Chapter 8: Interpersonal Skills

8.3 Emotional Intelligence and WIL

Emotional Intelligence and Self-Management

Feelings matter at work! Emotional intelligence, also known as EI or EQ for emotional quotient, is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions. You have your own characteristics, personality, wants, and needs. It takes time and reflection to understand how those parts of yourself feed into your emotions. Once you start to know yourself, then you can start to interpret and how your emotions affect the people around you, and how the effect your perceptions of  others.

What can emotional intelligence look like? As a child, you demonstrated early signs of emotional intelligence every time you gave another child a turn on the playground swing or slide, kept your cool when your turn was taken, or every time you asked to have a turn. As a WIL student at work, it might look like taking responsibility for your actions when you make a mistake, pulling your weight on group tasks and priorities, and helping to resolve conflicts. In class, it might look like sharing notes with a classmate, offering personal reflection during class discussion, and engaging productively in group work.

Watch the following video for an introduction to emotional intelligence.

Use Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Framework

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence framework (1998) can help you understand emotional intelligence and guide your composure and decisions. The five components are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and relationship management (Goleman, 1998, p.24). Take a look at this framework and reflect upon which competencies you have, and which competencies you need to build.

Goleman’s emotional intelligence framework includes the following five components and competencies. Use the left and right arrows in this interactive activity to explore the framework.

  1. Self-Awareness
    • Emotional Awareness
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • understand their emotions and why they are feeling them
        • link what they do, think, and say to their feelings
        • recognize how their feelings affect their performance
        • be guided by values and goals
    • Self-Assessment
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • be mindful of their strengths and weaknesses
        • reflect and learn from their experiences
        • be open to feedback, perspectives of others, continuous learning, and self-developement
        • have and show humour about themselves
    • Self-Confidence
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • have presence and are self-assured
        • voice their views even if unfavourable
        • be decisive
  2. Self-Regulation
    • Self-Control
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • handle impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well
        • remain composed and positive in adversity
        • think clearly and stay focused under pressure
    • Trustworthiness
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • act ethically
        • build trust
        • admit their mistakes
        • take a stand
        • meet timelines and commitments
        • hold themselves accountable
        • organize their work
    • Conscientiousness
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • be punctual
        • carefully consider their work
        • be self-disciplined
        • tend to their responsibilities and commitments
    • Innovation & Adaptability
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • pursue and generate fresh ideas
        • pursue original solutions
        • handle multiple demands
        • handle rapid change
  3. Motivation
    • Achievement Drive
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • be results-driven
        • take risk and set challenging goals
        • find work-arounds and efficiencies
        • seek performance improvement
    • Commitment
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • strive to meet overarching organizational goals
        • find purpose in the organizational mission
        • use core values to guide decisions
        • seek opportunities that align with the mission
    • Initiative & Optimism
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • be ready for opportunity
        • pursue goals
        • work through red tape
        • be persistent through challenges
        • hope for success instead of fearing failure
  4. Empathy
    • Understanding Others
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • pay attention to emotional cues and are good listeners
        • be sensitive to others’ perspectives and situations
        • support others’ needs and feelings
    • Developing Others
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • acknowledge and reward accomplishments and strengths or others
        • support others’ future growth
        • offer feedback and foster others’ skills
    • Service Orientation
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • be service-minded to meet customer needs
        • anticipate and match customer needs to services or products
        • foster customer loyalty
        • make themselves available to help
    • Leveraging Diversity
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • seek to understand worldviews
        • seek to understand their own biases
        • create an inclusive environment
        • come from a place of respect for all
    • Political Awareness
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • understand organizational relationships
        • identify beneficial social networks
  5. Relationship-Management
    • Influence
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • detect and navigate emotional undercurrents
        • win people over
        • adjust when presenting to appeal to the listeners
    • Communication
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • notice emotional cues and adjust with give and take
        • deal with difficult issues straight on
        • listen well
        • seek mutual understanding
        • welcome sharing of information
        • foster open communication and are responsive to bad and good messaging
    • Conflict Management
      • People with this competence are able to:
      • be diplomatic and tactful in response to difficult people and situations
      • anticipate potential conflict and dispute
      • foster open discussion
      • foster win-win solutions
    • Leadership
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • foster enthusiasm for shared vision and mission
        • maintain authenticity
        • guide performance
        • lead by example
    • Change Catalyst
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • model the needed change
        • challenge the status quo
        • remove barriers
        • champion the change and enlist others
    • Building Bonds
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • develop networks
        • seek mutually beneficial relationships
        • build rapport
        • build friendships among work peers
    • Collaboration and Cooperation
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • balance task with relationships
        • cooperate and work with others
        • embrace opportunities to work with others
    • Team Capabilities
      • People with this competence are able to:
        • respect, cooperate, and help others
        • foster participation and commitment
        • share credit

