Did you know ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EQ), is predicted to be one of the top 10 skills in the workplace by the year 2020?
World Economic Forum’s Report, The Future of Jobs made this prediction on the basis of an extensive survey of Chief Human Resource Officers and Strategy executives from leading global employers, representing over 13 million employees, across 9 broad industry sectors.
We’re all aware of the fact that in recent times, rapid growth in transformative technologies such as advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics – have radically transformed the way we live, work and behave in this world.
Given the disruptive nature of these futuristic technologies, we will no longer be driving our cars or public transports in the near future – the advent of already highly promising self-driving Google cars is a peek into that future.
The robotic production lines, like that from Tesla is already replacing manufacturing jobs, and with the AI machines like the IBM’s Watson; which is already diagnosing diseases way ahead of doctors – we’re not only being replaced by the machines in the more repetitive physical tasks, but also in the ones that require more ‘thinking’ on our part, like that of doctors, teachers, financial advisors, business consultants, etc.
A smart machine may be able to ‘think’ and perform better than its human counterpart, it can very well diagnose an illness and recommend the best treatment much faster and accurately than a doctor - but it cannot sit with a patient, understand and empathise with his/her life situation (finances, family, relationships, and help them choose an optimal treatment plan. That is where the ‘emotional intelligence’ skill set trumps the ‘artificial intelligence’ one.
Helpguide defines Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as: The ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
Here are some of the reasons why ‘emotional intelligence’ will have high value in the workplaces of the future:
1. Emotionally Intelligent People Are ‘Good Listeners’
Being a social animal, we all possess the desire to be heard and understood. To develop and nurture a strong working relationship, it’s crucial that we truly ‘listen’ and respond to our fellow team mates, partners or clients at the workplace.
People who are high in emotional intelligence are adept at understanding others by putting their own worries, emotions and desires aside for the bigger picture at hand.
Such emotionally intelligent workers have unique skills to sense and pick up on people’s emotions through body language, tone of voice and workplace habits – which is crucial in understanding team dynamics and delegating leadership roles.
2. They Are ‘Less Defensive’ and ‘More Cooperative’
In a typical project scenario, it’s often a huge importance for people to value teamwork and to get along with each other to deliver the tasks in a timely manner.
Conflicts and disagreements are commonplace, even within the closest of colleagues – it’s those emotionally intelligent leaders and employees who drive cooperation by taking a ‘less defensive’ stance and resolve issues by instigating opportunities to talk, makes everyone involved feel heard, respected, and resolved.
They’re often more open to feedback and have well-developed people skills that help them build relationships with diverse group of people across many cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds.
3. People High In EQ Can Handle Pressure
An active, bustling office can also be a hotspot for workplace pressures and emotions flying high. Emotionally intelligent people are always aware of their internal thermometer and are adept at managing their stress levels and of their peers.
Their advanced intuitive faculty and the ability to anticipate work-related stress allows them to develop better coping mechanisms and healthy support systems to be effective at work even during times of stressful situations.
Adaptability is key in handling workplace pressures. Workers having high EQ are quick to react and respond to new and changing information be it an interpersonal conflict amongst team members, struggling to meet the monthly targets, or a company crisis that’s putting everyone at stake.
4. They Are EMPATHIC
Empathic persons are the ones who put themselves in their teammates’ shoes while addressing challenges and problems with them. Highly emotionally intelligent people display the ability to sense where others are coming from, and thus build better trust and cohesiveness.
Their empathetic nature and sensitivity towards the needs of others work as a ‘lubricant’ to lessen the friction amongst team members and induces a healthy working environment.
Such employees or team leaders are trusted by everyone, and they act as a binding force for everyone to confine into and fall back to. Their innate drive to deliver feedback in team members’ preferred mode of communication, tailor meetings and messages as per different personalities and styles, and motivate people according to their leadership styles for the betterment of the larger group, makes them the most sought-after catalyst for the success of the entire team.
5. Emotional Intelligence Is About ‘Self Reflection’
Emotionally intelligent people are constantly seeking feedback from their peers and leaders to help improve their performance. They tend to timely analyse one’s own weaknesses, strengths, opportunities, pause and reflect upon themselves to improve their strategies and focus for better team outcomes.
Critiquing oneself and seeking for constructive feedback and appraisal from their supervisors with the motive to learn and grow, is one of the key traits of an emotionally intelligent employee. They’re highly focused individuals who set periodic (monthly, quarterly, yearly) goals for improvement and self-development.
Emotional Intelligence is not a skill-set that you’re born with. When practicing emotionally intelligent behaviours consistently, new neural pathways are formed in the brain that convert into habits.
With the artificially intelligent machines slowly replacing people for most of the skilled jobs, including the ‘creative’ ones, it does pay to look into and connect with our most intrinsic capability as ‘humans’ (that AI is not equipped to replicate) - which is understanding, feeling nurturing and motivating fellow human beings!
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