For many, the idea of emotional intelligence in construction reaffirms the notion that every
generation gets a little softer. Unfortunately, this common misconception can create a persona that draws people away from wanting to work in the industry, specifically as a skilled laborer or tradesman. However, a better understanding of emotional intelligence and how it correlates with the construction industry can get people who are skilled at building with their hands excited about pursuing a career where they can do just that.
What is emotional intelligence?
Internationally-known psychologist, Daniel Goleman, breaks down emotional intelligence in three steps:
- Develop an awareness of your own emotions
- Self-regulate your emotions
- Learn to recognize and empathize with the emotions of others
It goes without saying that we all have emotions, and through circumstances and situations, our emotions are triggered every day. With emotional intelligence, we’re able to control our emotions to ensure that we are functioning and communicating efficiently and effectively – two tasks that are critical for a successful construction project and team. So, in recognizing this proven philosophy, why has the concept of emotional intelligence been suppressed in industries like building design and construction?
Impact on construction
The topic of emotional intelligence is beginning to surface within construction and is slowly changing the industry. Industry professionals are recognizing that it’s time to turn away from the “check your feelings at the door” mentality, which suggests that individuals are only as good as the physical work they can accomplish.
Historically, construction has been known as a hard-nosed vocation for tough-minded men who lack “book-smarts.” This generalization couldn’t be any farther from the truth – building design and construction is full of both men and women who are skilled and intelligent in how they think and process information. This is significant because the way people in this industry are stereotyped and perceived has a subconscious impact on their emotions.
Exercising emotional intelligence in the construction industry will help combat this overgeneralized stereotype. In addition, it will also allow employees to:
- Become more aware of who they are and what motivates them on and off the job site
- Find greater value in what they do as they learn to channel emotions in a way that is constructive and beneficial to their work
- Acquire a greater sense of understanding for their emotional capacity
Project team success ultimately starts and stops with an understanding and the implementation of emotional intelligence. With this, leaders and employees can build stronger and long-lasting relationships, laying the foundation for stronger engagement, effective team dynamics, and therefore, exceptional project results.
Originally published in Building Design + Construction.