You might be thinking, why is there an engineering blog post about emotions or even feelings, right? You’ve probably read about how to become a more effective developer, about strategies to solve engineering problems, best practices, and so on. Emotional intelligence for engineers, while less talked about, is just as important and relevant as the topics mentioned above.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is an important part of becoming the most effective person, developer or engineer that you can be. So what is it?
We’ll start by explaining what it is not.
- It’s not being nice.
- It’s not being fake.
- It’s not being a hypocrite.
- It’s not about being an extrovert or introvert.
These traits can often be mistaken for Emotional intelligence. More so, EQ is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions while also recognizing, understanding, and influencing the emotions of others.
EQ can be achieved through:
- Self-awareness: Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Self-management: This makes people capable of expressing themselves openly and tactfully.
- Empathy: The ability to understand how another person feels and experiences the world, especially when that perspective is very different from one’s own.
Why we should care about this?
For starters, things like people skills, collaboration, conflict management, and other “soft skills” can be directly impacted by your EQ capabilities. While most of us love to communicate through code, other, more traditional means of communication remain just as, if not more, important. For example, according to the Alliance Global Developer Insight survey (Application Developers Alliance, 2015), we can see that software projects most often fail because of poorly documented project requirements and a lack of effective communication, as well as a poor team and organizational management.
As engineers we face the following situations day after day:
- Giving and receiving feedback.
- Meeting tight deadlines.
- Dealing with challenging relationships.
- Not having enough resources.
- Dealing with change.
- Dealing with setbacks and failure.
- Negotiating with designers and product owners.
Our handling of each of the above situations can benefit from emotional intelligence. EQ can allow us to reduce stress, improve productivity, strengthen relationships and help improve our overall happiness.
How to improve your EQ?
Emotional Intelligence takes practice and we should work to improve it every day. We are creatures with emotions, not robots, and our behavior in situations like those mentioned above can affect people in both a positive and negative manner. This is where EQ can make a big impact. By learning how to manage those emotions, both our own and others’, especially when we are under pressure, can make the difference between a good engineer and a great engineer.
“Anybody can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy."
Here are some suggestions you can use to improve your EQ:
- Slow down when needed: It will help you to see the bigger picture more clearly.
- Tend to your needs, especially if you’re hungry, tired, etc.
- Empathize with others: By understanding what others are thinking, feeling, or needing, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to respond appropriately to any kind of situation.
- Proceed calmly: Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued —inside and outside the business world. Work at keeping your emotions under control when things go wrong.
We’re all familiar with the phrase “put yourself in their shoes,” and this is exactly that. The simplest way of gaining a little perspective the next time an issue or situation arises is to switch places with the other person and think about what’s happening from their point of view. This way it’s possible to understand each other enough to come to resolve or offer advice.
Another tip for improving EQ at the workplace is to seek and use feedback to round out our own perceptions of our actions and behaviors to find out where our strengths and weaknesses lie. Look out for any patterns and remember not to argue with the other party—and work to realize they’re trying to help us gauge our perception from another’s point of view.
What to avoid?
Try to avoid negativity and complaining because it usually implies two things—one, that we are victims, and two, that there are no solutions to our problems. Instead of thinking of yourself as a victim looking for someone or something to blame, we should think constructively and come up with a solution for our troubles.
Stop dwelling on the past. If we want to increase our high emotional intelligence, we should learn from the mistakes and choices we have made and live in the now.
Being overly critical. Remember that people are only human and we share the same motivations and limitations. Take the time to understand another person, then communicate the change you want to see.
Be aware of yourself and others, treat people with respect, and remember: The more Emotional Intelligence we have, the more likely it is that everyone will succeed!
At The Lifetime Value Company, we are fortunate to have people who take care to nurture a culture of empathy, respect, and challenging work. If you feel like you want to work in such a place, we are hiring across multiple verticals. Check out our careers page and reach out; we’d love to hear from you!