Employing Emotional Intelligence

By Tracy Scriba

Many of us are overloaded at work—burdened by the number of emails, meetings, and the sheer workload. This can make us move faster and take less time to connect with our colleagues. We send an email rather than talking on the phone or face-to-face. We jump right to business in a conversation. We dismiss a suggestion rather than taking the time to understand another’s viewpoint. In the process, we can fail to value our coworkers as God does.

We spend nearly a third of our waking hours working— and that’s only in a traditional 40-hour workweek. How we relate in the workplace can have a significant effect on our life and the lives of our colleagues. Although we usually don’t intend to treat others as simple cogs in the turning wheels of the process, trying to be efficient and deal with the fast pace and pressure can have that effect.

What may be good business in the short term for getting an individual task done quickly, can be bad for business—and God’s kingdom—in the long run. Everyone wants to be valued and treated as an individual who is appreciated and understood. The growing field of emotional intelligence helps facilitate this approach to relating to others.

Emotional intelligence, sometimes referred to as EQ, is the ability to recognize your emotions and the emotions of others, use that information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage or adjust one’s emotions and actions to help achieve one’s goals. There are many aspects to EQ—including self-awareness, adaptability, understanding others, and conflict management.

In many jobs, EQ can be just as important as technical ability for attaining success and being effective. Some companies are using it for professional development, or when they hire and promote, to improve employee retention and teamwork. Better understanding what others want and need in a situation, and how to interact effectively, can increase the ability of teams to work together and improve outcomes and buy-in.

I once had a situation with a colleague where he had not completed a key assignment by a deadline. This resulted in consequences, including extensive time and disruption for both of us. Although the situation was rectified, tension between us lingered despite my efforts to move past it. Finally, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I scheduled a meeting to directly discuss the tension and its effect on our relating.

While we agreed on the facts of the situation, we had very different feelings about it and came to understand each other and how our different perspectives had led us to interpret a key piece of information very differently. Through emotional intelligence, our professional relationship returned to a productive and peaceful one.

Our frenzied pace in the workplace raises the importance of emotional intelligence. It’s important to value the people we work with not only as a means to an end or even a co-laborer in meeting a shared goal, but as a unique individual who is valued in the eyes of God…and in ours as well. God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and our neighbor includes those we work with.

The next time you’re under a deadline or pressure to deliver, take a deep breath and think about not only the task to be accomplished but also the people you are working side-by-side with to accomplish it. It can be immensely valuable in building the Kingdom of God and in making our workplaces more effective.

Tracy Scriba is a manager in the transportation policy field in Washington, DC.

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