Alongside Intellectual Quotient (IQ) and Adversity Quotient (AQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ) or Emotional Intelligence (EI) has also featured strongly in the development of holistic individuals who are not just capable, but also able to acquire awareness of one’s social environment and build bonds with others. Recognising that, the USP Career Services recently arranged a career workshop which sought to increase one’s self-awareness on emotional intelligence (EI) and to empower participants to improve their EI. A group of USP students attended this workshop, and I was glad to be one of them.
After a brief introduction within our breakout groups, the workshop participants began an activity called Ties that Bind. This activity involved disentangling a selected group of participants from a long length of rope and was designed to simulate the varied experiences from the perspectives of customers and customer service officers. Being one of those who were attached to the long rope, (“Customer”), I was able to experience how it felt like to be on the receiving end of a service. As both role-play groups shared their experiences after concluding the activity, it emerged that the well-intentioned efforts of the “Customer Service Officers” may not have translated into the most positive experiences for the “Customers”. This interactive activity got us to see the importance of placing people over processes in order to develop customer-centricity in any tasks. Given that there has always been a binary between human-centric or task-centric modes of management, “People over Process” can provide a potential reconciliation of this binary. Placing people over processes does not necessarily mean that the task is inconsequential, but allows individuals to learn how to complete the task in a way that privileges the experiences and feelings of people. Empathy is a key attribute to developing such a mindset and the mantra of “Empathise before you Analyse” was also highlighted during the workshop. While we have definitely encountered such ideas prior to the workshop, seeing the mismatch between “Customers” and “Customer Service Officers” experiences drove home the point that we may have indirectly missed out on empathising with other people when operating under time constraints and the need to strive for efficiency.
The second part of the workshop focused on analysing our EI skills, namely: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. The first two skills focus on personal competence and what the individual is experiencing and how he/she is responding. The other two skills then focus on how well an individual is able to read and understand another person’s moods, behaviours and motives. Based on a pre-test that participants completed prior to attending the workshop, we were given a clear and detailed appraisal report of our emotional intelligence. It came as a surprise to me that my strongest and weakest skills were pinpointed accurately through the test, alongside a set of recommended, tangible actions I could undertake to work on the weaker skills. For example, self-management strategies may include making your goals public so that you can use the expectations that others have of you as a powerful force to get off that proverbial couch or cleaning up your sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine after a certain time. While other personality tests I have personally tried usually stop at an analysis of one’s traits, I appreciated that there was some form of follow-up for the EI test in this workshop - outlining steps we can take to develop our own EI. Such an approach also compliments the fact that one’s EI is not a fixed entity and that it can be developed over time, as long as one is cognisant of his/her EI and how it features in their everyday lives.
Other students who participated in this workshop also shared about their experiences and takeaways with me. Josephine Ng (Engineering Science + USP, Class of 2017) said, “Aided by sincere and genuine facilitators, the workshop prompted me to reflect on the ways I relate to others and myself.” With a good mix of interactive activities and time set aside for personal reflection, the workshop allowed participants to think about how we can best apply the EI principles to assess and manage ourselves and others in the social environment.
This EI workshop has added much value to students’ development, and we look forward to more and varied programmes from the USP Career Services.