How to Understand and Manage Emotion in Teams: Part 1

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Introduction

IQ has already established its place in our society – people with higher IQ are thought to be more successful in their jobs, more suitable for positions that come with responsibility and are generally favoured to people with lower IQ levels. Intelligence quotient tests are designed to compare your problem-solving skills with other people in your age group. They measure how good you are with language, math problems, memory, reasoning, and so on. Although crucial to a successful individual, such skills are only half of the perfect package. There is something else that is extremely important in terms of intellect: Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

A truly intelligent person can find common ground with different people, evaluate situations and adapt his/her behaviour to match those situations, identify emotion without having to ask and know how to proceed when faced with delicate circumstances.

Nevertheless, even if all your colleagues have a high EQ on their own, this does not automatically mean your team will be the best one you could get. That is not the case, since ‘emotional intelligence of the individual’ and ‘group emotional intelligence’ are two distinct concepts and the latter requires a bit more than the former. In order to achieve the desired level of group emotional intelligence (EQ), it is important to have an understanding of others’ emotions.


According to Harvard Business Review, there are four steps to reaching such a goal: understanding individual & group emotions, as well as being able to regulate individual & team emotions. KissTheFrogNOW is designed to help teams further their group EQ and help them excel as a team in their field of work. This sequence of articles aims to explore this process and help you comprehend it with ease, resulting in the most supportive and successful team anyone could ever dream of.

TeamsNow, even though having emotionally intelligent individuals does not mean you have an emotionally intelligent group, members having a high EQ is the foundation that the perfect team needs. We are going to explore what makes up an emotionally intelligent member. One must have two basic skills: understanding individual emotions and regulating individual emotions. Those are the first two building blocks to the complete 4-block house of the flawless team. Let’s investigate the first one in this article:

Understanding Individual Emotions

Understanding others’ emotion, as well as one’s own is the first step to acquiring high EQ. Being only the first step, it is not hard at all – you just need to focus on it. Understanding individual emotions means being aware of what the people surrounding you are generally feeling. Some of us do it naturally, others require a bit of practice to be able to recognize emotion. An example given by Harvard Business Review is the following:

Jill Kasper, head of her company’s customer service department, is naturally tapped to join a new cross-functional team focused on enhancing the customer experience: she has extensive experience in and a real passion for customer service. But her teammates find she brings little more than a bad attitude to the table. At an early brainstorming session, Jill sits silent, arms crossed, rolling her eyes.

Whenever the team starts to get energized about an idea, she launches into a detailed account of how a similar idea went nowhere in the past. The group is confused: this is the customer service star they’ve been hearing about? Little do they realize she feels insulted by the very formation of the team. To her, it implies she hasn’t done her job well enough.

If team members just get mad at Jill for the attitude she is giving them, they would never become aware of the problem. This example is great at showing how body language and expression are just enough to show us there is an issue and instead of taking actions against it, one must try to find where it is rooted and solve it effectively.

Emotion and teamsEven when solving means just sharing and talking about a problem, this is still a huge improvement and helps the team escape hostile situations. Understanding individual emotions can be facilitated by games and techniques, such as those that KissTheFrogNOW provides you with. It would also be helpful to consciously observe others’ behaviour and try to come up with what they are feeling and how one can notice that. Other great facilitating tools are various group norms that are set to encourage interpersonal understanding.

 

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by Mihaela Nikolova

Passionate about exploring the topic of emotional intelligence, teamwork and interpersonal relationships at the office.

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