Social Intelligence: Mood Effectors

It’s natural to get affected by each other’s mood. Drains and Thunderstorms are two types of people. Drains are people who suck the energy out of you with their anger or anxiety or distress. One must focus on not being a drain and managing mental balance and equanimity. Thunderstorms are people who charge you with their positive energy.


Hume’s Philosophical Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The tape came in two versions, either happy or sad, but so subtly inflected that people were unaware of the difference unless they explicitly listened for it. As muted as the feeling tones were, students came away from the tape either slightly happier or slightly more somber than they had been before listening to it. Yet the students had no idea that their mood had shifted, let alone why.

The mood shift occurred even when the students performed a distracting task—putting metal pins into holes in a wooden board—as they listened. The distraction, it seems hampered intellectual understanding of the philosophical passage. But it did not lessen a whit how contagious the moods were: One way moods differ from the grosser feeling of emotions, psychologists tell us, has to do with the ineffability of their causes: while we typically know what has triggered an outright emotion, we often find ourselves in one or another mood without knowing its source.

The Würzburg experiment suggests, though, that our world may be filled with mood triggers that we fail to notice—everything from the saccharine Muzak in an elevator to the sour tone in someone’s voice.

Source: Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

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Social Intelligence: Humor

Positive sounds such as laughter or a triumphant ‘woo hoo!’ can trigger a response in the listener’s brain. The response is automatic and helps us interact socially by priming us to smile or laugh, and thereby connecting us with the other person. It can help to reduce the social distance between managers and employees.


As Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, the English business magnate who founded the Virgin Group, says “Humor, I think is a very important part of building a business, not taking yourself too seriously and being willing to have a sense of humor.”

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Social Intelligence: Cooperativeness

Social Intelligence also encompasses your ability to observe and understand the context of a situation you may find yourself in, and to understand the ways in which the situation dominates or shapes the behavior of the people in it. Cooperativeness is an integral part of Social Intelligence.


Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft, which became the world’s largest PC software company. He displayed cooperativeness by building trust and loyalty partly by taking his employees’ opinion into account. He had high technical skills, but initially did not feel comfortable giving others influence on decisions. Then he learned that he could not do everything on his own. The only way he was able to delegate was hiring the most talented employees and giving autonomy to his managers.

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Series on Social Intelligence: Toxic vs. Nourishing

Social intelligence, from the standpoint of interpersonal skills, has been described as Karl Albrecht as behaviour which falls somewhere on a spectrum between “toxic” effect and “nourishing” effect. Toxic behaviour makes people feel devalued, angry, frustrated, guilty or otherwise inadequate.

Nourishing behaviour makes people feel valued, respected, affirmed, encouraged or competent. A continued pattern of toxic behavior indicates a low level of social intelligence while a continued pattern of nourishing behavior tends to make a person much more effective in dealing with others; nourishing behaviour is an indicator of high social intelligence.

social leader

Social Intelligence certainly made a difference at one university-based hospital in Boston where two doctors contention for the post of CEO of the corporation that ran this hospital. Both of them headed departments, were superb physicians, and had published many widely cited research articles in prestigious medical journals. But the two had very different personalities.

Dr.Burke was intense, task focused, and impersonal. He was a relentless perfectionist with a combative tone that kept his staff continually on edge. Dr.Humboldt was no less demanding, but he was very approachable, even playful, in relating to staff, colleagues, and patients. Prized talent often ended up leaving Burke’s department for Humboldt’s warmer working climate. Recognizing Humboldt’s socially intelligent leadership style, the hospital corporation’s board picked him as the new CEO.

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Series on Social Intelligence

Social Intelligence is the ability to get along well with others, and to get them to cooperate with you. Sometimes referred to simplistically as “people skills,” It includes an awareness of situations and the social dynamics that govern them, and a knowledge of interaction styles and strategies.


One of the offshoots of social intelligence is tactfulness, which means being able to say the right thing at the right time. For example, Steve Jobs, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. His colleagues described him as a talented person who is captivating and can be a remarkable motivator. An example of inspiration is when Jobs lured Sculley from Pepsi by asking him if he wanted a chance to change the world or to spend the rest of his life selling sugared water.

