The workplace of 2016 is more collaborative than ever! As a result, your individual success is almost always dependent on your ability to communicate and influence.

Today’s workplaces rely on a diverse group of people working together to create a product or service. Navigating the “human factor” is perhaps more important than technical or job-related skills. In fact, organizational research (link to PDF)  consistently proves that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is essential for success in today’s workplace.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Simply put, EQ is how effectively we recognize our own emotions and those of others, how well we interact and engage with others, and how well we cope with our daily demands. EQ is a major building block to effective collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Good news:  EQ can be learned and improved. Here are 5 quick ways to enhance your Emotional Intelligence at work:

  1. Be aware of your body language. body-language  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and known they aren’t interested in what you have to say? Perhaps they have a blank look on their face, won’t meet your eyes directly, have a limp handshake, or even an aggressive “in-your-face” voice?  Non-verbal communications may send messages you don’t intend to communicate.  Focus on the person you’re talking to; show them you’re really listening to what they have to say before rushing to respond.
  2. Ask trusted colleagues how you come across.  We can never be completely sure how we come across to others, but those close to us are more likely to give candid feedback. Saying something like, “I’m actually asking you as a valuable colleague – please just be straight with me on this matter” can be surprisingly useful.
  3. Take responsibility.  Honor your own good word and keep the promises you make. If not, people eventually stop believing what you say, and your words will no longer work for you. Being an emotionally intelligent leader means taking responsibility when things go wrong. Take the opportunity to apologize if you hurt someone and make sincere efforts at reparation.
  4. Acknowledge what you think you heard (or saw). delete-cookies  Paraphrase to play back what you heard someone say. This is a good way to check for accuracy and understanding. Also, be sure to clarify the emotions you think you “heard” in spoken words or “saw” in body language. For example, “Sounds like you are feeling frustrated about this project.” Or, “Looks like you’re happy about this assignment.”
  5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  It’s easy to understand your own point of view, but taking the time to understand others will allow you to gain their trust and respect. Before taking action, try to imagine the impact it will have. If it’s potentially negative, imagine how you can help others deal with the effects.

Emotional Intelligence is tangible and measurable. It influences the bottom line in performance, leadership, and productivity – in any workplace. If you are an active job seeker, enhancing your EQ can significantly impact your job search, networking, and interviewing results.