Developing emotional intelligence at work

In recent years, the concept of emotional intelligence has gained popularity in organizations, because of its close relationship to performance. In fact, 90% of top performers have a high level of emotional intelligence, whereas 80% of poor performers have a low level. Emotional intelligence seems to make the difference between leaders who succeed and those who fail.

With this in mind, how can we develop our emotional intelligence at work?


Let’s start by defining emotional intelligence. It is the capacity to identify, understand, control and adjust one’s emotions based on circumstances and deal with the emotions of others. According to Daniel Goleman, there are five elements to emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to be aware of one’s emotions.
  2. Self-regulation: the ability to manage one’s emotions and impulses.
  3. Motivation: the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles and failures.
  4. Empathy: the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and feel what they feel.
  5. Social skills: the ability to manage the emotions of others.

Basically, it is the effective management of our emotions in the situations we face.


Emotions are generally the basis of our thoughts and, when they get intense, they take over our thoughts and can lead to impulsive and inappropriate behaviour. During busy periods or when the workload is heavy, we can experience a range of emotions, such as frustration and disappointment. This can cause reduced concentration and energy at work. Being flooded by a range of emotions generally prevents us from taking a step back to analyze and solve a problem.

On the other hand, a high level of emotional intelligence is associated with positive impacts at work. Leaders with high emotional intelligence adapt faster to a VUCA environment and are better collaborators. They promote employee satisfaction at work, a healthy working environment and mutual assistance among team members. They communicate more effectively using the appropriate channels and perform better at work.


You can develop your emotional intelligence through coaching and training. You can also work on your emotional intelligence by being introspective and asking yourself the right questions.

Here are a few avenues for understanding more about developing this capacity.

Get to know yourself – When you react to a situation, take a moment afterwards to identify what triggered your reaction. In similar situations, you can watch for those triggers and better control your emotions. There are also a range of psychometric tools available to help you get to know yourself better and guide you in your development.

Recognize and name your emotion – The first step in effectively managing emotions is to recognize the emotions you are experiencing. You need to start from the principle that an emotion is non-negotiable and that it won’t go away on its own. The more you ignore it, the more space it takes up in your mind and limits your concentration. Take the time to put what you are experiencing into words; it will help you behave appropriately in the situation.

Be motivated – Try to understand the “why” of things. To do this, you can talk to a colleague or your supervisor to determine what checks, actions and choices you can introduce to improve this.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes – Stay open and receptive to different points of view, as well as the impact of your behaviour on others. In short, try to put yourself in their place in the situation. This ability will help you better understand them and anticipate their reactions, which will improve your relationships with colleagues.

Manage the reactions of others – When difficult situations arise at work, try to stay as objective as possible. To do this, focus on the topic of discussion. Try to find common ground to solve the problem. To the extent possible, rely on facts and avoid speaking from emotion.

Knowing and understanding your emotions and those of others is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Since a high level of emotional intelligence seems to be associated with positive outcomes and a low level is associated with more negative outcomes, organizations have an interest in developing this side of their leaders.

About Irène Samson, organizational psychology consultant
As an organizational psychology consultant, Ms. Samson specializes in research and development. She takes part in creating online assessment solutions and implementing them with our clients. Using her scientific, rigorous approach, her mission is to optimize the employee assessment process and improve her clients’ organizational performance by supporting them in their talent management decisions.