(*Jerk [noun] – “an unlikable person, especially one who is cruel, rude, or small-minded” – Merriam Webster Dictionary)
You have done well. You have some good friends around you, and overall, you have achieved some great things through hard work and focus. It’s not been an easy road, but you feel you have hit a plateau, and something seems to be holding you back from what you know you are capable of in a work setting. But you don’t know what it is.
In my personal life as a friend and a family member and my professional life as a CEO, consultant, and executive coach, I have noticed a common theme among those who find themselves in the situation described above.
It’s not because they are lazy. Nor is it because they don’t know their products, services, clients, or markets. It’s often to do with the blind spots we all have about how we come across to others – i.e., our ‘people skills.’ Some people have minor flaws that irritate us, and others, sometimes. Others are complete jerks with most people most of the time. You might even be thinking of one or two people right now. If you are, I guess that the characteristics of those people are likely to feature in the following list:
- They are highly opinionated and believe they are always right
- They don’t listen
- They push their advice on others
- They are rude and disrespectful
- They hijack your conversations over to their own stories
- They often brag about their achievements
- They frequently interrupt and talk over people
- They can’t ‘read the room’ and so often offend others
- They often judge others negatively
- They lose their temper and can be aggressive or abusive
- They are passive-aggressive and sly
- They criticize others
- They stonewall you
- They show contempt towards others
- They put you down or ‘gaslight’ you (manipulate someone using psychological methods into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning)
- They lack empathy and compassion
- They are manipulative and over-controlling
- They are closed and don’t show emotions
- They are often deceptive and evasive
- They ask you a question to fake interest in you, but they aren’t interested in your response
- They ‘perform’ emotions for selfish objectives or to bring attention back to them
- They don’t know you and don’t seem interested in wanting to know you.
It can be helpful to run through this list and reflect on whether we too might be guilty of some of these sometimes. Surprisingly, some people feel there is nothing wrong with some of these behaviors – unless they are Machiavellian, narcissistic, or psychopathic. 😉
No one is perfect – even our close friends or partners – but we may choose to take the rough with the smooth and decide to stay with them and accept their flaws as part of their personality. We understand that it may be a result of recent or early-life experiences. If we are close enough to them and care enough, we may offer and receive feedback to/from them to help each other and deepen our relationships. If we don’t care, then we won’t bother – if we can’t be bothered, we probably don’t care about them.
In work, however, it can be rare to have colleagues, peers, bosses, or clients who are as close to us as domestic partners, family members, or friends, and therefore, they may not share such information with us about what they perceive as our flaws and annoying habits in the work environment. We may not have access to a skilled leader, top-class learning and development specialist, or coach who can provide us with the resources and support to make us aware of what might be tiny aspects of our behavior that may be holding us back. These are our blind spots, and some may be linked to the list offered earlier.
Some facets of our behavior may get us to where we are now, which we may describe as perfectionism, single-minded focus, drive, optimism, confidence, and stoicism. Still, these aspects of our character may have become liabilities holding us back from the next stage of our career or development.
I have been frustrated for too many years because I have not come across any reliable approaches to help individuals identify such blind spots in themselves – especially in the people skills arena. Some call this area ‘soft skills’ – we call it emotional intelligence(EI).
Most EI tools rely only on self-report questionnaires. So, we invested seven years researching and developing an assessment tool that can help individuals uncover their blind spots. We called it the ‘e-Factor’. It triangulates self-report with feedback from those who know us well, plus an objective ‘EQ’ test to provide a score out of 200 that assesses EI in a way that aligns with how an IQ test measures general (scholastic) intelligence. It can’t be faked the way a self-report tool can, providing a reliable way to uncover the strengths and development areas across the full spectrum of ‘people skills.’
If you want to identify your blind spots and see what is holding you back at work and in life, find out here by assessing your emotional intelligence with the ‘e-Factor’ online tool.