June 7, 2021

In 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman caused a buzz when he released a book claiming that emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ to achieve success. The business world sat up and took notice—and gradually, the bedrock of great leadership became less about being the smartest person in the room and more about the ability to understand and manage emotion. Research from Harvard and Stanford has found that almost 87 per cent of our success stems from our interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, which explains why people are naturally drawn to leaders who have high EQ. 

So how does one become more emotionally intelligent? While there are strategies to be more self-aware and empathetic, a quick way to demonstrate that you have high EQ is your choice of words. When used correctly, the right expressions can help you build a stronger rapport and relationship with your employees. Here are five simple yet effective sentences to show that you possess this important soft skill. 

“What are your thoughts about this?”

Everyone wants to be heard. People appreciate a leader who is willing to listen and admit that they are not always right, or have all the answers. Posing such a question gives employees a chance to be included in the decision-making process, and that you are receptive towards suggestions. It also indicates a genuine, non-judgmental desire to better understand what the other party feels about the subject matter. For emotionally intelligent leaders, feedback goes both ways. They are always open and look to involve others in the conversation.

“I appreciate you and your efforts.”

Displaying gratitude towards others will build a positive work environment and make employees feel valued. If the team has been working overtime to complete projects, communicate to each member why you are grateful for their contribution by highlighting their impact. When you are vocal about recognising effort, this makes people more motivated to do better work, which will foster a more productive team.

“Thank you for your understanding.”

Too often, we say sorry even when we don’t truly mean it. As a result, we can end up sounding more disingenuous. Apologising puts the attention on you, while thanking others places emphasis on them. So instead of saying, “Sorry, I missed your child’s baby shower yesterday,” try this: “I really wanted to go to the party, but I ended work really late. Thank you for your understanding.” Ultimately, it’s less about justifying our actions and soothing our guilt with an apology but more about acknowledging others for their compassion.

“Are you okay?”

Some days we are at our peak and in the zone, other days not so much. Work productivity ebbs and flows;  a leader with high EQ understands that and knows how to manage it. If you notice that your team member is missing a deadline repeatedly, make it a point to check in with him or her to find out if there is more than meets the eye. Instead of turning the pressure on, have empathy. Express care and concern without any hidden agenda.

“Does what I am saying make sense?/ Do I make sense?”

Rather than asking if your team understands you, ask if you are making sense. This is especially helpful if you are explaining a complicated issue to someone. “Do you understand?” makes you sound imposing, which also implies that if the person did not get it, then he or she must be the problem. However, when you turn the tables around and take ownership, this doesn’t make the individual feel at fault. When you are mindful that you’re responsible for any possible communication breakdown, people will naturally be more at ease around you.