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Series on Emotional Intelligence: Building relationships

A conflict arises when individuals have varied interests, opinions and thought processes and are just not willing to compromise with each other. It is always wise to adjust to some extent and try to find a solution to the problem rather than cribbing and fighting. Conflicts and disagreements only lead to negativity and things never reach a conclusion. Conflict management goes a long way in strengthening the bond among the employees and half of the problems automatically disappear. And there is no possible way to manage conflict other than showing exhibiting emotional intelligence and knowing how to manage relationships with individuals.

Relationship Attributes

The following story, composed from a case study, shows how emotional intelligence looks on the outside. Phil feels betrayed because Linda got the promotion he deserved. Over the past six months he had confided all of his hopes and ideas in a co-worker he trusted as a friend and colleague. Linda feels torn and guilty. Her mentor told her to apply for the opening at the last minute and in the interview she knew just how to respond because of all the background Phil had shared with her, but it was also obvious Phil wasn’t going to get the position because they really wanted to promote a woman. If she tells him what she knows, she’s worried he’s upset enough that he might file some kind of a sexual discrimination action.

Fortunately as part of their leadership training they had both taken the EQ (Emotional Quotient) measure so. One of Phil’s lowest scores was in impulse control, and in the past he had often dealt with stress in the workplace in a pretty hostile fashion. Granted he was working on it, but this issue seemed to have pushed him to the edge. He was very sensitive to situations where there was unfairness involved — that was one thing he said he could never tolerate. In fact his highest score of all was in Social Responsibility. He was extraordinarily loyal to his team and did his best to make certain their work was always done on time with the best quality. Linda’s strongest score turned out to be in Empathy. She was a terrific listener — that was why she understood his plans so well, and why Phil wanted to discuss them with her in the first place. Her self-regard and assertiveness were somewhat low so she knew she was going to need support in having what was certain to be a difficult conversation with Phil.

Roger, Linda’s boss, met with the two of them one afternoon. He started out the conversation by listening attentively to everything that Phil said and felt, taking lots of notes and checking in with him regularly until after about 10 minutes he was able to sum it all up by saying, “So if I’m hearing you Phil, you feel cheated and betrayed — cheated because you’ve worked so hard for this promotion yourself, and betrayed because you feel like I used the information we shared in confidence to ace you out of the job.”

“That’s exactly what happened!”, he said as he sighed and sat back in his chair. Roger got right to the point. “Phil there is no question you’re highly qualified for this position.” He said “and I understand from Linda one of the reasons she did so well in the interview was as a result of several meetings she had with you.”

“Yes, I discussed my ideas with her in detail several times over lunch.” Phil said looking at Linda appreciatively with some surprise. “Most times I wouldn’t discuss what motivates my decisions when it comes to this kind of a promotion,” Roger said, “but I talked with several of your coworkers about your commitment to fairness throughout the organization and they say it’s something you genuinely value very highly.” “Yes, and this clearly wasn’t fair to me!”, Phil said with some hurt in his voice.

“If I were in your shoes, that’s how I’d feel too Phil.”, Roger said looking him in the eyes. “But you also know from your work on the diversity Council that we haven’t done as good a job as we need to do in dismantling our glass ceiling here. When Linda demonstrated an excellent understanding of what this project calls for we were delighted to give her the nod. However, you were the first person she suggested bringing on board, so I’m wondering if you would be willing to consider a lateral move to help her lead this team?”

This story is based on the experience of three ordinary people who had realized the value of developing their emotional intelligence and how much it contributes to productivity in their workplace. In the end, Phil decided to stay where he was, but the respect he felt he had been shown went a long way towards relieving his stress about being invisible in the organization. The distrustful attitude and hostile behavior dissolved, and as far as we know have not troubled him any further.

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Series on Emotional Intelligence: Maintaining relationships

Maintaining relationships with other individuals is an art that needs to be understood. Only someone who knows this art can succeed in life. Parents want to know why their children do not understand them, spouses discuss ways and means to tackle marital disputes, youths wonder why their circle of friend is shrinking by the day and many others are discovering that they are immensely unpopular in their peer circle. Managers study how to work with subordinates, parents take courses on rearing children, husbands and wives learn to talk to each other, teachers study how to cope with emotional disturbances among their students, young minds learn to improve their interpersonal relations with peer groups. Everyone wishes to enhance emotional competencies and is asking how to do it.


