Communicate with Emotional Intelligence for business improvement

How does emotional intelligence work in communication?

See: “Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

Definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) or (EI)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a term created by two researchers – Peter Salavoy and John Mayer – and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name. EI defined as the ability to: Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions. Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

Improving communication with EQ

The number one question I am often asked as a human resources management consultant, is: “How do I say this best?”  “This”, is usually a complaint about some aspect of an employee’s performance. Such as: “Why didn’t she visit top tier clients while she was in the area?” or “Why does it seem like he has just slacked off?” and “Why is he having so many sick days?”

These questions are spoken in the negative. They have a negative filter on them from the person asking the questions. A negative filter is the thought process that is driving these questions. That is; the person asking the questions is thinking negative thoughts about the individual. Such as: “She is not on top of her game and is not visiting the right clients” and “He is just slacking off” etc. This message (or thought process) comes through in the questions.

Holding negative thoughts when speaking to employees about their performance, is a primary reason that these discussions become very awkward and unproductive.

What we are thinking comes across in the way we present. It appears on our face and in our energy. We have to examine what we are thinking and why. We need to understand if there is any real evidence to support it.

Often it is our mindset that is causing the issues. It is the result of having a “fixed mindset” rather than a “growth mindset”. If we have a belief that things can improve, our mind is open to possibilities and growth.

How does our mindset influence our communication?

See: Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dwek

People with a fixed mindset believe that you have fixed qualities. Your intelligence, character, and personality are what they are, because that’s how you were born. They’re unchangeable. People with a growth mindset believe that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your own efforts.

It is vital to check-in to our thought processes before sitting down to have an important conversation with anyone. There is so much more being communicated than the words being spoken. We can sense what another person is generally thinking when they are using negative words and demonstrating their thoughts by their body language.

What we are thinking comes across in the way we speak and interact. If we are thinking in a positive way and having an open mind or “growth mindset” it is quite apparent to others, not only in the words we use, also in the energy come from us. Of course, the opposite is equally true.

Just think about conversations you have had that caused you to feel irritated and you were not quite sure why. Also, think of the conversations you have had that led you to feel happy and productive. If you could examine each of those conversations from the point of view of the “mindset” both you and the other party were in, you would learn a lot about emotional intelligence and the importance it plays in communication.

What we think, gives us an emotional state or reaction to those thoughts. The emotional state then governs how we feel and the words we use. It impacts the way we hold ourselves, and is demonstrated by our body language and the energy coming from us.

We need to become mindful:

See: The Mindful Workplace by Michael Chaskalson

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Bringing our complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.

How do we become more aware of what we are thinking? We can become more mindful. We can check in to our thoughts and emotions in the moment and by being more aware, we can choose to change our mindset. In understanding our mindset and our thought processes we can also become aware of the emotions of others and the impact our words might have on them.

This is part of becoming emotionally aware. From a state of emotional awareness, we can begin to communicate in a manner that is emotionally intelligent.

Application In the workplace:

“Fixed mindset” and highly emotional; an example:

A manager of a team of 30 people within a medium size business had the following issue: “One of my junior team is not performing, is unproductive and disruptive.”

Another “fixed mindset” and highly emotional; example:

Another manager stated the following: “One of my team has a bad attitude, is aggressive and shouts, is intimidating to manage and fellow team members find them difficult to work with.”

The mindset and negative emotional state these managers would be in when discussing these issues with their employee is obvious. No matter what words they chose and how much they tried to mask their thoughts it would come across to the employee as negative, in the discussion. The underlined words being used and thought about by the managers are likely to bring about a negative emotional state.

In each case a simple re framing of the issues with a “growth mindset” would bring about a change in the manager’s emotional state when addressing the problem with the employee.

A “growth mindset” re-framing of the first example:

Different questions by the manager create a “growth mindset” and allow for a much deeper analysis and therefore more positive discussion. Questions such as: “What do we need to do to encourage productivity, high performance and focused work from each team member?” “Is everyone engaged, clear about their role and responsibilities and fully utilised, valued and recognised?”

The same can be done with the second example by looking at the question from a different point of view with less judgement and more open thoughts about what is possible.

Changing the mindset and emotional state creates a change in the discussion:

“Does everyone in my team understand and share our core values and what we expect in behaviours during interactions?” “How can we go about ensuring everyone knows, understands and agrees to our core values and behaviours as a team?”


To create a more productive work place and engaged team put your managers through some Emotional Intelligence and mindset training. Regularly practice mindfulness and encourage emotional intelligence by rewarding demonstrations of it in the management team. Typical human resources management practices today, often seem to lack a good and thorough understanding of emotional intelligence in action.

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King Consulting HR are trained professionals in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) training. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about how you can learn and use EQ in your business.

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