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20th July 2017

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Healthy Working

We are a healthy bunch at Workplace. When we asked our members about their healthy working habits, how they avoid workplace stress, and make sure they focus on their work-life balance they told us they either went for a run, walked their dog, played tennis or meditated. One member even sings in a choir as a way of coping with stress.

Activities like these help with managing stress at work over a longer period, and give you the extra headspace to be rational and measured. The question is, though, what can you do at the very moment the pressure is on and you need to perform? How can you still bring your A game and work to the best of your abilities when it all seems too much?

Develop your emotional intelligence
It is incredibly hard to work to the best of your abilities under extreme pressure. Deadlines and goals help increase work speed and achieve targets, but if the pressure is debilitating it’s impossible. If you can maintain control over the situation, however, and manage the pressure, you’ll arm yourself with the skills to work better than anyone else. The key to this is developing your emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence
noun
1. The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
“Emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success”

After the England hockey team won gold in the last Olympics, goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was asked in an interview, “How did you feel when you knew the game was going to end in penalties?” Maddie replied, “I was excited, it’s what a goalkeeper trains for and I couldn’t wait to get going”. What an attitude! It was clear the skills of the two teams were very matched, what set them apart was their emotional intelligence.

A bomb disposal expert discusses the steps he takes to alleviate pressure in his job. Without the luxury of dropping everything to go for a run, for example, he highlights the fact that most stress management practices are in fact ways to enhance performance rather than coping with stress.

Using your emotions to adapt to your environment enables you to turn a setback into a comeback, and allows you to positively impact the workplace stress management of people around you.

EQ over IQ
Learning new skills and gaining critical knowledge is important to success, but even the most intelligent people struggle to manage their emotions. If you can stay calm under pressure you are likely to achieve 10% more than average. In certain situations your emotional intelligence (EQ) gives you the edge, not your intellect (IQ). While emotions are universal, not everyone develops their EQ to provide that advantage.

In the book How to perform under pressure – The science of doing your best when it matters most, authors Hendrie Weisinger and J.P Pawlin-Fry describe how confidence, tenacity, optimism and enthusiasm are the cornerstones of getting a step ahead. They describe how knowledge and understanding is not enough, you must act on that knowledge. Unfortunately very few people actually do.

Be in the one percent
Anyone can sit in a presentation and feel motivated by what they hear, but on average only 1% of people then take action. In fact, many people will read this blog and agree wholeheartedly to develop their EQ, but science says 99% of those readers will not follow up on that information. Take ownership of your emotional outcome to stress and be in the 1% that takes action, developing accountability for your emotions.

In an hour long video, author Hendrie Weisinger talks in depth about enabling ourselves and others to perform better when the pressure cooker in our head is about to explode. So, how does the bomb disposal expert use his emotional intelligence to dispose of bombs safely, rather than detonate in a panic?

“Avoid the black hole of hypothetical situations. It is very easy to start taking your stress and worry into different directions and worrying about the what if’s. Instead of doing this, do a threat assessment and remember how you dealt with other situations in the past. Every problem has a solution. You just need to concentrate on finding that solution by leveraging prior experience to calmly size up the challenge ahead. What is your inner voice saying, is it hurried and negative? Or is it as it should be to achieve 10% more than anyone else?”

Focus on what you can control

Most people are unfazed by driving a car, despite it being a relatively dangerous activity. Taking control of a situation makes all the difference. Break the stressful situation down into small steps and tackle them one step at a time, so they lead to a solution and ultimately less stress.

Managing stress at work, then, is more about keeping control and using your emotional intelligence than setting goals and deadlines. A positive work-life balance and coping with stress is about identifying what you can control, and accepting what you can’t. Healthy working practices are key to productivity and positivity.


AUTHOR: Workplace
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