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I Count -- I Count You! EQ and the New Workplace

By Michael E. Rock, Ed.D. |

There is probably nothing as important in life as having a good relationship. I believe that feeling significant, that is, feeling important to someone who is meaningful to us like a partner, colleague, boss is the basis for extraordinary living. When the relationship is not working well, it is also the basis for incredible pain and, often, illness.

Scenario #1: Picture yourself looking forward to getting up in the morning and getting down to work, whether at your home-office or at your actual office building where you work.

Scenario #2: Now picture yourself reaching for the phone to call in sick." You're just not feeling up to it. You don't even want to think about getting up, getting dressed, and off to work.

Question: What is the difference between each environmental scenario?

Answer: If you said "the people in the workplace," you would be correct nine times out of ten. A higher workplace EQ (or emotional quotient) in scenario #1 gives you an "up" feeling, that you "count"; a lower EQ (or emotional quotient) in scenario #2 gives you a "down" feeling, that you "don't count." In interpersonal communications, we diagram the scenarios as follows:

I DON'T COUNT, I COUNT YOU (- +) ~ I Lose-You Win
I COUNT, I COUNT YOU (+ +) ~ I Win, You Win
I COUNT, I DON'T COUNT YOU (+ -) ~ I Win, You Lose

Explanation of the symbols:

  • In "I don't count, I count you," an individual takes a TURTLE approach to relationships. The individual avoids conflict and, therefore, problems often go unresolved. In the office, these are the employees who are continually covering their proverbial assets.

  • In "I count, I count you," an individual demonstrates an inclusive EQ attitude. Both parties feel that they matter, that problems can be resolved, and the end result is a good feeling of "okness." This individual is perhaps best identified as a RESOLVER. In the office, these are the employees who make good team members and who generally contribute to a healthy worthplace.

  • In "I count, I don't count you," an individual pushes his/her weight around. These are often the bullies, sometimes referred to as SKUNKS. In the office, everyone knows when a skunk has been around. It is not by accident, in this era of downsizing, that we are hearing so much about "poisoned atmospheres" in many workplaces. Skunk managers are notorious for hiring, developing and bullying Turtle employees. As a matter of fact, Skunks and Turtles, sad to say, work together like "hand and glove," even though they may hate one another. Resolvers do not subject themselves to this kind of abuse. They change the situation; they leave it; or, if they have to work in it, take an attitude that maintains their dignity and self-worth. They refuse to get into a fight with a Skunk, but they don't become a Turtle either.
EQ, or your emotional quotient B is the fuel you need each day to make your business a success. Actually, research studies now show that EQ is almost 50% of your success! Whether you have a home business or work in a more traditional setting, high EQ is the lubricant for this success.

Your EQ announces to the world how emotionally intelligent and capable you are. IQ tells the world what you can do; EQ, what you will do. In this third of five parts, I want to address the second component of emotional intelligence: the social you. In the diagrams above, if you build "win-win," "I count-I count you relationships," you grow your interpersonal EQ, or your emotional quotient B is the fuel you need each day to make your business a success. Actually, research studies now show that EQ is almost 50% of your success! Whether you have a home business or work in a more traditional setting, high EQ is the lubricant for this success.

Take the following simple 10-item EQ self-test. Be honest with yourself.

Item QUESTION Yes(x) No(x)
1 Are you sensitive to thefeelings of other people?
2 Do you know how to "tunein" to what, how, why people feel as they do?
3 Can you "emotionally read"other people?
4 you a cooperative, constructiveteam player?
5 Would others say you areresponsible and dependable?
6 Do you do things for andwith people because it is right to do so?
7 Do you honour and act accordingto your conscience?
8 Are you capable of havingmutually satisfying relationships?
9 Are you able to be comfortablearound people?
10 Would you say you have excellenthuman relations skills?

How did you do?

High EQ types will consistently score between 8-10 almost every time.

