5 Ways to Read People's Emotional Intelligence & Why It Matters

Jul 18, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Image: Morsa Images/Getty Images

By Jennifer Mayer

Emotional intelligence is becoming an increasingly desirable trait in the workplace. As work environments are drastically shifting, communication is fast paced, and markets are more global than ever. It’s crucial for employees and their company to have high levels of emotional intelligence. While it’s understandable that emotional intelligence is helpful when dealing with customers and business partners, working with co-workers in the office is just as important. The World Economic Forum projects that emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 needed skills for employment in 2020.

First, what is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the skill to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. These skills include a series of five key tenets: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Being able to read and respond to your co-workers' emotional intelligence can greatly improve both communication and productivity. If you have control and stability over your own emotions, that will greatly aid communication and resolution, especially during conflict. Although you’ll likely have a good sense of your own emotional intelligence, since self-awareness is key, you can also take the EI quiz by Harvey Deutschendorf. He is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker.

How can you read your co-workers' emotional intelligence? Being able to see your co-workers for who they are and what they are capable of as far as emotional intelligence will help you manage your own expectations of them. A good way to tell where your co-workers are on the EI scale is to watch how they respond to different situations.

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1. Are they transparent?

Does your co-worker speak from a place of their true self, or do they put up walls? Being transparent means you’re able to communicate from your heart, you have integrity, are emotionally honest and have self-awareness of your emotions and how you fit into a situation.

2. Are they emotional?

Is your co-worker able to manage their emotions, stay focused on the goal and away from drama? People with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to self-regulate, meaning they are able to manage their emotions and behavior for a productive outcome. The ability to maintain control over one’s emotions is a huge asset to a highly-productive environment. Being able to receive feedback, grow from criticism and manage expectations all help the common goal of the project to move forward.

3. Are they flexible?

Is your co-worker able to easily adapt when projects change and pivot on a dime? How do they handle uncertainty and unpredictable situations? Co-workers with high levels of emotional intelligence will have the skills to productively adapt and change when project directions shift and will have the stability to remain focused and secure when situations are unsteady. The ability to skillfully navigate the choppy waters of uncertainty, especially in the workplace, is essential for any leadership position.

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4. Are they motivated?

Individuals with high emotional intelligence are also motivated to do the right thing. Is your co-worker open to feedback or do they even seek it out? If so, they likely possess high EI. Being motivated to improve, refine and perform at a high level are some of the benefits of having a work environment enhanced by EI employees.

5. Are they empathetic?

Is your co-worker able to think about other team members' points of view, challenges and circumstance? If so, they likely have a high level of EI. Self-awareness and empathy go hand in hand when it comes to emotional intelligence. Co-workers with high EI are able to see things from others' perspectives and consider those perspectives in a productive way, all the while having their own self-awareness of how they contribute to a situation.

Emotional intelligence is certainly an employable skill of the future. This is a trait employers are going to be identifying and looking for at an increasing rate. Beyond being hirable, EI is a benefit for workplace culture, especially in industries where high performance and low drama are key.

Originally published onFairygodboss.