Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, manage and express your feelings, as well as engaging successfully with the feelings of others.
Often, when companies search for tech talent to add to their team, they look for hard skills like data analytics knowledge, experience with specific software, or insight into hardware. However, emotional intelligence or “EQ” may be the ultimate indicator of employee success. EQ is the sixth most important skill that the World Economic Forum listed as necessary for the workplace of the future.
Emotional intelligence is crucial to the development of critical professional relationships, and it actively impacts how well an individual performs in their role.
Why Do You Need Emotional Intelligence?
Some of the biggest technology companies in the world rely on EQ in their hiring strategies. For instance, Google’s research reveals that great leaders are the ones with the highest emotional intelligence.
Additionally, the Harvard Business Review found that just like individuals, the most effective teams were those that can collaborate efficiently, thanks to emotional intelligence.
Happier employees that can resonate with their colleagues are generally more productive, motivated and confident at work. When people understand their own emotions and the feelings of others, internal conflicts are minimised, and creative output is maximised, leading to innovation in the technical space.
So, how can you improve your emotional intelligence?
1. Reflect on Your Feelings with the KCG Model
No matter whether you’re a blockchain expert or a data analyst, emotion plays a significant part in how you deliver your skills. Consider how much more productive you are at work when you’re feeling happy and motivated.
The first step in emotional intelligence is knowing how to recognise your feelings. The Six Seconds KCG Model is a useful framework for tech employees to use for this. It’s about:
- Knowing yourself: Understanding how you respond to certain circumstances, such as when you get negative feedback from a manager, or you fail to accomplish projects on time.
- Choosing yourself: Deciding what version of yourself you’re going to be, and how you’re going to react to the situation at hand.
- Giving yourself: Committing to be the best version of yourself but knowing when to share your emotions with others when necessary.
By understanding your emotions, you can be more mindful in your reactions, and elicit more control over each response.
2. Ask Others for Their Perspective
Sometimes, to get an accurate insight into yourself, you need to view your behaviour from an outsider’s perspective. Asking the people around you for their input is a great way to build emotional awareness. Additionally, it also shows your team that you respect and value their thoughts.
Start by asking your mentor how they’ve seen you respond to stressful situations, and how you might be able to adapt your behaviour in the future. Talk to your team too, ask:
- How do I respond when things don’t go according to plan?
- How do my reactions make you feel?
- What can I do to support the team better?
Listening to the needs of others and learning how to navigate their emotions as well as your own is an essential step in developing EQ in the tech space.
3. Use a Growth Mindset to Respond to Criticism
No matter what your role in the technology industry is, the chances are that you want to be the best at what you do. That means that accepting criticism isn’t always easy – particularly when you’ve put a lot of yourself into a task.
However, when people receive negative feedback, they have two options. They can either put their emotions aside, and learn from the situation, or allow their feelings to get the better of them.
People with emotional intelligence know that they’re the master of their emotions. They acknowledge their feelings about a situation, and then use a “growth” mindset to remind themselves that every failure or mistake is an opportunity to accomplish new things.
Ask: What can I learn from this situation? How can I become better at my role? For instance, if you made a mistake setting up a piece of software, can you practice and reduce the risk of the same error happening again?
4. Know When to Pause
Finally, in a fast-paced environment like the technology industry, it can be difficult to determine when you need to slow down and think about the situation at hand. Unfortunately, reacting too quickly often means that you rely on your emotions to dictate your behaviour instead of logic.
Take a moment in difficult situations to stop, consider your feelings, and decide how you’re going to respond positively to the situation. Remember to think about the emotions of others too, and how your actions will affect them. When you work on pausing before you act, you reduce your risk of altercations and keep internal conflict to a minimum.
Leaders who pause before they act are even more motivational and supportive in the eyes of their team. This simple act is often enough to transform an entire company culture.