Expressing Emotions

Emotional Intelligence In the Workplace

Emotional intelligence refers to recognizing and working productively with your own emotions and the emotions of others. If you have good emotional intelligence, it means you are aware of your own feelings, can regulate them appropriately, can motivate yourself, show empathy to others, build rapport, and gain the trust of others.[1]

A classic manila folder--a page peeks out from inside itPortfolio Activity #33 – Emotional Intelligence

Being able to motivate yourself is a key part of Emotional Intelligence. If we rely on outside force to motivate us (“extrinsic motivation”), we are at the whims of factors we cannot control. This is why developing “intrinsic motivation” can be helpful.

Watch the video below about intrinsic motivation and then answer the questions that follow:

A word about Empathy

According to Brené Brown, when someone shares something difficult or painful, connecting with their feelings is most likely to make things better for them. Take a moment to watch the video below about empathy.

Having a difficult conversation with the boss

Some workplace conversations, while uncomfortable, are needed to reach solutions. Here are the steps you can take to have a difficult but successful conversation with your manager:

  1. Request a private, face-to-face meeting: “I’d like to talk about my project report. When is a good time for us to meet?”
  2. Take a positive mindset: think of the meeting as an opportunity for a constructive conversation.
  3. Collect your thoughts: what key points do you want to make? What responses or questions do you anticipate?
  4. Bring solutions: be prepared with suggestions. This shows you’ve given the matter careful consideration and want to be constructive.
  5. Keep a calm demeanour and a neutral tone.
  6. Express appreciation for the meeting, then address the reason for it right away. For example: “Thank you for making this time to talk. I’ve been struggling with my work-life balance and I wanted to talk about the idea of working from home more often.”
  7. Ask your boss for their perspective: listen actively. They may have a different perspective. Be open to what they say and ask for clarification if needed. If you don’t like their response, you can offer further explanation of your perspective – just don’t get defensive.
  8. Get to a resolution – even if it’s not the one you wanted. If your viewpoints differ, try to negotiate a resolution you can agree on. If that’s not possible, focus on a way forward – what you CAN do. E.g., Say you wanted to negotiate a salary increase, but you are told it’s not possible at present. You could ask if there are any specific items you could work on that would lead them to reconsider, and, if so, a specific date on which to discuss the idea again.

Your goal is to create openness, transparency, and acknowledgement of each other’s goals in the workplace.

A classic manila folder--a page peeks out from inside itPortfolio Activity #34 – Having a Difficult Convo. with a Manager

Watch the video below about having a difficult conversation with your manager. After, you’ll be asked to reflect on 2 prompts.

Be sure to check this step-by-step checklist from Judy Ringer all about how to have difficult conversations.

Disagreeing Respectfully

  • Disagreements are inevitable, so make them productive. There is a difference between disagreeing and doing so respectfully. Here are some guidelines.
  • Focus on Facts: try to avoid speculating about someone’s motives.
  • Don’t Get Personal: do not attack the other person’s idea. Instead of poking holes in their idea, focus on presenting yours.
  • Look for common ground: find something about their idea that you can agree on, e.g. “I agree with what you said about X. What if we did it this way instead?”
  • Listen: don’t just wait for your chance to respond. Listen actively and ask questions to check your understanding.
  • Use “I” Statements: for example, instead of “Your idea is too close to the deadline,” try “I see where you’re coming from, but I’m concerned we’re too close to the deadline for a change”.
  • Know When to Move On: sometimes you’ll need to swallow your pride and walk away. Do so with class.

Managing Anxiety

If you feel anxious in certain situations, there are things you can do to build your resilience and mental strength. Here are some exercises you can do every day.

  1. Visualize a positive outcome: start by thinking of an uncertain situation, such as whether you will be contacted for a job interview. Visualize the best possible outcome.
  2. Flip your thinking: for example, when feeling anxious, try looking at the pros, rather than the cons. Ask yourself if you might see it as a reminder of what’s important to you, an opportunity to pivot, a signal to reprioritize, a means of becoming more goal-oriented, or a challenge to do better.
  3. Try something new: push yourself to try something just outside of your comfort zone.
  4. Reach out and ask for help: connect with friends and family and actively nurture supportive relationships in your life.
  5. Come up with some positive reminders for yourself: for example, think about what your biggest supporter would tell you, then say it to yourself.
  6. Immerse yourself in nature: find a quiet environment with greenery and not too many people around. Breathe, relax and become aware of the sounds, smells and sights.

Asking For Accommodation

Employers are required by law to provide equal access and treatment to persons identified by a prohibited ground for discrimination. This includes, but is not limited to, people with disabilities, people from racialized communities, single parents, and recent immigrants. Often, accommodating someone means removing barriers. An employer must change the way they provide work – such as through physical changes or changing practices – to make it possible for people to participate in the workplace.

For example, some workers with disabilities may need accommodation to make their jobs accessible. This could range from a reorganized workstation, to a scheduling change, to real-time captioning during meetings, and so on.

If you decide to request accommodation at work, here are some tips to help you.

  • You cannot be penalized for requesting accommodation – it’s the law.
  • Consider:
    • What specifically is creating a barrier to you being able to do your job?
    • What solutions can you think of that could remove those barriers?
    • What might your manager identify as challenges to fulfilling your request?
    • What strategies could meet both your needs and the needs of the workplace?
  • Make your request in writing, e.g., by email. Ask for accommodation and explain why you need it. Keep a record of your communications.
  • You may need to provide information that is directly relevant to your needs or restrictions (such as a doctor’s note).
  • Take part in any discussions about potential solutions.
  • Consider any accommodations offered, even if they are not exactly what you expected.

Media Attributions

  • Document File via Careerspace

  1. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books, 1995.


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