Ravi and Sunil joined the premier Indian Administrative Service (IAS) about the same time, with almost the same credentials. Both had superb grade point averages from leading schools and universities, with effusive recommendations from their professors. Both went for identical professional training at the IAS Training Academy as probationers. However, the moment they joined their respective postings as fresh magistrates, all similarities disappeared.

Ravi’s curriculum vitae was impressive; he was academically brilliant and a top scorer. He was a talented and creative student in his school and college days. But he acted as though he had not left high school. The problem with Ravi was that he knew he was exceptional, and was unbelievably arrogant. Despite his academic abilities, he put people off, especially those who had to work with him. He remained glued to his computer screen, voraciously devouring administrative and technical documents and learning about the rules and regulations of bureaucracy. His colleagues rarely saw him except at formal meetings; he was a recluse. He believed that it was his administrative and technical proficiency that counted most in this job. Ravi’s arrogance came across all too quickly; he ended up being transferred every six months, and that too in second or third-tier outfits. And he always wondered why such things should happen to him.

Sunil, on the other hand, adopted a different approach. Though brilliant academically, he ranked slightly below Ravi in the written exams, but he was adept inter-personally. Everyone who worked with him liked him. A few years later, Sunil was termed a ‘successful’ officer. He not only devoted adequate time to his work, but also used his spare time to get to know his co-officers, find out about their interests, projects and concerns. When they needed a helping hand, he offered one. Whenever an additional responsibility was given to him, he volunteered to do so with grace and enthusiasm. He believed that one of the most effective ways for him to be accepted into the team was by helping out.

After a few years on the job, Ravi had done slightly better as an administrator. But Sunil was seen as someone who could work well in a team and take initiatives, and was already marked out for the fast track. Ravi failed to realize that building bonds was a crucial competence for his job. His co-officers knew that he was administratively adept, but they had little faith in his ability to work in a team. In contrast, Sunil showed excellence in several emotional intelligence competencies.

If Ravi’s academic skills were to be put to best use, he needed to master emotional competencies as well. There is a crucial difference between declarative knowledge, i.e., knowing a concept and its technical details, and practical knowledge, that is, being able to implement these concepts. Knowing does not equal doing, whether in playing a game, managing a team, or acting on essential advice at the right moment or doing an IAS job.

Ravi lacked what Sunil had—emotional intelligence. Needless to say, a modern approach based on EQ (Emotional Quotient) is more likely to result in higher levels of performance than a traditional approach based on IQ (Intelligence Quotient). It is for you to decide which path you wish to follow

Source: Emotional Intelligence at work, by Dalip Singh

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Series on Emotional Intelligence: Building relationships

Workplace relationships are unique interpersonal relationships with important implications for the individuals in those relationships, and the organizations in which the relationships exist and develop. Studies show that workplace relationships directly affect a worker’s ability to succeed.

building relationships

Workers spend on average 50 hours a week in the workplace, these long work hours result in the formation of workplace friendships. These connections can be both positive, and have the potential to become harmful. Career advancement is easier and you will accomplish more if you can count on the support of coworkers and managers. It’s up to you to actively build relationships with others in the workplace. Don’t approach relationship-building in a selfish manner. Work at building strong workplace relationships for greater job satisfaction and because you value a healthy workplace culture.

Take the example of Melburn McBroom. He was a domineering boss, with a temper that intimidated those who worked with him. That fact might have passed unremarked had McBroom worked in an office or factory. But McBroom was an airline pilot.

One day in 1978 McBroom’s plane was approaching Portland, Oregon, when he noticed a problem with the landing gear. So McBroom went into a holding pattern, circling the field at a high altitude while he fiddled with the mechanism.

As McBroom obsessed about the landing gear, the plane’s fuel gauges steadily approached the empty level. But his copilots were so fearful of McBroom’s wrath that they said nothing even as disaster loomed. The plane crashed, killing ten people.

Today the story of that crash is told as a cautionary tale in the safety training of airline pilots. In 80 percent of airline crashes, pilots make mistakes that could have been prevented, particularly if the crew worked together more harmoniously. Teamwork, open lines of communication, cooperation, listening, and speaking one’s mind. The cockpit is a microcosm of any working organization. The dramatic impact of an airplane crash aside, the effects of having poor workplace relationships and cooperation can have a dramatic impact on both the organization and the individual.

Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ, by Daniel Goleman

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