Knowhow – Perception Power
How emotional intelligence can help you get ahead
By Bill Sex
Special to the Worcester Business Journal
Daniel Goleman, in the Harvard Business Review, proposed that IQ and technical knowledge are mainly “threshold capabilities” and simply exist as entry level requirements for key positions.
The key is a high level of emotional intelligence, which provides the “link” — the ability to connect with and relate to other people.
So what is emotional intelligence and how does it relate to business relationships? Feelings influence the way we think and the decisions we make. For example, you wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise or more resources if he/she was in a bad mood. The response would likely be no. The scientific term for this is “mood congruent thought.” Feelings influence our outward displays and behaviors and therefore play a huge role in our relationships.
Many would argue that there is no room for the managing of emotions in the workplace; that somehow emotions are only personal. Ironically, these are the “hard” elusive skills and are the very thing that fuels or quenches the energy of the workplace.
According to Genos, a leading international educator in emotional intelligence, “EI involves the capability to ‘intelligently’ use one’s own and others’ emotions to intentionally and efficiently deliver individual and organizational outcomes.” Some of these skills include:
Self Awareness — perceiving and understanding one’s emotions when interacting with other people.
Self Expression — expressing one’s emotions effectively and creating a greater understanding amongst colleagues about yourself.
Awareness of Others — perceiving and understanding others’ emotions and how to engage, respond, motivate and connect with them.
Emotional Reasoning — utilizing emotional information (as well as data) in decision-making.
The following short story illustrates how these skills can impact relationships.
Ideas In Action
Tom had been running his business unit for more than four years and was doing a very accomplished job — on the surface. Despite this success, people were talking. The relationship with John, his boss, had become difficult. There were disagreements, defensiveness and conversations were not as easy as they once were. Eventually, during a review, John bluntly explained how Tom was being perceived, and if it didn’t change, there would be consequences. Some of the criticisms were that:
• He had become arrogant, self-centered and less-approachable.
• He was challenging too often and becoming more disagreeable.
• He was less supportive of his team and often confronting John in public.
• He was less concerned for how people felt and made decisions unilaterally.
Through working with an executive coach, Tom came to understand how his behavior had changed. He also discovered that if he truly wanted to change there were some very simple things he could do to rebuild the necessary relationships:
• He spoke candidly to trusted colleagues about areas he could work on.
• He changed his approach when communicating with people; he listened more and asked questions with genuine curiosity.
• He tried to be more patient with people, acknowledged them more and was supportive of ideas.
• He become more reflective in his decision making and came to understand the various parties affected in order to make better decisions.
Tom never shifted in terms of his high expectations of people and the need for accountability. What he did change was his approach.