27 March 2012

EQ test

When Failing the EQ Test Can Cost Everything

We all have had days when it just seemed things piled up against us.  Rule after rule is broken.  Things threaten our families survival, our business, even us.  We’re left on the ragged edge and we just try to hang on.  Even the best of us can contemplate that if we were dead, at least all this would end.  It’s not really thinking about committing suicide, but we’re not too far from it.

That happened to Stan.  He had just missed a big payday.  He had done all the work he was contracted to do.  He even did a good job at it.  At the end of the second biggest project in the past two years, he was faced with a staggering revelation: his client had no money!  There is a dispute of facts whether the client just ended up broke because of others, or if he was broke the whole time and running a scam – but it didn’t really matter.  What did matter is that a whole quarter of income was suddenly not there.

That put his business in jeopardy.  The impact rippled through other projects that payment on that contract was supposed to cover.  That cost his family his home since he could not lose three months pay and cover rent.  They had to move suddenly.  Their new home would be an apartment barely big enough for all of them.

Things with his wife hadn’t been really good for a while.  They were not in any immediate danger of divorce, but it had been nearly two years since he would have classified his marriage as “working.”  One of his kids was going through a rebellious stage that was getting old, and two others were struggling academically.

As we can all easily imagine, the man was reeling.


When you deal with someone in an intense emotional state, the last thing Language of Emotions says we should do is argue with them about how they feel.  Unfortunately, that’s what someone did.

Earnestly trying to help, a friend tried to assure him that there has to be an answer.  He agreed.

Then the friend pressed further.  The answer was probably something really easy.

The man reacted.  Anger flared up.  He bluntly said “If I’ve missed an easy answer for two years, I’d be seriously pissed off.”

As we found out, this man was educated, intelligent, read a lot, listened to books, attended seminars, and he had coaches and mentors.  In the moment, all that information was lost, but in retrospect we can see why he would be so upset is something obvious and easy had been overlooked.

If I read two dozen books, attended uncounted seminars, had dozens of coaching sessions – and if in all of that something easy and obvious was overlooked – yeah, I’d be upset, too.

Rather than debate the man about his own life, it would have been better to empathize.  When you empathize, you get in their corner.  You may not agree with how they got there, but you get in there with them.  You try to understand them for the sake of understanding them.

When you have high Emotional Intelligence, a natural genius, you’ll do it intuitively.  The rest of us need some training to get this right!  And even when we know, sometimes we need a reminder (at least until we’ve had enough practice to make it a habit!).


Rather than drop the line that was obviously making the situation worse, he continued.  He told a story of when he was struggling with his internet connection, and after hours of working on it, it ended up that a cable wasn’t plugged in all the way.

The man in turmoil reacted even more strongly.  After two years of struggle, after countless hours of coaching calls, seminars, special training, and more, this guy was actually treating his problems as though it was as simple a thing as an unplugged cable?  The reaction was extreme.

The mistake here was invalidating the man’s feelings.  So not only was there a lack of empathy and argument, but then the whole of this man’s life disaster was declared equivalent to forgetting to plug a cable into a data port.

The man felt that clearly this guy had zero clue about the situation he has just spent the better part of an hour explaining.  He felt that this guy was totally invalidating the magnitude of the problem, how hard he and many others had worked on it for years, and how large and complex the situation had got.

The man’s vocabulary turned violent.  We presume he was using hyperbole to express the magnitude of his anger, but even so, once words get there, it’s time to make sure you’re not pressing any harder!


As it worked out, this is about when I stepped in to the situation.  Had I not been near, it is hard to imagine how bad it could have gotten.  So far, things were still being spoken in relatively controlled tones.  I could easily see that with this man being triggered so badly, it could escalate into something bad at any moment.

With some empathy, validation, and some key questions, the man was brought down quickly.  His problems were not solved, but at least the immediate emotion was handled.  He was calm enough to start thinking about his problems more objectively.

I know what just some of them are, and yes, he’s got a complicated mess.  It’s going to take a step by step approach to fix things in chunks.  There are some elements are in crisis, and other longer term issues.  I certainly don’t blame him for being angry that someone would minimize the difficulty he and his family were facing.


After things were handled, I did get to spend a little time coaching the guy who was making things worse.  I’d worked with him in the past, so he listened intently and quickly realized how he had fueled the fire rather than help the man get through to the other side.

In this case, there was a real-world, real-time, on-the-spot Emotional Intelligence Test, and the guy was failing.  The result, had things kept getting worse, might have resulted in someone getting hurt.  This is just one of many reasons it is so important to develop a high EQ!

Language of Emotions 101a and 101b establish a genius-level foundation for exceptional Emotional Intelligence.

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