June 12, 2008

Bob’s Going Emo (Part 3)

Filed under: Emo (EQ), Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:57 pm

Last part in this series, though I’m sure I’ll try to touch on a few other aspects of interpersonal relationships within the work place sooner or later.

Perhaps the most important aspect of working with emotional intelligence is empathy. It’s been my experience that positions of leadership and management are especially wanting for people who have high levels of empathy. Once again, this kind of ability is often inherent in people. The ability to alter from your perspective to the person in question is difficult; it’s not how our brain is geared. In fact, some unfortunate few of us suffer from a complete incapability to recognize and understand others’ emotions.

Additionally, the empathic ability of some may be imprecise and cause rifts as after effects of poor management decisions. In plain terms, when you work with people all the time, it pays to understand how they are feeling, why they feel that way and work with them while keeping those situations in context. Keeping someones feelings in mind goes a long way toward creating a synergistic environment. Developing that ability is not easy. We are quite simply a selfish species, and are usually concerned with the big three of me, myself and I. Sad, but true. Maybe this all changes when you have kids, I don’t know.

I’ve worked with people with what I deemed an extreme lack of empathy as well as those with a seemingly large capacity for empathy. In my opinion, one can actually be too good with this trait. Their empathy spills into overt sympathy or compassion and the long term objectives of the company are sacrificed for the good of the interpersonal relationship. Developing a sense of where you are on this spectrum could prove valuable. Personally, I’m still a bit too driven by the objectives of the company and not always aware of the moods and drivers of those around me. I can honestly say in the last two years I’ve improved immensely, but it’s a long road. There is a balance between all these emotions that is optimal for business. You can keep the objectives of your role within an organization at the forefront while simultaneously being aware of the emotions in coalescence.

In fact, understanding those people around you and their drivers can be manipulated for the good of all those involved as well as the company. Creating an atmosphere thriving on the collective good is very empowering for people, and developing a strong sense of empathy is the first step in developing that environment.

How to actually go about this is difficult. Everyone is different and our mental structure is but a snowflake, so stating step by step initiatives is a bit counterintuitive. My process usually begins with a problem or cooperative situation. I just look at the objectives of the situation (the organization, the other parties’ and my own) then attempt to address the rationale of the other persons. Usually, within an organization all of those parties’ objectives coincide; conflicts arise due to personality differences and ego. So stating the goals out loud or on paper can often supersedes those problems. Consciously attempting to be cognizant of others’ moods and working habits helps a lot. After that, it’s pretty touch and go. Deal with problems openly and honestly in a group forum where the collective intelligence can shine through.

Sounds ideal, because it is. Most of the time it won’t go perfectly smoothly, but it’s a good start. Repeatedly using this rationale (hopefully) will go a long way to personal and interpersonal development, especially in the work place.



  1. Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

    Comment by Sue Massey — June 12, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

  2. Sue, I worked with a good friend to edit the CSS on the blog. I’m not talented enough to do it myself; I don’t know if that helps. I’d ask around your social circle for anyone with similar skills?

    Comment by Robert John Ed — June 19, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

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