Shellfish Allergy and Emotional Intelligence

They were in Beijing for a high-level business meeting. Clark, the company sales rep had set up the dinner meeting with the client and the company engineers the night before the important negotiations.

Daniel, the lead engineer, told Clark he was severely allergic to shellfish, especially shrimp, and asked that some food be shellfish free.

When the 5-course set meal was served, every dish had generous doses of shrimp and other shellfish even though there were other choices on the menu such as the exception made for the president of the client company, Zhang Wei, who was served lamb chops.

If I were to guess, I’d say that Clark’s emotional intelligence scores on Social Regulation and Empathy would be extremely low to non-existent.

If Clark had chosen to use Emotional Intelligence, he would have been sensitive to Daniel’s request because a shellfish allergy can be a life and death situation. In Daniel’s case it was.

If Clark had chosen to use the Emotional Intelligence Skills of Empathy (recognizing the feeling of others) and Social Regulation (interacting with other in relationship-building and intelligent ways), he could have:

  • Acknowledged that Daniel was not eating
  • Realized Daniel was just as hungry as everyone else
  • Asked questions to confirm or discover why Daniel was not eating
  • Ordered him an acceptable dinner on the spot.

In this example, Clark totally ignored the human needs and well-being of Daniel. Why? We could give Clark the benefit of the doubt and say that he forgot Daniel’s human need. But it was such a stark denial of a simple request that we can only wonder if Clark thought Daniel was telling a fib, not being truthful or trying to get attention. Another alternative is that Clark just didn’t care about Daniel’s allergy.

There was no clue, no apology, no questions about why Daniel ate nothing the entire night.

Even though Clark and Daniel were friends, Clark damaged his rapport with Daniel and the fragile relationship between sales who promises the sky to get a prospect to sign on the dotted line and engineers who have to deliver the product sold.

Demonstrate Empathy

In  your interactions with colleagues and team members, you can demonstrate your empathy for them by:

  • Observing them. Watch their body language. What are they telling you?
  • Listening to them. Listen without interrupting. Respond in nonjudgmental ways.
  • Walking in their shoes. Even though this is impossible, you can virtually walk in their shoes. Think about their situation. Imaging you were experiencing the same, how would you feel and react?

Use these tips to strengthen bonds and build rapport. They won’t even know it, but you will be using excellent emotional intelligence skills.

Emotional Intelligence Assessments and Training

Emotional Intelligence assessments and training is a key factor in improving interpersonal relationships on teams.  The workshops we provide give individuals a better understanding of self-management and self-regulation as well as social awareness (empathy) and social regulation (interpersonal skills).

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