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Walden News // May 05, 2015

The Perks of Emotional Intelligence

Today’s multi-generational workforce is positioned to be one of the most effective and productive, but generational differences in values, beliefs, leadership styles, and motivators can also lead to conflicts that affect productivity. As four generations now work side by side, industrial and organizational (I-O) psychologists are looking at emotional intelligence (EI) as the key to closing the generational gaps.

According to Dr. Lori LaCivita, an I-O psychologist and Walden University’s program director for the MS and PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, an emotionally intelligent workforce is productive and able to work harmoniously as a strong and cohesive team—it can develop relationships and business networks that will promote the interests of the organization over the long term. EI directs an approach that allows people to validate, understand and work with others to develop better problem-solving and outcomes.

Being very aware of your current situation and those in it can position you to influence events or achieve goals. People who can read the current are more helpful and useful employees. Those who are smart and EI-savvy can switch gears as needed, essentially putting that other idea, thought or need aside and becoming more effective.

Dr. LaCivita shares the five categories of EI:

  • Self-awareness: The ability to recognize emotion as it happens. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to true feelings and evaluating and managing them in real time. Those with self-awareness also have emotional awareness and self-confidence.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to manage emotions. Developing self-regulation involves techniques to alleviate negative emotions and motivate the self in a positive direction. Those with self-regulation are also able to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness and conscientiousness, adaptability and innovation.
  • Motivation: The ability to have clear goals and a positive attitude. Developing motivation involves learning to catch negative thoughts as they occur and reframe them into more positive terms to help achieve goals. Those with motivation are also able to demonstrate achievement drive, commitment, initiative and optimism.
  • Empathy: The ability to recognize how other people feel. Developing empathy involves knowing how to discern the signals behind others’ feelings and learning how to control the signals you send them. Those with empathy are also able to demonstrate service orientation, develop others and leverage diversity, political awareness and understanding.
  • Social skills: The ability to interact with people. Developing social skills involves building interpersonal and “people” skills, including understanding, empathizing and negotiating with others, which has become very important—especially in a global economy. Those with social skills are also able to be a catalyst for change and build bonds, as well as demonstrate influence, communication, leadership, conflict management, collaboration, cooperation, and team capabilities.

Unlike IQ, which is static throughout a lifetime, EI can be enhanced and developed, and is a critical element of an I-O psychologist’s work. I-O psychology is the strategic science behind human behavior in the workplace, and is at the intersection of business and psychology. I-O psychology is one of the fastest-growing fields because, with the growing economy and diversity of workplaces, it applies scientific research to improve the well-being and productivity of people—a business’ most valuable asset.

Learn more about Walden’s online programs, including the MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.