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.