Employers are increasingly looking for soft skills in their employees. According to CareerBuilder, “when evaluating who they will hire in 2017, 62 percent of employers rated the candidate’s soft skills as very important.” Central to your ability to advance is emotional intelligence. Knowing your subject-matter is not enough; you must understand human nature and emotional complexity. Here are three ways emotional intelligence will help:
Understand when. In a discussion, when should you speak up and when could you shut up? There is a key difference between taking the lead and steamrolling others. Emotional intelligence equips you to engage in brainstorming sessions and discussions more collaboratively and effectively. Be aware of the cues that others are sending with their non-verbals as they are listening. Are they making eye contact and nodding or do they look bored, frustrated, or uncomfortable?
Understand what. When someone says something, what do they really mean? When an associate says, “I think this proposal requires more consideration.” What they mean may be, “that’s a new idea I haven’t thought about before” or “I think we’re rushing into something and making a mistake that will have severe consequences.” Understanding the nuance and the rationale behind their statements is vital for you to appropriately respond to it.
Understand why. What motivates your colleagues? What are their goals and values? What are their workplace processes and methods? Understanding where your associates are coming from allows you to approach and interact with them more successfully.
While some people have a natural aptitude for emotional intelligence, it is something that can be cultivated and strengthened. As you develop professional skills, emotional intelligence should not be overlooked.