SUMMARY: Ultimately, psychological health and safety in the workplace comes down to the way we treat each other and interact while at work. Building emotional intelligence can provide multiple benefits especially among those whose roles include managing, supporting or leading employees.
Emotional intelligence is described as the ability to manage one's own emotions, as well as the ability to recognize and appropriately respond to the emotional distress of others.

Strategies and tips

In partnership with the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA), the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace hosted a Workplace Mental Health workshop series. An important topic was emotional intelligence in the workplace. The HR professionals were asked how they might support continual improvement in their workplaces. The following strategies were developed from their discussion:

  • Benchmark the core competencies related to emotional intelligence as demonstrated by our best leaders. Link these identified competencies to our values and use this information for recruiting, hiring and promotion decisions. Some examples of core competencies could include adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, cultural responsiveness, effective communication, ethical conduct or leadership.
  • Use behavioural based questions in interviews that specifically identify emotional intelligence in terms of recognizing and responding appropriately to workplace situations,  – especially when interviewing for supervisor or senior management roles .
  • Have performance reviews include competency measurements that compares behaviour against corporate values. Helpful information and tools are available in Supportive Performance Management.
  • Ask employees including bosses, co-workers, and peers to identify times when corporate values were demonstrated by others. Use this information to recognize successes.
  • Provide education about the value and impact of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Focus on the business case for senior leadership and the personal gains for all staff. More resources can be found in Emotional Intelligence.
  • Support senior leadership to walk the talk of emotionally intelligent interactions. This is intended to set the tone and pave the way for raising the expectations about interactions between and among staff.
  • Provide opportunities for self-assessment of emotional intelligence for all staff.
  • Post activities, tips and strategies for improving emotional intelligence on the internal website of the organization. See Emotional Intelligence for a variety of free resources.
  • Embed emotional intelligence skills development at all levels of management and supervisor training.

Additional Resources

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Dealing with Other People's Negative Emotions & Reactions

The skills in this area are designed to help you to deal with other people's negative emotions and reactions.

Understanding Your Reactions

The skills in this area are designed to help you strengthen your ability to identify your reactions accurately, understand the basis for your reactions, understand how your reactions impact others, and understand how other people's emotions impact you.

Managing Your Reactions

The skills in this area are designed to help you strengthen managing your reactions in the workplace.

Communicating Effectively

The skills in this area are designed to help you strengthen the following abilities: communicating assertively; providing and receiving negative feedback; managing conflict; and influencing others positively.