Tuesday, March 26, 2024

4 Emotionally Intelligent Phrases to Improve Your Workplace Relationships

by Leah Jackson

Illustration of woman balancing emotions on see-saw

Working on a college campus is arguably one of the biggest exercises in collaboration and teamwork. There are multiple stakeholders in every decision made on campus -- from students and parents to alumni to various departments (or even specific employees) who may be impacted. We don't operate in a vacuum. Collaboration is the name of the game, so it is no surprise that building relationships and exercising emotional intelligence (or EQ) play a key role in one's success in the higher ed workspace.

"Anyone in higher education will tell you that your ability to be successful in your role (regardless of the department or division) is related to your ability to build relationships and collaborate with your intercampus colleagues," confirms Eric Mochnacz of Red Clover, a strategic HR and change management consulting firm based in New Jersey.

In fact, some employers even interview for emotional intelligence, and according to a Lee Hecht Harrison Penna survey of 500 people managers, 75% said it is a determining factor in promotions and salary increases.

Mochnacz, who worked in university housing for 15 years at different levels (live-in and mid-level management), says "EQ is your ability to know your own emotions and manage them, understand the emotions of others, and use that knowledge to navigate relationships and inevitable campus politics."

Emotional intelligence isn't something you gain overnight, though. So, how can you boost your EQ, and what phrases frequently used by people with high EQ could you incorporate into your daily workplace interactions?

Tap into Your Natural Curiosity

The Cambridge Dictionary defines curiosity as "an eager desire to know or learn about something." This characteristic is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. Curiosity drives us to learn more about our own emotional responses and motivations, as well as seek information about that of others. Fostering your own sense of curiosity about what drives human behavior -- specifically your own and your colleagues' and boss's -- is a great place to start.

The next time a colleague responds in a way that is unexpected, consider their motivations or what they are possibly feeling. Inquire if you're unsure, so you can get a better understanding of their point of view. Knowing this can help you work through any conflicts and build a foundation for stronger collaboration in the future.

Take time to analyze your own responses as well -- did you have a knee-jerk reaction to something? If so, why? Was something particularly triggering to you? Seeking to understand your own emotional responses in the workplace can help you recognize trigger points and eventually better self-regulate in future situations.

4 Phrases Demonstrating High EQ to Start Using

So, what exactly does emotional intelligence look like in practice? It's about asking the right questions and then using the information you glean to respond effectively and kindly. Here are four emotionally intelligent phrases you can start incorporating into your daily interactions at work to lay the foundation for better relationships.

1. "What do you think?" or "How do you feel about this?"

Again, collaboration is key in the higher ed workspace. No matter how good you think your idea or solution might be, it can't be a one-sided conversation.

These questions, in particular, create a safe space, encouraging others to share their opinions and raise any concerns they may have. While they may seem like simple questions, they are some of the most important ones you can ask on a regular basis. Not every person is comfortable raising their voice without being prompted. You may be working with introverts, young professionals who may be afraid of 'rocking the boat,' or people who have been burned before by voicing a difference of opinion. Asking for feedback is a clear and direct way to show that you are truly open to collaboration and value your colleagues' opinions. Showing empathy for their thoughts and working to find solutions if they have concerns helps to build a foundation for more fruitful collaboration in the future.

"When it comes to others, your level of social awareness and social regulation plays a key part in building bonds across campus to drive mutual success," Mochnacz says. "Social awareness is your ability to read a room and social regulation is your ability to recognize the importance of the emotions around you and be able to facilitate understanding to build relationships and networks. Someone who is not developed in these areas will struggle to be successful on a college campus, but those environments tend to be incredibly collaborative."

2. "Let me see if I understand."

This phrase signals a desire to understand another person's point of view. Clarifying how a person feels ensures that you are avoiding assumptions, have a full picture of their concerns or feelings, and can address them effectively. Everyone wants to be understood, and taking the time to rephrase what you're hearing from them and confirming understanding shows that you're making an effort.

3. "I feel (X, Y, Z)…"

Recognizing your own emotions is key to building and maintaining effective relationships. Before you can ask someone else how they feel about something, it's important to be able to recognize your own emotions at any given point -- and be able to manage them.

"Do you know and understand your feelings, and can you articulate them effectively?," Mochnacz asks. "And can you regulate yourself so your emotions don't adversely impact others?"

Additionally, being open about your feelings can build trust and encourage others to speak up.

4. "How can I help you?"

This question is commonly asked by emotionally intelligent people because they have a knack for noticing others' emotions (or as Mochnacz says, they have social awareness). In this case, they may sense a colleague is feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Part of being a team is pitching in when and where you can. If you notice someone struggling, see if there's something you can do for them. Lending a hand is a great way to build bridges and strengthen your relationships across campus.

Final Words

These phrases aren't silver bullets by any means, but incorporating some of them into your daily interactions at work can have a tremendous impact on your relationships. They serve as powerful building blocks for better understanding your colleagues, collaborating with them in the future, and ultimately working together effectively to further your institution's mission.


This article is republished from HigherEdJobs® under a Creative Commons license.