By Heathere Evans
We are living in an era marked by epidemic dis-ease and misconduct in the workplace. More people every day are finding their courage in a unified outcry for a better way. As communicators, how can we help unhealthy organizations heal and detoxify our workplaces so they stay healthy? A starting point is emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
The term “emotional intelligence” was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, Peter Salovey of Yale and John D. Mayer of UNH. While some popular definitions focus on qualities like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence, this definition is misleading. EQ comprises skills in five areas that all require specialized communications skills, using our inner voice, outer voice or both:
- Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
- Empathy for others
- Social attunement, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks
What can public relations professionals do to build EQ?
From my perspective, as professional communicators we are compelled to take the lead within our organizations to create a more empowered and conscious way of being. As Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “The institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Creating a healthy workplace begins by each one of us taking a leadership role within ourselves.
Here are two EQ skills to get you started.
First: Foster a Growth Mindset
When organizations and individuals become rigid and fixed, they stunt their growth. They become totally unaware that assumptions and limited perspectives are operating under the surface, sabotaging the next level of success. Check out this list and get clear about yourself. Notice when you slip into a fixed mindset. What circumstances trigger that response in you? Make a choice to adopt a growth perspective instead.
I can learn anything I want to.
When I fail, I learn.
If you succeed, I’m inspired.
My effort and attitude determine everything
I’m either good at it or I’m not.
When I fail, I’m no good.
If you succeed, I feel threatened.
My abilities determine everything.
Second: Challenge Your Own Assumptions
As we cultivate an approach to work and life that is built on a model of personal growth, the creative center of the brain gets stimulated. When that happens, our perspective can expand and we start thinking in new ways, asking new questions, and seeing new possibilities. Think of a work challenge you’re currently facing. What assumptions are you making? What is this challenge trying to teach you? Who could you ask for a new perspective or who might be able to reflect back to you the situation as they see it?
While these skills hardly resolve all dysfunction in an organization, EQ is one of many forms of intelligence needed at every level of management. Cultivating skills in self-awareness and new ways to respond rather than being reactive creates a giant shift in corporate cultures and in the harmony of teams and work environments.
About the Author: Heathere Evans, APR, is a professional coach teaching emotional intelligence to organizations and individuals nationwide for healthier communications and more successful work environments. She is a PRSA-NCC past president and founder of IPRA and can be reached on Instagram and Twitter.