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Oil for the Tin ManIn the previous (maiden) blog on EI, I introduced some initial ideas on this most important concept, emotional intelligence. If you remember, in the first article I featured Daniel Goleman’s four basic factors of EI:  Self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship-management. Well I have another way to cut the EI pie, taken from my book (Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to Change for the Better When Life Gives You Its Worst). It is also the subject matter of my new book coming out in 2014 and I am pleased to present it to you now.

Over a half-century ago Karen Horney, M.D. enhanced the psychological world with her book, Our Inner Conflicts. The now-classic book introduces the three primary ways people relationally move: we move toward, move against, or move away from others. Across the ocean in England—and independent of Dr. Horney—Wilfred Bion, M.D., used three different terms to describe how we emotionally “link” or connect to each other. He said that people interpersonally connect either through love, hate (Power) or knowing.  Although the terms differ, in essence, these two psychoanalytic giants—independently of each other—identified the three fundamental ways in which we interpersonally move or connect to others.

Over the years, I have relied on these tripartite concepts to guide me as a therapist, a teacher and an organizational consultant. As I have worked with these concepts, I’ve gradually developed a model that I call the Interpersonal Triangle. The Interpersonal Triangle is strongly confirmed throughout psychological literature, as well as in other places such as systems theory, biology, organizational psychology, philosophy, religion, literature and even pop culture (too many to speak of in this article). But what does all this have to do with the Wizard of Oz?

Early in her journey Dorothy meets three companions—Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion. Each of these companions has some characteristic that is underdeveloped and in need of fulfillment. Remember Tin Man who cares about having a heart? He represents “love,” or “moving toward.” Lion, who battles for courage, represents “power,” or “moving-against.” Finally, Scarecrow, preoccupied with having a brain, symbolizes knowing, or “moving away”—mindfulness, if you may. Each of the movements can either be negative or positive in their impact, as we will soon see in the example below. 

InterpersonalTriangle

So what does this have to do with EI?  I maintain that an “effective, mature and decent” human being is someone who relates to others in a dynamic yet flexible way, integrating the positive aspect of all three dimensions at the same time. And when we are not able to respond in a positive way in one or more of the dimensions, we are thrown out of kilter. Let me give you an example.

Mary owns her own small firm. Ever since she was a little girl she had a hard time with Tin Man. She believes that all the “touchy feely stuff” is a display of weakness. Because of that, she tends to overdo Scarecrow (being cold and distant) and Lion (being impatient and domineering).  I was hired to help Mary find out why she was having such a difficult time retaining talent in her company. A quick (anonymous) survey of the employees, along with some personality testing, soon brought the answer clearly into focus.

Based on the feedback that I gave her, she reluctantly agreed to a series of coaching sessions (after all “needing” coaching—moving toward—is a sign of weakness).  Based on the theory of the Interpersonal Triangle, we did not focus on her overdone cowardly Lion behaviors (her impatience and micro-management) nor did we consider her overdone Scarecrow (her cold disposition toward employees). Instead we focused on Tin Man–her least favorite dimension.  At first we experimented with safe Tin Man behaviors; for example, giving compliments to employees who did a good job.  Later we worked on more difficult Tin Man behaviors, like seeking input from the project managers on how to run a project.

Even though I focused mostly on Tin Man, my goal in this coaching assignment was to move her toward full positive functioning of ALL THREE of the characters. As she began to improve in her Tin Man behaviors, a wonderful thing began to happen. Not only did she begin to exhibit more positive Tin Man behaviors, which was most welcomed by all employees, BUT she no longer manifested the overdone negative LION and SCARECROW behaviors. Instead LION transformed into effective leadership and candor; and SCARECROW showed up more as wisdom and patience.  Mary was learning to more effectively move through the three dimensions of her interpersonal world.  She was exhibiting Goleman’s self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship-management. Mary had become more emotionally intelligent.

In this very brief introduction of the Interpersonal Triangle, it is enough here to raise awareness of the three ways we can relationally move—positively or negatively.  And to know that if we are weak in one mode, we will go out-of-balance in the others—making us less effective in how we relate to and impact others.   And when we find the “synergy” of all three we can move powerfully and effectively through the three dimensions of the interpersonal world.

