How to Accelerate Your Career With Emotional Intelligence

September 30, 2020

Hayley Hesseln, PhD, CEC and co-founder EI Advantage tells us about helping students shift from academia to the workforce, and her new book full of emotional intelligence exercises to support their transition.

Trained as a natural resource economist, she has worked as a university professor since 1996 in the US and Canada, and focuses much of her research on teaching and learning.

Students often come to me for career advice and counselling putting me in a unique position to be able to help them make the sometimes-intimidating transition from an academic world to the workforce.

If you’re like me, you know that your educational institution has done a great job at teaching technical skills. For example, at the university I work at, I know that our students are trained very well across many disciplines in the medical fields, sciences, social sciences, and humanities just to name a few. I also know that we sometimes don’t focus as much on teaching the softer skills, which are related to emotional intelligence (EI).

Emotional Intelligence

The concept of EI has been around for about a century and in the last forty years has been linked to personal and professional success. 

Emotional intelligence pertains to how well we perceive and express ourselves, the degree to which we use our emotions to develop mutually beneficial and healthy relationships, how well we make decisions, and how we handle stress.

Not only can it be measured, it can be enhanced through training.  

So What?

The Government of Canada has identified nine essential skills that are important for going about our daily lives including how we manage ourselves at work and in an academic setting.  As an educator, it’s important that students have proficiency in their chosen field, but it’s also important that students have mastery over the essential skills, which can be related directly to EI!  While I teach economics, I also infuse my lectures and interactions with students with opportunities to enhance their EI.

I teach a first-year class and recall meeting with a student who was shy and had difficulty expressing himself – I’ll call him Jack (not his real name). 

Jack’s inability to comfortably communicate was clearly having a negative effect on his success in a group project. Given his lack of expression, and assertiveness, I would also expect him to have difficulty managing himself during an interview or later in his career if he were required to work on a team or with customers. 

The best way to help Jack was to get him to slowly develop his ability to express himself by practising assertiveness and being emotionally independent.  

Essential Career Skills

One of the reasons I wrote the book, Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success: was to help students like Jack feel more comfortable developing the essential skills necessary for success.

Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success explains why emotional intelligence is important and offers 45 exercises that have been proven to promote emotional skills to better collaborate and communicate, to make decisions, and to handle stress at school and in the workplace. 

I’ve done my best to provide students with a range of easy-to-implement exercises that will empower them and give them the confidence they need to succeed personally and professionally.

Start developing your emotional intelligence and get your copy of Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success today!