This informal CPD article Why Curiosity is Key to Better Teamwork was provided by Lianne Weaver of Beam Development and Training, a provider of CPD accredited courses designed to help employers and employees take responsibility for their wellbeing.
When you are hiring someone for a role, typically you might look at their qualifications and previous experience in their application. At interview, you might be interested in whether their personality means they’ll likely be a good fit for your team.
Alongside this, do you try to gauge a candidate’s emotional intelligence? It may be a concept you’ve heard of but, in fact, do you know what it really means? And do you know why it’s so vitally important to building a happy and successful team?
What is emotional intelligence?
Up until the mid-1990s it was largely believed that for someone to be successful they would generally require a high IQ or a really good personality or, if they were lucky, both. These were thought to be the two factors that made us who we are. However science journalist Daniel Goleman thought that this didn’t give us the full picture. In 1995 his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ suggested that the biggest predictor of people getting on in life, of being successful at anything, was much more likely to be something called ‘emotional intelligence’ than IQ or personality.
Essentially, emotional intelligence is a measure of how good we are at understanding ourselves and those around us. Human beings are social animals – we work in communities and, whether we like it or not, we need to get along with other people in order to get our needs met.
This could mean our neighbours, the local shop assistant, our doctor and so on. Crucially, in the workplace it means our boss and our colleagues. We constantly have to engage with people who maybe we wouldn’t necessarily choose to be friends with. But if can have good engagement with the people with whom we interact, then those interactions become more positive. Emotional intelligence helps to achieve this.
According to Goleman, there are two competencies of emotional intelligence. The first is ‘personal competency’, which we also think of as self-awareness. This means an ability to understand ourselves, and to recognise when something has produced an emotional response within us. It also means emotional management or self-regulation – recognising that something has produced an emotional reaction and then knowing what to do with that. An example could be recognising that you are angry and then knowing how you can best manage and regulate that emotion.
The second is ‘social competency’ – our social skills, or our awareness of others. This centres on our ability to recognise that someone else is having an emotional response, and then knowing how to manage that response and our relationship with them to get the best out of it for all involved.
Building better emotional intelligence.
The more we work upon developing our emotional intelligence, the more likely it is we will have more positive interactions. This is why I believe there are so many benefits if, in the workplace, we invest in supporting our teams to understand more about emotional intelligence and equip them with the skills and confidence to develop it.
One thing we can do to work on our emotional intelligence is to undertake continual personal development work. Any time you read a book, listen to a podcast, or go on a course that makes you wonder why you are the way you are, or makes you curious about how people interact, your emotional intelligence will undoubtedly improve.
We can also work on developing a deeper understanding of how to regulate our own emotions. This involves building a curiosity around why we react in a certain way in certain situations, and then learning more about the different ways we could choose to respond when we find ourselves in those situations.
Being able to read other people is also another great tool for emotional intelligence. People who are great at non-verbal communication – picking up on cues such as body language, tone and facial expressions – tend to be really aware of what other people are feeling, and therefore can respond quite effectively.
In order for us to become more emotionally intelligent the biggest tool in our kitbag is for us to be more curious – curious about ourselves and curious about others.
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