Sep 25, 2023 Sobha Nair

The Vital Role of Emotional Intelligence in Conflict Management

In the world of corporate level disagreements there are competing aspects that contribute to collaborative and successful work environments. Not always immediately identifiable, Emotional Intelligence is one of the many tools that managers and employees use to help facilitate a growth oriented culture. 

Identifying where you fall on the measurement scale of EQ matters in creating a culture of understanding and successful conflict management. As an example, let’s examine two different management styles that leverage emotional intelligence in divergent ways to navigate conflict in the workplace.

Meet Ellen and Dean who spend a part of their morning catching up over coffee, getting ready for the day and scheduling out any overlapping tasks. They have different styles when it comes to involving their EQ and that can mean the difference between productive conflict management and conflict escalation.

Ellen is known around the office as someone who not only listens to concerns, but tries to understand the attitude and motivation behind a person’s internal conflicts or personal roadblocks. If Ellen identifies these emotions as possible reactions, she can take a few deep breaths to gain her composure, focus on setting the stage for level-headed interactions, and lead with curiosity instead of assumptions. She never leads if she is feeling overloaded, angry, or defensive.

Understanding Why Emotional Intelligence Matters 

The term Emotional intelligence can sometimes fall on deaf ears, as it does not represent surface level objectives.  

As a more diverse population enters the workforce we will need to understand, express, and control emotions effectively. Ellen and Dean both believe progress can be made using skills outlined below for successful EQ communication. 

  • Self-awareness is where you begin to see a different approach for success by starting with oneself instead of forcing her coworker into an adversarial position.
    • Ellen recognizes rising emotions like anger or defensiveness before they erupt destructively. 
    • Dean does not try to diffuse until the explosion of emotion happens and often uses his frustration as a basis for confrontation and intimidation to suit his agenda.
  • Self-management is identifying your emotions prior to a potential stressful conversation and thus preventing emotional hijackings.
    • While Ellen will often use examples from her experience in reliably tenured positions, similar to the one she holds now, by calling on her experience with EQ it lets her withstand criticism, listen earnestly, communicate without antagonizing and misunderstanding, and leads by example.
    • Dean in situations with the potential for emotional hijacking begins by asserting dominance through technical language, communication of factual evidence around wrong doings, and ends up setting the scene for discord.
  • Social awareness is the emotion in the room and around everyone involved in the situation. Relationship management is about expectation and respect.
    • Ellen knew that the way she walks into a setting creates the scene that  people will intuitively pick up  on the emotion that will guide her intention through the entire situation. She walks in with understanding and compassion, 
    • Dean’s challenge is that he still subscribes to the archaic idea of hierarchy and obedience. With emotions so close to the edge, this can often be the point at which they boil over and each individual shuts out compassion and focuses on the individual winning an argument instead of success around team building. 

Individuals’ adept in these skills excel at identifying rising feelings in themselves and others. Being able to navigate disputes calmly and influence optimal resolutions can mean the difference between resignation and growth.

Using EQ To Evolve And Enhance Understanding for Positive Outcomes

Curiosity is essential to building rapport and trust. Using this lens to measure EQ reduces provoking the other’s defenses. By integrating these strategies, individuals’ adept in EQ transform conflicts from liabilities to assets. Instead of dreading clashes, they view them as opportunities to strengthen relationships, fuel growth, and boost performance.

What happens if you feel like EQ isn’t yet your strength? Like all skills, emotional intelligence develops through commitment and practice. The more you use it, the easier it integrates, and the more natural it becomes.

Many tools and tactics exist for enhancing your own EQ. Here are a few:

  • Observing positive EQ of another will help you identify their EQ techniques, like body language. Ellen uses different body cues than Dean but her way of emoting around a difficult situation can end with the same feeling of efficacy and relief.
  • Ellen will engage in micro-learning by reading or listening to short EQ-focused content including the lessons in the Giraffe mobile app to sharpen her skills.

Through strong leadership Ellen is able to observe Dean, offer constructive criticism, and experience sharing solutions that help Dean improve communication. With sound EQ, leaders can transform destructive disputes into constructive dialogue and innovation.

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

Loved it? Share it!

Post Categories