The World Treats You the Way You Expect to Be Treated

When I first started off as a door-to-door salesman, I was nervous. My perception was that no-one ever bought anything at their door, and I would have people being rude and telling me to go away, slamming their door in my face.

In my first few weeks and months, this happened just as I expected. But it seemed like the other more experienced salespeople hardly ever had this happen to them. Somewhere along the way, I learned to visualize positive reactions out of the people I was meeting door-to-door. I began to expect a different, more receptive response when I knocked on people’s doors. And, slowly the responses became more positive, and it became rare that I was met with a rude homeowner.

I started to see myself as a good salesman, and then people were treating me in such a way too – they started buying from me. I started expecting them to buy from me too – and more people did.

It’s likely that simply expecting more isn’t the only factor at play here. Obviously, with time my competencies as a salesman improved, and naturally I became less negatively affected by rude remarks, so I was less likely to take things personally if and when they happened. If interactions did go sour, I would have strong boundaries and remove myself from situations I deemed unacceptable.

This concept of being treated the way you expect can translate to general life too. Some people are constantly embroiled in drama and toxic relationships, while others seem to be able to avoid it all. It’s hard to imagine that this happens by chance – it’s more likely that people who attract drama expect and are willing to accept unnecessary conflict instead of having healthy boundaries and picking the right battles to fight.

The world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated. So start expecting more.

Calm Is Contagious

Former Navy SEAL commander Rorke Denver described the best lesson he had learned from a master chief in the Navy – that when you’re a leader, at a minimum everyone is going to mimic you. So simply: “Calm is contagious.”

Staying calm even everyone around you is losing their composure and running around like headless chickens, means that you can stay detached enough from the situation that you can still think clearly and objectively.

But, as a byproduct it keeps everyone else a little calmer too. Nelson Mandela was once on a flight where he noticed that one of the plane’s propellers had stopped working. He notified a friend on the plane, who then relayed the message to the pilot. The pilot already knew about it and had already called the airport to make an emergency landing. And while the friend feared for his life, Mandela was just seen reading his newspaper, just like he had been before he noticed the engine fault. When the plane made the emergency landing and Mandela was on the tarmac, he leaned over to his friend, “Man, I was scared up there.” Mandela was just as frightened as his friend, but he showed the courage to stay calm. If he had displayed his fear and panic, he would have likely made everyone around him panic even more.

In life there will be times when you are a role model to others – whether to a younger sibling, friend, new hires at work, to your child, to your community. And so, it’s not only calm that is contagious. Compassion is contagious. Kindness is contagious. Joy is contagious. On the other hand, anger is contagious. Envy is contagious. Deception is contagious. However you act, there will be someone out there that will use that as a template for their own life. So act accordingly.

Why Motivation Doesn’t Work

The issue with motivation is that it never lasts. Motivation comes from emotion, and emotion is temporary. It’s tough to always feel like doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it.

When you only do things when you feel like it, behavior and results are erratic. When emotions or moods go down, productivity stops. And then it’s a mission of trying to get back the motivation that was lost. You begin to question yourself and you feel stuck. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution: Do it anyway. Through taking action in spite of emotion, the job gets done. You grow, become empowered and in turn can become more motivated from taking the action you needed to. Self-trust and integrity grows, and you really begin to believe you can keep to your word, and self-image and self-esteem grows along with it.

The next time lack of motivation gets in the way of doing what you’re supposed to be doing, do it anyway.

When Being Good Enough Is Better Than Being the Best

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he described the story of Lewis Terman – an American psychologist who tracked children with high IQ scores. He found that although many of them went on to great successes in their careers, there were some who underachieved relative to their perceived potential.

Gladwell argues that after a certain threshold of IQ, it makes very little difference in how applicable their genius really is. For instance, the US winners of the Nobel Prize tend to come from a variety of different universities, not just the Ivy League schools reserved for the upper echelons of genius students. Albert Einstein had a high IQ of 150, but there are people out there with IQs of around 200 that dropped out of university and now work in menial jobs.

Of course, as Daniel Goleman would attest to in his book Emotional Intelligence, emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ in determining career success. An extremely ‘smart’ individual would find it difficult to navigate the world if he had little social awareness or issues with emotions like anger or extreme sadness.

