“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels”, says Daniel Goleman. But, how should the latter be managed in order to improve our relationships at work?

An increasing number of studies state it: our rationality does not provide more than a 10% to our global usual behaviour patterns, while the remaining 90% is driven by emotions, the most subjective and intuitive part of our thinking process.

Not even the management of our work relationships, an environment that should a priori be more influenced by reason and self-awareness, is free from this percentage. Business strategies may be a result of reflection and analysis, but daily interactions are conditioned, mostly, by automatisms, prejudice, projections and clichés, both individual and cultural.

This is where emotional intelligence comes into play, a relatively recent concept in the field of occupational psychology that is acquiring an increasing relevance in working environments. So much, in fact, that it’s becoming common to read statements such as “CEOs are sometimes hired by a company on ground of their intellectual ability, and fired due to their lack of emotional intelligence”.

Emotional intelligence: nature versus nurture

The results of several studies on intelligence show that IQ metrics are not so relevant to predict professional success anymore, being emotional intelligence the one making the difference instead. And this is a skill that we can train to be enhanced.

Educating reason depends on educating emotions, and a balanced relation between both is crucial to undertake professional life. In fact, many education practitioners, like Pablo Fernández Berrocal, Professor of Psychology at the University of Málaga (Spain), advocate the implementation of this skill in schools so that younger generations are able, both in academic life and their future jobs, to manage relationships with their fellow students and co-workers. In many cases, the difference between professionals in any given position is not made by challenges faced at work, but the ability to manage occupational stress and teamwork.

Daniel Goleman and the cornerstones of emotional intelligence

Although this topic has been discussed since the 1920s, Daniel Goleman was the one who introduced the notion of emotional intelligence in business. This American psychologist, encouraged by the negative impact of emotional outbursts over people’s job performance, and the poor capability showed by IQ tests to foresee someone´s worth in a certain position, tried to identify the factors which discerned somebody’s likeliness of becoming a charismatic leader or a problematic personality.

According to his theory, elaborated in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, the difference lies in being capable of acquiring the following skills, some of them already ingrained in our own DNA, and some shaped by our cultural, social or familiar context:

– Self-control

– Enthusiasm

– Empathy

– Perseverance

– Ability to self-motivate

We don’t work alone, so if instead of hurting the emotional system of our co-workers or employees we manage to implement these 5 points, we’ll avoid conflicts that could led to discouragement, reduced productivity and, ultimately, teamwork issues.

Sources: JuanPedroSánchez, Leader Summaries, El País