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