A Lack Of Emotional Intelligence Is Costing You A Fortune

As an extrovert, I generally enjoy plenty of human interaction. However, sometimes, I come across folks who completely lack emotional intelligence.

When I come across such folks, I immediately begin to wonder what happened? Is the lack of emotional intelligence a parental failure? Is it a failure of the school system? Or is a lack of emotional intelligence genetic, no matter how much tutelage one gets? Please tell me if you know the answer!

Let me share three examples of how a lack of emotional intelligence cost these people some money. One example also cost a friendship.

A Lack Of Emotional Intelligence Can Cost You

Example #1: The Chair Massage

One of my favorite activities pre-corona was getting a chair massage at the mall once every two weeks.

I usually prefer 45 to 60-minute-long massages, but I don't at this one particular place at the mall because the guy uses too much force on my back. We're talking enough force to cause face-contortions from a CIA operative caught and tortured behind enemy lines.

Every time he goes to town on my back I tell him to soften up. I say so in English and then in Mandarin, just in case he can't understand my uncomfortable grunts.

Each time he responds “OK,” or “hao,” and then proceeds to kneed even harder like he's on a mission to explode the blood out of my veins.

Due to his aggressive style, I always tell him I only want a 20-minute massage even though he always encourages me to do 30 minutes or longer. If he's doing great, I'll extend the time. If not, worst-case scenario, I only have to endure 20 minutes of torture.

He should have listened to my request for less pressure. If he did, I would gladly pay $50 before tip for a 60-minute passage. But due to his inability to listen, he often only makes $18 before tip for 20 minutes of work.

He wants things done his way, which is fine. I'll just choose to not do as much business with him. Everything is rational.

Example #2: The “Asian Ghetto”

Between 2013-2015, I did some part-time consulting at a fintech company in their San Francisco office. It was a fun experience that allowed me to learn more about digital marketing and meet new people in the fintech space.

During this time I met a fella who was a smart and motivated guy. Things were going pretty well and he often asked me about real estate advice in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He told me he wanted to buy a property in Oakland given he grew up in the East Bay and went to Berkeley. I told him buying then was a good idea for various reasons.

He then asked me specifically about the San Francisco real estate market. I told him that due to his lower-than-average budget, he should consider looking for homes on the western side of the city. At the time, I thought there was a great investment opportunity as work becomes more decentralized.

I also told him I was looking to buy an ocean property view on the west side. It was apparent to me there was a fortune to be made. Homes with ocean views were trading at a discount in San Francisco, despite homes with ocean views trading at significant premiums in every other international city near an ocean.

Instead of listening to my reasoning, he immediately blurted out, “I don't want to live in the Asian ghetto!

What The Hell Did He Just Say?

I was dumbfounded and offended. Here was my younger colleague, a 29-year-old guy renting a dumpy place in the worst part of San Francisco (the Tenderloin), telling me, an Asian-American guy he didn't want to live in an “Asian ghetto.”

Yes, there is a higher population of Asians and Asian-Americans on the west side of San Francisco. Asians make up roughly 33% of the entire San Francisco population. However, he might as well have said all of San Francisco was a ghetto since the combined minority population is a majority.

Only an idiot (or perhaps a racist) would think that owning a $1M – $1.5M home was considered a ghetto. Remember, he couldn't even afford to rent a nice place in a safe neighborhood. I guess when you have low emotional intelligence, you feel it's OK to ask for advice from a guy and insult his race at the same time.

After this exchange, I no longer wanted to speak to him about non-work stuff or give him any advice. Our relationship was strained because he clearly had no idea how insulting he was.

A Follow Up Request Due To Low Emotional Intelligence

A year later, he joined a competing firm for a raise and a promotion. I wished him well. Then about 1.5 years later, he decided to leave his cushy job and try and start something of his own, an online marketplace for loans.

We hadn't kept in touch in over a year when he suddenly reached out and asked me if I could help promote his product. Usually, when you want something, you should try to at least make some small talk.

Instead of getting straight to business, I asked him what he had been doing since we last spoke and whether he had finally bought his dream property in Oakland.

