Understanding emotional intelligence

Thory, Kathryn (2015) Understanding emotional intelligence. Occupational Health and Wellbeing, 67 (12). pp. 16-17.

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We have over 4000 English words to describe our feelings, with 600 of those describing negative emotions. And yet many of us struggle to find the right words to express how we feel or ever fully understand our emotions. This is not surprising given our feelings can be complex, ambiguous, changing, contradictory, subjective and subconscious. Figuring out our own (and others’) emotions becomes harder when we are under pressure, tired or unwell. In the same vein, it is not easy to control daily feelings of frustration, competitiveness, fear, arrogance and so on. For example, in the workplace, around 45% of managers report becoming angry with others too easily, 31% report mood swings and over 33% report constant irritability (CMI, 2012). These figures show an upward trend of negative emotions in the workplace over the last five years. Given this, it is understandable why emotional intelligence (EI) continues to be of interest to business and organisations since its emergence in the mid 1990s. Being able to know and manage our emotions, self motivate, as well as recognise others’ emotions and handle relationships are essential ‘soft skills’ for today’s workplace.