Dorothy’s weakest link was Courageous Lion. When she finally found her mojo, she was able to pull the inner team together and melt herself a witch and fire a wizard (more to come on Wizards and Witches). Which character do you have the most trouble with in your life . . . as a manager, a parent, a spouse? (We are often different in different settings.) Don’t bother working on your weaknesses, work on the strengths that are underdeveloped and you will be more emotionally intelligent. And emotional intelligence is intelligence you can live with.

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Post1EIWelcome to EI-Psych. EI stands for emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a modern day term for being an effective, mature and decent human being. Emotional intelligence simply stated is “the ability to recognize, understand and effectively manage your emotions and behavior.”[1]  In its more common usage it also includes the interpersonal aspect as well, thus the ability to recognize, understand and effectively manage the emotions and behaviors of others. Daniel Goleman has both popularized and further developed this idea in several books and articles on the subject. He has boiled the concept of EI into a simple chart that shows the four basic categories of EI: Self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship-management:

Awareness

Behavior

Other

Social Awareness

Relationship Management

Self

Self-Awareness

Self-Management

EI-Psych is a blog committed to facilitating a discussion and enhancing growth around this most basic and vital human capacity, EI.  Because of its deep penetration into the human experience, I will talk about EI as it pertains to a few broad categories of human interaction. Sigmund Freud once said that the essence of living is Love & Work. (I would add a third category that takes in some sort of reflective or even spiritual essence that would include concepts like mindfulness.)  Therefore in EI-Psych we will focus on Work relationships (leadership, employee engagement and teams) as well as Love relationships (couples, parents and friendships) with an occasional reference to all things “Spiritual.”  (We will let the reader know in the beginning of each blog the “categories” that we will touch on in the article du jour.)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a modern-day term for being an effective, mature and decent human being. A good deal of research on EI has been done in the area of management and leadership. Although not all studies are unequivocal, the preponderance of research support the idea that the higher the level of emotional intelligence, the more effective the leader; and, the poorer the emotional intelligence, the poorer the leader’s effectiveness. A business owner once hired me to “make his project managers more emotionally intelligent.” I do not have to convince any reader of this idea who has ever worked for a boss who is overly demanding, impatient and rude. This boss does not bring the best out of people.  However a boss who is firm and clear while being positive, fair and grateful will get us to be our best.

No doubt the same is true in other relationships outside of work, such as with friendship, dating, marriage and parenting. In this way, EI is a measure of social and personal maturity.  When we think of people who are mature, we think of people who, first and foremost, know themselves accurately and honestly. They have self-control; they know other people and know how to manage the relationships they are in without being a manipulative brut or self-sacrificing. In other words, these mature individuals are emotionally intelligent. Last but not least, emotionally intelligent leaders, spouses, parents and friends are “decent” people. They have integrity. I love the word integrity. Integrity has three meanings: (1) adherence to a code, incorruptible; (2) soundness—like a building has integrity; and, (3) Completeness, as in integrated.  Emotionally intelligent people have integrity, don’t they? They are “good” people who are sound (strong) and are well balanced.

IQ, intellectual intelligence, does not seem to change much over time without specific interventions. If you had an IQ of 115 when you were 8 years old, you are likely to have an IQ near 115 when you are 48 years old. Is this also true of EQ (another way to say EI)?  Yes and no—the answer to this is complicated.  We do inherit certain genes that affect and effect our EI. It is postulated for example that 50 percent of our ability to be happy is hard-wired at conception. We also have positive and negative experiences as children that will drastically and permanently influence our EI as adults. The good news—in this “glass half empty” scenario—is that the glass is also half-full! We have 50 percent that we can work with as adults that can make a BIG impact on the quality of our lives and our relationships. (I often say to my clients that even a little change is a lot of change.)

So stay tuned. Together, let’s leverage the 50 percent that we can change. Join us as we consider this most important human capacity. Just imagine what difference it would make in your life if you were more positive with your spouse, led your team at work with more effectiveness, could be less reactive with your challenging child or more patient with (yes) your mother-in-law. Emotional intelligence is intelligence you can live with.


[1] This definition is taken from an introduction to an emotional intelligence 360 assessment developed by Kenneth M. Nowack, Ph.D. and released by Envisia Learning’s © 2003.