Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage personal emotions, and it’s a popular management and leadership topic, generating books, articles, training programs, videos, seminars and a number of assessment inventories, all of which are good. But what’s the practical workplace takeaway?
Healthy, productive emotional intelligence in the workplace rests on the bedrock of having high self-esteem and setting strong boundaries. Self-esteem means valuing ourselves. Boundaries are how we teach others to treat us. Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive, and caring, i.e., conducted with emotional intelligence. Boundaries set the limits for acceptable behavior, protecting us from exploitative relationships and helping us avoid getting too close to people who don’t have our best interests at heart.
Many people struggle with boundaries in the workplace. Signs of this struggle include believing in constant availability and allowing constant interruptions, answering every ringing phone immediately, rarely disagreeing, excusing obnoxious behavior and rude remarks, and consistently putting others’ work requests above what you need to accomplish. Strong boundaries are required for anything emotionally intelligent to occur. So, how are boundaries established?
Here are few tips regarding success in setting (or resetting) boundaries:
- Clearly state your boundaries.
- Be consistent with your boundaries and reinforce them as needed.
- Keep them simple.
- Stay calm, always.
- Be responsible for your own emotional reactions rather than blaming other people
- If it appears you need to compromise, be flexible, but take it slowly and don’t agree to anything that doesn’t feel right.
Strong, clear boundaries generate respect, allowing you to be yourself to a greater extent. Ask for what you really want and need without fear of judgment. Emotional game-players will back off, and in their place, sustainable, caring relationships will thrive. This is living an emotionally intelligent life.
Joe Abel, CPCC, ACC, PhD, is HFMA’s director of career strategies. He is certified as a professional career coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Coaches Training Institute (CTI).