Starting back in the 1940’s, psychiatrist George Vaillant followed the lives of 268 Harvard undergraduate males for several decades and concluded something you probably already know: Love is the key to happiness. Even if a man succeeded in work, amassed piles of money, and experienced good health, without loving relationships he wouldn’t be happy, Vaillant found. And I suspect his conclusion applies to women as well.
In today’s world, especially the business world, we don’t talk so much about “love” and “happiness.” It’s more in style to talk about Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, which in many ways is the same thing. Happiness and success … on and off the job … are clearly tied to our ability to form strong, engaged, empathic relationships.
That’s why I’m offering my master class on THE TRUST CONNECTION: How to Build Stronger, Engaged, Empathic Relationships starting on September 28, 2023. It’s all based on communication skills you can learn and have proven to work. More on that later in case you want to join me in class.
► 1. Increase your empathy skills
It is one of the most important relationship-building skills you could ever possess, but this is not something you are born with. You have to learn it by having great models in your life or getting some training in how to be more empathic.
One young man had to learn empathy the hard way, as my friend, Palani, at PAL Vision Associates told me. He told me about a young man who went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the initial interview and now he was about to meet the director for his final interview. The director discovered from his resume that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent. He asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” the young man answered “No”.
“Was it your father who paid for your school fees?”
“My father passed away when I was one year old. It was my mother who paid for my school fees.” he replied.
“Where did your mother work?” The young man said, “My mother worked as a clothes cleaner.”
The director asked the job applicant to show him his hands. The applicant showed his that were smooth and perfect. So the director asked, “Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes?”
“Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Besides, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.” said the young man.
The director said, “I have a request. When you go home today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.” The young man felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back home, he asked his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to her son.
The young man cleaned his mother’s hands slowly, with tears dripping down his face. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled and so covered in bruises. Some bruises were so painful that his mother winced when he touched them.
This was the first time the young man realized that it was this pair of hands that washed clothes every day to pay for his education. After cleaning his mother’s hands, the young man quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. That night, the mother and son talked for a very long time.
The next morning, the young and eager job applicant went to the director’s office. The director noticed the tears in the applicant’s eyes when he asked, “Can you tell me what you learned at your house yesterday?”
The young man answered, “I cleaned my mother’s hands and I finished cleaning all the remaining clothes. I know now what appreciation is. Without my mother, I would not be who I am today. By helping my mother, I not only realized how difficult it is to get something done on your own, but I also have come to appreciate the importance and value of helping other people.”
The director said, “This is what I am looking for in a manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired!”
The new manager worked very hard and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and worked as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously. All because this new manager had grown in empathy and increased his Social Intelligence skills.
As a footnote, let me tell you that a child who is protected and habitually given whatever he wants … develops an “entitlement mentality” and will always put himself first. He will be ignorant of his parent’s efforts. When he starts work, he will assume that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he will never know the sufferings of his employees and will always blame others when things don’t go his way.
A child raised this way may be good academically and successful for a while, but eventually he will not feel a sense of achievement. He will grumble, be full of hatred, and fight for me-me-me.
You can let your child live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, and watch TV on a big screen. But if you want to raise Social Intelligence in your kids, when you are cutting grass, let them experience it as well. After a meal, let your children wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. Let your kids know that even though you could afford a maid, you may not have one … because you want your children to experience the difficulty of learning how to work with others to get things done.