It often surprises my executive coaching clients how important their emotions are to their workplace success. Most of us have been trained to keep our emotions out of the office, so we let lag an ongoing investment in our Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Part of the problem is that investing in developing EQ is work that doesn’t always have an immediate payoff, and most of us are focused on results now! But part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding about what EQ is.
EQ is not having emotions, it’s understanding them, in ourselves and others and responding constructively.
We all have emotions, but most of us carry around errant assumptions and beliefs about them that cloud our ability to use them appropriately at work. Here are three common examples of misguided EQ that apply, whether it’s us or someone else who’s experiencing and/or expressing emotions.
- Strong emotions = I can’t handle it. Muted emotions are easy to ignore if you’re not sure how to react to them. Strong emotions are hard to ignore. Instead of learning how to understand and respond to strong emotions in the workplace, many of us believe they have no place in the office and assume that if someone expresses strong emotions, they “can’t handle it.” This plays out often between men and women. Women are socialized to be more comfortable expressing emotions generally, and because they have more experience they often know that expressing emotions is an awesome strategy for “handling it.”