ASK Experience Series: Emotional Intelligence

The ASK Experience series is a new HireDePaul Blog series featuring unique insights and career advice from interviews with DePaul alumni. In the next installment, we spoke with Marie Wohler (‘91) about her career, emotional intelligence in the workplace, and the value of mentorship in professional development. 

Emotional Intelligence

After a career in talent management and leadership development, it is clear that Marie Wohler is passionate about helping people improve their professional skills, the most salient of which being emotional intelligence. So what is emotional intelligence? As Marie explains, “emotional intelligence — or EI — is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you.”

Marie’s Characteristics of Professional Emotional Intelligence:

  • “Changers”
    • Professionals displaying emotional intelligence are open to change and are adaptable. Being willing to change and take risks as needed supports an organization’s ability to improve itself. 
  • Self-Awareness
    • Acknowledging professional or personal weaknesses helps emotionally intelligent professionals to work with teams that complement their skills.  
  • Empathy & Relation
    • By relating to coworkers and putting their behavior in the context of any situation that may arise, professionals can more effectively resolve conflicts, overcome obstacles, and form connections with colleagues. 
  • Self-Care
    • Self-care looks different for everyone, but practicing it can make or break a professional’s ability to interact with colleagues. 

“Getting great people and retaining them takes emotional intelligence, and leaders who don’t have it risk losing talent that could be a competitive advantage for an organization.”

Feedback

As a convenient follow-up to our previous article (ASK Experience Series: Communication), one aspect of professional emotional intelligence is the ability to take and receive feedback constructively. To expand on the previous discussion, Marie shared some insights on how to ask for good feedback:

  • Ask what you should stop, start, and continue doing. This opens up the floor for the other person to provide you with specific feedback that you can take with you and follow up on after an agreed upon period of time. 
  • Consider branching out to other colleagues for feedback instead of relying exclusively on your direct supervisor. This can help avoid interpersonal conflict in the workplace before it begins! 
  • Follow up with the person you asked. Set a period of time after which you will report back. 

Mentorship

Mentors are always a valuable resource in anyone’s career development. Marie cited two mentors throughout her career who had a significant impact on her growth as a professional. Mentors can share experience and advice, give feedback, and support any person regardless of their experience level. Here at DePaul, all students have access to resources designed to help connect them with potential mentors! 

On the DePaul ASK Network, there is a vast database of alumni volunteers prepared to coach students in their careers. For more information on the ASK Network, check out our website or email us at ask@depaul.edu!  

ASK Experience Series: Communication

In the newest HireDePaul Blog series, the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Program will be hosting interviews with alumni designed to bring DePaul students access to unique career advice and professional insight. In the first installment, we spoke with Margaret Batkiewicz (‘74) about her career and the importance of good communication in the workplace. 

Margaret spent most of her career in global employee communications, creating internal messaging to keep employees informed and up-to-date. When asked about the importance of effective internal communications, Margaret told us that “a company that communicates well with its employees is going to do better, [improve] morale, and have less turnover.”

This messaging came in many forms, one of which being a regular newsletter sent out to an international audience of employees. With such a diverse audience, it was important that she communicated consciously, ensuring awareness of cultural and linguistic differences. By consulting with company leaders from the various geographic regions she was communicating with and sending out surveys to employees, she was able to successfully navigate this unique challenge throughout her career. With that, however, comes the joy of communicating globally. 

“I met so many wonderful people and learned so much about their cultures,” Margaret said. 

From there, Margaret went on to discuss communication as a whole and how it can make or break a company. 

“Communication is essential to the success of a company,” she said, “whether it does business locally or globally.” 

But what is good workplace communication? Good communication skills vary by industry, position, and workplace culture. However, there are some good practices that can be applied to any professional environment:

Tone and Volume

Be conscious of the tone and volume of your voice when communicating with colleagues. There is some truth to the old saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Pay attention to your tone, watching out for any unintentionally negative, unenthusiastic, or accusatory intonations. As you get more comfortable in a workplace, continue to practice respectful and sincere communication. 

Be Concise and Definite

Avoid any superfluous information. Communicate with definition, avoiding language that may unnecessarily extend or worsen periods of uncertainty like “maybe” and “probably.” In some instances, informing your coworker that you are unsure of an answer is equally appropriate to providing that answer, as long as you come back to them with that answer once you have it.

Practice Good Listening Skills

Listen closely and attentively while showing interest in the topic and respecting the speaker. Ask questions to clarify information you may have missed. Paraphrase what you have heard and repeat it back to the speaker to ensure understanding. 

Give and Receive Feedback

Be descriptive and clear, while avoiding judgmental language. Be open to receiving feedback without defensiveness, allowing for the other person to address all of their points before responding. Remember: address modifiable, not unchangeable behavior. 

For more information on career readiness, make sure to explore the HireDePaul Blog. To connect with alumni like Margaret and practice your communication skills online, check out the DePaul ASK Network!