There are competencies and skills catalogues which we supposedly use to select our collaborators. Then there are the more dispersed individual characteristics which really allow us to identify the people we want to have at our side. The first ones are pre-requisites and define the basic skills required for a position. The second ones represent the conditions sufficient for distinguishing between similar technical profiles.
That’s what happens in almost all our choices. An act of buying can be preceded by an analysis of the product specifications. Though ultimately what really matters aren’t just the characteristics of an object, but also the way in which it satisfies our expectations and needs from the point of view of aesthetics, usefulness and more. When we find someone we want to live together with, we pay attention to their objective qualities. Yet, love at first sight doesn’t come from what the person is like, but rather from what the person is for me: someone with whom I want to spend my days and my nights.
In the work and business environment, one of these dispersed characteristics at the root of many such passions is relational intelligence. We unequivocally look for people who are trained up (degrees, courses...) and expert (proven performance in similar positions), basically people with good CVs. However, we tacitly opt for those who generate harmonious and value-added relationships. Obviously, we prefer competitive people, but they shouldn’t be too confrontational. We like well-informed people, as long as they’re actively curious and don’t think they know it all. We want to have realistic collaborators who have their feet on the ground, as long as they do not confuse realism with a pessimistic outlook (no wet blankets nor killjoys!). We value an employee who has self-esteem and self-confidence, but we can’t stand it when these become arrogance.
Here I'll draw attention to some characteristics of relational intelligence which is so critical for choosing the people with whom we want to share a project:
- Intelligence is humility. Even people with a demonstrably higher IQ are inclined to accept views that match their pre-existing beliefs. We easily filter opinions and information that contradict what we think. That’s why we need to surround ourselves with critical people willing to listen to whatever challenges their upheld truths and beliefs. It is necessary to create work environments where the discrepancy is the best expression of loyalty. To listen to someone who always praises me is a waste of time.
- Intelligence is generosity. After an achievement, we have the impulsive tendency to overestimate our personal contribution and to minimize the contributions of others. Intelligent people from a relational perspective know how to identify what part of success corresponds to each person. They are good at conferring recognition and responsibilities.
- Intelligence is influencing. Merely aggregating knowledge is useless. What works is the ability to use that knowledge within the framework of a relationship. Increasingly what matters to us in other people is their ability to fix our problems, not only what they know.
- Intelligence is choosing valuable relationships. The right thing is to dedicate time and resources to people with whom positive interactions are generated. Those who develop this type of intelligence take full care of relationships in which both parties are enriched from all angles. They do not insist on maintaining toxic relationships. They are good at severing as amicably as possible the bonds that only produce conflicts to concentrate on all connections and contacts that expand the possibilities for the parties involved.
It’s a pleasure to work with people like that who intelligently manage their relationships. They readily embrace all the good to be had from their interaction with us and contribute fully to the best of their abilities.