8 Ways Managers Can Improve Their Emotional Intelligence

It’s been demonstrated time and time again that one of the strongest predictors of success at work is emotional intelligence. As Daniel Goleman wrote in What Makes a Leader? for the Harvard Business Review:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence….Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

This couldn’t be more true. Study after study has concluded that one of the strongest predictors of success across virtually all industries is emotional intelligence. Not only does it make one a better leader, but it makes one more competent across all areas. And if you’re a restaurant manager, you’re going to especially need this advantage to motivate your team.

So, you might be wondering: are there ways you can boost your emotional intelligence? In fact, yes there are. So let’s talk about them.

Here are 8 sure-ways to boost your emotional intelligence and make yourself a better restaurant manager for both your company and your employees.

1. Self-regulate your emotions

Self-regulation is all about staying in control. A manager who self-regulates is a manager who is less likely to make rash decisions, attack others, and compromise their values.

If you want to better self-regulate your emotions, you should first know your values well. Ask yourself: what is most important to you? What standards do you want to hold yourself to? Then, be accountable for your actions: rather than blame others, practice being calm. By self-regulating your emotions, you can come to more sensible solutions simply by limiting your capacity for impulse decision-making.

2. Slow down

As a manager, you’re likely dealing with many people on a daily basis. Inevitably, some frustrations will come your way. However, you have to always remember to slow down. Things may be moving too quickly, but always remember it’s your choice how you choose to react to them. A rash response could leave you with a bigger headache than the original problem at hand.

3. Be curious and learn

People with high emotional intelligence are often also naturally-curious people. They are not only able to connect with others easily, but are also able to learn from their own and other people’s mental states. This is a significant asset when you’re managing a service-sector industry like a restaurant.

Therefore, when you’re talking to an employee, try to stay open-minded. Be curious and ask questions. You’ll likely learn something about people. It’s a vital skill that will benefit you tremendously in every aspect of your life.

4. Don’t ignore your emotions

In the service industry, it is common for managers to have recurring emotional challenges at work. That comes with the job. However, the issue is that so many of these same people devise their own techniques to “fix” them.

Clearly, this doesn’t work. As researchers Susan David and Christina Congleton write, “research shows that attempting to minimize or ignore thoughts and emotions serves only to amplify them.” Instead, what studies have repeatedly found is that the most effective leaders approach their experiences in a “mindful, value-driven, and productive way.”

Researchers David and Congleton speak of this attribute as “emotional agility.” In other words, a leader with emotional agility is someone who is able to effectively manage and change their thoughts and feelings relative to the demands of the fast-changing knowledge economy.

Keep this in mind next time you are wrestling with emotional challenges as a restaurant manager.

5. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a form of self-regulating therapy that was first pioneered by University of Nevada psychologist Steven C. Hayes. The ACT is easy to implement in your own managerial position using a simple three-step process.

Accept your reactions and be present with the problem at hand.

Choose a proper solution after assessing the situation and receiving input.

Take the action you decided with the help of others.

By adopting this outlook, you can comprehensively reassess any issues that arise as restaurant manager in a methodological way.

6. Pay attention to body language

Body language can tell you a lot about how a person is really feeling about a situation. By being perceptive of these changes in demeanor, you can more effectively know how those around you are really feeling without needing to ask.

Picking up on body language can be a strong asset for any managerial or leadership role in a restaurant. By exhibiting this level of self-awareness, you can boost your emotional intelligence and respond to each situation much more appropriately.

7. Learn conflict resolution

One of the core characteristics of someone with high emotional intelligence is their ability to handle conflict situations. As a restaurant manager, conflicts likely come up quite often. Therefore, it works to your benefit as a manager to study conflict resolution as a way to diffuse situations and increase your emotional intelligence.

Conflict resolutions should be conducted methodologically. Most importantly, one should always acknowledge the feelings of the parties involved. An inherently cooperative process, conflict resolutions test your emotional intelligence and, if done correctly, are one of the marked distinctions of an effective manager.

8. Recognize that Emotional Intelligence Can Always Be Improved

There seems to be this misconception that emotional intelligence only develops during childhood. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As John D. Mayer, professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire, points out, “current research suggests that people can almost surely increase their emotional competence,” regardless of age.

Not only will boosting your emotional intelligence improve your success as a restaurant owner, but it will also improve your relationships and happiness over time. Therefore, a little improvement can go a long way towards bettering not just your work life, but effectively all aspects of your life.


With these tips, you can improve yourself both as a restaurant manager and as a human being altogether.

Boosting your emotional intelligence will always bring you demonstrable success in your workspace; and best of all, you will be genuinely better-liked because of it. Having high emotional intelligence allows for more trustworthy, compassionate relationships to form which will benefit both your restaurant and your life in general.

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