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Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence and Collaboration

Personality Traits Impact Emotional Intelligence and Collaborative Potential.

Dr. Travis Bradberry recently published an article titled Why You Need Emotional Intelligence, in which he explained that “Emotional Intelligence, IQ, and Personality Are Different.” According to Dr. Bradberry, unlike IQ and personality, which are “stable over a lifetime and don’t change, … you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.”

Bradberry is likely using IQ to mean each person’s intellectual potential because I'm sure he knows that IQ performance levels can and do change.

[IQ performance scores] can change dramatically [and] don’t say anything about a person’s intellectual limits…. What any individual can achieve with the right combination of assets and gumption is entirely different from what most people actually do achieve. Most people settle into a particular academic standing early in life and do not substantially deviate from that standing. That's the inertia of life and human circumstance…. There is plenty of evidence, for example, that schooling raises overall academic intelligence. There is also evidence that most human beings are not reaching their cognitive or academic potential…. Genes certainly do have an impact on intelligence, and everyone has their own theoretical limits, but every indication is that most of us don't come close to our true intellectual potential.”

In addition, IQ performance levels can fluctuate based upon the influence of stress in our lives. The following is an excerpt from my article Navigating the Emotional Waters within Collaborative Family Law:

"Studies over the past 30 years or more have found that I.Q. performance levels can decrease by 25 percent and their analytical reasoning scores can drop by 30 percent (Blackpool, 2002) from low stress to high stress and this applies to everyone from children to corporate leaders. When a person’s stress level is sufficiently elevated, their ability to fully and effectively use their cognitive ability and emotional intelligence in tandem to make timely and effective decisions is significantly impaired. If the elevated stress becomes high enough for a long enough period of time, however, deleterious effects will follow regarding the “higher” level thinking processes, e.g., logic, analysis, decision making, etc.—a significant portion of the IQ. Too much stress results in a drop in cognitive ability (including IQ) and an oversensitive heightened state of emotion. A person loses a significant amount of ability to “control” their emotions, thus becoming temporarily less emotionally intelligent! Stress reduces a person’s ability to fully access their IQ and emotional intelligence abilities."

Beyond a doubt, IQ performance and true intellectual potential are two very different things and IQ performance is by no means stable over a lifetime and unchangeable.

Furthermore, when Bradberry states that a person’s personality is stable over a lifetime and doesn’t change”, I’m assuming he means that “average levels of adult personality remain relatively stable.”

In fact, an article by Christopher Soto titled Personality Can Change Over A Lifetime, And Usually For The Better published By NPR in 2016 stated in part as follows:

“The world's languages include many thousands of words for describing personality, but most of these can be organized in terms of the 'Big Five' trait dimensions: extraversion (characterized by adjectives like outgoing, assertive and energetic vs. quiet and reserved); agreeableness (compassionate, respectful and trusting vs. uncaring and argumentative); conscientiousness (orderly, hard-working and responsible vs. disorganized and distractible); negative emotionality (prone to worry, sadness and mood swings vs. calm and emotionally resilient); and open-mindedness (intellectually curious, artistic and imaginative vs. disinterested in art, beauty and abstract ideas)….

While personality traits are relatively stable over time, they can and often do gradually change across the life span. What's more, those changes are usually for the better. Many studies, including some of my own, show that most adults become more agreeable, conscientious and emotionally resilient as they age. But these changes tend to unfold across years or decades, rather than days or weeks. Sudden, dramatic changes in personality are rare….

A 2015 study by Nathan Hudson and Chris Fraley indicates that some people may even be able to intentionally change their own personality through sustained personal effort and careful goal-setting."

It bears mentioning the intervention in the above study "did not boost growth in agreeableness beyond merely wanting to be more agreeable.”

In addition, open-mindedness actually tends to decline with age.

Although people's personalities can change, it takes a great deal of effort to change many of our personality traits, assuming they can be changed through effort, which is what Bradberry likely means. "Just as it takes many years to develop patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, it will take some time—perhaps many years—to alter them. But the good news is that change is possible."

This is all consistent with collaboration expert, Stephen Willis' assessment.

Dr. Willis set forth the following in his book, Power through Collaboration: The Formula for Success in Challenging Situations:

"The PtC [Power through Collaboration] Types framework characterizes people, groups, and organizations according to their potential capability to commit to, perform effectively, and achieve goals via collaboration. PtC Type is a significant factor in determining whether investing in collaboration will pay off. Some types are better to collaborate with, and some types are better not to collaborate with....

[Dr. Willis'] working rule of thumb is that genuine aspiration can move a person's PtC Typle up by a half or a full range with just a modest yet sincere effort. To achieve a larger upgrade requires transformative events, compelling motivation, and genuine commitment, plus a lot of hard work to break old habits and replace them with a more collaborative way of seeing and doing. Often professional coaching is needed as well."

You see, a person's level of agreeableness greatly impacts their collaborative potential. In fact, according to Willis, "empathy is a key skill that enables people to collaborate more effectively. The more collaborative the personality type, the more empathetic and vice versa."

Not surprisingly, "highly agreeable people are altruistic, cooperative, compassionate [a key component of which is empathy], and trust the good intentions of others. The facets of modesty and straightforwardness are associated with Agreeableness as well. Disagreeable people, in contrast, tend to be characterized by antagonism, skepticism, and a competitive rather than cooperative take on life."

In any event, as Bradberry says, "emotional intelligence is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren't born with it."

Nevertheless, as Dr. Willis says, "some Power through Collaboration Types are more predisposed towards empathy and more able to develop empathic capability than others."

“'Emotional intelligence' is a concept including perception, expression and control of emotions, self-control and empathy, communication, conflict resolution process, conscience, and perhaps many more. It became topical in 1998, when the «classic» book by Daniel Goleman 'The emotional intelligence: Why EQ is more important than IQ' was published.... According to Goleman, emotional intelligence involves the following elements: self-awareness, empathy, handling relationships, managing feelings, motivation.... Empathy is a key feature of emotional intelligence."

The practice of which Bradberry is referring is essentially daily practice of each of the skills that encompass emotional intelligence because "EQ improvement is the process of rewiring your brain."

For the reasons stated by Bradberry, improving your emotional intelligence is well worth the effort because it "is the foundation for a host of critical skills - it impacts most everything you do and say each day."