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Navigating Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Hi, everyone! My name is Lindsey Scorey. I am a junior communication studies major at Wilkes University. I am a Scholar of Communication at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. In my department on campus, I am a staff writer for The Beacon, the social media coordinator for WCLH Radio, captain of the Speech & Debate team, as well as working with Zebra Communications, our student-run PR firm on campus. I have spent a considerable amount of time working with other students, faculty, and even first-years as an E-mentor.

Reflecting on my work, I realized that emotional intelligence is just as crucial in the workplace as it is in my own personal life. In order to achieve optimal relationships and dynamics, consideration of others and strengthening emotional intelligence is necessary, especially in the workplace. Understanding one’s own emotions is the start to branching out and making others more comfortable to work with you. Some of the best ways to strengthen your EQ can be through the following three ways I recommend: choosing empathy vs sympathy, learning SCARF, and practicing emotional agility.

1.) Empathy vs. Sympathy

We spend so much of our days working that the emotions and life events we go through are bound to influence daily life, that being our work lives too. Much of how we react to the hardships of others is through sympathy, or feeling pity or upset for another. What makes for a much greater connection is empathy, which is the ability to not just understand another person and their predicament but also seek to relate to the feeling and share that bond. As a tip, being empathetic means not reacting to an emotional sharing with “Well, at least.” The phrase “at least” takes away from whatever the experience may be. Imagining that a situation can be worse does not make any present situation better. Perspective is a bit more complex than that, so it is important to relate to the person and get on their level.

2.) SCARF Coverage

SCARF is an acronym used to describe how to make employees feel valued and create a work culture that seeks greater emotional wellbeing and empowerment. S is for safety, security, and status. Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological pyramid, that teaches us that before anything else we must feel safe in our environment. C is for certainty, as we tend to feel anxious when every action feels like a surprise. We must know our work and responsibilities are clearly stated. A is for autonomy, because feeling independent and comfortable to work freely is extremely important. R is for relationship, making bonds and connections that keep one excited to come into work and continue to develop interpersonally. Finally, F is for fairness, allowing workers to feel respected and treated equally, giving them a sense of dignity and belonging.

3.) Practicing Emotional Agility

Ah, good old emotional agility. The phrasing I am sure everyone uses in their day-to-day life. But truthfully, this concept can be a lot simpler than it may seem. Emotional agility includes tactics we may already practice. Consider: self-awareness, intrinsic motivation, developing good social skills, managing emotions, naming experiences, making well-informed decisions, and so on. These are things we already strive for, but it includes being in tune with our own feelings and emotions to work better with others, both in the workplace and beyond.

The goal of all of these tactics is to make workers feel valued as people. Relational issues would be solved with much more grace by practicing stronger emotional intelligence. If we must nurture ourselves to stay well, we need to do the same for others in order to all thrive. As cliché as that may sound, knowing others as well as you know yourself can make or break the creation of an empathetic and prosperous workplace. Try out at least one of these tips, and I promise you will see growth somewhere in your personal life. Until then, stay positive and do not forget to take care of yourself.

Wishing you all the best!


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