Is Stress Draining Your Emotional Intelligence?
> 7/31/2007 10:09:49 AM

Ever wonder why you were passed over for that promotion? Or perhaps why your co-workers don't seem to care that much for you? Does your normal eight hour work day drag on for what seems an eternity? The answer could be that your emotional intelligence (EI) level is faltering. According to a new poll conducted by Mutli-Health Systems (MHS) Inc, publisher of several emotional intelligence measures, changes in one's emotional intelligence, triggered by stress, can have detrimental effects on a person's career.

The results of the poll revealed that stress can lower a person's EI to the point where their job performance is greatly compromised. Studies have shown that interpersonal skills are invaluable in getting to the next level on the job. In fact, some studies have gone as far as to suggest that a person's EI is a more important predictor of success than their IQ.

But don't expect many Americans to score big on an EI test, since most are unfamiliar with what it even is, despite the central tenets having been laid out in the early 20th century. The results found over 50% of Americans don't know what EI is and had no idea that it had any impact on their career successes or failures. In addition, almost half of those who were familiar with EI had no idea of the correlation between stress and their emotional intelligence.

What shouldn't surprise is that the poll revealed Americans reported everything from physical, psychological and behavioral levels of stress as impacting their job performance. According to the results, 54% of Americans reported some type of physical stress response which resulted in headaches, indigestion, increased perspiration and fatigue. On the psychological side, almost 60% reported anxiety, mood swings and feelings of helplessness. 54% of poll participants reported behavioral stress related setbacks such as procrastination, isolation from others, neglected responsibility and over all poor on the job performance.

While it seemed that respondents understood how stress could affect their lives in other ways, their relative lack of knowledge about the principles of EI and how stress affected it led to a disjunction. Respondents could see how stress was changing their interpersonal interactions in the workplace (over half believed stress was negatively impacting their workplace productivity as well as relationships with co-workers and nearly 50% believed stress was having an adverse affect on their problem solving and decision making abilities) but didn't have the knowledge to make the appropriate changes. Dr. Steven Stein, psychologist and President of Multi-Health Systems explained to Yahoo News that understanding emotional intelligence could alleviate some of the problems.

"The good news is, you can learn or improve your emotional skills at any time in your life -- even in the presence of stress. Unlike IQ, a person's EI is not set in stone. If individuals monitor and interpret their emotions and the emotions of others, then apply that knowledge to better succeed in dealing with the world around them, they have a better chance of experiencing workplace success."

Following Dr. Stein's advice could maximize our ability to interact with others productively. The tips for increasing one's EI levels really are no different that what many of us could figure out on our own, however some suggestions include, improving intrapersonal skills such as emotional self awareness, assertiveness and self-actualization. In addition, having a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook are invaluable tools in increasing one's EI, job productivity and as a result, helping to lower stress levels.

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