People are naturally reactive. It’s why children cry when they don’t get their way. It’s why otherwise professional coworkers rage quit. But, as most adults know, we are able to overcome our natural tendencies (hence, you don’t punch your coworker in the face when they’re two days late on a report).
Developing the ability to understand, interpret and effectively respond to our own emotions and the emotions of others is especially important for HR. It helps us communicate more effectively and overcome challenges—two things demanded of us daily. Further, people with emotional intelligence are more respected, rise to leadership positions more often and are able to step over office politics to focus on their productivity.
Here are five ways to improve your emotional intelligence and workplace effectiveness:
In order to rationally manage your emotions, you must be aware of them. In HR, most days come with emotional challenges—whether you’re frustrated at an employee derailing company culture, you have to let someone go or can’t seem to get your reporting to come out just right. You need to take a little time to process. Even if all you can afford is to close your door, shut your eyes and sit in silence for 5 minutes, do it! Allowing yourself time to process your emotions is a great way to make sense of them and act logically in the face of emotional turmoil.
2. Be honest with yourself and others.
Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t mean stuffing how you feel into a little internal box until it spontaneously combusts. Yes, you will sometimes have to filter exactly how you feel. But expressing how situations affect you in a mature way is the only way to improve problems. Just remember to take time to really acknowledge and sort through your emotions before you express them. You may discover how you truly feel about something or think of a great way to be honest about them.
3. Give the benefit of the doubt.
If other people act irrationally toward you or anyone else in the company, realize that the problem extends beyond the target. People don’t act irrationally due to one event; they act irrationally in response to being overwhelmed. You never know what could be happening beyond the person’s professional life. Don’t take it personally, and don’t match their emotional behavior.
4. Walk away.
Until you master emotional intelligence, you’re going to have to allow yourself to walk away at times. And even when you do master it, sometimes it’s best to let things cool first. When problems are fresh, we aren’t always ready to address them. Most people will respect you if you ask them to let you continue the conversation after you’ve had some time to process. It’s a good idea to extend employees the same courtesy. For example, an employee may be ready to bust down your office door after they receive a less-than-satisfactory review. Chances are, emotions will be high during that meeting. Giving a 48 hour cool-down period helps people really grasp their emotions to interact professionally.
5. Cultivate good emotional health.
Just like your physical health, you should be paying attention to your emotional health. This includes everything from work-life balance to positivity to job satisfaction. Taking an afternoon off might help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Watching an uplifting TED talk may brighten a gloomy day. It’s easier to stay level-headed in a tough situation when you’re emotionally healthy.
Developing emotional intelligence requires you to not react how you naturally want to—and therein lies its power. By monitoring your emotions, being honest with yourself and others, giving people the benefit of the doubt, allowing for cool-off time and paying attention to your emotional health, you’ll be in better control. And that control will bring so much peace to your hectic role in HR.
Infographic credit: Emotional IQ and You/onlinemba.umd.edu/ via onlinemba.umd.edu