The way we work has evolved over the last two years because of COVID-19, and it’s changed just about everything that used to be “the norm” for us. The shift to working from home disconnected us on a social level – causing us to miss coffee breaks or watercooler chats with the team. The move away from the office to home has also caused many to feel overwhelmed due to a lack of support from colleagues. And our ability to process so much change within a short period of time has led to a decline in emotional intelligence across the board.

What is emotional intelligence?

Simply put, emotional intelligence also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ) is blending thinking and feeling to make the best decisions. It’s the ability to understand, use, and manage your and others’ emotions in a positive way. When we express our feelings in a positive manner, we can improve our communication, management, and problem-solving skills. Some people have the natural ability to understand and reason with emotions, while others have to learn how to control and express their emotions.

Because we spend so much time at work, it’s important to be smart with our feelings. Here are four ways to sharpen your emotional intelligence within the workplace.

Be self-aware

Self-awareness is not something we’re born with. It’s a continuous process and decision we choose to make. Recognising our own emotions is one of the first steps towards exercising emotional intelligence at work. People who are self-aware understand how their emotions and feelings affect their behaviour and performance at work.


Self-regulation is the ability to pause before taking action. The more self-regulated we are the more likely we can adjust to change. Instead of reacting impulsively, we can manage and control our behaviour better which helps keep stress under control, deal with conflict and achieve our goals.

Find ways to release workplace stress

Hobbies are a good outlet for stress relief. Take part in physical activities to help lower your overall stress levels and improve your quality of life – both mentally and physically.  Responding under pressure often influences our judgment, which is why finding a hobby to help stay calm can be beneficial to improving emotional intelligence.

Take the time to listen to others

Surprisingly, people are not the active listeners they claim to be – especially since a lot of things demand our attention.  Listening is essential to communicating respect for another person. When we listen actively, we demonstrate willingness to work with others. To become a great active listener, observe nonverbal communication, be attentive, ask questions, and give feedback. Active listening builds trust and strong relationships between colleagues in the workplace.

Be empathetic

When we are practicing EQ, we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes and understand how they feel. It’s about understanding how others feel and responding appropriately to their emotional needs. The ability to empathise with co-workers makes it possible to create or encourage better workplace behaviours. This reduces the likelihood of passive-aggressiveness which is replaced by honest conversations so that conflicts are resolved peacefully.