Reinventing the Workplace with Emotional Intelligence Habits

Reinventing the Workplace with Emotional Intelligence
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Examining Bias, Racism, and Microaggressions at Work

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a powerful tool for addressing racial bias and microaggressions at work. By practicing EQ techniques, we can shift mindsets and foster a more inclusive workplace. People of color continue to face numerous barriers that hinder their ability to perform their best work, and anxieties remain high. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Latinx and Black communities highlighted these issues. Reflecting on past news regarding Ahmaud Arbery reminds us that such crimes amplify existing struggles in these communities. This is why emotional intelligence habits is so important.

With the Black community still grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic, crimes like the murder of Ahmaud Arbery are even more disturbing. This raises critical questions: How can the Black community navigate such issues without physical gatherings? How can they build trust at work amidst widespread pain and mistrust? Addressing racial bias is crucial as it significantly impacts both personal and professional lives.

emotional intelligence habits

Connect Through Shared Experiences

Where should we start? Discussions need to begin in the Boardroom and at the CEO Executive Suite. Meetings across all company divisions should include emotional check-ins. Leaders should ask employees how national events impact them daily and on a larger scale. Providing executive and team leaders with EQ training is essential. Employers need to equip their leaders to handle sensitive issues effectively. Developing emotional intelligence habits is crucial in this step.

Creating spaces for employees to share their experiences is vital. When people feel seen and valued, they feel their company supports them, not just vice versa. While the pandemic may have affected everyone, experiences varied greatly. This unique time offers an opportunity to support employees emotionally, especially as work and home life boundaries blur with more employees working from home permanently. Helping employees understand their emotions and how these emotions influence their actions benefits the entire organization.

Supporting Black Employees Through Painful Issues

To support Black employees through these painful issues, we must first acknowledge that barriers exist. Racism is a complex problem with no one-size-fits-all solution, but creating a space for open discussions and mutual support is a strong starting point. Racism in America is a crisis that must be addressed with the same urgency as any major societal issue. Avoiding these topics can negatively impact a company’s bottom line.

Understanding Employees Without Bias

Helping employees understand their emotions is key. There are over 20,000 words to describe emotions, and naming an emotion allows people to see how it affects their choices. This understanding can lead to healthier actions and better outcomes. Naming emotions also helps in regulating them and acknowledging biases. Many biases come into play during emotional decision-making processes.

Normalcy bias, for example, describes the belief that disasters will not affect you. Many people in power fail to acknowledge racism, a disaster in its own right. This bias prevents action and is a significant obstacle to progressive reform. Emotional intelligence habits training helps leaders and employees recognize their biases and become part of the solution. By addressing prejudice and racism educationally and non-accusatorily, leaders can be encouraged to help solve these issues. Bias drives racism, and racism leads to harmful actions and behaviors.

Combat Microaggressions with Empathy

Empathy plays a crucial role. People are often comfortable thinking about themselves but uncomfortable imagining the experiences of those facing racism and bias. A study by the Center for Talent Innovation, “Being Black in Corporate America,” reveals that Black professionals are more ambitious than their white counterparts by 12%, yet face invisible barriers to advancement, often rooted in racial prejudice and microaggressions.

Microaggressions, such as comments on a Black person’s natural hair or their articulation, are common. With remote work, new microaggressions have emerged. For instance, repeatedly commenting on a colleague’s home during video calls can be intrusive. These subtle biases need to be acknowledged and addressed.

Recognizing the different challenges others face is important. White colleagues often attempt to relate to Black experiences with their own, which can be dismissive and erases the unique trauma Black people endure. Companies must acknowledge the inequities faced by the Black community, especially during the pandemic.

Acknowledge and Act on Inequities

Statistics from the pandemic reveal alarming disparities in COVID-19 impact on Black communities. These disparities underscore the urgent need for acknowledgment and action. Black Americans were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, facing significant hardships at work, at home, and in society.

This is a crucial moment to acknowledge the immense emotional toll on Black individuals, from loss of loved ones and jobs to stress from the pandemic. Companies should educate their leaders on biases and the specific challenges people of color face. EQ can help develop the language and solutions needed to address these racial inequities in the workplace. 

Emtrain offers an Unconscious Bias Training Course

Watch the Discussion

For a deeper dive into these issues, watch my LinkedIn Live Discussion with Laraine McKinnon: Reinventing the Workplace: Examining Bias, Racism, and Microaggressions at Work.

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Janet Miller Evans

Janet Miller Evans

Janet Miller Evans is the founder & CEO of Entevos, a coaching and consulting company using evidence-based research and neuroscience assessments in the areas of emotional intelligence, trust, resilience, leadership,...Read full bio

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