How to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Teams and employees with high emotional intelligence (EI) often give businesses greater adaptability and innovation, leading many employers to look for high EQ (emotional quotient) in potential job candidates. But it’s also crucial that employers, managers, and leaders possess emotional intelligence, so what are steps we can take to foster better EI within ourselves? Luckily, EI resembles a muscle that can be trained and strengthened. It’s a learnable skill once you understand its basic components.

Self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, and social awareness are the four main tenants of emotional intelligence. It’s natural to be weaker in some areas and stronger in others, but there are daily habits you can practice that will help strengthen all four areas:

Identifying Emotions

People with good EI know how to understand and accept their emotions. This practice lets them regulate their feelings and stay calm in crisis moments, whereas people with low EI have more trouble containing negative feelings like anger and fear. To practice identifying your emotions, take a step back from your work and examine your current feelings. You might be feeling bored with your current project, irritated with a coworker, or anxious over a looming deadline. Pausing long enough to name your emotions and thinking about how you will react can strengthen your EI.

Asking and Accepting Critical Feedback

Critical feedback is necessary for professional development, and a person with high EI will usually receive such feedback without becoming offended. To practice this step, you might need to ask your coworkers or family members directly for feedback about your own behaviors. This is often not information we want to hear, but if you experience any negative feelings regarding the feedback, you can use the opportunity to practice identifying your emotions, as detailed above.


Empathy is one of the main hallmarks of someone with exceptional emotional intelligence. Research has revealed a correlation between reading literature and higher levels of empathy, which means that daily reading can help evolve your own empathy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t have time to sink your teeth into a novel, try picking up a collection of short stories. Any kind of content featuring complex characters will do.

Emotional Intelligence is something that can be learned and practiced. These three habits can nurture a high EQ in employees, managers, and leadership, ultimately guiding your business through the global crisis we are now experiencing and setting up your organization for success.


Harvard Professional Development, How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence