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The Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Healthy Working

Workplace
Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

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.

Up Next

The guidelines for remote working communication

Workplace
Author since:
December, 2016
33 blog posts

Modern business means modern working practices. Just under 15% of the UK workforce — 4.2 million people — now work from their homes, cafes or shared remote workspaces. Remote working promotes creativity and flexibility. It rewards employees with the freedom to work in the environment that suits them best, while generating more productivity in the workplace. But what is the key to success? The Big C: remote working communication.

Why choose remote working?

With the availability of stable, secure digital platforms and lightning-fast network connectivity, there is little reason for everyone to work together in one place, every day. Remote working is a popular means to give flexibility to your workforce, making them feel valued and energised. The freedom to work remotely reduces the pressure of commuting, giving more time to work, and less to travel. What’s more, it helps companies choose from a global workforce, sourcing the best people for the job without the hefty financial burden of having to relocate staff.

Historically, traditional businesses were against remote workspaces or flexible working cultures. Some argued that communication would suffer, staff would be unavailable at key hours in the working day, or they would feel isolated and disconnected from the business. Others raise security concerns or a fundamental lack of trust in their employees, which begs the question: why employ staff you don’t trust in the first place?

“Being remote actually allows you to practice intentional and thoughtful communication far more. Own this skill and let it be a second nature to you.”
Liz van Dijl, VP of Business Services at Percona

The likes of Microsoft, Google and other forward-thinking technology companies saw the early benefits of remote workspaces. Such businesses are generally appealing to work for and have opened our eyes to attracting and retaining the best employees in the marketplace. Improved digital communication and technology financing, however, have made more traditional companies such as banks, law firms and accountants weigh up the advantages of a remote workforce.

So how do these companies ensure their staff remain energised and informed while working from flexible locations? Below are seven guiding principles to successful remote working communication:

1. Harness technology

Email is gradually being phased out of business operations, considered unwieldy, unreliable and inconsistent. Businesses are turning to flexible programmes, apps and platforms for project management and communication.

The principal rule here is continuity. Choose one platform that meets your end-to-end business requirements, and stick to it. Otherwise, your staff will be trying to communicate on so many channels for different functions, they will communicate with nothing but their computer.

The vast range of platforms for project sharing and messaging includes Slack, Twist, Hipchat, Google Hangouts and LiveChat. Slack is most popular with more than 1.5 million paying users, while is Twist is marginally easier to use and is moving fast up the user ranks.

2. Prioritise file sharing

After choosing a technologically-advanced platform for managing projects, progress and communication, the next priority is a transparent file sharing method.

Ensure shared documents are accessible to all stakeholders, and can be updated in an open platform. The choice is yours from Google Drive, Dropbox, Easyfile and iCloud. Again, consistency is the key. Adopt one file sharing method for everyone and stick to it.

3. Set clear objectives

As a remote worker or a business employing staff in different locations, knowing what is expected from start to finish is essential to successful remote working communication.

Tasks and objectives should be clearly defined, and set around completion dates and output rather than timeframes and hours spent.

4. Choose a time zone

If you’re an international business or global employer, it is advisable to choose a standard business timezone to work from. This is not from a physical perspective — it is impossible for all staff to work in one time zone — but a business standard for communication continuity.

Take this time zone into account when scheduling remote meetings so workers clearly understand the appropriate time for their location.

5. Separate work and rest time

Contrary to popular belief, remote workers spend more hours working, not less. Setting clear boundaries for work and pleasure helps alleviate stress and burnout. Also, don’t forget there are times when a good old chat on the phone is the quickest way to communicate and solve issues.

6. Add face-to-face communication

Arranging meetings through Skype or a similar system adds all-important body language to a business conversation, increasing transparency and human engagement. If possible, regular physical meet ups will give your day-to-day digital communication a personal twist and allow teams to work more closely while operating remotely.

7. Have a weekly web meeting

TED Talks, the media organisation known for spreading knowledge through online talks, leads the way with its remote working communication practices. Employees have a standard web meeting every week with their co-workers. The meeting is consistently the same time, on the same day to discuss everything from business progress and projects to birthdays, holidays and social matters. They focus on keeping their interactions light hearted with themes, disguises or costumes, fostering closer team building and more open communication.

Overall, the benefits of a remote workspace and a flexible workforce are numerous — happy, valued staff, greater business output, and better heads for the job. The key to making it successful, however, is smooth remote working communication, promoting more productivity in the workplace.

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