For how employees can increase their EQ, click here.

Emotional Intelligence is about how well you understand yourself and others, and your ability to influence yourself and others. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is highly prized in the workplace, with high EQ being correlated with those in leadership roles and higher salaries. (It also improves your health, relationships, overall happiness -- and your sense of humor.) Not surprisingly, HR is the top industry with the most number of high EQ professionals.

A certain level of emotional control and understanding is also imperative to being in a professional environment, no matter what role you’re in. In one advice column, a letter writer asks Alison Green of Ask a Manager about emotional control in the workplace. She answers, “In general, part of being professional at work is maintaining a relatively even emotional keel.”

She provides a lot of practical advice in her response, and the comments of the post include several other examples and aids. That’s one great thing about EQ -- you can definitely increase it. According to Harvard Business Review, coaching programs, accurate feedback, and a willingness to change are all key to increasing EQ.

The first step might simply be understanding how much EQ you have at the moment. has a pretty good set of questions for this self-evaluation. However, we thought it would be better to see how EQ can make the office a better place to work for you and your employees. So here we not only break down the elements of emotional intelligence, but talk about incidents where you would rely on it the most.

There are four major elements to EQ:

  1. Self-awareness: Understanding what you are feeling, and why.
  2. Self-control: Understanding how you come across and how to manage your feelings.
  3. Awareness of others: Understanding what other people are feeling, and why.
  4. Control of others: Understanding how to manage their feelings.

Self-awareness: If you’re frustrated, unhappy, or annoyed at an employee, knowing why and whether that is a problem with you or their behavior. If your employee gives you feedback or critique, listening to what they’re saying with an open mind.

Challenge: Bob misses a deadline.

  1. Bad: Getting annoyed at Bob, but brush it off, considering it no big deal, really.Bob’s so nice, you don’t want to bother him about this small detail.
  2. Good: Realizing that right now, this was a small problem that you can address with a quick moment of feedback. But if you don’t address it, you might end up having a larger, more uncomfortable, more consequential conversation with Bob later.

Self-control: Using what you know about your feelings and choosing either to manage your expectations OR take action to alleviate your concerns with the employee.

Challenge: You’re transitioning to a role that adds on more responsibilities on top of the ones you already have.

  1. Bad: Avoiding answering emails because you’re feeling so overwhelmed.
  2. Good: Admitting (either to yourself or your employees) that you might be a bit disorganized during this transition and they should feel free to send more frequent follow-ups if you drop the ball.

Awareness of others: Understanding why your employee might be acting a certain way OR why they’re feeling frustrated, unhappy, or annoyed.

Challenge: A new hire and new to the workforce, George keeps complaining about various details and problems at the office -- some of which you can control, but several of which are structural to the industry you work in OR simply different from what he might be used to.

  1. Bad: Being frustrated and annoyed at George and let him making himself the office pariah.
  2. Good: Realizing that, since George is new to offices in general, he might simply not know what’s appropriate. Think about what he’s said, and see if there’s anything helpful there. Speak to George at an appropriate time about how he presents himself, the realities of working in an office, and how to channel that energy in a new way.

Control of others: Giving employees appropriate feedback at the appropriate time; respecting an employee’s limits and autonomy; providing compromises for workplace frustrations.

Challenge: Emily keeps asking questions while working on a product, in a way that makes you think she knows the answers already but is insecure about her coding skills.

  1. Bad: Giving her the answers promptly every time, to alleviate her and your stress.
  2. Good: Responding with guidance rather than answers, letting her know that you believe she can find the answers on her own with a little extra effort.