Emotional Intelligence at Work

by Grainne Toher, Founder, Yogapal

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to notice, manage and harness our human emotions.

Its importance is becoming more widely recognised in the workplace. With age comes wisdom and experience, but it is desirable for companies to engender emotional intelligence in employees of all ages now, especially younger staff.

The emotional brain reacts quicker than the thinking brain, thus it is useful to devise strategies to help employees to manage their emotions. Hiring emotionally intelligent staff creates more present, empathic and self-aware teams.


“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life-long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ — not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” — Daniel Goleman

Aside from discussing successes in the interview process, one of your questions prior to the hiring stage should elicit a story about a professional problem, setback or difficulty that took place in the candidate’s previous work-life. In the story seek out signs that the candidate remained balanced, focused and found solutions to or learnings from the situation. Look for signs of empathy and self-awareness. This will give you an insight into their work style both under pressure and in teams.

Within your existing staff, it is highly beneficial to run a mentorship program. A good mentor will help mentees identify strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses can be framed as opportunities for learning e.g. overcoming a fear of public speaking. Mentees should buy into the mentorship deal and make a solid commitment to actively seek out possibilities to action the areas of improvement and work on them each day with goal setting and timelines.

Emotionally intelligent staff manage themselves and their workload, whilst still functioning well within the team structure. Include and encourage this type of self-leadership and self-regulation through your performance management process. Ensure to make the performance management goals – smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific.

Avail of the opportunity to introduce emotional intelligence workshop themes into your corporate wellness weeks. Handled sensitively and with a little light-heartedness, employees can be encouraged to dig a little and discover more about their strengths and weaknesses. These learnings can be discovered through means of role-plays, empathic and well-structured breakout groups and safe sharing on behalf of all levels of management and staff. Engagement in these workshops should happen from the top down in the organisation so that employees find the process, safe and inclusive.

Developing emotional intelligence empowers your staff, now what employer wouldn’t want that.

‘We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt’. Dorothy Day

About the author
With a corporate career of almost thirty years within Sales, HR, Legal, Operational Risk and Banking environments, Grainne knows the wellness needs of both employees and their employers. A teacher member of British Wheel of Yoga and an associate member of the Association for Yoga Studies, Grainne has been teaching since 2012. Grainne is also an insured and accredited Instructor of Mat Pilates, Meditation and Mindfulness.