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Don't Try to Read Your Employees Minds

August 22, 2014

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.” -Alexander Pope

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Emotional Quotient (EQ), or the emotional equivalent of an IQ, is not a new concept to many leaders. It’s becoming a popular way to evaluate your employees, which is why I devote an entire chapter to it in The Prosperous Leader (Chapter 4: Emotion and Intelligence: Do they go together?).


In the article “Don’t Try to Read Your Employees Minds”, Stephen Berglas explains that, “appreciating a powerful concept is not the same as understanding it well enough to use it productively”. He continues on to explain a phenomenon known as “behavior engulfing the field”, which is a short way to explain why we [as humans] try to explain away others actions by assuming they reflect their “true inner self, belief system, and personality”. This is very far from the truth! All we can observe is a person’s behavior, not their true intentions. A lack of understanding of EQ  leads to these negative assumptions.


Understanding someone else’s EQ can save not only a working relationship, but also a personal one. Berglas shares a few ways to keep your judgment of someone’s EQ from assuming things about them:


  • Keep it simple. “I’m perplexed by what looks to be a pattern of cutting corners – missed deadlines, and leaving early. Is there something else going on?”

  • Show empathy. Expressing empathy in a self-effacing way is the key to mastering EQ. If you tell someone, “You know, you got an issue that calls for an attitude adjustment,” you’ll never connect with them. Even if you are correct, the other person will dislike you for being insensitive. Say, “I sense you have been out of sorts for some time,” and that person will embrace you.


To read more about Emotional Quotient, please read Chapter 4 of The Prosperous Leader.

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