Nope. He said he was still renting and told me he has been busy trying to recruit people to build his company with another old colleague. He should have recognized the upside in west side San Francisco real estate.

At the end of the day, I told him I wasn't interested in promoting his product at the moment because it was too new. But he pumped me hard for information anyway.

Further, I kept thinking in the back of my head, why would you want an Asian person living in the Asian ghetto to give your company a great boost anyway? That would be illogical!

If only he had made efforts to keep in touch before an ask and not insult me and my people. Maybe things would be different today. Oh, and if he had bought property back in 2013, his property would be worth ~70% more today. There's always the next life I guess.

Financial Samurai office view
I love my Asian ghetto!

Example #3: A Hard Sell For Windows

After buying an old home, one of my favorite things to spend money on to improve the value of a home is new windows. So I asked a window vendor to come over and give me an estimate for nine windows.

He said he worked with multiple brands of windows. I told him I had some Milgard windows installed in my old house and I really liked them.

He proceeded to tell me how this no-name brand called Anlin was better than Milgard, making me feel bad for purchasing Milgard windows. He went on to highlight various reasons why his Anlin windows were better than Milgard windows. The thing is, I love my Milgard windows. They look good, work well, and are good value.

He was selling his Anlin windows so hard that it seemed like he was trying to get rid of his last stock to get some type of month-end bonus. It was weird since he started our conversation highlighting that he works with 30 different brands.

Because he decided to bash my Milgard windows, I didn't entertain his $10,500 offer for Anlin windows after he had spent 1.5 hours measuring, demonstrating, and trying to sell me on his windows.

Usually, I would make a counteroffer. But he pissed me off. As a result, he left empty-handed after driving for over one hour to get to my house.

A couple days later, one of his managers called and asked me how it went. And I told him about the experience. The manager said he has been installing Milgard windows for 10 years because they are some of the best.

If only the sales guy didn't insult my old windows. Maybe we could have all walked away with a win.

Don't Be An EQ Idiot

If you want something, you need to give first. If you want to sell something, you need to first create a positive connection. An emotionally intelligent person tries to help others first.

Be respectful of people's time and wishes. At the very least, don't disregard someone's opinion and make them feel bad about their choices! Insulting someone is not an effective sales strategy.

You don't need to be the smartest person to become extremely wealthy. Instead, to create great wealth, it is much better to be the person with the highest emotional intelligence.

If you have high emotional intelligence, you can actually save or make a lot more money too. For example, someone with a high EQ are more likable. And people tend to do more business with people they like. I

If you are a real estate investor with high EQ, you will end up writing better love letters and price concession letters to get a better deal.

How To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

  • Listening more
  • Writing more
  • Reading more
  • Complementing more
  • Thinking more about the other person's situation
  • Giving first
  • Learning about different cultures
  • Working a sales job

My emotional intelligence also needs work.

My biggest problem is that I often don't take things seriously enough. As a happy-go-lucky type of guy, I'm sometimes viewed as irreverent or flippant. This can sometimes pisses people off who don't know me well. But I just can't stand hanging out with people who are all work and no fun.

If you're only thinking about yourself, I guarantee you will have a much harder time getting ahead.

Once you start thinking about others first, you will develop better relationships and make more money in the process.

Financial Independence Will Make EQ Less Important

If you absolutely can't stand people with low EQ, then get motivated to achieve financial independence ASAP. After becoming financially independent, you can systematically cut out low EQ people from your life for good. To only have to interact with people you like is a wonderful feeling!

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Related posts on emotional intelligence:

Once You Have F You Money It's Hard To Tell Others To F Off

Is Delusion Ruining Your Life? Let's Talk Dunning-Kruger

Your Wealth Is Mostly Due To Luck: Be Thankful!

How To Build Emotional Intelligence

About The Author

49 thoughts on “A Lack Of Emotional Intelligence Is Costing You A Fortune”

  1. Low EQ Dumbo

    EQ is like IQ. Both can help make money.
    Both can be observed and recognized (maybe even tested), but neither is a skill that can be taught.
    So saying “don’t be low EQ” is about as helpful as saying “don’t be low IQ”.

