Sometimes there’s that person at work who “just doesn’t get it.” This is the person that needs seemingly basic things explained. Or the person who makes you cringe when they address a visitor to your place of work.
There have been plenty of different buzzwords to explain people’s ability to read someone’s shifts in moods or needs. Most recently, we call this “emotional intelligence.” No matter what the field of work is, everyone wants to work with people who are adept at interpreting the subtle and not-so-subtle emotional cues at work.
When employers call back recruiters after a job interview with a potential candidate, it is often their interpretation of the candidate’s emotional intelligence that the recruiter hears about.
In a curious study published in Psychological Science, evidence suggests what many working-class people have long suspected: that people from wealthier backgrounds have lower emotional intelligence.
A sample of more than 300 upper- and lower-class people was asked to interpret the emotions of people in photos and of strangers during mock job interviews. In both cases, those with more education, money and self-defined social status were significantly less able to determine if a person was angry, happy, anxious or upset as their lower-class colleagues.
The study begs the question: if people from the alleged “upper-class” lack emotional intelligence in work settings, than why are they able to maintain their wealth, while working-class people often struggle to make ends meet? What other factors play into hiring practices? What wisdom can recruiters offer to illuminate this irony?