As vaccination rates for Covid-19 continue to increase across our nation, many individuals are facing the reality of returning to the office. Along with this return comes various protocols, restrictions, and guidelines that employees must follow. As you think about what your return to the office will look like, I encourage you to consider your emotional intelligence.

It’s no surprise that our mental health has been tested through this pandemic and although we’re operating in the current reality (I don’t like the term new normal), there are still emotional adjustments that we need to consider.

Emotional intelligence centers around how well we are aware of and can manage our emotions and the emotions of others. Studies link high levels of emotional intelligence with living longer and healthier. There are four tenants of emotional intelligence: self-awareness; self-management; social awareness; and relationship management.

Emotional intelligence centers around how well we are aware of and can manage our emotions and the emotions of others.

Self-awareness is the degree to which you are aware of your emotions, particularly your emotional triggers. Do you know what makes you angry, happy, frustrated, or anxious? This requires you to be more in tune with yourself. Regular self-assessment can build your self-awareness as well as asking for feedback from friends and family on what they feel makes you angry, happy, or anxious. This is helpful because it provides a perspective from another person and at times others can “see” us better than we can “see” ourselves.

Once you have an awareness of your emotions, self-management requires you to evaluate whether you can control your emotions. For instance, if your worry about returning to the office makes you anxious, focus on managing that anxiety. Consider writing down all the reasons returning to the office makes you anxious, then examine how you can turn those challenges into opportunities. Going through the process of writing down your anxieties helps you begin to process them more effectively and builds your self-management. Meditation and deep breathing exercises are also great strategies.

Social awareness considers how aware you are of the emotional triggers of others. Your degree of social awareness is demonstrated by the extent to which you can show empathy toward others. Do you have friends and family who’ve expressed feelings of uncertainty or anxiety about returning to the office? What is your response? Consider how you can empathize with them to help build your social awareness.

Finally, relationship management involves how you can be influential in helping others manage their emotions. How can you help them boost their confidence or perhaps provide another perspective of their situation? Practice effective listening and demonstrating supportive behaviors to increase your relationship management.

As with anything, the first step begins with you. At some point, we’ll all be back in the office and getting a head start on managing your emotional intelligence will prepare you for a successful transition.

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Tracie Daniels has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the human capital management field. She has worked in various sectors including government, financial services, non-profit, telecommunications, and legal services. Mrs. Daniels has managed several high-profile projects including spearheading the education and awareness initiatives for the Obama Administration’s National Making Home Affordable Program of 2009 – 2015. Mrs. Daniels is the President of Synergy Consulting, a human capital management consulting firm, which specializes in strategic planning and executive management, diversity and inclusion, organizational assessment and design, performance management, and leadership development consulting. Mrs. Daniels holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling. Mrs. Daniels has served as board member for several non-profit organizations.