    Just like low-IQ people can survive in this world using other intelligences (a type of coping), so can low-EQ people. The belief that EQ is a learnable skill is exploited by many self-help books such as “7 habits of successful people”. I like Financial Samurai because it doesn’t perpetuate that belief. Now I am not so sure.

  2. tucsonbandit

    I grew up @ 10th and Irving maybe not quite the ‘Asian Ghetto’ but the edge perhaps lol..anyway like you I always found it very odd that in SF the price for houses became cheaper the closer you got to the ocean (not entirely true maybe if you look at the Sea Cliff neighborhood). I used to also want to live out closer towards the ocean because the traffic was not as bad, and it was easier to park.

    The reasons you hear for why houses are cheaper that direction are because its foggy and cold, but to me the air is nicer and cleaner too, I have always like the avenues. When I was growing up it was more known for being an ‘Irish Ghetto’….although I never heard anybody call it a Ghetto of any sort lol, but maybe working class neighborhood when I was younger– but not sure if that is even a thing in SF anymore?

    Enjoy your articles, take care..

  3. Enjoyable post as usual. I recognize that the window installer insulting your favorite window brand probably put your defensive guard up, but Anlin is actually legit and reputable. A high-end builder in my area uses them and I’ve also had both brands installed before.

  4. Money Ronin

    This article is wonderful reminder that EQ is just as important as IQ. We spend a lot of our lives pushing our kids to get better grades and go to a good school, but the EQ portion is a vital component of future success.

    As a former engineer, IT person, and management consultant, we tend to focus on the most logical, efficient answer but we fail to realize that not everyone is programmed to respond in the same. The ability to understand motivation is vital to achieving the desired outcome.

  5. Hi Sam- thanks for writing this article. Last year I was in a tricky situation. Our client provided us KPIs, it also dictated how we should accomplish those. My team did not agree with their tactics so we recommended our own. the client did not budge and accused us of mishandling when we pushed back.

    We would have loved to do it their way since it’ll avoid debates and would have made things much easier, but a large part of our remuneration was performance based. We would have missed out on 50% payment with their tactics. We ended up losing the business, which was widely celebrated across my company since the account was more work than it was worth.

    What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

    1. Client is always right as they say.

      I would have tried to lower the performance based incentives. Highlight your plan to make sure they know this is how you think things should go. Then go with their plan with lower performance hurdles. If thy are reasonable, they will agree and lower them.

  6. Speaking as someone who has a very low EQ, I wish I can understand why people are often upset with the things I say. I wish they can simply judge my intention instead. As much as I want to understand empathy, it just does not compute for me. Granted, as I get older and being married to wife for a bit over 5 years now, I can feel that I am slowly improving. I swear I am not trying to be a jerk, at least not intentionally.

  7. spaceassassin

    Forget EQ, even though as a Psychology nerd I would love to go down the rabbit’s hole, most people are A) just poor listeners, B) listen, but don’t care what you have to say, or C) listen and care, but don’t know how to alter their behavior.

    This is one of the reasons I struggle with reading blogs as they are often too short to get into complex ideas or concepts without leaving out a lot of information. Having spent an entire semester on psychological testing and weeks discussing emotional intelligence, if we were face to face, we could discuss the studies, personality traits, testing, etc. that begin to explain the different types of people in the examples and really get into the different reasons where the communication in each example broke down. But to try and do that via comment section on a blog? Impractical.

    I guess the point is, I’m still sitting hear listening and waiting to hear more about the individuals in the example before I would assess and respond. We would need a lot more data and context to really assess their (or anyone’s) emotional intelligence, and I wouldn’t start handing out EQ assessments based on simple, one-off (or even a few) interactions, but that’s just me.

    To base EQ on one or even a few limited interactions with individuals is quite dangerous. My 6-year-old taught me how to tell the difference between a turtle and tortoise the other day as I had no idea. I’m curious how some would rank my intelligence overhearing that 3 minute conversation. I imagine some would think I’m kind of an idiot (and maybe I am).

      1. spaceassassin

        No books, but I wrote and published a few lengthy research papers in Academic journals as an undergrad. And since then I have written, published and been awarded multiple patents, but neither of those are enjoyable as a great in-depth philosophical conversation regarding the human psyche, at least for me.

