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ATD Blog

4 Ways to Bring Emotional Intelligence Into Your Work Culture

Thursday, April 21, 2022
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Emotional intelligence is the most important quality that allows for success, especially during times of great uncertainty. Here are four ways you can achieve greater satisfaction at work while being supported and nurtured through your understanding of emotional intelligence:

1. Focus on the Emotional Connection

Part of the problem is that we have not understood the power of emotions. Most of us attempt to re-engage employees on the content level, but the intrinsic motivation to succeed and navigate through uncertainty and difficulty involves emotional connection.

The word emotion comes from the Latin word emovere, which means to move. To move and grow in a positive way, people need a strong emotional connection.

Consider the relationship of Tom and Linda. Tom says, “I guess I got used to turning off my emotions and just going through the tasks with Linda. I wasn’t really there with her emotionally.”

Tom and Linda are attempting to dance with no music. Motivation quickly can diminish when the work happens but joy and growth aren’t included.

2. Listen to the Emotional Music

Listening to music requires slowing down and listening to the emotional messages. As Tom shares, “It’s kind of like we start with the question, ‘Where are you when we are in a meeting together?’” When people pay attention to the emotional cues they send to each other, they are more attuned to listening to that music.

Longing, in particular, is a significant emotion for humans. People are bonding mammals who long for connection with those they depend upon.

When safe and relaxed, the prefrontal cortex can engage and perform.

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Tom shares with Linda, “I don’t just want us to do tasks. I want us to feel connected, where we feel safe and free to share our longings and our needs.” The ability to open up and be vulnerable reassures people that they are not alone in the moment of stress and vulnerability.

3. Permission to Feel and Share

Did you know that sharing is a great springboard into connection?

One of Tom and Linda’s former problems in their work relationship was the lack of permission to feel and share. Tom explained, “Sharing my emotions with Linda was something that I used to push to the side and avoid at all costs.”

When someone closes off their emotionality, they bring a guarded self to work, which halts relationship growth.

It is easy to disconnect during moments of stress, especially when we don’t know how to share our emotions. And it’s even harder to understand how being disconnected halts our performance.

The good news is that we can recall how it felt when we were connected and can make the necessary changes to revive the relationship. We often hear people describe their most satisfying times at work as when they felt connected with their co-workers and bosses. When Tom and Linda, for example, share their deeper emotions, they work at a whole new level.

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4. Tune Into Your Dance

Creating strong relationships takes work. Becoming fully aware and engaged in how you dance with others and paying attention to your and others’ emotional needs is essential for creating synchrony.

This reminds me of a moment when I was dancing Argentine tango with my father-in-law, an experienced dancer. He stopped in the middle of the dance floor one time and said, “What are you doing?”

I responded with, “I’m dancing.”

“No, you are not,” he said. “You are in your head. You have to tune into me and tune into the music. The music will tell you what the next step should be.”

Interaction is a dance. Emotion is the music. Leaving emotions out is like dancing without the music.

Managing emotional intelligence is a lifetime commitment to learning, feeling, sharing, and building strong relationships that endure. Emotional connection is how you choreograph your way forward.


About the Author

Dr. Lola Gershfeld is the founder of EmC Leaders, an organizational psychologist, a board and team dynamics specialist, and a thought leader in her field. She works with organizations to create positive dynamics, building resilient teams and effective organizations where relationships are repaired, bonds are formed, and change happens to foster sustainable growth and ignite innovative potential.

Dr. Gershfeld developed the Emotional Connection (EmC) process, a groundbreaking and empirically supported approach based on the last 50 years of attachment science and the megawatt power of emotions to engage team members, resolve conflict, and build trust. EmC has been adapted and developed into education programs and certification courses that are accredited by ICF, HRCI, and SHRM.

Dr. Gershfeld leads several research projects that focus on demonstrating the effectiveness of the EmC methodology, content, and delivery through substantive research informed by best practices in psychology.

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