Did you know that if you have a job, there’s a roughly 50/50 chance you don’t like it? Not only are those sobering odds, but they also indicate that many of us aren’t happy at work.
What can be done? Of course, there’s always the option to quit and search for a job you might like more… but what if there were a shortcut you could use to improve the job you’re in?
By using your emotional intelligence, you can think more strategically about your relationships around the office. Using your “soft skills” also known as emotional intelligence (EI) allows you to adjust your perspective, increase how happy you are at work, and more. Here’s how to get started:
1. Make Yourself Invaluable
If your bosses and coworkers don’t see you as a valuable team member, you won’t have the social capital to shift your job responsibilities to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t.
Being invaluable starts with being reliable. Finish what you start; show up on time; be prepared for meetings; do what you say you’re going to do; pay attention to the expectations of management and your coworkers.
This might seem like basic advice, but laying the groundwork will help you move towards the job you want by excelling at the job you currently have, even if you don’t like all aspects of it. By showing empathy, problem-solving, and by collaborating, you can show management that you’re ready for more, and be prepared to train someone else to do your job.
2. Think Like Your Boss
Leaders with high emotional intelligence are those who notice and pay attention to others. Pay attention to the kinds of questions your boss asks, their communication patterns, what they praise, and what tasks or goals they prioritize.
The key here isn’t just to notice, but to adapt: if you’ve noticed that your boss expected an answer to their emails, respond quickly, even if the answer is “I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’m on it.”
Being adaptable to their traits, even if you don’t share them, allows you to anticipate their needs and present solutions without having to increase your technical skills.
3. Ask For the Work You Want
Once you’ve spent some time acing everything included in your current job description you can start stretching your boundaries outside of it - and that means speaking up and asking for what you want.
Begin by talking to management about what you’d like to do more of, how it ties into your current position, and a few examples of how you can handle the additional responsibility.
For example, if you want to be the go-to person for writing in your department, offer to edit important documents and emails before they go out. If you excel at this task, pretty soon you’ll be the go-to person in your department for editing and everyone will be bringing their important documents to you.
If you want to brainstorm more often, offer to host weekly brown-bag lunch sessions with coworkers to discuss project details or think up new ways to solve tricky problems that your team needs to manage.
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