The importance of emotional intelligence at work

There is no doubt that technical competencies and expertise are essential for work success, however, a new set of skills, which we now refer to as emotional intelligence (EI), is becoming increasingly more important. These skills are necessary for career development given that communication and teamwork require high levels of empathy, self-awareness, and being in control of one’s emotions.

The first person who studied the concept of emotional intelligence and its influence on work performance was psychologist Daniel Goleman. EI is defined as an ability to identify one’s own emotions, to recognize and understand the emotions of others, and to adjust one’s actions and behaviors accordingly.

In his book “Emotional intelligence”, Goleman points out that the global growth and development of artificial intelligence (AI) on the labor market leads to EI skillsets becoming more and more valued by employers. This means that emotional awareness is becoming one of the most in-demand skills in every aspect of life.

Emotional intelligence as an advantage at work

A study published by Harvard Business Review in 2019 recognizes emotional intelligence as the most sought-after competence necessary for creating a productive, strong, and innovative work environment.

According to Institute for Health and Human Potential-IHHP research, around 80% of the competencies of successful business people are within the domain of EI. Here are some of them:

  • self-awareness
  • self-control
  • flexibility
  • success orientation
  • positive attitude
  • empathy
  • organization
  • influence
  • teaching and mentorship
  • conflict management
  • teamwork
  • inspiring leadership

This set of skills can significantly improve productivity and spark a positive climate in the workplace, which is reflected in the performances of the entire team.

Assessment of emotional intelligence during the employment process

The work environment is full of challenges that will test your emotional intelligence on a daily basis – tight deadlines, dissatisfied customers, unforeseen obstacles. The way in which you react to unpleasant situations will significantly affect your work, as well as the work of people around you. That is why many employers, when recruiting, explicitly assess candidates’ communication skills, abilities to control emotions, readiness for teamwork and building good relationships with the team.

In addition to exceptional social skills and a high level of professional expertise, an ideal candidate should provide adequate answers to some of the following questions:

  • Have you ever worked with an uncooperative person and what did that look like?
  • How would you tell your team member that they did not complete their task successfully?
  • If you noticed that a team member is not doing their work, what would you do?
  • How do you resolve conflicts?
  • How do you act in stressful situations?
  • Do you have role models?
  • What are the three most important values ​​that you would cherish if you started your own company?
  • How do you react to failure?

The answers to these questions will give employers a clear insight into the value system, expectations, ways of solving problems, motivation and the behavior they can expect from the candidate if he/she gets a job. Emotionally intelligent people understand their own, as well as other people’s emotions, they enjoy working, they are empathetic and ready to work on self-development which is a prerequisite for achieving above-average work results.

How to improve emotional intelligence

You can develop emotional intelligence by getting to know yourself better, and by interacting with people that are different from you. Considering various perspectives and finding different strategies for dealing with stressful situations will give you a basis not only for work achievements, but also for progress on a personal level.

The best way to develop EI is by broadening your horizons, going through new experiences, and getting out of your comfort zone. This way, you learn to control your impulses, postpone your needs, and express your opinion adequately which enables your progress in both personal and professional relationships.


Success at work is largely determined by the relationship you have with yourself, but also with other people. No matter how competent you are, if you are not able to see your shortcomings, connect with your environment, and adapt your behavior to the situation you are in, you will find it very difficult to progress in your career. Emotionally intelligent people cope well with stress and make decisions easily, which is extremely important for any job. It is because of these benefits that emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important on the labor market.

By developing EI, an individual learns to successfully cope with work challenges, resist pressures and strive towards extraordinary results. All this contributes to better positioning in the company and improving relationships with colleagues.

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