Is EQ the next skills gap?

Is EQ the next skills gap?

Our level of EQ is affecting every square inch of our life maps. If someone were to ask, would you prefer to keep your EQ or your IQ, you would need to ask yourself, do I want a life of connection and love and community? Or do I want a life of missions, tasks and problem-solving! We’re going to evolve whether it is good for us or not. We’re going to create machines whether it is good for us or not. Why? Because we can! It seems, for the human race, if we can think it, we can’t help ourselves, we have to create it.

What might a world look like where there is no EQ? The word psychopath does spring to mind here or Alexithymia which is the inability to understand or express emotion. But, I don’t want to imagine a world with no EQ. What is our EQ responsible for? In our private world, in our professional world, and in our entire world? It’s responsible for a whole lot! Humans are emotional creatures. Sure we can block emotions, but, that makes us unwell and that is a whole other story. All of our unspoken social cues, the energy in the room, a glint in someone’s eye, a change in someone’s posture, a slight rise in someone’s tone etc., all require EQ to notice and possibly to decode. The two core competencies that spring to mind for me when building your EQ is compassion and empathy. Being able to put yourself in another’s shoes and to know what they might be experiencing. EQ is having a mind to know, if I say these words or take those actions, it is going to cause other people to feel or respond in a certain way. EQ is understanding emotions and what triggers emotions and how to regulate and listen to and emotions. When we lack EQ, we lack the ability to properly consider and tap into the emotional dance that is constantly at play with humans. The emotion is the music and those with low EQ don’t hear the music very well.

Listening to a philosopher on Q & A last night, it highlighted to me, that we need philosophers and thinkers and those willing and interested in reflecting and considering. Humans have the propensity to be whatever we are most exposed to. Like family pets to some degree. We have a brain that is designed to keep us alive without us having to methodically think about how to do that. That same brain is looking for patterns and is forming programs and habits all of the time, being conditioned by its environment all day long, because that is the model of an organ that it is! This is how we evolve. A new idea springs to a thinkers mind, it get’s implemented and a wave of social conditioning follows. Like a school of fish, our brains all move in symphony with our environment, unconsciously for the most part.

The smartphone! What has happened to our EQ in this massive social wave of technological advancement? Great and not great things in my experience. There is an ‘at your fingertip’s ability to find your tribe, or to find most anything. We have almost infinite information at our fingertips. People are information junkies, and there is a lot of junk information out there too. We are changing and reconditioning that organ in our skull because the majority of human beings are moving with the waves of environmental conditioning. What are our school of collective brains evolving into now? Which direction is the wave heading to next?

The worker of the future will need to be both technically skilled and emotionally intelligent. They’ll need to be both masters of engaging through technology, as well as masters of reading and interacting with people. We notice this gap already. Of course, we all have different natural innate biases or propensities, such as the very basic left brain, right brain bias. Introvert and extrovert. The Myers Briggs indicator, the DISC profiler show further biases, however, there is a basic rule of reality when it comes to shaping ourselves as individuals or as communities. Neglect or nurture. If we know there is an EQ skills deficit occurring and growing, we need to nurture EQ. It needs to slip into the focus of priorities.

EQ can be nurtured. Some are born with it in higher doses and we are also affected by our conditioning and our daily environment. What diminishes a human’s EQ and what develops a human’s EQ? There are many things at play, but, in the spirit of keeping this reasonably brief, there are two keywords, EMPATHY, and COMPASSION. These words can seem cliche or watery, but, it is important to consider what is happening in the brain to make these states present. If these states or emotions are missing, and not firing up in someone’s brain, human connection is massively challenged. If these states and emotions are present, people feel safer with each other, more trusting, more equal, more understood, more connected. We will feel all of these things without even really being conscious of it. And if EQ is low in the person we are across from, we feel more guarded, less connected, less equal, less willing to open up, less emotionally safe and we can feel unimportant to them.

We can’t force people to have EQ. However, we can turn the volume up on EQ culturally, by how we talk, our language. What we give energy to. What we encourage. What we reward. What we value. If you are a leader or a manager or a teacher or a trainer, I recommend working on your own EQ first. Modelling EQ contributes to the conditioning environment. You can’t teach what you don’t know. Understand your own emotions. Understand your own capacity to, nurture, listen to and manage your own emotions. Many of us come from an older age of manning up, of swallowing our emotions, shutting them down, holding them in and it isn’t how the human biological system is designed to thrive. Start with you and doing the work to explore and understand your own emotional hierarchy and consequent outcomes. This is the starting place. If you’re tuned out of your own emotions you will be poor at reading them in other people. EQ is about being smart with your emotions. EQ is where our innate abilities to be adaptive reside. EQ is that intersection of balancing head and heart. To quote Aristotle, Getting angry is okay so long as you get angry at the right person for the right reason to the right degree using the right words with the right tone of voice and the appropriate language. When we are not emotionally in touch, our anger comes out sideways and we get angry at the wrong people for the wrong reasons to the wrong degree.

Start with you and doing the work to explore and understand your own emotional hierarchy and consequent outcomes. This is the starting place.

Roslyn Loxton