Emotional intelligence and agility in the workplace

Recently, I was asked by my colleague, fellow mental health professional and hospitality industry consultant, Laura Louise Green, to be the guest speaker on her seminar about Emotional Intelligence at the annual Tales of the Cocktail, the renowned international hospitality industry conference (9/22/2021).

We discussed the importance of emotional intelligence in the hospitality industry, the workplace, and in everyday interactions. What if bringing our emotional life into our work was exactly what we needed to protect our well-being and that of others?

A traditional work model has postulated leaving your emotions at the door. However, a growing body of research on the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of those around you, shows that emotional understanding of self and others is highly related to competency, psychological well-being, and success across a variety of work and interpersonal situations.

Five characteristics of emotionally intelligent people:
* Change Agents
Individuals with high EQ are not afraid of change or taking risks.
* Self-Awareness
They know their own strengths and weaknesses.
* Empathy
They can relate to others without judgment.
* Balance
They strive for balance in their lives and encourage others to do the same.
* Kindness/Grace
They practice self-compassion, andencourage others to bring out the best in themselves.

The Neuropsychology of EQ:
Emotions are contagious; we catch feelings, and we spread them. This means that when we are with other people, physical measures such as heart rate, respiration and blood pressure can actually change to correspond to those of the other person, particularly when looking into their eyes. In neural science, this is called Limbic Resonance.

The practical implication of this information is that by learning to monitor our own emotions and sense emotional changes in other people, it becomes possible to recognize what people are feeling; and, by learning to navigate and manage our own emotions, we influence the emotions of others. EQ can be learned and strengthened.

Practice highlights:
* Monitor emotions- Learn to monitor your own emotions when with others. What are you experiencing? Is it coming from you or from someone else?
* Be present- Be mentally present and emotionally available so that others feel emotionally connected to you.
* Conduct emotional scans- Do an emotional scan before, during and after events that can trigger emotional reactions. Emotions consist of both bodily reactions and thoughts.
* Listen with and for emotion- To be a better listener, recognize the emotions and body language of others. Paying attention is a huge component of EQ.
* Create a healthy emotional climate- Develop a specific plan to foster an emotionally healthy, safe, and productive culture in your workplace and in your relationships. People have different levels of comfort with emotion and being sensitive to that is extremely important.
* Practice lightness- Become aware of the importance of lightness in interaction. People enjoy being around lightness because it, like other emotions, is contagious.

Dr. Daniel Goleman, an early researcher on emotional intelligence and psychology said, “Laughter may be the shortest distance between two brains, an unstoppable infectious spread that builds an instant social bond.”

Ultimately, emotional intelligence fosters connection; the essence of teamwork and relationship.
Also see Mental Health and Empathy. 

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