Corrections or additions?
These articles by Michele Alperin and Emily Heine were prepared
for the October 11, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
By focusing narrowly on getting the job done, corporate
cultures have denied the critical role emotions play in the business
environment. In the view of John D. Mayer, a psychology professor
at the University of New Hampshire, emotions must be recognized for
their formidable effects on relationships among employees and with
customers. "The presumptuous thing we say," says Mayer of
himself and his colleagues, "is that emotions convey information
about relationships. If you are not sensitive to these emotions, you
are throwing away an important source of information about your
and your company."
Mayer will speak on "Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace of
the Future" at the New Jersey Department of Personnel’s fall
entitled "Workforce Challenges in the 21st Century." The
takes place Friday, October 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the
Lynch Conference and Training Center on Scudders Mill Road. Cost:
$150. Call 609-292-6219.
Mayer began thinking about the place of emotions in human interactions
at the University of Michigan, where he majored in literature and
drama, Class of 1975. After a couple of years at Michigan, Mayer moved
from the Residential College, which housed budding artists and
to the North Campus Co-op, where the majority of residents were
"Although both the artists and the engineers were very
says Mayer, "there was something about emotional logic that the
artists understood but the engineers did not."
That "emotional logic" is something Mayer has been trying
to pin down throughout his academic career. He and his colleagues
have developed the concept of emotional intelligence, which involves
"the ability to reason validly with emotional information."
Mayer’s definition of emotional intelligence is far more precise than
the amalgam of people skills, optimism, and emotional sensitivity
that is popularly associated with the concept. Emotional intelligence
is an ability that comprises four distinct skills:
to read facial expressions.
if a supervisor is feeling sad at work and an employee approaches
him with a suggestion, a response that acknowledges the supervisor’s
emotional state might be, "I’m feeling kind of pessimistic today;
try it on me tomorrow."
emotions convey. For example, to a person with emotional
the connotation of "feeling guilty" is that he has done
wrong, feels bad about it, and would like to set things right.
"Emotional understanding," says Mayer, "teaches not only
knowledge of emotional meanings, but a way to behave." For
an emotionally intelligent person would consider how to work most
effectively when feeling sad or angry.
of business relationships is critical to the next step of corporate
development. "Whereas we have made tremendous strides in science
and technology over the last century, progress in human relations
has been far slower and more frustrating," he says. As a result,
corporate culture is beginning to "recognize that the ability
of people to work together is important for results and that feeling
management is an important part of working together."
Mayer makes several suggestions to help corporations improve their
sensitivity to and support of emotional intelligence:
feelings are important," explains Mayer. "As procedures and
policies are developed, management should keep in mind their emotional
as well as pragmatic implications."
not necessary in all positions. Mayer claims that this view liberates
organizations from the idea that one should promote only emotionally
intelligent people. For an excellent technician, line engineer, or
non-supervisory scientist, excellent skills and politeness may be
emotional intelligence. "For supervisory personnel, to the extent
that their success depends on good interpersonal relations, it is
important," says Mayer. Research also suggests that personnel
officers and customer service representatives with emotional
are more successful.
intelligence. "I believe emotional knowledge can be taught to
a person who is interested," explains Mayer. One approach would
be to use the curricula that are being developed to teach the discrete
skills involved in emotional intelligence. Another approach that has
been effective is for individual coaches to teach the skills of
intelligence to personnel who need them.
Mayer suggests that it is time to close the gap between progress in
the realms of technology and human relations. Companies that do not
pay attention to the role that emotions play will find their neglect
reflected in their profit margins. "Emotions convey information,
and you have to know that information, or you are not going to do
as well as people who do know it," says Mayer.
— Michele Alperin
Couples therapists often assume "they should help
husbands and wives fight less and work together more before attacking
their sexual problems," says therapist David C. Treadway.
"Sex therapists typically plunge right in, treating sex
mechanistically, as problems to be solved."
Treadway prefers to interweave the two approaches, and he will do
so at a workshop at the annual conference of the American Association
for Marriage and Family Therapy of New Jersey on Friday, October 13,
at 8 a.m. Those who attend the conference, at the New Jersey Hospital
Association’s conference center on Alexander Road, can earn six
education units. Cost: $140. Call 800-694-4403, extension 4.
Treadway earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University
of Pennsylvania in 1970 and 1972, trained in family therapy at the
Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, and took his Ph.D. at Union
School, Cincinnati. He has concentrated on family and couples therapy
in his private practice since 1977, and currently runs the Treadway
Training Institute in Weston, Massachusetts. His first book,
It’s Too Late: Working with Substance Abuse in the Family"
him nationally as an expert in family therapy and substance abuse.
His second book, "Dead Reckoning: A Therapist Confronts His Own
Grief," published in 1996, is a very personal account of what
happened to him when he faced professional burnout in his 40s. "I
had done my own therapy when I was in my 20s," he says, "and
I thought I was finished dealing with my dysfunctional family. But
when I went back to my therapist for what I expected to be a tune-up,
we found a whole lot of unresolved issues to be addressed."
In particular, he wondered how he could be successful as a husband,
a father and a therapist and still lack real emotional commitment.
Seeing how his wife grieved when her mother died, he began to question
why he lacked similar feelings for his own mother, an alcoholic who
committed suicide when he was 20. To rediscover his mother and his
younger self, he turned to his father and sister, both of whom had
nervous breakdowns after Martha Treadway’s death, and to an older
brother who became an alcoholic, a younger brother and an aunt.
With help from his therapist and, surprisingly, two clients, he
gained a clearer understanding of his mother. Although she had seemed
indifferent to him and her other children, she actually was suffering
from terrible insecurities and anxieties. Having gained fresh insights
from this voyage into his past, he was able to find new meaning in
his life and work.
In his workshop, "Pathway to Intimacy: Gender, Intimacy and
Treadway will present a specific treatment model and address the
to explore his or her sexual vulnerabilities and desires.
of gender difference.
include being playful, spiritual, routine and spicy.
wounds and unmet expectations.
problems early in treatment. "Couples frequently come to a
with well-worn battles — and no language to deal with their sexual
problems," he explains. "I prefer to steer away from the fight
of the week and into new territory. This approach allows the therapist
to focus on feelings to be shared rather than problems to be solved.
It can open a very different level of communication and allow the
tenderness we all have to come to the surface."
— Emily Heine
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