Developing emotional intelligence not only affects your relationship with your team, but it also builds a better foundation in your workplace. It is important that you find opportunities to apply emotional intelligence to increase the efficacy of your team members with each other.
Self-awareness is an important component of emotional intelligence. As you learned, one of the attributes of self-awareness is the ability to recognise one’s own feelings. Team members, however, may not always identify what they are feeling or understand why they feel those emotions, let alone know what to do about how they feel.
Team members’ ability to understand their emotions is linked to greater self-confidence since this understanding gives them greater control over their emotions. You can support team members develop this self-confidence by helping them learn to identify what they usually think about and what they feel when they make decisions.
Talking about both positive and negative feelings is one way to help team members learn how to deal with their emotions appropriately. Addressing their stress, anxiety, frustration and disappointment can help them learn to identify their feelings.
A barrier to developing your team members’ emotional intelligence may be their lack of willingness to do so. You should be aware that some of them may express the following maladaptive emotional behaviours:
They believe that they should not have negative feelings. They think that they should always be in complete control of their emotions, because they are afraid of being exposed as weak or vulnerable.
They believe that people will belittle or reject them if others know how they really feel. They are so terrified of rejection that they would rather suppress their feelings and put up with abuse rather than take the chance of making anyone mad at them.
They hide their feelings instead of disclosing their true emotions. They give others the silent treatment, an inappropriate and common strategy to elicit feelings of guilt from other people.
They are convinced that their situation cannot improve no matter what they do. They may feel that they have already tried everything and nothing works.
These people believe that they are not entitled to have emotions like disappointment, sadness or anger. They think they should meet others’ expectations without considering their own needs.
They believe that they have the right to immediately say what they think and feel when they are upset, without regard for whether or not it is appropriate to do so.
They believe that others should know how they feel and what they need, even though they have not disclosed what they need. Their belief that people close to them can guess what they need provides an excuse to engage in non-disclosure. This results in them feeling resentful because they will feel that people do not care about their needs.
They are afraid to admit that they are angry or hurt because they do not want to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing them vulnerable. Taking pride in controlling their emotions does not support clear and functional communication.
You can set time to have one-on-one consultations with team members if required, but generally, your conversations with your team members about emotions do not need to be rigidly structured like regular meetings. As such, they do not have to be scheduled in advance and have an agenda prepared for them. You can accomplish your goal simply by chatting during breaks or setting a time to go out for lunch or dinner with the team. Keep your tone casual, as these conversations should be relaxed.
However, not everyone finds expressing their feelings easy. They may be afraid of anger and conflicts with others and believe that people in good relationships should not have arguments. As a leader, you can give team members guidelines about the language to interact productively with one another about their emotions. For example, using ‘I – statements.’ A team member can say, ‘I feel frustrated when…’ instead of ‘He was rude.’ This enables them to identify their emotions and avoid placing blame onto other people for the way that they feel.
You should also remember to be aware of the different ways team members respond to and display emotion. As you know, emotional expression varies from culture to culture. Displays of emotion can also vary from individual to individual. It is important for you to be sensitive to their different ways of emotional expression. It is also essential for team members to understand that their peers may respond to and display emotions differently than they may.
Being aware of their emotions is only a part of emotional intelligence. Team members who are emotionally intelligent should also know how to manage these emotions. They will sometimes be frustrated or anxious when they try to learn something that is difficult. Leaders cannot eliminate frustration in the workplace, but they can help team members learn to manage these feelings.
Having these discussions with them regularly lets you encourage them to participate in the workplace more and interact more with other co-workers. It also lets you bring up issues that other co-workers may have pointed out. You can identify any areas in their behaviour that they can improve in order to have better relations with the rest of the team.
Conflict is inevitable in workplaces, but you can minimise unnecessary conflicts and help team members learn to resolve disagreements peacefully. When team members learn patience with themselves and each other, they can develop the perseverance and skills needed to work through conflict and frustration.Other skills that you can teach team members are anger management, conflict management, the ability to reassess disruptive impulses and the ability to work cooperatively. Your involvement will facilitate the long-term goal of them developing their emotional intelligence and applying it in the workplace.