A more formal term for what I have called the social you is what the EQ-i (or Emotional Quotient-Inventory) calls the "Interpersonal EQ Scale." "Inter" means "between." Interpersonal skills are social or human core competencies that free you up to initiate, foster and enjoy human relationships. Each of us absolutely craves a healthy relationship. Many, however, do not experience its joy.

People who score high on the interpersonal scale are people who enjoy people and who understand, interact, and relate well with others. Others will see them as dependable and responsible and, in work settings, will work well in teams and interact well with customers, colleagues, and bosses.Let's look at the 10 items again that make up the interpersonal EQ scale. There are 3 sub-components to the interpersonal scale. They are listed below.

  • Items 1-3: Empathy. This EQ core competency allows individuals to be aware of and appreciate other people's feelings. Obviously psychopaths do not count in this regard! Parents and teachers, in particular, need a strong dose of empathy to raise healthy children. Empathy allows us to feel with others and to see the world through their eyes. "Only when we achieve this can we understand another's meaning fully."2 We don't do mean things. Molly Brown, age 20, at a public swimming pool said, "When it gets real hot, there is a lot of pushing and shoving. I watched a kid get stepped on by an adult trying to get in the pool. It gets nasty."3

    Workplace application: Some might say that never before has empathy been so much in demand in the workplace given the current emphasis on change, downsizing, and globalization. A workplace without empathy is a workplace that is sick, unhealthy at best, and very raw, uncaring, and vicious at worst. Empathy was what some were asking for the Clinton family during their crisis:

    Mrs. Clinton met over the weekend with Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is said to have comforted her and her daughter and worked to heal the marriage to which Bill Clinton has brought so much chronic pain. The image of the black civil-rights leader giving counsel to the traumatized middle-aged couple was directed to aging baby boomers who have experienced similar stresses, meant to generate empathy for the family's predicament.4

    In regards to the corporate world, political scientist Francis Fukuyama makes a very interesting point: "It is interesting to speculate on what would happen, given current global economic conditions, if some occupying Martians suddenly declared that large American corporations were not allowed to lay off workers."5 We can say with certainty that any alternative would definitely have to include a huge dose of empathy.

    Workplaces can only be ethical if empathy is central. When we begin not to care, we also begin to act in ways that, unless corrected, lead to unethical activities. Toronto cab driver Tiruneh Mekonnen exhibited strong workplace empathy in Toronto. He felt he had to manage customer nastiness. For him, this empathy task came with the job when the temperature rose and travelling conditions for his passengers worsened. Said Mekonnen, "Today is a hot one. Customers are uncomfortable when they get in [in explaining that the cab's air conditioning is broken and its owner won't pay to have it fixed]. They don't talk much and they want out quick."3

    Recommendation: Today, as never before, managers and employees need to manage the context. They have to be "tuned in." Interpersonally, this means being able to "emotionally read" other people.6 If you find that you are short on empathy, stop and think about how you might be more sensitive to other people, especially those closest to you. Make it obvious to those around you that you want to establish good relations, and demonstrate thankfulness and appreciation. A good EQ motto is: "Attitude is gratitude." When that happens, it shows up in our bodies, on our faces, in our eyes. In the workplace, it especially shows up as ROIR: Return-on-Investment-in-Relationships.

  • Items 4-7: Social Responsibility. People who demonstrate this EQ core competency show that they can co-operate, contribute and be constructive members of their social group. Of course, this means not only to one's immediate social group, but also to the wider community as well. There is a clear awareness that while we are individuals, we also live in community. Self and others.

    Current case example: One vivid example of lack of high social responsibility EQ is that involving the B.C. juror, Gillian Guess, who had an affair with an accused murderer (who was acquitted, because of her?), and then faced 18 months in jail for obstruction of justice. Writer Lisa Birnie asked how could a 43-year-old woman end up in such a predicament? Guess felt that her actions were acceptable. However, she couldn't see beyond her own frame of reference. The community and legal system didn't impact on her behaviour at all. Birnie tries to explain Guess' lack of social responsibility EQ: "I tend to think she's simply an exaggerated example of a person whose life is dominated by the belief that exercising one's will and satisfying one's needs are an inherent expression of one's humanity."

