10 Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence at the Office

Catherine Deneuve, the grand dame of French Cinema, received backlash due to her signing of the anti-#MeToo movement that resulted in the tectonic change in the power structure in Hollywood. Critics, French feminists among them, pointed out Deneuve's disdain of social media, which became an avenue for actresses to speak up of past abuses. The veteran actress also showed her support to Roman Polanski, who directed "Repulsion", one of Deneuve's fine moments on the big screen. (Polanski was convicted of sexual abuse in 1977.) And then there was a divided opinion in France. (It might have something to do with French culture.)

There was no doubt that Deneuve, who starred in films like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", was lacking in empathy. (As New York Times cartoonist Colleen Doran put it, the actress would react differently if she didn't come from a privileged background.) It could be an irony, as film enthusiasts would remember her role in "Belle de Jour". This might be an issue of emotional intelligence, as it was supposed to unify all actresses (or most of them) and change the status quo of women in the entertainment industry. It may be complicated, as the root of the problem would go back to the studio days. This could be a moral lesson to anyone in the corporate world, though. (Deneuve would issue a statement of apology to the women who were sexually assaulted in the workplace.)

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of one's emotions, and how to handle it in a relationship. A manager's view would differ from an employee's, but emotions must be expressed judiciously and empathetically.

How to Use Empathy Effectively

Pay attention to your emotions. The office has no place for feelings, but it doesn't mean that you must be the cold, soulless employee with big dreams. You should have an outlet for this one, which is not difficult to figure out. (Don't forget to call your loved ones, if not drop by their house now and then.) Your (oldest) friends aren't far away, but you don't have to post your thoughts (or feelings) on Twitter (or Instagram).

Try to be sensitive to others. This is a tough call, particularly on a busy day. When there are too many items on the table, it will be hard to notice your surroundings. You can try, though. (Have you noticed the glow on your colleague's face the other day?) It may not result to a promotion, but you would have a new friend.

Exercise self-regulation. You'll keep yourself out of trouble if you do this most of the time.

Sharpen your social skills. If you're an introvert, then you still have to talk to your workmates whenever there's a chance. A polite tone will do. Find a common interest. Don't be afraid to ask (if you need anything). If you're the kind of person who thrives on conversation, then remember that too much talk can ruin the moment. There are limits to anything.

And know the virtue of silence. It can be another form of conversation, which is sometimes better than saying anything. It will come in handy during an awkward moment, if not an important meeting.

Put aside your viewpoint. A good manager must be able to discern an employee's viewpoint and decide if it's worth it. Experience would prompt you to think twice, but you have a common goal. Teamwork is more valued in this kind of setting.

See the effect you have on others. If your subordinates are not at ease with you, then you have three options. You can call a meeting (and break the ice). You can delegate the tasks, praising them for the good work. Hanging out after office hours might be the best option. (A team-building activity can lead to favorable results.) If it has something to do with your personality, then you can make a conscientious effort of changing a particular aspect (that they don't seem to like at all). You can also explain to it, hoping that they will change their attitude.

Validate the other person's perspective. It's the only way to win the trust of others. It will also lead to a harmonious relationship in the workplace.

Ask what that person would do. It can surprise some employees, as they might have a different perception of you. The upside of this approach is they'll be more at ease with you, and you can count on them when a certain task will depend on the number of people working on it.

Replace your thoughts. If it's bothering you, then you must distract yourself. A break will be better than disrupting your focus. It can make you less productive during your remaining hours in the office.

How to Control Your Emotions

Don't react right away especially if someone (or something) intends to provoke you. Apology can be accepted, even if it's late, but the possible damage can't be reversed. Think about it.

Always see the bigger picture. This will change your attitude, such that there won't be negative feelings after such pause.

Forgive your emotional triggers. It happens at times, as there are things that are beyond your control. Don't do it frequently, though.

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