When it comes to disagreements with your boss, emotional intelligence is essential to a successful outcome. So how can we tap into emotional intelligence – and why don’t we value it more?
In your day-to-day life, how do you argue your way to the outcome you desire? Do you have a temper and let it show? Or enlist your logical instincts to lay out a 10 point argument that proves your case? And are you actively tapping into your emotional intelligence while you do it?
When it comes to disagreements with your boss, it’s probably time you re-thought your strategy.
It’s not a stretch to say that the most important relationship we have at work is the one with the boss. Personally, they have the greatest influence on your happiness at work, your engagement and your sense of purpose. Professionally, it’s your boss who will directly determine your career progression, as well as help you develop your skill set for your next position.
So why don’t we spend more time thinking about how to best manage the relationship – particularly when it comes to conflicts?
According to new research, the answer may lie in emotional intelligence: the way we think about it and how we cultivate it.
Why does emotional intelligence get forgotten?
Emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient: EQ) is the ability to effectively manage your emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Those with a high EQ are more likely to be conflict averse, diplomatic and socially sensitive. And they’re commonly promoted over those with low EQ as they’re considered more rewarding to deal with. Yet often, it’s a skill set that’s undervalued in the hiring process.
Three key areas contribute to a person’s employability: ambition and work ethic, abilities and expertise, and social and interpersonal compatibility. Research suggests hires are selected based on skills and work ethic – with social skills an afterthought. But it’s those very social skills that are a key determinant of employability going forward.
Luckily, while some people naturally have a higher emotional intelligence score, it’s a mindset that can be taught and learned and, like a muscle, worked to perform at a higher level.
Why you need to arm yourself with EQ at work.
Remember that argument with your boss? While you might be approaching it from the perspective of IQ, it’s actually incredibly important that you’re using EQ to get the outcome you desire.
‘Managing your boss’, an article published by the Harvard Business Review, argues that it’s the responsibility of employees to manage their bosses. By realising that the relationship is one of mutual dependence, take time to appreciate not only your boss’s strengths, weaknesses, work-styles and needs, but yours as well.
A handy guide to managing conflicts with your boss, using EQ
- Think about not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. That’s not to say style trumps substance, but you do need to think about your choice of words, as well as expressing where you think your boss is wrong in a way that conveys respect. Own your perception rather than focusing on your boss. Use ‘I’ phrases to frame your view; choose “I think that this occurred because…” rather than “you made this mistake because…” so that they don’t feel you’re blaming them directly.
- Keep your cool no matter what. Emotionally intelligent people are more cool-headed, polite and measured in the face of conflict. If this doesn’t sound like you, train yourself to recognise your triggers and keep them in check.
- Don’t do it in public. Or over email. Find a quiet, private place to speak in person where you can observe their tone, body language – and respond accordingly.
- Be willing to lose the battle and win the war. Despite your best intentions, you may need to concede to your boss in the end. The emotionally intelligent response calls for finding a compromise that goes some way to advancing your agenda.