Psychologists have known for years that people working together are more efficient and productive than the same number of individuals working separately. Empathy encourages us all to work cooperatively.
If you’re an employee…
Employees can prevent a toxic “every person for themselves” atmosphere from forming by extending empathetic offers to help, staying alert for opportunities to yield when an issue is more important to someone else than to themselves, and simply showing interest in one another’s work and lives. Avoid gossip and cliques. Both create tension and mistrust, lower morale, and reduce productivity.
If you’re the boss…
Make it worthwhile for your staff to rely on and assist each other. Offer bonuses or other incentives for a group rather than individual achievements. For example, you could hold TGIF lunches and periodic morning bagel fests on you—sometimes without you—so your group can feel free to establish the common ground of griping about the boss.
Set up a mentor program matching new employees with those with the greatest seniority. Use your incisive emotional powers to offset one person’s weaknesses with another’s strengths, and soon they’ll all be pulling one another up to new heights.
Trust your intuitive feelings
Our feelings come to us before our thoughts, yet we’ve learned to distrust our intuition in the workplace. As many smart investors, marketers, and designers will attest, stock market killings, media blitzes, and new product development often depend on hunches.
There isn’t always time for methodical gathering of data. Nor is there always a need. Your hunches, after all, are the product of instantaneously gathered and sorted emotional information that tells you what matters most to you in any situation, what might be wrong based on your previous experiences, and when something is not what it seems to be.
Heeding them is not taking as crazy of a risk as the IQ minions would have you believe. It’s often the smartest, most responsible move you can make. You may get a lot of opposition, but stand firm and follow your hunches. Without them you lose the ability to switch gears, grab opportunities, and respond to emergencies.
Ways to Work Smarter Using Emotional Intelligence
Use your body to sharpen your mind. Along with adopting good health habits generally, spending about twenty minutes exercising once or twice a day adds energy, sensitivity, patience, flexibility, and creativity to your portfolio.
Invite feelings, not just thoughts. Make it safe for people to tell you how they feel, and they’ll work harder and better. People tell the truth to those who withhold judgements, keep confidences, and maintain their composure. Make sure that describes your work persona.
Establish emotional boundaries. Intimacy with a boss, employee, or coworker can flood the workplace with emotional memories that cause thoughtful, reasonable professionals to lose their objectivity and provoke resentment in onlooking coworkers.
Make no decision based on data alone.
Before you turn in that figure-filled report or cite an authority to back up your recommendations, use your intuition. Stop and ask yourself how you feel about the position you’re taking– it’s a habit that will help you feel more confident and ensure you’re acting with integrity.
Be ready to modify long-term goals based on active awareness of how short-term objectives are going. Stubbornly charging towards goals that no longer serve the organization will get you left behind with yesterday’s news.
Be generous. When a point of conflict means more to the other person than you (information you receive through awareness and empathy), surrender graciously; you’ll earn your coworker’s gratitude and support.
Begin any negative comment with a positive one. You’re much more likely to get an empathetic ear if you preface criticism with appreciation, and complaints with your intention to cooperate.
Speak out when you feel something is important. If a problem or a conflict is bothering you at a gut level, waiting too long to speak up will invite emotional flooding. When you take action, you change how you feel about the problem, which has a powerful impact on your well-being—even if you don’t get the response or change you’re seeking.
Listen with empathy. Using your emotions will never distract you from the task at hand. Empathy gives you an instant understanding of what someone is saying, so don’t try to save time by planning what you’re going to say while another person is speaking—that’s not heartfelt listening, and others know it.
Take the risk of appearing imperfect. High performers ask for help when they need it and admit to being wrong when they make a mistake. Then they move on, effective and efficient.
Using emotional intelligence to be a great employee
Even those who manage other people are usually supervised by someone else, so anyone can take the advice that follows. Being a good employee is mainly a matter of doing what you were hired for while retaining your own integrity. And if you’re like most of us, it’s also a matter of getting ahead. Here are some ways to do that:
When there’s a problem, speak up. It would be great if we all had high-EQ bosses, but even the most empathetic boss doesn’t have time to figure out or guess your feelings. Strong, physical pangs that won’t go away will tell you when you shouldn’t stay silent.
Know what you want from the job. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t ask for it. What’s most important to you at this point in your life, and how do you expect this job to fulfill those needs?
Know how well you’re performing from day today. The most demoralizing occupational event is to be fired without any idea it was coming. Layoffs aside, it hardly ever has to be that way. If you’re keeping your mental powers sharp and you know your job is enhancing your well-being, you’re probably performing well and doing what’s right for you. As long as you’re staying empathic enough to know that it’s also right for your boss and the organization, you should never be taken by surprise.
Know what your boss feels is important. This isn’t always what they say is important. Attune to everything that expresses feelings –what the boss does vs. says, where the boss’s own fears seem to lie, how the boss treats other people—to get an idea of how to fulfill the boss’s needs on the job. With empathy, you’ll feel an echo of your boss’s emotions as long as you’re paying attention.
Know the values of the organization and how you feel about them
Every organization has a personality, too. Especially at a new job, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open for information about the organization’s M.O. You need to know not just what the organization’s production goals are but how it does business. Is it a three-piece-suit atmosphere or a shirtsleeves workplace? Do people chat casually and spontaneously or make appointments with each other?
Are plans made openly or secretly? Is the organization’s style conservative or daring, people-oriented or product-oriented? How are people treated when they let go? Is hiring done first from within or always from without? Are loyalty and camaraderie in evidence? Do coworkers like each other or merely tolerate each other?
Where do you fit in? Do you like what you discover? If not, what can you live with and what makes you feel physically uncomfortable? Knowing that will help you navigate a successful course for as long as you decide to stay with this organization 🙂 🙂