Improving our Emotional Intelligence for a happier workplace (Part Two)

In the second part of my blog on improving our emotional intelligence, I would like to share four further tips with the intention of improving our working relationships.

By: James Blair on

You can find part one of this blog here, which included:

  1. Work on your Self-Awareness
  2. Listen more than you speak
  3. Restrain your reactions
  4. Empathy is everything

And so to part two…

5. Don’t be afraid (or too proud) to apologise

If you are at fault, then apologise. Nothing builds respect, trust and rapport like a heartfelt apology when it is due. Showing humanity, humility, and good humour is not showing weakness. Showing vulnerability makes us more relatable and can open up better connections with our people. If you’ve made a mistake, own it, apologise, draw a line, and move on.

Remember, too, that blame fixes nothing. When we blame, we stop learning and close our minds to improvement. Better to investigate why things have gone wrong (systems or procedural issue, training need etc.?), than to simply apportion blame and not address any wider issues.

6. Don’t deflect

This is one of the oldest (and most transparent) tricks in the book! When we feel uncomfortable about a topic, we may try to move away from it. Nothing will make an employee feel more cheated than an obvious deflection by change of subject or passing of blame.

Even worse, if we feel under attack about something, we may have a tendency to deflect with a counter-attack. You’ve come to me to say that you feel left out on Tuesday’s meeting, so I will retaliate by bringing up your lateness the week before.

7. Remain positive

As well as looking for solutions to problems and avoiding pointless blame, we should keep our expressions and body language in check. Try not to look annoyed or irritated, or to pull that “what on earth are you bleating on about, you weirdo?” expression that I can deliver so expertly… but have learned not to.

When appropriate, smile. It’s contagious. It is scientifically proven to reduce stress levels.

Similarly, praising people goes a long way. Recognising when our people have done a good job, (and not just with the more obvious target-based successes) will breed positivity and improve productivity.

We all crave recognition and enjoy our efforts being appreciated. Some people like a public show of appreciation, others may prefer their praise behind closed doors. The better we know our people, and the more we tailor our behaviour towards them, the more impactful that recognition will be.

8. It’s nice to be asked

Finally, if you are leading a team, the chances are they will do what you ask them to do – it’s the chain of command. However, it’s a chain of command in name only. Ask, don’t tell. It shows respect and is likely to elicit a better response and could even get the job done better. No-one likes being actually commanded.

And, again, put yourself in the other person’s shoes: if they are unlikely to understand the request or the reason behind it, adapt or expand your comms appropriately.

Being more aware of our emotional triggers, improving our emotional intelligence and working on our responses will result in a more effortless and happier work life for us and those we lead. No-one is perfect and we should all strive for continuous self-improvement. Sometimes, asking ourselves the difficult questions now will help us to avoid some of the most challenging work scenarios further down the line.