Emotional intelligence (EQ) is processing your thoughts with feelings to make optimal decisions. This may be the factor which helps differentiate an average performer from an outstanding one.

People with high EQ — a type of social intelligence — are aware of their thoughts and feelings as well as those of others. In addition, they know how to manage these thoughts and feelings to make appropriate decisions.

Someone with high EQ is self-aware, understands what causes his emotional reactions and knows how to manage them effectively. He is able to diffuse difficult situations and create opportunities that build confidence and loyalty in others.

Traits specific to individuals with high EQ levels include a high degree of optimism, open-mindedness, awareness of self and others, empathy, and an ability to use emotions effectively. These individuals tend to be outgoing, conscious of how mood affects them and others. They are open to new ideas and skilled at turning disagreements into win-win propositions.

To enhance productivity at work, here are some qualities that you need to master:

Emotional literacy

This involves understanding the language of emotions and how to tune in to them and other peoples’ emotional states. How you choose to respond to your emotions is what determines your mental state and physiology.

Self-awareness

This is about being your own radar and observing yourself for qualities that could be hindering the people who work with or for you from reaching their higher potential.

Becoming self-aware enables you to help people recognise the masks they are wearing and why they wear them. You can work with your people to see what aspects of their behaviour need to be adjusted for better results.

Optimism

One way to lift motivation and productivity is to use optimistic language. Well-known psychologist Albert Ellis suggested that the choice of words could influence feelings and affect our actions.

For example, if you say “Maybe” and “I’ll try”, it is likely you will put in less effort to achieve a task, because your choice of words imply a lack of commitment. In contrast, if you say “I will do it”, your words indicate a certainty of action.

Emotional navigation

Greek philosopher Aristotle summed up the emotionally intelligent person when he said: “Getting angry is easy but getting angry at the right time, place, period and for the right reason is difficult.”

Honing your EQ involves navigating through the anger and frustration, sadness and disappointment in your daily life, and channelling the experiences into wisdom.

Self-control enables you to respond to situations appropriately, instead of reacting from impulse. In an office situation, this could mean communicating effectively with your staff and motivating them to meet their goals — which translates into higher productivity.

Intrinsic motivation

Are you aligned with your strongest values or are you ignoring them? If you are doing the latter, your work will eventually become stressful as you are not living or experiencing passion or excitement.

You will experience a loss of energy and enthusiasm for your work, and your productivity level will fall.

A sense of purpose

When the “why” or purpose of your work is clear, passion is at its highest and you will find a way to make things work for yourself and others.

Organisations should help their staff find purpose in the work they do by making sure their roles match their values, and give them the recognition they desire. That is one sure way to boost their productivity.