        EQ is a great topic, it would be great to really dive into the different examples and individuals, but it’s a lot of writing without feedback prior to publishing (i.e. posting), which is unproductive on the internet, and as you mentioned, we need to guard our time.

        Cheers to bringing psychology into the personal finance conversation, its always appreciated.

    1. I tend to agree, not so much with the blog part though I understand your intent, it’s hard to write a book response for every comment and capture the whole scenario and defend your position. I agree more on the snap shot mentality. Surely, in each of those cases you can think that the person made a bad call and missed an opportunity. I would think this happens more often than not. People get stuck in their mindsets and don’t see another way. The same could be said about the windows in this example. Maybe they were trying to get FS to move off his position to see the benefits of the other windows – who knows.

      I think that someone becoming aware that they need to work on EQ is a step in the right direction. I often struggle with EQ myself, depsite taking classes, courses and other various training specifically for growing EQ. I think it’s hard for people to be on all the time, and to maintain certain levels of operation day in and out. So you will have moments that you slip up. Does this mean you don’t have a high EQ or does it mean you just made a bad call on that moment. Hopefully, they realized the error after and began the assessment period for the next go round.

      There are also all kinds of relationships that can impact the EQ scale so to speak. Who you are talking to and the reason for the exhange. All of these factors come into play for how someone will balance and manage their reactions.

      If you try and tell me that the guru’s out there never let it fly here or there, or don’t put their foot in their mouth from time to time I wouldn’t believe it.

      With all that said though – if you can’t pause enough to “read the room” before you try and throw out a conversation direction change you are likely going to be heading into a low success rate.

      The best advice I think about is trying to think about how you deal with your boss’ boss. For whatever reason when I get into a situation where comments may go wrong, or the situation may be off, I think about how would I talk to the person that could change my world. I find that if you put that in your mind controlling EQ to some level becomes easier. I try to limit snap comments, or aggressive responses where possible, because it just wouldn’t fly with the CEO. I try and use this relationship view with all interactions. I don’t snap or make off comments with people (most of the time), because I imagine standing there trying to argue with my CEO and just guess how long that conversation would go, if you were yelling or aggressive, etc.

      last note on EQ, and not to throw stones… part of EQ is helping others by providing feedback to improve them as well. So perhaps in these situations FS might have been able to realize they messed up with him, but potentially offer advice for future sales, and interactions. Letting people go on failing when you have the ability to help them change is a sign of an EQ issue as well.

      1. Reverse The Crush

        I’m sorry, but I have to say – this is the perfect example of what this post was about. This long response that doesn’t directly answer Sam’s question is an example of low EQ in my opinion lol.

  8. Great post, Sam!

    Like Tom, I sensed a bit of Michael Jordan in this post too, which I respect. I also agree that a lot of people lack EQ. As an introvert, and as someone that has worked with people professionally for the past 10 years in banking, on social media for banks, through chat, in person, and over the phone, I am well aware of the lack of EQ. I think being an introvert helps, because you naturally listen and observe rather than talk most of the time. I could give you a million examples to add based on my career. The biggest problem I have noticed is that people will not even listen. They will not even give you the chance to do your job properly. People with low eq try to tell others how to do a job they do not understand. Calm responses and listening go a long way. Thanks for the great read and advice.

    1. Exactly! There are three types of listeners:

      1) people that never shut up long enough for other people to get in a word

      2) people that pause quietly only to think of their next comment.

      3) and the small percent of people that will pause their thinking and actually consider other points

      Great comment to a great post!!

  9. Guy #2 sounds like my ex-fiancee! She only contacts me when she wants something and doesn’t have the manners to open the conversation with basic pleasantries. Her lack of empathy and selfishness are reasons I ended the relationship, but perhaps I let it go on so long due to my own low EQ…? Whichever, I choose to embrace a recent FB post which read, “Avoiding certain people to protect your emotional health is not a weakness, it’s wisdom.” It sounds like that applies in your case as well.

  10. Sadly, I know plenty of people like this and at the end of the day it comes down to them being selfish and egoistic. I suppose we all have a little bit of this. I just let them talk, take information that can be useful to me, and keep it moving.

