Make the most of the digital world with emotional intelligence

Make the most of the digital world with emotional intelligence

Use technology to handle routine matters so you have more time for human connections

Our digital world is growing faster than most of us ever expected. With travel bans and lockdowns around the world, remote working has expanded dramatically. Even though Thailand has controlled the pandemic domestically, many organisations continue to give their people options to work from outside the office.

Digitisation is no longer new. However, what is new about it today is the extent to which it has become a basic requirement in the workplace and daily life. While many people adapted to the sudden digitisation of the workplace during the lockdown, many still struggle to realise the potential it offers. And the more we rely on digital tools to connect with others, the more new challenges we see coming to light. 

The biggest challenge we may face is: can we truly connect digitally with others as effectively as we do face-to-face? 

This is where emotional intelligence becomes important. We cannot run away from technology’s accelerating growth, but we can learn to adapt to it and still keep the human connection that technology cannot yet replace.

The term “emotional intelligence” was first coined in 1990 by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer, and then popularised five years later by author Daniel Goleman in his book called Emotional Intelligence. It describes the awareness of one’s emotions and how they drive behaviour and impact others, and the control one has over emotions when under pressure. According to Goleman, it consists of knowing (awareness) and impacting (doing) both your internal self and the external others.

Before you can begin to unlock opportunities in the digital age using emotional intelligence, we must first understand how to develop it. Here are two skill sets to practise to strengthen your emotional intelligence.

The first is the self: self-awareness and self-management. Self-awareness is required to understand your emotions better. Once we understand our own emotions, learning how to react to those emotions also helps build emotional intelligence. 

The second skill set is the social: social awareness and relationship management. Awareness of others and your surroundings is required to understand other people’s state and the current situation we’re all in so that you can react appropriately.

Each of these skill sets contains further capabilities we can build to further strengthen our emotional intelligence. While we know how important emotional intelligence is in the digital age, how do we unlock new opportunities from it? Here are some ways we can use it to open opportunities.

The first opportunity is leadership capabilities. Even if you’re not a manager or team leader, you can benefit from having good leadership traits. These include positive influence, getting work done collaboratively and using your strengths and those of others effectively to manage tasks.

Leadership in the digital world is challenging. Empowering ourselves and others to be unafraid of technology can be difficult. With emotional intelligence, we can learn about the concerns people have and use positive influence to drive others in a positive way.

The second opportunity arises from human connections. Technology cannot replace human connections, at least not yet. But the great advantage of this is that you can use technology to take care of mundane tasks, giving you more time to concentrate on building emotional connections with others in the organisation and our customers.

We usually try to keep emotions out of work and business, but at the end of the day, business is all about people. Therefore, emotions are still an important part of bringing people together to achieve better collaboration and better results, be it improving sales or meeting other goals.

The final opportunity is career advancements or business growth. Emotional intelligence isn’t merely about how we can distinguish ourselves from technology and remain relevant. It is also about using the situation around you and adapting in ways to benefit yourself and those around you.

The greatest strength people have is using our own strengths to the fullest while acquiring help and support in areas where we have weaknesses. In this case, our human strength comes from our emotions and human connections, while we can use technology to support us in more routine tasks. With stronger skills, we find new ways to advance our careers and grow the business.

Human connection and technology don’t necessarily stand separately. To unlock new opportunities and succeed in the digital world, it is about using emotional intelligence to drive human connections and using technology to support us as we drive those human connections.

We may not know what’s going to happen to our world in the future, but rest assured that with emotional intelligence, we will all continue to stay connected to drive humanity in a more positive direction.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC - Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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