Stress, Workplace Success and Emotional Intelligence

  Workplace Stress Image

Leaders who demonstrate strong emotional intelligence are able to better build relationships, drive teams to improve performance, adapt to change and deal with difficult job demands.

In a national study of over 1000 working Americans aged 18 and over done by Legar Marketing and Multi-Health Systems, stress was found to have a detrimental effect on emotional intelligence.

Stress prevented leaders from being aware of and controlling emotions, getting along with others and maintaining a positive outlook. In fact, stress costs American businesses more than $300 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, accidents, employee turnover, medical fees, legal fees, insurance fees and workers’ compensation awards.

Stress affected leaders in physical, psychological and behavioral ways that, in turn, affected their workplace success:

  • Physically – 54% experienced fatigue, headaches, clenched jaws, insomnia, indigestion and other health related issues.
  • Psychologically – 59% experienced anxiety, irritability with co-workers and their subordinates, defensiveness, anger, mood swings and feelings of helplessness or of being trapped.
  • Behaviorally – 54% said stress in the workplace makes them impatient, procrastinate, quick to argue, withdraw or isolate themselves from others, neglect responsibility, inhibits their decision making and generally perform poorly.

The study showed that stress negatively affects the ability of leaders to exhibit their full range of emotional intelligence. However, leaders who had higher levels of emotional intelligence reported less subjective stress and demonstrated better management performance.

It also suggests that emotional intelligence may play an important role in mitigating the impact of stress.

“The good news is that you can learn or improve your emotional intelligence skills at any time in your life-even in the presence of stress,” says Dr. Steven Stein, co-author of the EQ Edge, Emotional Intelligence and Your Success.

By being conscious of the competencies that make up emotional intelligence, people are able to recognize and regulate appropriate emotions for difficult, stressful situations.

Source: PR Newswire, New Poll: Stress Can Limit Emotional Intelligence and Workplace Success

“Emotional reactiveness sparks a cascade of 1,400 biochemical events, some of which result in physiological changes such as increased adrenaline, heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone). These events compromise your mental clarity, your emotional balance, your physical energy and personal effectiveness, all of which play a part in communication, rational thought and problem solving. And, increased frequency of these negative emotions can cause you to become indecisive, defensive, short with people and angry.”

 Byron Stock, Emotional Intelligence-Stress Relief Through Managing Emotions,