  11. While I agree with your overall premise here the first example sounds like the massage guy didn’t understand you, the last guy, as you say, wanted to make a sale on the windows.

    As for the second case, probably they do have low EI but they also have tons of other problems, for these type of ppl I would recommend not replying to them at all.

    In general though I think it’s better that others have low EI so you can figure out if they are a person worthy of your time faster. If they just cover up their issues it will waste both your time (your personal time the most if they have something to gain from you).

  12. Great post, I think an emotional intelligence course should be required for business majors. One of the first things we have to teach new sales reps at work is that bashing their lead’s current process/providers does not help your cause. I certainly was that stereotype of a young, combative sales rep, and I had to learn quickly to improve my EQ for the sake of my commission check. It’s amazing that many people’s natural instinct is to instantly say something like “Oh really, you’re using that provider? But don’t they have problems with XYZ? We don’t.”

    And when you do that you’ve instantly put that person on the defensive because now you’re attacking all the choices they’ve made up to this point to have the process and providers they use.

    It’s amazing how much further you can get in sales if you just drop your instinct to fight all the time. Our best sales reps can often be heard saying things like “Well I can tell you’ve put a ton of thought into your systems and that you’re always improving them, and I’d love to tell you a little bit about what we can offer if you’d like to hear another option,” or “Oh you’re using XYZ? Yeah I’ve heard pretty good things about them, but I think we can offer a better service in this particular area if we can explore that.”

    A little empathy goes a long way.

    PS – I commented a few posts ago about maybe taking a good deal on a Porsche I wanted to buy. I appreciate your response to that, I knew you’d spent some time buying cars that weren’t exactly, well, totally necessary. I did end up getting the car, and I am having quite a bit of fun with it. I’m hoping to drive it for a year and break even on it, even after an absurdly expensive set of new tires, I really didn’t realize performance tires cost that much money, the tires for my Hondas have always been like $90 with a coupon!

  13. This is a really great message, Sam!
    Thanks for this. I realized recently that I have to altogether avoid conversations beyond surface-level — like causes, morality, politics — with a close family member. It’s a little bit of a downer. But thinking about it objectively, I realized that our worldviews are near opposite. I’ve had a 20 year military career with 7 assignments and lived on 4 continents. My family member has left our southern home state to visit Florida on occasion. My expectation that we could engage in open-minded debate just isn’t illogical.
    Anyway, I’m sure you’ll understand why I’m intentionally being vague. That’s my most recent example of a clash of Emotional Intelligence.

  14. Great article.

    This is definitely an area I’ve been working on. One thing I’ve learned is to avoid unnecessary conflict. Sometimes it’s not worth it to be “right.” People hate being told they are wrong. So I’ve learned to avoid pointing it out if I don’t have to. I just let it go (ignore it), or just say, “maybe.” Let them figure it out on their own. It’s not my job to correct people. If I do have to correct someone, I don’t do it directly. I just raise questions. “What about X?” “What if…?” And let them realize it or reach their own conclusion. And maybe it’s not black or white and they actually have a valid point, or they are willing to assume the risk.

  15. I think those with a high EQ are ones who are able to easily see both sides of the situation. Empathy is probably the highest form of EQ. If your window salesman knew that, he would probably have your business.

    Everyone has had a bad restaurant experience, but as someone who used to work in food service, I’m much more inclined to tip properly, say thank you, not worry about kitchen delays, not hassle the host about waiting for my table, not crack awkward jokes, or get upset when my order is wrong… because I’ve been in their shoes and know that the waiter is probably doing the best they can.

  16. People come in all shapes and sizes. There are 8 billion of us here. I’ve encountered nasty people and people with low EQ. I used to try to understand why they act that way but now I never give a second thought why they are that way. It might be their personality or just a bad day. Either way, there’s better use of my time than to think about why.

    I think your point about financial independence is key. FI provides more freedom to avoid low EQ people at work and vendors. I’ve paid more for contracting work because the provider was nicer. Same for when at work. I try to avoid low EQ people and I can do that because of my comfort with my financial situation.

