How To Work With Someone With A Low EQ

At some point in your career, you're bound to work with someone who lacks emotional intelligence (EQ). They may be on your sales team or they may work in your client's organization. In today's uncertain and tense work environment, they often add an extra layer of stress and frustration.

According to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University, those with a low EQ can't keep their emotions under control. They also can't read and influence other people's emotions.

So, what can you do if you must work, even remotely, with someone who is grumpy or volatile? You must learn to adapt. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic's science-driven recommendations for coping with individuals with low EQ.

Tune in to their current mood state. According to Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic, mood swings are common behavioral currency in people with lower EQ, but this is at least predictable. You can adapt to this by carefully tuning in to their emotions and remembering that they are likely to react in an exaggerated manner to both good and bad events. The more someone's mood fluctuates, and the more they overreact to circumstances and situations, the bigger your need to sync to their emotions and ride their mood waves—so you don't end up crushed by them.

Make things explicit. People differ in their ability to make sense of ambivalent or ambiguous real-world situations, and most of the people problems we encounter at work fit into this bucket, says Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic. Regardless of your own EQ, if you work for someone who is not naturally adept at interpreting your own emotions and intentions, it is key that you help them understand you. Use explicit communication, put things in writing, set out clearly what you think and want and ensure that your message is understood, without assuming that any subtleties may be captured.

Be a source of insights. Your boss will appreciate when you leverage your intuition and help them interpret other people's intentions, feelings and thoughts. In other words, you become an emotional and social "consigliere" to your boss by effectively boosting their ability to make sense of and influence others, says Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic. This means making them a little bit more streetwise and improving their basic people skills. Note that one of the earliest descriptions of social intelligence from the 1920s was the ability to read people like a book. If you have this gift but your boss doesn't, then you can share the gift with them.

Don't be a stress agent. Even if you cannot apply the above suggestions, Dr, Chamorro-Premuzic says you should at least avoid being a source of stress. This means staying calm, reducing the likelihood of conflict and acting like a soothing and calming influence for others. Note that managers–like people in general–tend to prefer working with people who are like them. The more volatile and excitable you are, the more you will enjoy the company of stable and predictable people, even if it means that your employees are doubling as informal therapists or coaches.

Working in sales requires adaptability. To succeed, you must be able to adapt to all different personality types and respond appropriately. The next time you work with someone who doesn't score high in emotional intelligence, consider the guidance above to create a smoother interaction.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in leadership assessment, people analytics and talent management. He is the chief talent scientist at Manpower Group and a professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University.

filed under March 2020
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