Looking inward: enhancing emotional intelligence to build a better work environment

How often are we aware of our own emotions? Are we living in the present moment? How can we use the concepts of emotional intelligence and empathy to build a healthier and more productive work environment?

These were just a few of the questions that WHO Sri Lanka’s “Respectful work environment through enhanced emotional intelligence” workshop sought to answer. Professor Piyanjali de Zoysa, Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka conducted a half-day workshop for WHO Sri Lanka staff on the role of emotional awareness and management in the workplace. Held in light of WHO’s very first Respectful Workplace Day, 7 December 2017, the session highlighted the importance of emotional management for an organization’s internal health and success.

The workshop aimed to empower WCO staff to enhance their emotional intelligence and in doing so build a more respectful work environment that encourages trust, accountability and mutual respect while embracing the dignity and diversity of individuals. Emotional intelligence helps individuals enhance their awareness and management of emotions and consequently perform better in their personal and professional lives.

Prof Piyanjali de Zoysa covered the fundamentals of emotional intelligence including emotional awareness, emotional management, motivation, empathy and social skills. Through a rich collection of real life examples and experiential exercises, she was able to bring to life social psychological concepts of emotional intelligence and mindfulness. The workshop was also very practical and explored how individuals can improve their emotional intelligence by practicing present moment awareness, meditation, ethical conduct and thought re-structuring.

“Present moment awareness is training your mind to focus on the present experience and being mindful of what you do or say. By living in the moment we are more aware of our words and behavior and it becomes easier for us to spot out our own unethical behavior,” explained Prof Piyanjali.

Prof Piyanjali also facilitated interactive discussions to reveal how concepts of emotional intelligence could be translated into the workplace. Acting on emotions can create difficult work environments. Employees who are more aware of their own emotional state and understand the mindset of their colleagues help contribute to a culture of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation at the workplace.

Speaking on behalf of the WHO Sri Lanka office, Dr Razia Pendse, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka said “developing and enhancing our emotional intelligence will help us build a positive workplace environment as well as better work-life balance.”

WHO Sri Lanka staff organized a workshop on emotional intelligence to celebrate Respectful Workplace Day 2017.
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