Boy, there’s a lot to write about this topic! Daniel Goleman coined the term, “Emotional Intelligence” or “EI, “ to describe the interpersonal skills that contribute to success in business leaders and in a wide variety of other senior and junior roles. Attributes like understanding how our emotions affect our performance, managing those emotions, and relating well to others are all very important predictors of success in the workplace.
I’m always amazed at how many times the EI concept shows itself to be important when I observe the behavior of people I work with. It makes me think that job seekers (and job holders!) should pay as much attention to their emotions as to their resumes. In fact, I’m sure of it.
Here’s a story that proves my point. Someone I know well was interning with an ad agency overseas this past summer, and I kept in touch with him via e-mail to see how it was going. Lucky for him, the ad agency had a formal internship program and ran it very well. After a structured orientation period, during which the guy I know got to meet people and learn a little about their jobs, one of them took him to see a TV commercial being shot, and even asked for his input.
“What did you say?” I asked in an e-mail. His response – “We were all just sitting around watching the commercial. I wanted to say many things but was apprehensive to do so. No need to try to impress someone while there’s the risk of upstaging the professionals in an office that I don’t work in. I felt it was better to stay quiet. But when they asked me I did chime in.”
Now, I’m all for assertiveness in the workplace – oftentimes, people are too quiet in group meetings and, as result, the end product isn’t as good, and they don’t get the credit they could be getting, if they were to speak up more. But, in this particular situation, this young intern sensed that since he was a real rookie, and it was a very public meeting, he was better off staying quiet until asked. I think this shows great sensitivity and will serve him very well in all kinds of situations.
So, be smart and be vocal. But pick your spots.