Aside

Never Gender, Rank, Title

My son is reading Harry Potter and is literally devouring it. Soon, I’m thinking, he’ll reach Book 4, which poses a little problem. Not to be a spoiler or anything in case you haven’t read it, bad things happen to good people in Book 4.

So as a parent, I’m thinking about what to do when my 7-y-old can read at 4th/5th grade level but is emotionally not ready for most material written for 4th or 5th graders. Sure, he’s smart enough intellectually but his little emotional self isn’t quite ready for what will happen in the story.

I view one role in my life as his parent to guide those decisions. The idea being that his emotional self will catch up to his intellectual self and those two can co-exist to make good decisions for himself over time. For now, he needs guidance.

But in life and at work, we don’t have parents guiding those tough decisions for us. Which means we need to bring more to the table…In particular, to know that being smart enough isn’t the entire answer. We also need to offer emotional maturity (what Daniel Goleman so eloquently labeled EQ) into the mix. Examples might include: 

We need to know that it’s not just about “you” or “me” being “right”. 

It’s not about accepting some feedback based on authority, title, rank and ignoring those who are advocating for the good of the total project. (I had an experience this week where someone actually told me he wouldn’t take my feedback because I lacked “authority” and he wanted to hear from “the man in charge”. After creating an audible gasp, I couldn’t think of what else to say.)

And to recognize, the cost to any relationship can’t outweigh the benefits of what one delivers. If it’s too hard to work together, too many things can get left unresolved, and that creates an overhead to any relationship and ultimately to the outcomes.

In life and at work, there’s really no parent in the mix. We ought to be able to work it through. That’s been my premise.

And, of course this means that each of us owns a certain responsible in how we show up. It represents a certain burden to show up, to be willing to give up your own ego needs to meet the needs of the entity because that matters most. It’s a “we win” mode. I know it’s not easy. But it is doable if we are committed to the act of accountability to each other as human beings, as co-creators, as creative beings.

It is doable, isn’t it? We can ask more of each other (and ourselves) to show up EQ ready?

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3 Responses:

  1. Trisha Liu. October 23, 2010 at 12:33 am  |  

    To the guy that wanted ‘the man in charge,’ I would say, “That’s fine. He will tell you the same thing I just said.”:)Thank you for this post! It’s not just what we know, but how does it feel? How do my words and actions affect the feel of the dynamic? Thank you for opening the opportunity to expect and give more.

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  2. Nilofer Merchant. October 23, 2010 at 12:42 am  |  

    Trisha, Oooh, that’s a good one. But the reality is…I don’t know that. I can’t talk for someone else. None of us can. I CAN advocate for the right thing for the initiative. The fact that this guy didn’t believe I could advocate for the entity because I didn’t have the title was really his loss. He lost my confidence.

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  3. Trisha Liu. October 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm  |  

    So true! Yes, I was working from the assumption that the next guy would also be advocating for the right thing. In the customer service world, when an unhappy customer says, “I want to speak to a manager,” the manager often ends up saying the same thing as the first person. But coming from a manager, the words are perceived differently. I guess sometime people still can’t hear the right thing without it coming from the right title.

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