The term “emotional intelligence” caught the public’s eye thanks to Daniel Goleman’s book of the same name published in 1994. We were fascinated by the idea that something other than book smarts may lead to success in the workplace.

In its most basic form, emotional intelligence is defined as one’s ability to understand and observe one’s own emotions and those of others, while using this information to inform one’s thinking, decisions, and behavior. Understanding interpersonal situations is a key factor for gauging someone’s strength in this area. Many companies incorporate EQ (Emotional Quotient) assessments into their corporate retreats, and this can be the perfect setting to dive into some of these delicate areas that get glossed over on a day-to-day basis in the workplace.

Below are nine key aspects of emotional intelligence that you can use as a jumping off point for planning a workshop at your next corporate retreat, or as inspiration for encouraging more of these skills in your employees on a regular basis.

#1 Self-Regard & Confidence

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Can you look inwardly and accurately perceive, understand and accept yourself? This requires self-evaluation and self-acceptance which leads to confidence. This area is impacted by security, inner strength, and a healthy self-reliance, but the most important factor is a well-developed sense of identity and a basic self-respect. Confident people make great leaders and mentors and can help inspire confidence in others.

#2 Self-Actualization & Continuous Development

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This quality is characterized by the ability to set personal goals and achieve them. Are we motivated to actualize our inner potential and to become involved in opportunities and pursuits that lead to a rich and meaningful life? In order to become the best we can be, we must be engaged in a lifelong effort to develop our talents and skills. Excitement about our interests energizes us to continue improving. Companies that understand this aspect of emotional intelligence encourage their employees to pursue their goals at work as much as possible.

#3 Emotional Self-Awareness

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Are you able to identify and understand your emotions? Have you developed an awareness of different states of feeling? To know what we are feeling and why we are feeling that way is the most important factor here and it is an essential skill for working successfully with others. Leaders and employees have a much greater ability to respond appropriately when they are triggered when they understand their feelings.

#4 Self-Expression & Assertiveness

This aspect of EQ is based on our ability to constructively express our feelings and opinions. Can you defend your rights in a nondestructive manner? Do you have the confidence and boldness to express your beliefs on both a cognitive and emotional level? Assertive people are not overly controlled or submissive; instead, they are able to express their feelings directly without being aggressive, abusive or destructive. They are often guided by principals and are able to affirm themselves, essential skills for managers and leaders.

#5 Interpersonal Skills & Relationships

Are you able to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships and relate well with other people? Are your interactions rewarding and enjoyable for both you and others? Those with high interpersonal skills can both give and receive affection and even convey intimacy when appropriate. In the workplace, the quality of being “likable” will get you far. Employees are much more motivated to work hard for someone they feel like they can relate to and who understands and appreciates them.

#6 Empathy

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This important quality is defined by our ability to be aware of and understand how others are feeling. Being empathetic means to be able to emotionally read other people, pick up emotional clues and have an innate sensitivity to why and how people feel the way they do. This is, of course, directly linked to our ability to understand ourselves, and is a key quality necessary for those in the helping professions such as social workers, psychologists, and doctors.

#7 Social Responsibility

This social awareness contributes to our ability to be dependable, responsible and a loyal group member. Sometimes this means putting the interests of others ahead of our own and being a cooperative, contributing and trustworthy team member.

#8 Impulse Control

This factor of Emotional Intelligence is defined by our ability to effectively and constructively control our emotions. Can you resist or delay an impulse or temptation to act? When an aggressive or hostile impulse arises, are you able to maintain composure? This is an essential skill when it comes to conflict resolution and the ability to negotiate.

#9 Optimism

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Optimism is our ability to maintain a positive and hopeful attitude toward life even in the face of difficulties. It is characterized by an uplifting approach to daily living. Leaders must be positive to be successful. Challenges arise every day in the workplace that require forward movement and growth. Those who are negative and cynical tend to regress and become enveloped in drama. Optimism maintains that things can always be improved and that the company and its employees are headed in the right direction.

Whether you a planning some workshops for your next corporate retreat, or you are looking to help some of your co-workers brush up on their emotional intelligence skills, this list presents a concise overview of the most important aspects of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Integrate this information by looking for these qualities in yourself and others. Begin to open up the conversation about how you and your co-workers can develop better interpersonal skills by using every conflict as an opportunity for growth.

For more information on corporate retreats contact Natashia, international retreat coordinator [email protected]

Written by: Laurel Brauns is a travel writer, musician, and yoga life coach. She has lived in Costa Rica for the past two winters studying yoga and believes this country offers powerful transformative experiences to visitors who are looking to immerse themselves in nature and healthy living. She is a regular contributor to the blueosa.com blog. Learn more at lifecoachingwithlaurel.com.