Winardi, M.A., Prentice, C. & Weaven, S. (2021). Systematic literature review on emotional intelligence and conflict management. Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science, DOI: 10.1080/21639159.2020.1808847
Background & Theory:
There have been a number of studies conducted on the topic of conflict management and emotional intelligence in the workplace. However, there is a lack of research focusing on emotional intelligence as a predictor of constructive conflict management. This literature review considers the benefits of the relationship between emotional intelligence and conflict management in the workplace.
Research was consolidated by Michael Aswin Winardi et al. to answer the following questions:
- Can emotional intelligence be utilized to resolve conflicts in the workplace?
A total of 29 studies on emotional intelligence were reviewed. The suitability criteria for these studies were that they must be in peer-reviewed English journals, must be business, management, or industry-related, and must have been published after 1990. The authors noted the findings of each of these studies and recorded the methods by which the correlation between emotional intelligence and other variables were tested with. The majority of the studies collected were from high-ranking business and management journals
After analyzing all of the studies, the authors synthesized a few key similar findings. First, they suggested the role of geography and culture influence conflict management and level of emotional intelligence in organizations. For example, employees in collectivist cultures often respond differently to conflict and the emotions involved therein compared to employees in individualist cultures.
Another key finding mentioned was that higher levels of emotional intelligence can benefit overall organizational performance. Emotional intelligence is a key element in resolving workplace conflict. Studies explained that emotional intelligence was positively associated with problem-solving strategies in employees, which often are used in conflict management. Research also pointed to the benefits of emotional intelligence in lessening the negative effects of conflict, with one study noting that leaders who used emotional intelligence were able to decrease the negative effects of relationship conflict on team performance and team morale.
Emotional intelligence and conflict management were also positively associated with one another. In several studies, emotional intelligence was significantly and positively related to certain conflict management styles, including integrating, compromising, and dominating. Relatedly, emotional intelligence was found to be a predictor of employee innovation.
What We Can Learn:
Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insights:
- Greater emotional intelligence within employees can lead to more constructive conflict management.
The authors pointed out the necessity for both updated inventory of employees’ emotional intelligence ability and emotional intelligence training programs to help develop this skill.
For Consultants: Greater emotional intelligence is associated with more constructive conflict management. Consider how you can implement EI assessments into workplaces you are serving to help decrease potential negative effects of conflict among employees.
For Everyone: Ineffective conflict management in organizations may exist in part due to low levels of emotional intelligence among employees. Take an EI test to discover where your strengths and weaknesses lie in this arena.