It’s the one thing that keeps us a step ahead of being dominated by artificial intelligence says Brandi Britton          

We’ve all encountered them before: smart people who do their work capably, even sometimes winning awards, but lack interpersonal skills.

Technical brilliance and hard skills are essential, but people aren’t robots. Emotional intelligence is something all administrative staff need to possess and it’s one thing that keeps us a step ahead of being dominated by artificial intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

Put simply, emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to be aware of your own feelings and to effectively manage and express them. There’s also an outward component: An emotionally intelligent person — someone with a high emotional quotient (EQ) — is adept at gauging how others feel and can modify their own behavior depending on the situation at hand.

 EI plays a vital role in:

  • Juggling and prioritizing competing demands while keeping a cool head under pressure.
  • Temporarily setting aside your own emotions and desires when making decisions that impact other people.
  • Reacting professionally to the emotions of your clients, colleagues or boss, particularly in times of conflict.
  • Exercising good judgment and acting with tact and discretion in situations where diplomacy is key.

Increasing your EQ

Emotional intelligence comprises five core elements. Improve your competence in each area, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a savvier administrative professional.

1. Self-awareness

Of those workers surveyed for an OfficeTeam report on emotional intelligence, 92 percent believe they have strong emotional intelligence. But just how self-aware are you? We all like to think others see us in a positive light, but it can be easy to wind up with a skewed view of our own image. Feedback is key to ensuring you are on track with this trait, so ask a trusted supervisor or respected colleague for an honest appraisal of your conduct. Before you can make self-improvements, you need a clear picture of how you come across to others.

2. Self-regulation

It’s vital to manage your reactions to workplace stress — not only for your own well-being but also for the good of those around you. Do you have a meltdown when clients are rude to you or become furious over perceived slights? Not being in control of your feelings is a surefire way to damage your professional reputation. So, the next time you feel anxious or angry, breathe deeply and focus on mastering your emotions.

3. Empathy

In an increasingly self-centred, selfie-snapping society, looking outwards doesn’t always come easily. The ability to consider another person’s point of view is vital in administrative roles. When you can see things from the perspective of a client, colleague or boss, you are more likely to understand why they do what they do. No, it’s not easy, but to increase your level of empathy, really listen to others — not just their words, but also the feelings behind those words and what they don’t say.

4. Motivation

Your mindset has a major impact on how you filter information. If you’re happy at work, you’re much more likely to filter out the bad and focus on being engaged and productive. Your cheerful, motivated attitude also affects others. An upbeat receptionist will have more positive interactions than someone who’s indifferent, and a plugged-in executive assistant will get more done than someone who’s just phoning it in.

5. Social skills

Use empathy and self-awareness to adapt how you interact with others. This could mean sending a congratulatory email to the nervous new employee who aced their first presentation, or engaging in small talk with your gregarious boss before a meeting. Use humor — appropriately, of course — to strengthen bonds with coworkers and to diffuse sticky situations. Your EI helps you develop the right level of rapport with each colleague.

As an administrative professional, having a handle on emotions — both your own and others’ — is pivotal to your career. Honing your emotional intelligence can get your there.

Brandi Britton is District President for Office Team (, the world’s largest specialised staffing firm for office professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide, which place tens of thousands of highly skilled candidates ... (Read More)

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