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7 tips for harnessing emotional intelligence to effectively deal with stress

19 Aug 2019

Developing higher emotional intelligence makes us better equipped to recognise and cope with our reactions to stressful situations.

In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 jobs report, it was predicted that one of the top 10 jobs skills in 2020 would be emotional intelligence. But this skill has been a hot topic for a long time – a 2011 Career Builder report showed that 71pc of hiring managers and HR professionals surveyed valued emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ, and 75pc said they were more likely to promote a highly emotionally intelligent worker.

Emotional intelligence has been deemed so valuable because it can help employees handle pressure in a more healthy manner. Work has arguably become a place of increasing stress and pressure for many, particularly with the pace of change and technological advances we see today.

According to a new Korn Ferry Institute survey, nearly two-thirds of professionals say their stress levels at work are higher than they were five years ago. With the main culprits identified as changes in technology, increasing workloads and interpersonal conflict, emotional intelligence appears to be more important now than ever before.

7 top tips

According to emotional intelligence expert Harvey Deutschendorf, these are seven top tips that can help you harness your emotional intelligence to deal with work pressure.

1 Be aware of your emotions and stress levels

Paying attention to how you’re feeling means that your stress levels won’t get to the point that you feel out of control. Instead, you can react earlier and employ whatever tools work best for you, whether it be taking a break or talking to someone you trust in work.

Becoming more aware of your emotions gets easier with practice, as does learning what your best coping mechanisms are.

2 Find someone trustworthy to talk to

Finding people you can trust is really important in work. When times are tough, you can reach out to them for advice and support before the pressure builds too much.

3 Take your time in responding

It can be difficult to react from a place besides our emotions, particularly when they overwhelm us. But taking some time, even just 10 seconds, allows us to make more reasoned decisions.

4 Make sure you can set boundaries

Similar to reacting from a place of reason rather than emotion in the workplace, setting boundaries can allow us to set apart our ego from the situation at hand. It can be easy to feel attacked at times, but learning how to politely but firmly create boundaries means we can stay calm, listen and stay positive, no matter the situation.

5 Identify and recognise what sets you off

Recognising your triggers and knowing how to deal with them is a skill. Awareness and retrospective is key here, so that you can remember how you coped the last time something like this happened and strategise based on that. It also means you’ll likely be less caught off guard going forward.

6 Learn how to identify your emotions

Sometimes even simply naming an emotion can help to calm us down. When we’re able to identify a wide range of emotions, we naturally manage them better, decreasing the chances of an outburst.

7 Show your vulnerability and authenticity – when appropriate

Knowing what types of information should be shared is important in work, as well as to what extent. Maintaining professionalism is often required, but sometimes it’s ok to show your human side too. Being yourself at work takes some of the pressure off and can help develop trust with your co-workers. Emotional intelligence means knowing and being mindful of the distinct boundaries between showing your personality at work and remaining professional and respectful of your employer’s protocols.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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