Case Study: Pat Reflects on Emotional Intelligence

Pat is working with a group of young adults as a part of a brand new program focusing on social skill development. There are six clients participating in the program and two counsellors, Marlene and Jody. Today, Marlene and Jody have asked the group to work in pairs. They are brainstorming activities they like to do in the summer. Pat is working with Melody and Trey. In the middle of the conversation, Melody starts teasing Trey for liking to garden, “Gardening is for old ladies! Are you an old lady, Trey?” Trey gets very angry and starts screaming “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” Pat wants to intervene, but is overwhelmed by this sudden outburst. Melody should not have teased Trey, and Trey definitely should not be yelling! How should Pat deal with this? Before she has time to decide what to do, Marlene comes over, separates Melody and Trey, and talks to them each one-on-one. Then, Trey and Marlene talk to Melody together. After a few minutes, everyone is smiling. The situation calms down. Afterward, Marlene debriefs with Pat and focuses on how to handle difficult emotions.

These are Pat’s notes about what Marlene did:

  • Start with safety. If there is a risk of physical harm, start by dealing with that. By separating the two adults, Marlene ensured safety when emotions were too high.
  • Acknowledge strong emotions. Marlene asked each person about how they felt and why they were upset. Melody and Trey put their feelings into words and explained why they behaved the way they did.
  • Put clients in the position of the other. Reflecting and building empathy help self-regulate. Melody and Trey each were asked to explain how the other person felt. Then, they were asked how they felt. Melody felt guilty for bullying and Trey felt uncomfortable for yelling.
  • Help them recognize their mistakes. Melody and Trey mended their friendship by apologizing and sharing their feelings with Marlene there for support. Both identified behaviours they would avoid in the future.
  • Reflect or debrief afterward. Reflection with co-workers is important when supporting clients. I should go to Marlene or the other counsellors to discuss what I notice, how I feel, and what I should do differently next time.

Strategies for Emotional Intelligence for WIL

Emotional intelligence is the ability to pay attention to and evaluate your emotions and the emotions of others and groups. Emotional intelligence evolves and shifts depending on our situations over our lifetime and is something that you can work on everyday in all aspects of your life. To help you start on this journey, here are some useful steps you can take to build your emotional intelligence at work and school.

Self Awareness

Self-awareness brings together three different parts of yourself: emotional awareness, self-assessment, and self-confidence. It is about connecting how you feel with how you act. It is also about how assertive and comfortable you are in making decisions and stating your preferences. Much of this work you will need to do on your own, as it is reflective in nature. Take time to do it on break, on the way to work, or at the end of the day.

  • Check in with your emotions. Try to use clear descriptions to clarify how your are feeling (even if you just do it in your own head). See if you can connect how you feel to how well you engaged and participated. You can also think about how productive you were and how attentive you were during your work time.
  • Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. You can do this on your own or get help from someone with more experience in the field. Ask an instructor or supervisor for feedback. When you receive feedback, try and explain it in your own words. Ask questions if you aren’t sure.
  • Take opportunities to speak publicly. Whether it is in the safety of a classroom discussion or in a department meeting, practice voicing your opinion. Work on your body language, your non-verbal gestures, and your tone of voice. If you want private practice, record yourself and analyze the results.


Self-regulation is all about consistency. It is about building up confidence over time, and continuing to be reliable, even when things don’t go your way. Trustworthiness comes from honesty, ethics, timeliness, and organization. Conscientiousness comes when you increase your ability to work independently without direction. Innovation and adaptability are linked to creativity and, of course, your ability to handle (and even embrace!) change.

  • Be honest when you do something wrong. Own up to your mistakes quickly and efficiently. At school, this may mean apologizing if you fall behind with coursework or asking for a makeup test. At work, this may mean explaining to your supervisor when you make a mistake and then describing your plan to fix it.
  • Stick with a task even when it is hard. Work isn’t always easy. It may be draining to tackle certain projects, but getting your work done on deadline will help your co-workers, peers, and employers rely on you.
  • Focus on time management. The steps you learn in Chapter 7 all come into play as you work to self-regulate. Make those to do lists, organize your calendar and meet all of your obligations.


You heard about motivation in Chapter 2 and Chapter 7, and how it can help you with goal setting and time management. When it comes to emotional intelligence, motivation is more about your attitude and about how you are perceived. Do your coworkers, peers, instructors and supervisors see you as motivated?

  • Look for opportunities to grow. Encourage and embrace feedback . Learn from your mistakes. Take on new challenges and learn as you go. Taking initiative and then following through on it will get the eye of your supervisor or instructor.
  • Show your commitment and loyalty. Don’t be afraid of being too excited about your job or school. If you have passion, let it show. When you start working somewhere new, learn about the goals and purpose of the organization, and keep those in mind when you are working.
  • Be optimistic. Positivity will help you make it through tough times. It will help you when you are stressed or overwhelmed. Hoping for the best while remaining realistic about your situation will will help you recover and move forward.


