There has been quite a revolution in Psychology over the past 20 years or so with the ideas around Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman is one of the most prominent pioneers on the subject with his bestselling books Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence. The essence of the concept is that we have two biologically and functionally distinct parts of the brain – thinking and feeling. The problem is that the feeling part often takes over the thinking part in such a way that it can hinder our ability to build trusting relationships with others. No trust with a hiring manager means no job offer.
This applies not only to relationships at work, but also to our friends and family. Since building trust is the essence of any relationship, this can cause serious problems. An example of this is when a wife says to the husband, “Why did you mow the lawn yesterday when you knew I needed you to help me get ready for the party?” The husband then let’s his emotional brain take control, gets defensive about her not appreciating what he does in the yard, and then starts an argument.
Another example is when you’re interacting with a hiring manager and your emotional part of the brain is saying “I need a job!” and the thinking part of your brain allows you to act desperate. Because of fear and apprehension, you don’t project confidence in the interview and fail to ask trust-building questions. If you’re being emotionally intelligent, you work toward detaching the negative emotional side of the brain that might paralyze you with feelings of self-preservation, fear, and greed and cultivate the positive emotions of empathy, love, and concern for others.
If you can have a mindset that you’re trying to fill a need with a valuable service, that intention is the first step in the emotionally intelligent job search. The next step is to engage in trust-building activities, such as asking good open-ended questions that encourage meaningful dialogue. Meaningful dialogue is when you get past the superficial layer and start talking about what really matters .
A few years ago I was working with a person on a job search who was recently released from jail. He eventually obtained an offer from a great company, but on the same day that the offer arrived, they called back and rescinded it because he hadn’t been truthful on his application about his jail time. Major trust killer. He and I visited the company early the next morning and asked if we could see the hiring manager. They agreed, and soon we were sitting across from him telling our story. We asked each other questions, he got to know my friend better, and we had a very engaging discussion.
Soon I noticed a change in his demeanor and nonverbal cues – and by the way, awareness of nonverbal cues is an important part of an emotionally intelligent interaction. Whereas at first he was sitting up straight with his arms folded and a neutral-looking emotion on his face, after about 20 minutes or so, his faced opened up, he was leaning back on his chair, and he had his hands on top of his head. He started sharing with us personal stories of people in his family who had similar challenges as my friend, and I could tell that we were entering a new level of trust with him.
Once you get past the superficial layer and enter that trust zone it is very likely that you’ll be able to have some influence on the person with whom you’re communicating. The hiring manager ended up returning the offer and due to an error on the previous offer with the pay grade, they actually gave him a higher pay rate. This reinforced to me that emotionally intelligent job search will enable you to build trust with hiring managers and dramatically increase your likelihood of getting good job offers in a timely manner.