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Emotional Intelligence Meets Ethics


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I recently stumbled across a concept I was unfamiliar with: emotional intelligence. Upon taking a deeper dive into what it meant and how my career could benefit from it, I realized it was something I needed to share with our stakeholders.

Justin Bariso, subject matter expert on emotional intelligence and one of LinkedIn’s top management voices of 2015, was kind enough to give us a rare commodity: his time. He answered some questions that we felt would be beneficial for both our young and seasoned professionals.

Bariso is also a columnist for and the author of the upcoming book The Real-World Approach to Emotional Intelligence.

See what he had to share with us below:

1. What is something you wish you would tell your twenty-something year old self in regard to getting ready to enter the workforce?

I’d say: Remember, you’re the new guy now. Soak everything in, and be ready for feedback. Take whatever criticism you get and learn from it. You’ll have plenty of chances to share ideas, and even to lead…but you’ll always be able to learn from others, and you’ll always have room to grow.

2. You are a subject matter expert on emotional intelligence. What is your elevator pitch on this concept? Can you give us an example?

Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to identify emotions (in both themselves and others), to recognize the powerful effects of those emotions, and to use that information to inform and guide behavior.)

One example would be recognizing you’re in an emotionally charged situation, then having the ability to pause and prevent yourself from saying something you’ll later regret. Or recognizing that someone else is speaking and acting irrationally (due to emotion), and helping them to calm down…or simply realizing that any discussion should wait until the person is in a better frame of mind.

3. How would you encourage young professionals to incorporate emotional intelligence into their careers or internships?

Young professionals should be willing to learn first. Of course you have great ideas. But nobody wants “the newbie” to come in and try to change everything–it goes against our nature; it makes us defensive. 

Instead, be willing to be trained; there’s no perfect method, so even if it’s not ideal, chances are you can still learn from it. Be positive and sincerely thankful to others, and you’ll build trust in the relationship. The time will come when it’s time to share your ideas, and for change. If you show consideration and respect in sharing your thoughts and opinions, others will be a lot more willing to hear what you have to say

4. Can you tell us about a time when emotional intelligence helped you, or the lack thereof hindered you?

When you write for a public audience, you open yourself up to a lot of people. Emotional intelligence has helped me to see that I don’t have to respond to every negative comment, or engage in every dissenting opinion. The other day I couldn’t help but write a reply to someone who was trying to bait me on social media–but I didn’t press “send.” When I come back an hour later, I asked myself: “Is this really important? How will I feel about this in a day, or a year?” Then I just deleted it, and felt pretty good about it.

In the past, though, I haven’t been so good…and have wasted a lot of time defending my opinion to people who aren’t willing to listen. It ends up being self-defeating. Over time, I’ve learned to pick and choose my moments…but I’m as imperfect as any and it’s a continuous learning process.

5. Can you recall having encountered an ethical dilemma in your career? Did you feel prepared to navigate it?

I run into ethical dilemmas regularly. They’re usually variations of the same theme: Am I willing to stretch the rules, as long as I’m not breaking them outright?
My strong belief in a higher power guides my sense of ethics. I usually don’t reference that in my writing, but it plays a huge part in shaping who I am and the decisions I make.

Getting the opportunity to hear from Justin first hand was both insightful and encouraging. We hope our readers can also benefit from this short, but sweet interview. At the CPT we are constantly looking for new resources we can make available to our ethical leaders across the country. Do you have any questions on this or other topics? Feel free to email us at: [email protected].

Alexia Kammer
Business Development Specialist, NASBA Center for the Public Trust

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