When a medical student becomes a doctor, he or she is asked to take the Hippocratic Oath.
The oath comes from a 2,500-year-old Greek medical text that requires new physicians to abide by a code of conduct.
This code includes its most famous phrase, which is loosely translated as “First, do no harm.”
In essence, before you do your best to heal others, start by striving to never make things worse.
I think this sentiment applies equally well outside of the medical field.
If you’re a consultant, only work with those clients whom you genuinely can benefit and avoid the ones you can not serve well. In other words... do no harm.
If you’re hiking in nature, leave no trace of your trash so you... do no harm.
If you’re a new hire at a company, you make friends and allies by adding value to the people around you. And if you can’t, then at least get out of their way so you... do no harm.
While this concept is simple enough, it’s hardly common practice.
These days, so many of us, myself included, are skeptical, jaded, and distrusting of others.
In a world of taking and hidden agendas, it’s rare to encounter people who are willing to engage in healthy “give and take” as opposed to only "taking.”
It’s equally rare to encounter people who are transparent with their agendas.
For example, let's say someone engages with you in a passive-aggressive manner. They say they’re a friend and colleague, but their actions contradict their words. This feels suspicious.
It feels suspicious because their action does harm, while their words profess the opposite.
In contrast, let's say you run into a colleague who's up for the same promotion as you.
Your colleague says, “I noticed we’re both up for the same promotion. I feel conflicted about this. On the one hand, I really want this promotion. On the other hand, I respect you a lot and realize that if I get the promotion, it means you won’t. I’m intending to put my best foot forward. I expect that you’ll be doing the same. And no matter who gets it, I want to let you know that I respect you a lot now and have no doubt I will feel the same, regardless of who gets the promotion.”
In this example, your colleague has a conflict of interest... and is transparent about it.
You can’t help but respect this hypothetical colleague for two reasons:
- They aren’t trying to hide their conflict of interest.
- In their infinite wisdom, they admire and respect you.
A conversation like this demonstrates a lot of emotional intelligence (EQ) and the ability to navigate corporate politics in a savvy way.
If your colleague gets the promotion, sure you’ll feel disappointed, but not nearly as much as if your colleague handled things in a more negative and aggressive way.
If you get the promotion, the way your colleague has set the tone reduces a lot of potential awkwardness between the two of you.
People with high emotional intelligence are better skilled at fostering short- and long-term relationships. This is an enormous career advantage.
This is why the most successful people in industry often aren’t the most technically-talented people.
In many cases, it’s the person who possesses high EQ and the ability to work with others (e.g., colleagues, direct reports, professional network, clients, and partners) who is able to outproduce more technically-advanced individual contributors.
If your IQ (intellectual intelligence) exceeds your EQ (emotional intelligence), I would encourage you to factor EQ development into your career plans.
In the spirit of transparency and disclosing conflicts of interest, I do have an upcoming release of my class on how to improve your EQ. As such, it is to my financial benefit for you to be interested in improving your emotional intelligence and for you to order during the upcoming release of my class.
At the same time, I also only make assertions that I stand by.
And I stand by my assertion that, on average, professionals with high EQ and strong interpersonal skills progress further and faster in their careers than those who lack these skills.
If this topic interests you further, I invite you to join my notification list for the upcoming release of my class on how to improve your emotional intelligence. To do so, submit the form below.