace. We can adjust to change, manage stress and conflict, and cooperate with colleagues. Research has also suggested that high levels of emotional intelligence are linked with advanced interpersonal functioning, leadership abilities, and job satisfaction and performance.

This is not to say that traditional intelligence doesn’t have it’s merits, because it certainly does. However, IQ alone is not enough, it needs the company of EQ to create a thriving work environment. And emotional intelligence is not something strictly reserved for the higher-ups in the corporate world. At any stage in your career, this quality is key to your success, allowing you to make better business decisions, work well under pressure, and handle constructive criticism.

Emotional intelligence is not only powerful in a work atmosphere, but it is necessary to help us navigate our daily lives and interactions with others and conflict. Considering and working on your EQ will lead to becoming a more engaged and dedicated individual, in and out of the workplace.

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