    In short, Guess' psychological make-up, according to Birnie, is that she passionately believes that her "rights" are hers alone, and nobody else's business - especially her right to forge her own "authentic" values, which included having an affair with the accused. Birnie says this is quintessential baby boomer thinking: self, not others. This is a harsh judgment, but if it bears up in real life - as it seems from the popular press clippings of Ms. Guess' trial - then we can truly see before our eyes a bankrupt social responsibility EQ. The result of that individualism thinking, according to Birnie, is

    a genuine lack of any sense of a significant relationship with, or responsibility toward, the wider community or society. ... After 43 years in this essentially law-abiding society, with all its opportunities, perks and privileges, she hadn't a clue that the thing that holds this or any civilized society together is a group of commonly held, sometimes transcendent, ideas such as justice, law, courage, honour and a duty to act fairly.7

    Workplace application: One does not have to delve too deeply to see examples both of the abundance of high EQ socially responsible companies, but also low EQ types as well. If managers have low EQ social responsibility, environmental disasters are always looming just in front of them. Labour relations problems are constant. During a strike at General Motors during the summer of 1998, the then UAW president Stephen Yokich said there was no trust at all between the two parties. Unlike Ford Motor Co. which maintains close relations with the UAW leadership, GM has historically had an "us-versus-them management style," according to professor Marick Masters, in his book Unions at the Crossroads. The costs for this lack of social responsibility EQ were enormous: over 166,000 employees laid off and $2.2-billion (U.S.) in lost revenue during the strike.8 One figure put the cost at $3 billion (U.S.), or $4.5 billion (Canadian)!9

    Recommendation: THINK. THINK. THINK. Dr. Reuven Bar-On, the author of the EQ-i, says it most poignantly: "Socially responsible people have a social consciousness and a basic concern for others, which is manifested by being able to take on community-oriented responsibilities. This component relates to the ability to do things for and with others, accepting others, acting in accordance with one's conscience, and upholding social rules."10 Without a socially responsible EQ, the world and workplace becomes a place for the "survival of the fittest." We see too much of that today. When employees feel that they are not getting a fair deal, sabotage is on the way. It may be small at first, but it can eventually destroy a business. Look beyond your own immediate concerns. See others for their value and talents. If you're a manager, celebrate what employees do and also celebrate who they are.

  • Items 8-10: Interpersonal Relationship. Individuals who score high on this EQ core competency are people who enjoy mutually satisfying relationships. Others like being around them and find the relationship rewarding and enjoyable. These people both give and receive appropriate affection. You will know a person has a high EQ in this area because you will feel at ease and comfortable around them. They won't embarrass you or put you on the spot.

    Workplace application: According to Maurice Werezak, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 248P, Fred Mitchell, 52, owner of Mitchell's Gourmet Foods, a $300-million Saskatoon company, is a person with high EQ in the interpersonal relationship area: "Fred is a very open, caring individual. He knows a tremendous number of the employees' names."11 In spite of a family-business conflict, and a serious illness, he has been able to turn the company around.

    Recommendation: Make relationships work for you, not against you. Some people are their own worst enemy. This EQ competency is essential when it comes to customer service. Learn to cultivate friendly relations with employees, suppliers, bosses. Learning the art of "chit-chat" can be a real bonus. Some may feel that that kind of activity is demeaning. Not at all. In some ways, if you are not used to chit-chatting, the feeling is somewhat akin to getting up the first time to give a speech. In teaching managers and executives to give presentations, I remind them that a few seconds silence, though it seems like an eternity to them, is not even noticed by the audience. I teach them to get their feet firmly planted on the ground and really look around at the audience first. Similarly, with chit-chat, it might feel like nonsense, but it can be an amazing social glue. Done well, it is artistry in motion; done poorly, it is buffoonery.

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