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Why Being Genuine Is More Important Than Having High EQ On The Road To Success

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Why Being Genuine Is More Important Than Having High EQ On The Road To Success

In 1990, psychologists Peter Salovey at Yale and John Mayer at the University of New Hampshire introduced the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). More than two decades later today, EQ is taught widely in secondary schools, medical schools and business schools because it is an essential component for performance at work and overall success in life.

Some of the most distinguished individuals in history are celebrated because of their great emotional intelligence. Take Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example. When he delivered his famous speech about his dream for America, he chose language that would tug at the hearts of people and stir emotions.

“America has given the Negro people a bad check,” King thundered, However, this land, “sweltering with the heat of oppression,” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” he said. King dreamed of a future in which “on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Delivering this electrifying speech required emotional intelligence—an ability to recognize, arouse, and manage passions and emotions. Dr. King’s speech became one of the most powerful in history because he managed his own feelings magnificently and aroused the emotions of multitudes, prompting them into action. As his speechwriter Clarence Jones writes, King delivered “a perfectly balanced outcry of reason and emotion, of anger and hope. His tone of pained indignation matched that note for note.”

When you are even a fraction of this good at controlling your own emotions, you can easily disguise your true feelings if you wanted to. When you know how to arouse people’s passions, you can tug at their heartstrings and incite them to act against their own best interests.

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As you can deduce, being emotionally intelligent and able to read people, to stir up emotions can be used for good or evil.

The dark side of emotional intelligence

When people have self-serving motives, EQ can be a weapon for manipulating others. This statement is true in our personal relationships as it is in our professional relationships. From a leadership perspective, this fact becomes clear when you juxtapose Dr King and another highly influential leader of the 20th century who spent years studying the emotional effects of his body language.

Tirelessly rehearsing his speeches, practicing his hand gestures, and analyzing images of his overall body movements on stage allowed him to become “an absolutely spellbinding public speaker,” says historian Roger Moorhouse—“it was something he worked very hard on.”

This man was Adolf Hitler.

One observer noted that Hitler’s persuasive impact came from his ability to strategically express emotions. He would “tear open his heart”. These emotions affected his followers to the point that they would “stop thinking critically and just emote.”

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In light of these two opposite extremes, you can see why it is important that we stop assuming emotional intelligence is always good. We need to recognize that EQ is “morally neutral”  – which is something we already know at a subliminal level, especially in today’s society full of phony fads, media hype, and personal brands.

Besides, people don’t usually accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value anyways. We want to know that what you are saying or doing is genuine. In other words, we want to know that your emotions and actions are authentic. EQ alone doesn’t guarantee you will succeed. You also need to be genuine to be truly successful.

Genuine people ultimately triumph

According to a study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington led by Christina Fong, sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.

In case you’re wondering, “genuine” means actual, real, honest,and sincere. Genuine people are pretty much the same on the inside as their behavior is on the outside. Unfortunately, it’s tough to discern whether someone is genuine. However, you can always do a quick check to identify this rare quality – in yourself, as well as in others – by comparing projected ideas or behavior with that of people who are highly genuine.

1. They are consistent.

Since they are in touch with their true emotions and have no real need to pretend, genuine people are predictable… in a good way. What you see is more or less what you get.

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2. They don’t tend to exaggerate or overreach.

They are honest and straightforward. They won’t parse their words or sugarcoat the truth.

3. They practice what they preach.

They are not likely to advise people to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. They actually tend to lead by example.

4. They are not boastful.

Exhibiting pompous and elevated airs is a charade. Genuine people are humble and have no desire to brag about their abilities and or strengths.

5. They are not overly modest.

Just because they are humble doesn’t mean they are timid. Genuine people are real. They don’t exhibit false modesty.

6. They are not thin-skinned.

They don’t take themselves too seriously. That means genuine people don’t take offense when none is intended.

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7. They forge their own paths.

They don’t follow others blindly, nor do they derive their sense of worth, pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. Genuine people create their own way.

Conclusion

Ultimately, a genuine person is his or her own person—true to themselves. This honesty is one of the key ingredient for success. Nobody wants to work or hang out with a phony. Authenticity is what qualifies EQ.

Featured photo credit: astarot via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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