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What Is Emotional Intelligence?

One of the trends that has recently appeared on the Human Resources horizon is the evaluation and nurturing of emotional intelligence. Among other qualities, emotional intelligence includes passion for one’s work, the ability to interact well with others (including listening skills), the ability to stay in control under stress, and a commitment to a positive company culture.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is often part of “soft skills,” such as the ability to work in a team, lead people, motivate people, and find solutions to problems.

As a business owner, you should have an interest in emotional intelligence because it makes your own job easier. People cooperate, information is shared, finger pointing diminishes, employees turn from “yes men” into independent thinkers and problems are solved before they reach crisis proportions. If your own emotional intelligence is high, you are better able to recognize stressful situations and respond to them in a way that reduces rather than aggravating the stress for yourself and others.

Basically, emotional intelligence is all about the relationships between people and their effect on performance and health. The smoother those relationships go, the more efficient and productive the workplace and the less stressful.

When you are interviewing candidates and trying to determine their EQ, you might consider whether:

  1. The interviewee shows interest in the company and asks appropriate questions. Someone who is totally focused on themselves and their own successes probably has a lower EQ.
  2. When asked, the interviewee describes an acceptable way for handling workplace conflicts or stress. There are a variety of acceptable responses but shouting or physical violence definitely indicates a low EQ. You also want to be careful of anyone who claims they never experience conflicts or stress.

As an interviewer, however, you have to be careful that your EQ questions are not hostile (“when did you last annoy a co-worker?”) or intrusive (“how do you get along with your spouse?”).  Questions should never be designed to test an interviewee’s patience and willingness to be bullied.

If you find that your workplace as a whole suffers from low EQ—it is more stressful, less productive and less efficient than you would like—please contact HR Compliance 101. Let’s talk about possible solutions.

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