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I'm Sick Of Hearing About Emotional Intelligence

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. Full bio

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com


That’s insulting to anyone who ever bit his lip (or hers) rather than say something mean. Not all of us are natural communicators, but we all know that people are people whether they’re at work or the laundromat or the baseball game.

We don’t have to cultivate the skill of saying Please and Thank You unless we’ve already convinced ourselves that those are exceptional and rare things to say in the workplace. They’re not. When you cordon off a whole bunch of ordinary behaviors and assign them to the category Emotionally Intelligent Behaviors, you give workplace brutes and bullies a pass they don’t deserve.

We should be talking about fear and trust at work, since fear is everywhere and trust is in short supply. Rather than sit in classrooms and hear about Emotional Intelligence, we should teach working people what fear-based management looks like, and remind them that the instincts they honed on the playground in fourth grade come in just as handy now.

We wouldn’t need to drone on about Emotional Intelligence in every HR meeting if we held people to a simple human standard at work. Here’s an easy one: treat everyone around you the way you’d like to be treated yourself. That goes double if you have a big office. Case closed. Is that too difficult?

fear and trust SHRM LI March 2015

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