Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

The eyes have it: why men don’t understand women

17 Apr

Scientists have proven what women have suspected for centuries: men don’t understand them. It’s not for want of trying. It’s just that men can read other men’s feelings from the expression in their eyes, but not women’s.

Researchers from the LWL University Hospital in Bochum, Germany, attempted to find out why in their study Why men don’t understand women. Altered Neural Networks for Reading the Language of Male and Female Eyes. They carried out a brain scan, a version of the ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test’ on 22 men. They found that men had twice as many problems recognising emotions in female eyes compared to male eyes. They just can’t work out what women are feeling.

The scientists explained that men could relate what they see in other men’s eyes to themselves, as they could link this back to their own past thoughts and feelings. But they drew a blank when looking into women’s eyes as the brain can’t recall similar images from the past, and are therefore unable to empathise with women’s feelings.

The scientists said these results could be explained by evolution: men’s ability to interpret “threatening cues” in other men “may have been a factor contributing to survival in ancient times”. They add: “As men were more involved in hunting and territory fights, it would have been important for them to be able to predict and foresee the intentions and actions of their male rivals.”

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Who believes women should sob their way to the top?

2 Jun
womaneer crying at work

Does crying at work make you more authentic? (pic: istockphoto.com/Chepko)

Lesson one of getting ahead at work, I’ve always believed, is to leave your personal life outside on the pavement and let a professional persona enter the workplace and lead the day. Never once have I believed that I should fall victim to my emotions and blub my heart out when things get too much for me.

That’s why I admit to feeling shocked when I read about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a speech to Harvard Business School graduates telling women that it was OK to cry at work. What? Wear my heart on your sleeve? Let a career-limiting tear cascade down my managerial cheek? Won’t people think I’m hormonal, incompetent or out of control?

What Ms Sandberg said was this: “I’ve cried at work. I’ve told people I’ve cried at work. I talk about my hopes and fears and ask people about theirs. I try to be myself. Honest about my strengths and weaknesses and I encourage others to do the same. It is all professional and it is all personal, all at the very same time.”

What are the different perspectives on this? Continue reading

Do your emails express enough emotional intelligence?

17 Dec

Are your emails emotionally literate?

It’s a sign of the digital age when I discover there is an app for people with low emotional intelligence: computer software can now check your tone of voice before you send out an email.

ToneCheck works in a similar way to SpellCheck, except that it catches the colloquial, heated, or inappropriate phrases that could perhaps be interpreted negatively, given the directness, informality and immediacy of digital communications. Quoting research that says half of all emails are interpreted incorrectly, ToneCheck gives Outlook users the chance to correct any message that may be received in the wrong way. So, instead of saying you’re ‘angry’, ‘upset’ or ‘hacked off’, the program suggests instead that you may be ‘concerned’.

Its functionality may need some work, according to some commentators, as the process requires the writer to hold off firing out the email and edit out certain choice phrases that could be career limiting, shall we say.  I particularly like this review in Fast Company that suggests the ToneCheck is the superego to the id (in other words, the email equivalent of the social conscience that tempers a person’s unruly instincts).

I agree that email writing needs more careful attention. People fire off emails often without re-reading them, or checking the ‘send’ list. And I also agree that business writing could probably benefit from more emotional intelligence.

However, while this program may be a helpful tool for the emotionally illiterate, I find that the process of writing down exactly what I want to say in an email – expressing my frustration, disappointment or rage – is hugely cathartic. Bashing the keys of my laptop and ranting about how someone has been annoying, disappointing or plain incompetent makes me feel so much better.

The crucial part of this process, however, is to write the email without pressing send – at least, not until I have cooled down and reviewed and edited what I want to say into a format that is more palatable, polite and professional.

That way, no one gets hurt. Least of all my career.

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