Once you are in the field, emotional intelligence emerges as a much stronger predictor of who will be most successful, because it is how we handle ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once we are in a given job.
If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.
Reegan is highly committed to her company but is having trouble getting along with two of her coworkers. They just don’t seem to like her, even though she has a lot of good ideas to contribute to the team. While she wants to stay with the company, she just doesn’t see that happening with the current work environment. Reegan schedules a meeting with her manager, Lynn, hoping she will have some ideas on how to improve the situation.
Lynn listens intently to Reegan’s concerns and says, “Reegan, you are an asset to this organization, with all of your abilities and skills. But as of right now, you are lacking in some areas we should discuss.” Reegan is very upset with this reaction; she expected Lynn to talk with the others in her department and force them to be easier to work with. “First, the perception is that you are not a team player. You spend time in meetings talking about your ideas, but you don’t ask others what they think of those ideas, nor do you seem to notice body language that indicates someone might have something to say,” says Lynn. “Another thing I have noticed is your seemingly unwillingness to engage your coworkers in anything besides work-related tasks. Remember, this team has worked together for over eight years and they have built personal relationships. You don’t seem to be interested in anyone you work with.”
Reegan, defensive, says, “No one will say anything when I mention my ideas! It isn’t my fault that they don’t care about bettering this company. They need to speak up if they have comments or ideas of their own. As far as personal life, I am here to work, not make friends.”
Lynn sits back in her chair and asks Reegan if she has ever heard of emotional intelligence skills. Reegan hasn’t, so Lynn gives her some websites to check out, and then schedules a meeting to talk in two days about emotional intelligence.
This situation in the workplace is not uncommon yet causes thousands of lost work hours and frustrations on the part of managers and employees. Emotional intelligence skills (sometimes referred to as EQ or EI), as we will discuss in this chapter, can help people be aware of their own emotions, manage those emotions, and work better with others. These skills can be developed over time and are an important part of career success.
Before we begin this chapter, it is important to distinguish between personal and professional success, because personal success does not always mean professional success and the other way around. In addition, personal and professional success means different things to different people. For example, having a nice car, a beautiful home, and a fancy job title could be considered professional success. On the other hand, personal success may include the ability to travel, interpersonal relationships, friendships, and other factors that have little to do with professional success. Consider Desiree—she does not earn large sums of money and does not have a fancy job title. She has never been promoted and has worked as an administrative assistant for twelve years for more or less the same salary. However, she does not have the goal of being promoted and prefers to leave the office at 5 pm and not have to think about work beyond that. She has a rich life full of friends and travel and often takes classes to learn new skills such as pottery and kickboxing. One would not argue that Desiree has achieved success and happiness personally. For her, achieving this is far more important than achieving what many would call professional success. However, we know there is much crossover between skills that can help us achieve both professional and personal success or happiness. Emotional intelligence is one of those skills, which we will discuss in greater detail throughout this chapter.