Regarding Emotional Intelligence

Introverts and Extroverts – Resource of the Quarter - Quiet

May 5th, 2015

A national newspaper used to run a column entitled; “If I were king for a day”; where guest contributors outlined what law they would decree in such an event. The broadcaster, Jeremy Paxman, chose to banish open-plan offices. In his usual indomitable style, he outlined the case against such offices;

“An open-plan office is a way of telling you that you don’t matter… tells us precisely what our bosses think of us – that we are employed to fulfil a mechanical task and that we are all interchangeable. Deliberately inventing an uncreative environment is one thing. But it is worse than that…..because the space belongs to no one, it is noisy and grubby…there is nowhere for a quiet chat.”

Open plan offices can be particularly difficult for introverts, but by their very nature, they are disinclined to voice their views when the layout of offices is considered. In personality terms, an introvert is not someone who is shy; they simply find solitude revitalising and social interactions tiring (even if they are very enjoyable). With extroverts, it’s the other way around. Since extroverts readily communicate who they are, they can be easily understood by introverts. It can be more difficult for extroverts to understand introverts, but there are advantages in doing so. Consequently, if you’re an extrovert, click here to find out how. While introverts are often encouraged (often for good reason) to be more ‘extrovert’, there are others who (quietly) outline the benefits to extroverts of introspection, particularly when it comes to creativity. A prime example is the book ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain. For this reason Quiet is mch’s ‘Resource of the Quarter’. To access more resources on a range of development topics, go to mch’s free Resource Centre. Another interesting resource which provides good practical advice for introverts attending social functions can be found at Anne Keery’s blog

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Emotional Intelligence and Recruitment…Three Cheers for The Abbeyfield Society

December 23rd, 2014

Due to my background and career choices, I’ve been interviewed more than most.  A common reflection on so many of them has been the emphasis placed on experience and technical competencies, rather than an appraisal of me as a person, or on how/if I will fit in.  In short, the focus has often been on whether I could do the job, at the expense of exploring whether I will do the job effectively (i.e. my motivations and fit with the team). On numerous occasions I’ve been told that my lack of success was primarily due to an insufficient number of years of experience.  The quality and the learning of the experience I did have seemed secondary to an arbitrary number. On other occasions, I was told that while I outperformed other candidates in the ‘softer skills’, I lacked a key piece of technical ‘know how’. At times, this seemed short-sighted, as technical competencies can often be mastered far quicker than the emotional ones.

As mch’s focus has moved into staff development, I have fewer interviews.  Indeed, I’m now more likely to be the interviewer, than the interviewee.  However, given that management training and emotional intelligence form a core part of mch’s staff development work, my interest in recruitment has remained. Consequently, it was great to read a recent article about the housing and care charity, The Abbeyfield Society. The article highlighted that many of their job descriptions include emotionally intelligent additions such as; “time for talking and building an emotional connection.”

Sadly, I sense The Abbeyfield Society remains in a minority. However, if you are aware of more examples, I’d love to hear about them.

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The Relationship between Meaningfulness and Happiness

June 20th, 2014

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog on meaningfulness at work, recent research suggests that a meaningful life does not lead to happiness. Indeed people who consider themselves to lead meaningful lives are likely to be less happy than those who don’t. Click here to listen to an audio summary of the research. The audio clip also discusses research that challenges the view that men’s and women’s brains are genuinely different.

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Finding Meaning in Work – The Case For and Against

June 19th, 2014

The Case For

Over the decades, research has indicated that having a job with purpose and meaning is the top priority for most employees (1). A significant body of research has also looked at the contributors to delivering meaning at work (2). These include autonomy, being in an environment that allows you to improve and working on a project from start to finish. However, the most important contributor to meaning is a belief that your job makes an important and positive difference in the lives of others. A recent article by Adam Grant at Wharton Business School summarises such a finding (3).

Grant’s article also outlines two ways in which meaningfulness at work can be improved:

  1. Connecting directly with the end user/beneficiary Grant cites the example of university fundraisers increasing their weekly fundraising by 400% when they met students whose scholarships were funded by their work.

  2. Crafting your job Not all jobs are designed to have a significant impact on others. In such instances, flexibility is required to add, remove, adjust or increase certain attributes of the role. For example, the retention, quality and effectiveness of hospital cleaners improved when they stepped up to provide emotional support to patients, in addition to their cleaning duties.

The Case Against

Expecting work to be deeply meaningful can be an unrealistic societal expectation and an unhelpful source of pressure. For some, rejecting such an expectation and ‘working to live’ can prove a very freeing and positive approach. Such an approach can lead to practical changes which improve things further e.g. working less. Indeed on the basis that it is viable for the individual and acceptable to the company, asking yourself the following question can really focus the mind:

‘Is less time at work, really worth the reduction in how much I will have to spend during my increased free time?’

For others a change of focus can be helpful: focusing on what you have, rather than what’s missing.

mch’s View

As with many things, a key ‘watch’ word here is balance. Given that you’re likely to have to spend a significant amount of your life working, it makes sense to get as much satisfaction out of it as you can. Furthermore, focusing on improving your work’s meaningfulness would seem a good place to start. Equally though, investing too much of yourself in your job, in attempt to find meaning, risks associating yourself too closely with your work…….and then what happens when work ends?

I believe a unifying perspective is that there is no bad job, just a bad fit. Such a perspective engenders an obligation. Emotions are catching; and so if you are unhappy at work it will almost certainly have an adverse effect on your colleagues as well as yourself. Consequently, finding a job that’s right for you is perhaps the most important way your jobs can make a positive difference in the lives of others.


(1) Changes in Workers, Work, and Organizations. Article found in Handbook of Psychology, W.F. Cascio.

(2) Integrating motivational, social, and contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work design literature.Humphrey, Stephen E.; Nahrgang, Jennifer D.; Morgeson, Frederick P. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 92(5), Sep 2007, 1332-1356. See also Daniel Pink’s work on motivation.

(3) The #1 Feature of a Meaningless Job, Adam Grant, First Published: 30/1/14

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