Why EQ is better than IQ at the office

Are you a leader or do you want to know more about leading yourself? NeuroSense Consulting and the NNBW have teamed up to bring you a seminar on Thursday, March 12 that brings emotional intelligence into the realm of neuroscience. And just in time. Your brain could use the help.

Did you know you have a 200,000-year-old brain? That’s about how long our species, Homo sapiens, has been around. Our brains haven’t changed much since then. Our brains are built for survival on the African savannah. They are remarkably unsuited for the modern work environment.

We suffer from a syndrome I call “Caveman at the Office.” Our limbic systems evolved to protect us from wide range of threats, like hungry lions, tigers and bears (oh my), other hunter/scavengers competing with us for food, violent enemies, disease and all the ugly stuff the environment can dish up, like rain, wind, fire, heat, and cold.

All of these threats tend to be short-term challenges – they either kill us or we overcome them. We avoid the hungry lion, chase off the scavenger, repel the enemy, recover from influenza, and hide out in a cave until the rain stops.

We developed a stress response system that’s great for dealing with short-term threats. When you perceive a threat, the amygdala causes your body to generate adrenaline and cortisol, putting you in a heightened state of alertness and preparing you to react to the threat. This is called the “fight or flight” response. Your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and glucose levels go up. Your pupils dilate; blood rushes into your muscles. Your digestive system shuts down. The smart, slow part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex, is overridden by the fast, dumb part of your brain — the limbic system. You make quick decisions, like whether fight or flight is the best option. When the threat is over, all systems return to normal. That is, assuming the lion didn’t get you.

The office is different. The vast majority of the threats we face there are longer term. We never conquer our email; it just keeps coming. The colleague we don’t get along with is there day after day. The boss wants our expense report at the end of every month. Every year there’s the same stupid performance review cycle.

Your fast, dumb limbic system doesn’t know the difference between short-term threats and the long-term variety, so that pain-in-the-butt colleague can set off your amygdala like you were back on the savannah. Just because a threat hangs a long time around doesn’t mean your brain can ignore it. When you see that colleague, your limbic system calls for adrenaline and cortisol so your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure, body temperature, and glucose will go up, and your digestive system slows to a crawl. And you get a little dumber because your limbic system takes priority over your PFC. Combine the colleague with a full email inbox, an approaching deadline for your expense report and a reminder that your mid-year self-evaluation is coming up, and you have a constantly stimulated amygdala and an underperforming PFC.

That’s what this seminar is built to do ­— give you a smarter brain despite all the long-term stressors the modern office can throw at you. We do it by explaining Emotional Intelligence in a new way — using neuroscience.

Emotional intelligence, sometime referred to as EQ, for emotional quotient, is the idea that there is more to thinking than evaluating facts and circumstances. We use our emotions to help us make decisions and act on them. Our level of emotional intelligence is a measure of how well we recognize and use our emotions to manage stress, communicate, apply empathy, overcome frustration and manage conflict.

The concept of emotional intelligence first appeared in a 1989 research paper by Salovey and Mayer, but EQ didn’t start shaking up the world of work until 1995, when Daniel Goleman published “Emotional Intelligence — Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.” The book stayed on the New York Times Best Seller List for 18 months. Not bad for a psychology book.

Later work by Goleman and others showed that, in the workplace, EQ matters as much as IQ. EQ is, in fact, a strong predictor of job success and leadership ability. For some companies, you don’t get considered for a leadership position until you’ve taken the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory, a tool developed by Goleman to measure EQ.

At NeuroSense Consulting, we’ve developed a neuroscience-based view of EQ. We’re partnering with the Northern Nevada Business Weekly to bring you a seminar where we’ll demonstrate tools and tricks to actually increase your effectiveness on the job.

To enroll, go to http://apps.nnbw.com/utils/forms/index2.php?formId=NeuroSenseSeminar

In this fast-paced and fun seminar, we’ll teach you how to:

Make your brain smarter.

Regulate your emotions.

Reframe past experiences to reduce stress.

Stage your work to get the most out of your brain throughout the day.

You’ll learn:

About the limitations of your pre-frontal cortex, its dependence on glucose, and how to get a little more willpower when you need it.

How your brain monitors your mood and how to trick your brain into a better mood.

Why your brain is much more attuned to risks and rewards and how to level the playing field.

How brain function and physical health go hand-in-hand.

Why change is so hard for your brain and what to do about it.

We’ll also talk about why habits are hard to change and give you tips and tricks to break or change a troublesome habit. By the end of the morning, we’ll help you be a better friend to your brain.

Bradley Harris and Susan Strating are co-owners of NeuroSense Consulting, an HR consulting company specializing in neuroscience-based leadership coaching, management training, and leadership development. They can be reached at bradley@neurosenseconsulting.com or susan@neurosenseconsulting.com


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