Scholarly Critique on Workplace Relations and Emotional Intelligence

I am currently working my way through my third semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is the fourth within a series of 12 scholarly critiques that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Research in ILT.

I recently received somewhat ‘not-positive’ feedback (I can’t say it was truly negative so I am lacking the proper word to use!) on my semester-long action research project and I’m now struggling to fully understand what exactly our research topic truly is.  At this point, I feel like my scholarly critiques are serving more as an understanding of emotional intelligence in general and all of the different avenues that can be explored with it.  If anything, the critique below supports the topic I was previously looking to research, the positive effects of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

When I conducted the searches for my two previous critiques, I was more focused on the topics of the resulting articles than I was on their publish dates.  Because of my recent struggle with our topic, I filtered the results for this search to show me more relevant content, all articles that have been published within the last five years.  Using the Auraria Library, I entered in the phrase “emotional intelligence workplace” into the search field and found an article titled, Workplace Relations and Emotional Intelligence by Gabriela Dumbravă, Assistant Professor at University of Petrosani in Romania.

Search Process for SC #4

Dr. Dumbravă’s paper which was published in 2011, uses social anthropology and psychology to evaluate the role of non – cognitive aspects of intelligence, or emotional intelligence (henceforth “EQ”), in a person’s professional success as well as how it affects one’s interpersonal relationships within the workplace.  Dr. Dumbravă utilizes research conducted in the EQ field over the past several decades to validate the theory that career accomplishment depends more on a person’s EQ than it does on their IQ.

The paper begins with a condensed history of emotional intelligence explaining that the concept goes as far back as the 30’s and 40’s of the 20th century (p. 85).  Dr. Dumbravă acknowledges all of the great researchers and writers of EQ starting with Howard Gardner, who “set forth his theory of multiple intelligences, according to which individuals display two types of personal intelligence – intrapersonal and interpersonal – governing their capacity to understand and manage their own emotions, as well as to anticipate and react efficiently to the their interlocutors’ behavior” (p. 86).  She then discusses Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer who, in the 1990’s, “identified emotional intelligence as a form of social intelligence involving the ability to assess and manage one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions in such a way as to use them as effective guidelines of individual thinking and action” (p. 86).

Dr. Dumbravă discusses how Daniel Goleman’s studies, explained in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995), connect all the dots to prove that in the workplace, EQ is essentially more important than IQ.  Cognitive intelligence is only momentary, for example, passing an exam or writing a complex report.  Non-cognitive intelligence is the source of skills with long-term impact, for example, persevering in the face of difficulties, adaptability to change, consideration and equanimity pertaining to relationships with coworkers, subordinates, and management, and sensible decision making.  Based on Goleman’s studies, research actually suggests that having a high EQ improves cognitive intelligence.

Aristotle-on-Knowing-YourselfWhen relating emotional intelligence specifically to workplace relations, Dr. Dumbravă discusses human resources specialist Mike Poskey’s 5 EQ competencies that, in his opinion, contribute more to workplace success than technical skills, cognitive ability, and personality traits (pp. 87-88).  Those five competencies are:

  1. intuition and empathy
  2. political acumen and social skills
  3. self awareness
  4. self regulation
  5. self expectations and motivation

Therefore, based on Poskey’s competencies, Dr. Dumbravă states, “Given the importance of emotional intelligence in establishing a positive, productive work environment, companies should shift the emphasis from selection criteria based on the assessment of personality traits and training programs focused on hard skills to such competencies as stress management, assertiveness skills, empathy, and political/social acumen” (p. 88).

This paper isn’t written based off a specific study done by Dr. Dumbravă herself, but more as a summary on research that she has collected from others.  The statistics that stood out to me most were that emotional intelligence accounts for 15% to 45% of one’s job success, whereas the IQ accounts for less than 6% and professionals and managers with high EQ are 127% more productive.  That final statistic is staggering and proves to me that every company should make investing in EQ for its employees an extremely high priority.  Here is a list of business consultant Alexander Kjerulf’s reasons for why no company can afford to ignore emotions in the workplace:

  • We make no decisions without emotions.
  • Emotions guide workplace relationships.
  • Emotions are at the source of employee engagement and motivation.
  • Emotions are crucial to creativity and innovation.
  • Emotions are integral to learning at work.
  • We cannot leave our emotions at home.
  • Stifled bad emotions grow stronger.
  • Stifled good emotions grow weaker.
  • Emotions are a sign that people care about the workplace.

Out of the four critiques I have written thus far, this paper was by far the most interesting and relevant read.  Despite not having a clear idea of where my action research project is going, I find the knowledge I gained from reading this paper has given me closure on a topic I am no longer pursuing.  Dr. Dumbravă even includes a (slightly awkwardly placed) section on dealing with complainers at work and how a certain type of complaining can actually be constructive.  (Who knew!)  I had been wondering how important EQ actually is in the workplace and if it was something that should be brought to the attention of management within my own workplace.  It certainly is, but that may be a mountain that needs to be scaled another time.

***For a more in-depth guide on emotional intelligence and emotional quotient (historical development, categories of emotional quotient, importance of emotional intelligence, and strategies to boosting your emotional intelligence), check out this absolutely fantastic piece written by Martin Luenendonk at Cleverism.

Header image from here.
Aristotle quote image from here.


Dumbravă, G. (2011). Workplace relations and emotional intelligence. Annals of the University of Petroşani, Economics, 11(3), 85-92.

Gardner, H. (1983) Frames of mind, Basic Books, New York

Goleman, D. (1995) Emotional intelligence, Bantam, New York

Kjerulf, A. (2007) Happy Hour is 9 to 5, Alexander Publishing

Poskey, M. (2001) The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. Why It Matters More than Personality,

Salovey, P.; Mayer, J. (1990) Emotional intelligence, Imagination, cognition, and personality, 9(3), pp.185-211