Sunday, September 22, 2013

Emotional Intelligence or The Dangers of Imbecility

Lately I have been receiving a fair amount of emails (annoyance via electronic medium) explaining the need for emotional intelligence in the workplace. Some world-class organizations are offering cutting edge coaching and even certification.  Learning this essential skill (you may already have it and are unaware) will set you apart from the run of the mill competencies and send your career sailing toward extraordinary success… or maybe just sailing.

EI happens to be just another buzzword being introduced or re-introduced and presented with the promise that you will have unbelievable success in your organization if you just learn these simple concepts whatever they are. There are hundreds of business buzzwords to choose from but as I mentioned, my business buzzword bingo marker has been landing on emotional intelligence quite a bit lately so let’s explore that.

What is emotional intelligence? From what I have learned it is a two-fold process of controlling your own emotions while also being able to understand, interpret and respond to the emotions of others.  

Suggestions I found on wikiHow to control your emotions include some deep breathing, taking a walk, meditating or just talking about how you feel. Your dog won’t mind listening if you have enough treats in your pocket. These are all good suggestions but they are much too mature for my nature.

I have developed my own methods of dealing with emotions through the years like throwing raw eggs in the shower. The clean up is pretty easy. Sometimes whipping a chain link fence with a wet towel does the trick or maybe you’re the type of person who likes to drive out onto a deserted road and scream in your car until you are hoarse. Accompany this with trying to rip the wheel from the steering column, works for me. I promise if you practice these exercises regularly, you won’t have the energy to respond emotionally at work.

As far as perceiving emotions, body language can reveal much.  Posture, gestures or speech patterns are clues. A curt, “I’m fine,” response can and often does mean otherwise. There is something known as emotional leakage, another buzzword phrase. But I must warn you, you gotta be quick. It’s that flash across a person’s face within 1/15 of a second of feeling an emotion. Often when someone is trying to suppress a feeling they will paste a contrived expression on their face like they’re posing for a photo. If you are alert you can detect the moment before they do this and it will aid you in exposing lies or perhaps to avoid a quick rabbit punch to the ocular region on your own face.

When I spend a good four hours or even a full day in a seminar I want to have ‘key takeaways’, mainly because most of what I learned has no bearing on my job. This would be a list of topics that I would remember if I had been paying attention but you really don’t have to attend a class or seminar to be certified in emotional intelligence. 

To save you some time and trouble here is the key takeaway: Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s called The Golden Rule and has been a practical buzzword for centuries.

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