The emotional intelligence at work model is rich and varied. Let’s start with the basic, underlying principles:
1 We are the same people, whether at work or outside work. We may show different personalities at work and outside it, but these are just aspects of our deeper selves.
2 From the day of our birth, our minds are continually changing and, one hopes, developing. Whilst we are obviously different, as adults, than we were when we were six, in a deep sense we are the same person. It is helpful to think of the person as a process, rather than as an infinite number of static snapshots taken at different moments of our lives.
3 No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main (John Donne). The model talks about our mental development particularly in terms of our relationships with other people and our attitude to those relationships.
4 To the extent that we are less successful now than we could be, we are held back by blocks. Or, rather, we hold ourselves back with these blocks.
5 These blocks arise from our past experiences. At the time they might have been the best response we could manage to whatever was going on for us. But now they are inappropriate. Or, even if they are appropriate, they are not now the best we can do to respond to current experiences. That we carry on using them is because they are ingrained like ruts in an earth road. The wheels tend to fall into them and are then guided by them. (See this case study.)
6 These old experiences gave rise to beliefs and feelings at the time which, in turn, gave rise to particular behaviours (this is the behaviour cycle). When we now have analogous experiences, these give rise to analogous (but not, today, necessarily appropriate) beliefs and feelings, and thus to inappropriate, or un-useful, behaviour. The block is essentially the nexus of experience-belief-feeling-behaviour.
7 The blocks can be mapped onto a triangle, and this will be elaborated into future articles. For now, it is enough to know this triangle model groups the blocks into three high level stages—dependence, independence and interdependence.
(Note the triangle isn’t closed at the bottom left.)
The dependence stage is analogous to where a (very) small child is. It is reliant on others, particularly its mother, or primary care giver, if its needs are to be met.
Less healthily, some people set up relationships, as adults, in which their primary objective in the relationship is to have the other person meet all their needs.
We believe that pressure (however subconsciously exerted) on teenagers and young adults to stay in a dependent position for an artificially long time is a primary cause of the increase in “employability” issues seen in the UK. (Blogs on this: here and here.)
> Dependent stage
Although independence is partly about self-sufficiency and autonomy, in this model we are focussing on how the person relates to others. Self-sufficiency and autonomy are unambiguously goods; independence less so, as I hope these articles will explain.
In independence, the person has grown and recognises that, actually, dependence is not a particularly successful strategy for getting one’s needs met. Independence is active in contrast to the passivity of the dependence stage. What were needs in dependence are now demands and attempts to control.
At this point it becomes clear that many business people, almost all politicians, and many others are in an independent position, when, actually, interdependence would be a more useful place to be—see below.
What is interesting is that, in any dyadic relationship, if one person is determined to be dependent, it makes it very hard for the other not to become independent—and vice versa—when, again, interdependence would be a more useful place to be.
These two points explain why, to the eternal frustration and bewilderment of boards, many workforces are more or less dependent, apparently uninterested in work and the businesses for which they work.
> Independent stage: in preparation
This is where, for the first time, a relationship—whether at work or at home—becomes about us and not about me.
It’s a stage where the people in the relationship work together for the good of the relationship or for the good of others.
It is, clearly, where businesses need to be. Whether it is in the relationships between the staff members—particularly the boss and each staff member; or between the business and each customer, each supplier and other businesses; or between the business and other stakeholders.
An interdependent approach is the one that will produce the most success for the least cost in any organisation.
> Interdependent stage: in preparation
8 People can be in different stages in different parts of their lives simultaneously. The classic example is the domineering, controlling boss who is the timid compliant one at home, bossed around by their spouse.
9 In any particular sphere of life we can shift between stages. For example, someone might revert to dependency following a trauma in another part of their lives, whether redundancy, say, or bereavement.
For any business, interdependency is the place to be. The extent that the business as a whole isn’t always there, and the extent that the key people aren’t always there, reflect the extent to which the business will be performing suboptimally. No amount of consultancy, marketing or money will compensate for this.
One of the four things that set apart leaders is their willingness to deal with their stuff (more here). For, if the business isn’t fully in interdependence, that is down to the people in it. Not the other way around.
About this model
emotional intelligence at work uses a model developed by Chuck Spezzano of Psychology of Vision. Its core can be thought of as a summary of mainstream psychology as it stood in the 1970s. It has been substantially simplified for business use (by PoV) and slightly amended by us to reflect current terminology.
The terms dependence, independence and interdependence can be found in a number of writers (for example, Stephen Covey). The fact that these terms are used similarly by these authors demonstrates a common source, rather than plagiarism. The various writers’ efforts are, of course, interpretations of the source material.
© Jeremy Marchant 2015 . last updated 17 january 2015 . image: Free images