That Co-Worker Who Just Doesn’t Get It

Do you have your eyes firmly fixed on career success? Go for it. Do all you can to meet and exceed those quantifiable targets set by the company.  Consider though that targets are not the only things that influence your career success.  Your level of emotional intelligence which influences your ability to get along with others, including that co-worker who just doesn’t get it, is also important to your career growth.

Organizational Psychologists say you are emotionally intelligent (EQ) and are, therefore, likely to experience career success if you can answer the following questions in the affirmative. Do you have a high level of self-awareness? Are you able to control your emotions? Are you self-motivated? Are you able to motivate others? Are you able to empathize with others? However, they predict that you could still experience serious career stagnation unless you are also able to successfully respond to this fundamental question: “How to handle that co-worker who just doesn’t get it.”

This co-worker is defined by the experts as being emotionally unintelligent. This person does not have the skills to interpret the social signals around him or her and to respond in a fitting manner.  He or she, unwittingly, gets on everyone’s nerves, oftentimes creating awkward moments for individuals or amplifying the tension in the office.  Can you picture, for example, a boss who regularly dreams up some weird ideas about ways to motivate the members of the team? Every other member of the team knows that these strategies spell catastrophe and is signaling this to the boss. However, the boss repeatedly imposes such ideas, unaware of the signals being sent. Alternatively, imagine a colleague who routinely says ‘the wrong things at the wrong time’, ignorant of how these ill-timed and ill-conceived interjections affect others. Whether this person is your boss or a colleague, the following strategies provide answers the question: how to handle that co-worker who just doesn’t get it.

Do Not Accuse or Condemn

When a worker with a low EQ constantly ‘rubs you the wrong way’ (gets on your nerve), you may be tempted to judge the person harshly. However, you need to recognize that this co-worker does not have the skills to discern or interpret your emotions or the other emotional dynamics in the environment.  If this person is unable to decipher your emotions, it means he or she is not guilty of intentional harm.

Communicate Clearly Avoiding Sarcastic Remarks

When addressing this co-worker, it is important that you speak clearly, avoiding sarcastic remarks or loaded statements.  In the same way that the co-worker misses your emotional signals, he or she is unlikely to get the point of your sarcasm or other loaded remark. Also, be reminded that the theory of behavioural mimicry posits that persons with low EQ are likely to imitate your behavior. Since sarcasm or disrespect is not your goal, stay clear of that approach.


Give Constructive Feedback

Feedback is important to persons with low EQ but you must ensure that your criticisms are constructive.  Try to be as calm and respectful as possible when giving feedback.  Criticisms of a person’s social skills go to the heart of his or her self-esteem. This feedback must, therefore, be given with utmost sensitivity for the person’s feelings. If this is not done, you will drive the person into a defensive mode and defeat the goal of your intervention.

As you map your path towards career success, put your emotional intelligence to work for you. Use your high EQ to help you unlock the answers to the question of how to handle that co-worker who just doesn’t get it.  Go for no condemnation, clear communication and constructive feedback and master the art of getting along with that co-worker who just doesn’t get it.


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