MBN on Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, and Why it’s Important

Our Managing Director, Pete Docherty sets out a brief thought piece on why he personally believes in the importance of workplace emotional intelligence (EI) and his top tips about what it can do for you as a candidate and what businesses can benefit from with a team possessing EI.

We work with some of the best brands and businesses in the world. Helping to find talent solutions for such organisations is not as simple as locating the people with the right technical skills and experience. Over the course of the last decade or so, the rise of the importance of emotional intelligence has become a component on the ‘must have’ list for the very best candidates.

One thing we have learned in the last few years is that in today’s competitive job market, you need all the advantages you can get. If you want to stand out from the crowd and land that dream role or promotion, the right skills are essential. Beyond the technical and domain based skills we are constantly searching for, is where EI comes in. EI is a set of behaviours that help us understand other people’s emotions and deal with our own emotions in appropriate ways.

With many organisations increasingly requiring employees to perform tasks independently, sometimes remotely and often under pressure, it’s crucial that everyone in the team has excellent EI skills. Emotional intelligence is an important skill for anyone who wishes to thrive in any type of work environment, not just one that values collaboration above all else. Read on to learn more about why we believe that EI in the workplace is important; together with some specific examples of what EI looks like and how you can develop or sharpen yours.

What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is an ability that helps us understand other people’s emotions and deal with our own emotions in a variety of social and workplace scenarios in the most effective fashion. This is a skill that can be developed through practice and coaching. EI refers to a set of behaviours rather than a specific personality type. It encompasses skills like self-awareness, empathy, social and situational awareness, and self-management. These are all skills that can be developed over time. It’s important to note that emotional intelligence doesn’t apply just to the workplace. Emotional intelligence applies at home, in sports, social settings and in any other setting where you interact with others. Emotional intelligence is also important for personal well-being.

Why is emotional intelligence important?
It can be hard to make a name for yourself in the workplace without the right skills. The more you learn about your team and what they need, the better you’ll be able to support them through their career. Emotional intelligence is one of those skills that every job role requires. It increases productivity, improves relationships, and helps people deal with stress. But emotional intelligence goes beyond understanding how other people feel and managing your own emotions: it also includes being aware of how our thoughts, beliefs, and intentions affect our behaviour and interactions with others. This skill helps you handle difficult situations effectively and find constructive solutions to problems before they become big problems. EI is important in any type of work environment because it provides invaluable knowledge about how we interact with others at all levels of an organisation. This knowledge translates into better decision-making throughout the company, from hiring decisions to team building to customer service activities and beyond. EI skills are particularly vital for sales professionals who want to do their jobs well, but your EI is also instrumental when you want to negotiate package, salary or bonuses in an effective way or handle difficult conversations with clients and colleagues effectively. If you feel like your empathy level isn’t where it needs to be, think back on what has happened recently in your life that led you down this path, like a change in family circumstances or personal trauma outside of work that made you more sensitive in general. Now write down specific examples of how your EI played out!

Emotional Intelligence and the Workplace
Emotional Intelligence is critical in the workplace to help maintain balance and to wrangle otherwise untamed behaviours. This means that, rather than reacting to situations out of anger or panic, we can stay calm and act appropriately and rationally. Emotional intelligence can be an invaluable asset in any work environment to facilitate smooth workings of the business, to help staff manage stress and workload and to ensure that an organisation’s values are upheld. With so much competition these days, it's important to find your strengths and focus on those but that often means that you gravitate towards sharpening technical or traditional workplace skills. Soft skills and EI are of critical importance and are genuinely in demand from the organisations we work with. That may mean it becomes your key differentiator in a crowded job market!

Developing your emotional intelligence
EI is a skill that can be learned and developed. With practice and effort, you can build your EI skills in order to be more successful at work, with friends, and in life in general. Emotional intelligence is important for anyone who wants to succeed in their field or pursuit and investing time in sharpening yours is likely to be of great benefit. So… what are the areas of development?

  • Self-management – You need to develop the capacity to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to often, rapidly changing circumstances.
  • Self-awareness – Learning to recognise and harness your own emotions and how they affect or impact your thoughts and behaviour. Awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and having self-confidence to exploit them are key.
  • Social awareness – Developing empathy. Learning to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognise the power and influence dynamics in a given group or organisation.
  • Relationship management – Building the capacity to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Tips for increasing your EI in the workplace

1. Be aware of your own emotions - EI is about understanding and managing your own emotions. If you can learn to identify your emotions, you will be able to recognise them in others, and therefore deal more effectively with them. This means understanding how you feel and what you need to do emotionally when certain events occur in a work or social environment.

2. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes - It’s easy to develop empathy for others when we put ourselves in their shoes. Imagine how it would feel if someone was talking behind your back or treating you poorly at work. Think about what they might be feeling, then try to understand the situation from that perspective first before taking any action against them.

3. Take care of yourself - If you are constantly putting your own needs last, it’s unlikely that anyone else will want to put their needs first either, which leads to poor team dynamics and morale issues among other things, like increased stress levels. It’s important that the team take care of themselves so they don’t burn out and impact the performance of their colleagues.

Emotional intelligence is more than just a buzzword in the business world. We genuinely believe it’s a way to be able to connect with your team, clients and partners on an emotional level. This is important because it can be the key to getting more business, and it can also help you become a better leader, team member or candidate seeking to get that critical role. If you want to know more about emotional intelligence and its importance in the workplace and the way we explore this with candidates, drop us a line and we’ll gladly share what we know.

Author Bio


Recruitment Leader with extensive experience within the Data and Technology Sectors supporting a range of clients from start-up through to multi-national organisations on complex recruitment projects. I have been with MBN since 2007 and have successfully built high performing teams within the business.