How to Deal with A Boss with Zero Emotional Intelligence
For most of my career emotions were something to be avoided like the plague.
Emotions were acceptable only when a bone was sticking out of you.
The only undeniable truth in life is that we are human and by definition we are emotional.
Our partners, children and even our pets sense our emotion and learn how to respond when we are sick, happy, sad or distracted.
But what about work?
To work with people with low Emotional Intelligence, you need to learn how to communicate differently.
You might already know that emotional intelligence can influence your job success, but what can you do if your boss comes off as an emotional void?
Don’t panic, the situations more hopeful than you think.
But brace yourself have to have an awkward conversation.
What is EI?
When you say that your boss has low EI, it could mean:
- that she’s unconsciously cruel – think The Devil Wears Prada; or,
- he doesn’t know what their team needs to do their best work – think ‘The only time no is an OK answer is when you if asked if you have had enough.’
If your boss has low EI, they struggle to read your emotions.
They miss the non-verbal communications you are naturally sending them.
Alternatively, someone with high EI will have four skills. They:
- Accurately read their own emotions: they can perceive the emotions with their and the experiences of others.
- Use passion to facilitate thinking: if they need quiet to focus, they put themselves in a calm place
- Understand how emotions progress: they know irritation leads to frustration, which inevitably leads to rage
- Regulate their feelings: they don’t become overwhelmed by their feelings
EI doesn’t equal being good!
EI is not about virtuousness: it’s more about being able to understand your and others’ interior lives and how your actions and environments affect them. To work well with people with low EI, then, you need to accommodate that misapprehension.
“Emotions are information, people who are low in EI are lacking the ability to take in, understand, or process a critical part of the way that we communicate in the world.
If they can’t read your emotions, they won’t be getting all the info you’re naturally sending them.
They’re missing this information, so you have to clarify.”
– Professor Sigal Barsade: University of Pennsylvania
So, what do you do?
Book an appointment with your boss. Then you can follow this framework for sensitive conversations using the 4 F’s:
- First: When you make the appointment, say that you want to have a conversation that will be valuable to your working relationship
- Facts: Begin the meeting by retelling what happened for each of you
- Feelings: Tell the impact that the meeting had on you
- Future: Help each other figure out what you could do differently and what can be done by everybody to address the situation
Don’t forget to end on a high note: share why it’s such a good thing you two had the conversation.
By facing your bosses low IE with a conversation like this, you can help people to see that information that’s before them.