If you have not heard of emotional intelligence (EQ), you should get it on your radar. EQ is the ability to understand and manage emotions, so it is a potentially priceless skill at your agency.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on physical, mental and emotional health has only increased emotional intelligence’s importance. For example, a GovLoop survey conducted in January 2021 found that emotional intelligence is a top three learning priority for our community members as it relates to leadership and management.
Speaking at the 2021 NextGen Training Summit, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Cory McGookin suggested that emotional intelligence has “broken through” as a crucial quality for government employees.
McGookin shared three reasons why public-sector workers should flex their EQ muscles.
Not only can emotional intelligence help you understand others better, but it can also help you understand yourself better. Over time, EQ can produce dramatic personal and professional growth.
“If you can educate your understanding of emotions, I think it is going to give you an advantage,” McGookin said. “You’re going to have an advantage over your peers and a competitive advantage for promotions and things you want.”
> Picture two new employees at the same agency. Of the two, which person is more likely to advance the agency’s mission? The likely choice is the individual who is constantly improving themselves as a potential teammate.
Self-improvement is not emotional intelligence’s only benefit. It can also bring people from all walks of life closer together.
“We evolved to be social and survive in groups,” McGookin said. “So, these emotions are very important. They can’t be downplayed or pushed aside. We need them. We are social beings.”
Emotional intelligence can help government employees navigate workforce behaviors.
> Consider a seemingly tense coworker. Is this person having a bad day, or are they doing something that makes them nervous, such as public speaking? Tapping into EQ, you can understand the difference and assist your coworker accordingly.
The self-awareness that comes with EQ can help people better regulate their feelings and boost their mood.
“You can choose to be optimistic,” McGookin said as an example. “It may not be easy for you, but if you slowly move in that direction, you can rewire your brain to think that way. It becomes easier.”
> Ultimately, emotional intelligence provides the clearest picture of your emotions. Using this information effectively, you can avoid negativity and embrace the moods that lead to mission wins and healthier work environments.