I once sat down with a well-known CEO who told me that in his interviewing process, he likes to know how the candidate treated employees on his or her way into the interview. Did this person shake hands with the assistants? Was this person nice to the driver? The security guard?
One time, the CEO recalled, a very high-level candidate was already offered the job. Word soon came back to him that this particular person was very rude to the driver. The next day, this CEO rescinded the offer. He said there was absolutely no way you could ever compromise on character.
It’s been a story that’s stayed with me. I’ve heard variations of the same throughout my career.
Legend has it a college professor once told his students on the day of an exam that if they could tell him the name of the person who cleans the classroom, he’d give them all an instant “A.” He then went on and said if anyone could name her children, they’d have an “A” for the entire semester and he didn’t need to see their face in class ever again.
How many people got either answer correct?
Emotional intelligence is critical to your success and yet in our formative younger years, we’re not really taught to focus on it. After I graduated college, I realized I needed great people skills to be an effective reporter. I learned how to develop these skills on my own and made a lot of embarrassing mistakes along the way. I wish I had been told earlier on that connecting with people, communicating with them, understanding how to influence and persuade your counterparts is so important to your future.
So how do you know if you have high EQ or if someone you’re dealing with has emotional intelligence?
Ask them a simple question: Do you know the name of the person who cleans your office?
Chances are, if they don’t, it’s not that they’re jerks or rude people but that they haven’t place enough importance on people skills. If that person does know the name, very likely you already know that they are great with people and emotionally intelligent.
Now watch other CEOs talk about how important it is to have these people skills, starting with Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Quicken Loans.