BWYJF2016: Understanding Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional intelligence: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

There’s a certain beauty of finally finding a job after months of unemployment. That breathe of relief to know that you have a stable income, and security that provides ease in meeting your career goals.

However, the reality of company culture mixed with an array of human personalities creates an equation of either thriving in your workplace, or knocking off completely emotionally exhausted. Thankfully, Barclays Bank of Botswana’s Ready To Work program  and  strategic partnership with Botswana Youth Jobs Fair offered a workshop on understanding Emotional Intelligence in the workplace.

Facilitating the workshop was Mpho Tlhong  and Modiri Ramahobo of Barclays Africa. Mpho noted a strong uniqueness within our culture in relation to mindfulness and grooming our emotional intelligence. She noted that in Botswana, men and women are socialized not to completely explore their emotions growing up. Children are scolded for communicating their emotions while boy are told not to cry, or show vulnerability as it is a sign of weakness. This stunts emotional maturity which in turn hampers holistic growth as an adult. This is why flaring personalities has a direct negative impact in company culture, and ease of doing business.

Here are a few jewels on what was learnt on understanding emotional intelligence:

  1. Mindfulness

‘Mindfulness is essentially being aware of your own feelings’  – Mpho Tlhong.

Spend some time meditating – taking time to understand your emotions. Be reflective of how you handle conflicts and celebrations. Mpho Tlhong stresses the power of self-time in the bathroom – you can meditate in different spaces and that includes your alone time while you… powder your nose. Listening to music or spending more time with yourself helps with being aware of your self traits – your strengths and weaknesses.


  1. Respond, don’t react

“Always remember that your actions and reactions have consequences” – Mpho Tlhong.

Picture this: You’re under pressure at work with a deadline that’s needs to be met from your boss. In order to meet the deadline you have to work with a colleague that is well known for lack of delivery. Having an attitude towards that person or focusing on your personality clashes is a reactive approach which derails your common objective. Instead, respond consciously on the work at hand, and focus on the strengths that you both have in order to meet the deadline. Never become a victim of your own emotions.

  1. Know when to retreat and when to Rebuild

‘It is that knowing how to react to a situation that will differentiate you from the next person.Don’t let your emotions control you’ – Mpho Tlhong

Usually the go-to response in not being emotive when dealing with misunderstandings is to walk away from conflict. However, when there is a trend of a person using that against you, you need to assume your power and ‘rebuild’. Create constructive dialogue in conflict resolution with a mediator (where needs be). Most importantly, when conflict is resolved, do not continue the conversation of the issue you had with the person through office gossip.

  1. Emotional Intelligence is a continuous work in progress

‘Take it upon yourself to change your mindset and use your self-awareness to be the solution to your problem’ –Mpho Tlhong

As Mpho noted, our ability to mature in emotion has been stifled by cultural socialization. This   has placed us in a position to aggressively mature as adults in an environment where diverse cultures and people co-exist. This shouldn’t make you wary. Constantly using tools such as self-    help books, confiding in people you trust and mental self-care assists in developing emotional              intellect. There is no ceiling when it comes to developing emotional intelligence.

  1. EQ impacts your brand

“Understand how Communication impacts on you, your own brand. Package yourself well. You are your own brand!” –Modiri Ramahobo

From the previous point, you are a constant work in progress. And as we package ourselves particularly in the digital space, our emotional intelligence becomes reflective in what we post, like and share online. Although we can constantly repackage ourselves, being self-aware aligns us with how we want to organically brand ourselves in the online space – particularly social media. Depending on our EQ, we can attract and take hold of various opportunities and use our online identity to a holistic advantage. Companies are looking for people with a strong self of identity and maturity. Clients want to work with mature business people. It is easy to determine such attitudes online.

For a more in depth, intimate training on Emotional intelligence, register on the Ready To Work program and learn at your own pace here.