Call your parents: The importance of emotional intelligence and social acumen

By: Curtis R. Sprouse

November 2019

For more than 30 years, I have called my parents every Monday and Friday morning. I’m not sure how, but this ritual began in college and continues today, no matter where or what I’m doing.

As I reflect on the ritual, I believe expectation, habit, and the type of family activities we talked about each day were the main reasons. I imagine I am training my children for the day that my parents are gone, and I am the one sitting next to the phone waiting to hear from the kids.

Mondays allowed us to reflect on the events of the weekend. For my parents, this included questions on social activities with friends and whether I attended church. For me, it was a time for reflecting on not only social events, but the activities of our three children. I often shared a recap of sporting events, musical concerts, and family activities, as well as the joys, trials, and tribulations that every family experiences.

Friday calls tended to focus on current news, politics, and work talk. During my last Friday call, my Dad asked me—as he always does—how my work week went. As I described several situations both good and challenging, I realized it was not the first time I had told these stories. Yes, the names and companies had changed, but the elements of the stories were the same.

I share these stories because they deal directly with what many would call Emotional Intelligence (EI), and in particular, a focused component of EI that I would call Social Acumen. At EurekaConnect, we label Social Acumen—the ability to connect and care—as the combination of two learned behaviors: Goodwill and Social Skills. What is important is that there are a few things occurring based on how one scores for these two behavioral (scale is 0 = low score to 100 = high score). A person’s inputs and outputs are dramatically impacted.

Let’s start with simple definitions:

Goodwill – Measures care and compassion for others.

    ·High Score – Nice, sensitive, high level of care and compassion.

    ·Low Score – Task oriented, transactional, more self -centered, lacks empathy.

Social Skills – Measures ability to build rapport and a bond with others.

    ·High Score – Open, honest, builds relationships and bonds, engaging.

    ·Low Score – Introverted, quiet, task oriented, struggles with personal connections.

Let’s start with Goodwill (GW) and inputs. If a person scores low for Goodwill, they tend to be more self-centered. When one is at 50%, they could go either way relative to how much they care about others’ situation or needs. As the score goes down, they become less interested in others’ needs or views, which impacts one’s ability to pick up on certain cues. If a person has no interest, they tend to not look for verbal or visual signs that some on is upset, hurt, or in need. This is exacerbated by the fact that they most likely do not care. People who have adopted a lower GW approach will present as more transactional in how they receive and react to others. On the other side, we have those with higher scores for GW.

As the score goes up for GW, people tend to show much more empathy, concern, and compassion for the needs of others. They tend to be more tuned into visual and verbal cues and will strive to gain more insight into a person’s situation.

Social Skill (SS) inputs are driven by the quality and depth of connections with others. Those with low scores for SS struggle to connect. The inability or lack of effort to connect challenges their ability to gain valuable inputs. People with low SS do not understand what is important to others and they fail to make connections as a result. They are not looking for a connection at the engagement activities level—events that require physical or intellectual choice that creates stronger overlapping interests than a mere event connection. The final level of connection being the most important, is Meaningful Life. This involves conversations that help us get to know what the other person cares most deeply about, parents, children, important causes that effect lives.

People with low GW and low SS are at a disadvantage, as they do not have as much information and most certainly lack quality information that would allow them to affect their outputs. Those with low GW do not care about others hence they do not make an effort to help others. They are content with focusing on self, diminishing the likelihood of others reciprocating and returning the favor. This leads to a more disjoined view of the word, as these people find little or no joy in their interactions with others. When you add lower SS, the person is not connected, creating more emotional and intellectual distance between the person and others. They do not know much about the other person and the relationship fails to mature or grow, as no progress is made on the depth of connection.

My stories of the work week events that I share with my parents tend to put people in two basic categories, those with lower EI and those with higher EI. For those with low EI (lower GW and SS), it is harder to connect with and/or help, at least in the experiences of the EurekaConnect team. Those with high EI (higher GW and higher SS), however, engage in a productive healthy and enjoyable way, producing growth and achievement for us and for them.

GW and SS are learned behaviors. We choose how much we care, and we get to choose the depth and quality of connection we have with those close to us and those we meet casually during the course of our day and lives.

Some of my friends and clients tell me they do not need more friends, and they do not have time to develop more relationships. This is a poor excuse. We can treat everyone we meet like we treat those we love most. We can treat everyone we meet like a best friend. You are going to have the interaction anyway, why not optimize your time for the good of a positive story you can tell your parents on a Monday or a Friday ,or a story that will be told to you by a child or friend.

Note: Scores, profiles, or assessments referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program

About the author: Curtis R. Sprouse is the President and CEO of EurekaConnect, LLC. Curtis has spent more than 25 years building companies and consulting for hundreds of the fortune 500 companies.

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