With such a strong emphasis on skills, knowledge, and IQ in the tech industry, it is common that qualities such as emotional intelligence end up taking the back seat. The five components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Without these essential qualities, tech professionals can find themselves limited in terms of performance and potential. Therefore, industry leaders are placing increasing importance on developing emotional intelligence.
Can Tech Harm Your Emotional Intelligence?
Modern technology has made life much more convenient and entertaining. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier for us to isolate ourselves and shy away from interactions that are critical for our emotional development. With everyday activities such as shopping and socializing moving online, there is a decreasing need to meet other people face-to-face. This impact is much more significant for people who work in tech, who spend the majority of their waking hours in front of a computer screen.
While those of us who grew up with technology have no problems socializing in the digital sphere, the absence of physical human contact does lend to a lack of nuance in our interactions. We may have hundreds of emojis but they are still no replacement for the subtle changes in body language and the slight inflections of tone that you can observe when communicating in person. As a result, many tech professionals can come across as awkward, dull, or even robotic in real life.
Benefits of High Emotional Intelligence
Tech professionals who lack emotional intelligence can find it hard to move up the organizational ladder and may find themselves growing stagnant in their careers. On the other hand, a brilliant tech professional with the emotional intelligence to match can realize their full potential and move confidently into a role as a leader or entrepreneur. Here are some of the benefits of fostering your emotional intelligence.
Communicate and Collaborate
Tech professionals do not exist in a vacuum. Even if they belong to a team that deals exclusively with tech, they need to be able to communicate with coworkers and team leaders about requirements, problems, solutions, and timelines. Furthermore, many tech professionals will need to interact with non-tech personnel such as project managers, designers, and clients. High emotional intelligence will enable you to communicate and collaborate fluently with different people regardless of their level of technological knowledge. This increases understanding, efficiency, productivity, and work satisfaction.
Understand the Client
Most clients are not technologically-inclined and are not able to clearly articulate what they need. Some clients, in fact, have no clue what they need at all. As a tech professional, you must be able to see the issues from your client’s point of view and accurately identify their pain points. Without emotional intelligence, this can be a frustrating and difficult task. It can take rounds of demoralizing feedback before achieving the common goal. Developing your emotional intelligence helps you to be more empathetic towards your client’s needs and better equipped to address the problems at hand.
Find True Fulfillment
Any geek will know the difference between completing a job perfectly and getting by with the bare minimum. When you are passionate about a project, you work hard and take care to produce the best quality that you can. It does not matter that nobody else will see the flawless lines of code that you wrote or read the watertight cybersecurity protocol that you authored. What matters is that you know. Emotional intelligence will allow you to impart this intrinsic motivation to your team members so that everyone can find purpose and fulfillment in their work and accomplishments.
How to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence
Just like any skill, boosting your emotional muscle takes practice. Take the time to foster self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness helps you to recognize your feelings and motivations and allows you to view your behavior and perception with a more objective lens. Reflect often on your thoughts and actions. Seek feedback from people who perform various roles in your organization and try to be open to reassessing the way you deal with things. When communicating with your team members or clients, practice active listening and intentional interaction.
Taking a cue from successful tech industry leaders can help as well. “The Smartest Person in the Room” author Christian Espinosa shares in his best-selling book how true intelligence, effective communication, and self-confidence can improve outcomes across entire tech teams. With extensive experience in the cybersecurity industry, Espinosa has valuable insight that can take your technical leadership to the next level. Leaders should invest in emotional intelligence training for themselves and their team members to reap the most benefits.
If you are unsure whether you need to improve your emotional intelligence, stop and assess your professional life. Has your career stagnated? Do you rarely feel appreciated or fulfilled? Is your team underachieving? Emotional intelligence training may be in order if you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions. Emotional intelligence is important because it amplifies the impact of your IQ. By investing in emotional intelligence, you set the stage for your success as a leader in the tech industry.