Empathy is how we connect to the feelings of others. It is how you imagine you would feel from someone else’s point of view. In essence, it is a way of trying to feel how others feel, and then reflecting on that experience. Remember that all people have things going on in their lives outside of the contexts where you see them. At school and work, empathy can help you connect with others and better understand their challenges.

  • Acknowledge other peoples’ feelings and experiences. Empathize if someone is having a tough time. Give people space to share their feelings. Practice active listening and try to paraphrase what they are saying.
  • Celebrate the successes of others. We often focus on the negative and neglect the positive. If someone did well on their last test, had a great interview, or got a promotion, congratulate them. Validation builds trust and connection, and, it’s fun!
  • Identify the needs of your clients. If you work in customer or client service, really focus on their experience. If you can, notice challenges or problems that make it harder for them to get what they need. If it is in your power, make changes or suggestions to your employer to see if you can make things better.
  • Engage in cultural competency and humility. We all have biases and bring those with us to our jobs. Learn more about other cultures and experiences. Take advantage of the suggestions offered in Chapter 4 and Chapter 9.

Watch this video with Brené Brown to hear the difference in between empathy and sympathy: Brené Brown on Empathy vs Sympathy.

Figure 8.3 The Empathy Wheel [Image description]

Relationship Management

Many of the important parts of relationship management will come from your instructor or supervisor. They set the tone and attend to the needs of their students or employees. That being said, there are two sides to any relationship! As a new worker or a student, you are a kind of apprentice. So, learn from your co-workers and emulate behaviours you see as successful.

  • Read the room. Look to your audience for clues about your performance and adjust as needed. This might mean speeding up or slowing down, adding detail or skipping ahead.
  • Be the bigger person. When you are dealing with conflict at work, try to act in a way that is courteous and moral. Try to empathize and deal with challenges right away. Avoid pettiness and embrace feedback. Use appropriate support channels if you are being targeted or mistreated.
  • Embrace group work. It can definitely be a challenge to work with others. However, if you can learn how to cooperate, share tasks, and contribute to a team, you will be highly valued.
  • Make friendships. Find co-workers or classmates that you can relate to, even if you only spend time together at work or school. Get to know the people around you, including their interests and a bit about their life outside of work. Even if they seem really different from you, you’ll be surprised at the ways you can connect.

Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy is your belief in yourself and the way your advocate for you and your needs. The perception that you have of yourself is important in your professional and personal growth. If you view yourself in a negative light, then likely your outward thoughts and actions will match. When you view yourself in a positive light, you create self-efficacy, positive thinking, and find the good in people and situations. Self-efficacy goes beyond just your skills and leans to your belief in yourself and what you can do with the skills that you have (Goleman, 1998). Simply having skills or knowing the competencies in this chapter is not enough. You must believe in your abilities to perform the skills in order to use them optimally (Goleman, 1998). Part of practicing self-efficacy is for you to communicate your emotions effectively. You know that you are advocating for yourself appropriately when you are able to speak your mind while continuing to create and maintain positive relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • Interpersonal skills are the people skills that will help you build relationships and trust as an employee and as a student
  • Interpersonal communication is about the context in which you communicate
  • Remember that everyone at work is a person with their own challenges, goals and emotions
  • Emotional intelligence is about acknowledging your feelings and the feelings of others as an integral part of your workplace
  • Believe in yourself and practice optimism to help you succeed and overcome challenges when they come up

Image Descriptions

Figure 8.3 The Empathy Wheel

  1. Observe. Become aware of emotional States in others by paying attention to communication cues.
  2. Tune-in. Actively listen in an effort to understand their experience.
  3. Relate. Look for parallels in your life experience that help you identify with someone’s perspective.
  4. Connect. Share in someone’s feeling by perspective taking.
  5. Reach out. Respond appropriately to a person through acts of compassion.

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Media Attributions


Blackman, C. (n.d.). A brief summary of FIRO theory. WSA international inc.

Calarco, A., & Gurvis, J. (2006). Adaptability: Responding effectively to change. Center For Creative Leadership.

Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. Bantam Books.

McPheat, S. (2019, April 17). Communication skills vs. interpersonal skills. Management training specialists.

Sandoval, D. (n.d.). The empathy wheel. The empathy training project.

King, L. (2019, April 1). Who said change is the only constant in life? Mindset matters.

Westmyer, S. A., Dicioccio, R. L., & Rubin, R. B. (1998). Appropriateness and effectiveness of communication channels in competent interpersonal communication. Journal of Communication, 48(3), 27-48. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1998.tb02758.x.


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Getting Ready for Work-Integrated Learning Copyright © 2022 by Deb Nielsen; Emily Ballantyne; Faatimah Murad; and Melissa Fournier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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