It’s no more news that the landscape of work has changed since COVID-19 struck. Infection rate, vaccine, and the economic implication stole most of the attention during the pandemic.
However, the social and psychological effects of the pandemic on workers especially are too far-reaching to ignore. So, we’re bringing you the benefits of Emotional Intelligence (EI) on remote workers to ease these effects.
There’s an ongoing shift from office to remote working over the years, but this year, workers were abruptly forced to work from home. This major shift resulted in a decline in the sense of connection in 45% of new remote workers, according to a Slack research.
Fortunately, things got better with collaboration tools as companies adjusted to the trend. However, some psychological effects persisted, but EI can alleviate them.
As you continue, you’ll learn how improving your EI can make you a better remote worker and have a headway in your career. You’ll also learn tips to make you more emotionally intelligent, which will improve every area of your life.
Before we dive into the juicy parts, it’s important you know what EI is.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence, also Emotional Quotient, is your ability to identify and manage your emotions. It also includes discerning other people’s emotions and properly dealing with them in relation to yours.
EI as a psychological theory was developed by John Meyer and Peter Salovey. They defined it as “…the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”
Components of emotional intelligence
Daniel Goleman, a science journalist and author of best-selling books about EI, developed 5 components. They are:
- Self-awareness: This is your ability to understand and recognize your moods, emotions, and drives and how they affect others. Your level of self-awareness depends on your ability to monitor your emotions and identify and name them.
- Self-regulation: This refers to your ability to redirect disruptive moods and to use judgement to think before acting.
- Internal Motivation: This is the component in play when you’re passionate about achieving something beyond material gains. It also gives you joy when doing something you love, and the energy to persist towards a goal.
- Empathy: This is the ability to recognize and understand other people’s emotions.
- Social Skills: This concern how proficient you are at building networks and managing relationships.
The Importance and Benefits of Emotional Intelligence on Remote Workers
From the components you’ve seen above, you can tell EI is important in every social setting. However, our focus is on how it affects remote workers.
One of the critical traits for success as a remote worker is to be self-motivated. That wouldn’t be a problem if you have a high emotional quotient (EQ) since self-motivation is one of its components.
As the social beings we are, a lack of connection and interaction can have a huge effect on our wellbeing. As seen earlier, the productivity of first-time remote workers plummeted because of a social disconnection. This is a huge factor for remote workers who are isolated.
Someone with a high EI will recognize how they feel and are better equipped to deal with the disconnect than someone who isn’t. If your EI isn’t high enough, you’ll simply identify with the feeling and let it affect you.
Another benefit of having a high EQ is for communication. If you consider the fact that body language is more than half the message in face-to-face communication, you can see the challenge with virtual teams.
Video technology has played a significant part in bringing face-to-face communication to virtual teams. While that helps the situation, emotional intelligence is still important.
Empathy and self-regulation are crucial to handling potential conflicts. The ability to recognize other people’s emotions and control yours will severely reduce the need for conflict resolution.
The number of emotionally intelligent members in a remote team has a lot to do with the success of that team. There will be better communication, deeper understanding, and higher motivation.
What’s Your Level of Emotional Intelligence?
At this point, you’re probably imagining how to apply EI at your role in a distributed team. You might also wonder how emotionally intelligent you currently are.
If so, there are assessment tests, such as this one, you can take to get an estimate of your EI. Assessing yourself will deepen your understanding of emotional intelligence and show you where you need to improve.
How do You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?
Now you know how emotionally intelligent you are and, hopefully, you’ve figured out where you lack. It’s time to learn expert tips to help you improve.
Mindfulness is a mental state of focusing your awareness on the present moment. It helps you notice your feelings, moods, and emotions as well as how they change based on reality.
Honing this skill helps you self-regulate better. That way, you can catch yourself when anger is brewing and prevent an outburst. This improves your overall EI as you have a deeper awareness of your mental state and can manage others’ better.
Keep a journal of your emotions
Mastering mindfulness takes practice. Writing how you feel and how your emotions change throughout the day is a great way to practice. It’s a good strategy to manage your emotions.
Journaling your emotions helps you identify patterns in your emotional experiences and how you respond to them by default. Analyzing this will make you better respond when next certain emotions come up.
This practice will have positive effects on your personality and relationships. Research has shown that writing about your emotions is good for releasing stress and trauma. So, consider this a double win for your telecommuting career.
Be graceful in communication
Kristin Harper, the CEO of Driven to Succeed and author of The Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career, suggests that you should “be difficult to offend.”
It’s easy to misinterpret words, body language, tone of voice, etc. in a virtual communication. So, it’s important to assume the other person has good intentions and then extend grace.
This would be easier to do if you’ve been practicing the previous two tips. Thanks to video calls, face-to-face conversations, albeit over the veil of a screen, reduce the chances of those misinterpretations.
Create some free time in your schedule
Working from home can be as busy as working in an office, sometimes even more. It’s always a good idea to leave some time in between your schedules for whatever miscellaneous things that might come up.
Cramping your workday hour to hour is a fast way to burnout. Make time for a walk, or to feel the sunlight and fresh air. You could send those little free time for direct messages and impromptu conversations to build relationships.
As you grow your EI, others will notice and likely draw closer to you because of your calm and skill at diffusing tense moments. That’ll surely increase the rate of those impromptu conversations.
Respond, not react
This is one of the evergreen advice of the Buddha. Coincidentally, it matches one of the principles in Harper’s book. She says to “respond with intention instead of reacting with impulse.”
Life, for the most part, is out of our control. You might have experienced cases where your best intentions were misinterpreted, I certainly have.
Many times, the worst case happens and there’s nothing you can do to correct it. As Harper puts it, “Change is emotional.” Those times, you either accept the situation or suffer for resisting it. So, whenever you’re faced with a situation you can’t change, change your response; for that is always in your control.
Emotional Intelligence Will make You a Better Telecommuter
Remote working is here to stay, and it’s in your best interest to adjust to it. Leveling up your emotional intelligence is one way to do that. Now you know how to increase your EI to improve your interpersonal skills as a remote worker. Keep putting in the good work as watch your career grow.
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