Increase your EQ and shine in the workplace

By Dawn Wotapka

It has been said that emotions have no place in the office. Yet knowing how to identify and respond to your emotions, and those of your co-workers, can give you an edge in the workplace, said Dennis Faurote, founder of the Faurote Group, a leadership and management training, coaching, and consulting firm based in Indianapolis.

EQ (not to be confused with intellectual intelligence, or IQ) isn’t about practicing group hugs or being nice all the time, said Faurote, who spoke Tuesday at the AICPA ENGAGE 2018 conference in Las Vegas.

Instead, he said, “EQ involves exploring what causes our emotions, the impact our emotions have on us, and the impacts our emotions have on others. It’s really about understanding ourselves. Our emotions drive everything that we do.”

Having strong EQ can be an asset for a CPA, said Faurote, who spent 15 years in the accounting profession before starting the Faurote Group. Typically, accountants are good problem-solvers, he said. But to stand out and become leaders, they need to effectively respond to change and be decision-makers who can deftly navigate a variety of personality types.

“The accountants that will set themselves apart in the future will be the ones who recognize how valuable this is,” Faurote said.

When it first went mainstream in the mid-1990s, the EQ field centered largely on the basic principles of social awareness, self-management, relationship management, and self-awareness. Faurote’s talks include the updated insight that self-perception, stress management, decision-making, self-expression, and interpersonal skills all work together for optimum emotional and social functioning, performance, and well-being. Being weak in one area could affect how you function in the others, he said.

It is never too late to strengthen your EQ, Faurote said. “People sometimes say [things like], ‘I have low impulse control, that’s just who I am.’ You can improve that,” he said.

Here are a few of his tips for improving your EQ:

  • Learn how others perceive situations: When you experience an emotionally charged situation at work, make sure you are not always the first one to comment on what emotion you are sensing. Learn to ask others what feelings they perceived (e.g., “How do you think the meeting went?”) and see if this differs from your own evaluation. This will help you see other points of view and remember to consider them in future situations.
  • Learn how others perceive you: List what you think your primary strengths and weaknesses are, and then seek feedback on them. Identify those at work who know you well enough to comment. Ask them to list your strengths and weaknesses with specific observations or examples. Then compare the lists, looking for disconnects and similarities.
  • Ask for help: When you find yourself being resistant to change, take time out to solicit the opinions of trusted co-workers. Consider embracing their approach to a particular problem.
  • Study a pro: Find someone who you believe is an effective communicator and team leader. Observe their communication style, taking special note of how they balance their ability to remain empathic and socially responsible with meeting organizational demands.
  • Read up on the subject: Learn more about EQ by reading some of the many books and articles that have been written on the topic. Faurote recommends The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success and The EQ Leader: Instilling Passion, Creating Shared Goals, and Building Meaningful Organizations Through Emotional Intelligence, both by Steven Stein, Ph.D.

Dawn Wotapka is a Georgia-based freelance writer. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac, a JofA editorial director, at Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com.

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