This leads to the question whether companies should follow “affirmative action” guidelines to hire a more diverse set of individuals for their firms, at the expense of hiring the “best-qualified” candidates. While it would be foolish to hire a lawyer with an IQ of 70 because they fit a racial quota, most people who apply to be a lawyer would have an IQ above around 120 anyway. After this threshold, the more important factors are those such as communication skills, strength of character and creative ideas. A member of another social class, religion, race, sexuality and gender are more likely to add to the pool of collective knowledge and ideas too. The concept of diverse thinking is further demonstrated in Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed.

What Does It Mean to Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Emotional intelligence is a phrase we see loosely throw about in conversations, but what does it actually mean to be emotionally intelligent?

Yale psychologist, Peter Salovey, split emotional intelligence into five domains:

Knowing One’s Emotions

The more we understand our own emotions as they arise, the more self-aware we become and better able we are to describe how we are feeling. We are also better equipped to deal with whatever emotions crop up from moment to moment. An inability to recognize emotions in ourselves leaves us at their mercy. Being in tune with our emotion leads to more certainty in decision-making and we trust ourselves more.

Managing emotions

This builds on the self-awareness of emotion. When we recognize that we are irritable, sad, angry, or anxious, can we soothe ourselves or find a way to act towards a goal despite of these negative emotions? An inability to do this can lead to impulsive decisions or a constant battling of distress.

Motivating oneself

Success towards a goal is largely attributed to delayed gratification and impulsive control. The more we can manage our emotions and still do what we set out to do, the more chance we have of succeeding. Emotions can hijack the brain and without the willpower we can go astray. Being able to enter a ‘flow’ state is another skill emotionally intelligent people are adept at, so that time passes by without distraction.

Recognizing emotions in others

This is probably what most people think of when they hear the term ’emotional intelligence’. How empathic are we? Can we recognize when someone is starting to get irritated, or feeling sad or happy? The more that we understand how someone is feeling, the more we will understand what they need and want. This is crucial for career paths in sales, management, teaching, and caring professions.

Handling relationships

This all culminates in how we are able to handle our relationships effectively. Our quality of life is often attributed to the quality of our relationships, so the better that we can manage the emotions of ourselves and others in our important relationships, the more fulfilled we will be. Having a high emotional intelligence will enable us to become better intimate partners, better to work with, and better to spend time with.

Each individual varies in how well they rank in the five domains of emotional intelligence. Some people may be better at soothing someone else when they are upset, but when they are upset themselves they may find it difficult. Others may be self-aware but oblivious to the subtle cues that others give to them in a social setting.

Even so, what we should all recognize is that our emotional intelligence can be learned, even if some people seem more naturally adept than others. Our brains are remarkably plastic – they can be shaped and biologically influenced based on our input.

Personally, I found that I became much more attuned to other people’s emotions after working in sales because I was engaging in much more face-to-face communication, and it was important for me to get better at it.

Daniel Goleman puts forth in his book Emotional Intelligence that EQ is much more predictive in success than IQ. As a social species, it’s hard to disagree.

Do Children Stop Playing or Carry on When Someone Gets Hurt?

According to Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, girls are much more likely than boys to stop their games if someone becomes upset or hurt. In boys’ games, the upset boy is expected to move out of the way so the game can continue.

This shows that there is a disparity in the way that boys and girls respond emotionally, even at a young age. Girls are more occupied with minimizing hostility and maximizing co-operation, while boys are more focused on competition, independence and toughness.

I can testify to the boys’ side of this phenomenon: When I split my chin open playing football in school, the game continued on and I resumed once I had gotten successfully patched up by the school nurse. While skateboarding there have been times where people have hurt themselves – if they haven’t moved out of the way they are gently asked to. Obviously there have been times where the injury has been serious enough to stop the game too.

Goleman explains that differences between genders like these can lead to a deficiency in how men and women communicate with each other in intimate relationships. By increasing our emotional intelligence, we can more often become conscious of how the other is feeling, and communicate better.

Want to know more about the five domains of emotional intelligence? Click here.