  17. Cornelia Pueschel

    Great article Sam! Emotional intelligent goes around not only in business . It works for all situations in life. Thank you for this. A great eye opener !

  18. Great post. I can think of so many examples of poor EI that I encounter every day. Not to stereotype, but a lot of the worst examples seem to come from millenials. A recent example was when I went to wine shop that had recently re-opened. I asked for a cabernet recommendation and the guy (with an irritated and condescending tone) responded “They’re all basically the same”. Needless to say, I wont be giving them my business again.

    1. Just out of curiousity when you say “millennials” are you still refetring to the correct age group? Millennials are currently aged 26-40. I would be hard pressed to believe someone in that age group working for a wine shop wouldn’t know the difference in the wine they are selling. Are you thinking more likely someone just starting out, like a generation Z?

  19. I think that it’s true these people lacked EQ but by the fact that you can’t stand those people to this degree shows some lack of EQ too. I say that because I feel the same way than you about those people.
    I think people who have really high EQ will understand those people too and won’t talk bad about people but will search for solutions.

    1. For sure. I think my EQ is pretty low, which is one of the reasons why I wrote this post, to encourage me to do better.

      One of the problems with FI is that your tolerance for annoying people goes way down.

      This is one of the reasons why I spent so many hours driving for Uber. To get back to reality, listen to other people’s stories in person, and serve. https://www.financialsamurai.com/rich-spoiled-clueless-work-minimum-wage-job-at-least-twice/

      Any suggestions on how to better interact with people who are always asking you for something? What is it that you do? Thx

      1. I don’t think you’re wrong to set boundaries with people that offend you. I’m surprised you go back to the massage guy. There’s something fostering that loyalty factor, otherwise you wouldn’t keep visiting him. I think the key is to not let offensive people trigger an emotional response in you, or if it does, just let it go.

        I do sense a little bit of “Michael Jordan” in the above stories in that these guys “pissed you off” and it fueled some of the actions you took. You had legitimate reasons to cut the people off, and could have done it on that basis alone, but you let them piss you off which I think is what Stefano is pointing out.

      2. What I’ve noticed about a lot of successful people is that they will stand up for what they feel strongly about, but overall, their EQ is quite high. If it werent, they ultimately couldn’t achieve great success, no matter how strong their technical talents might be. So in my book, success means, de facto, a better than average EQ.

  20. Great post again! The key to good EQ is the ability to listen. None of these people had the ability to listen to what you wanted, and did/said what they wanted. If that salesmen had listened for 1 minute he would have had a guaranteed sale. Instead he had a plan and got nothing. The gentlemen who made the racist comment if he had listened to why you like your neighborhood would have gained valuable information. If he had said I have heard some issues about the neighborhood tell me why you think differently he wouldn’t have pissed you off forever. Far to many people never learn to listen, and will struggle their entire lives. This is a learned trait and anyone can do it, but it can be extremely difficult at times. I have to think about this every time I am talking to someone especially if I need something from them!

  21. Florian Ulrich

    I think lack of emotional intelligence is a result of self-centeredness. For example, some people behave like elephants in a glass room when they are in someone else’s house for the first time: not taking off shoes, grabbing onto everything and smashing it back onto the table, making comments that don’t vibe with the atmosphere of that place etc.

    In life, it’s their way or the highway, which ironically keeps them on the highway for a long time. If those people are in sales, they will be the ones who will tell you “sales sucks”, because their behavior doesn’t net them many deals or opportunities. Success in sales is a readout of someone’s emotional intelligence

    Therefore, one rule of thumb in my life is to always listen to good salespeople. They usually understand reality well.

  22. Whenever I encounter people eager to share their views and belittle yours without listening first, I tend to think they probably have low self-esteem and need to regularly convey their righteousness to feel confident. Most of the time, I just nod and say “I can see why you think that”. This usually moves the conversation to another topic.

  23. I really loved this post. You know the clueless guy who didn’t want to live in an Asian ghetto? I was relieved to discover that he was a millennial. I’m not sure younger people are as woke as they portray themselves. Or there are jerks in every bunch. I retired at 53 unexpectedly. The company I worked for relocated to Salt Lake City. I didn’t want to go, so I retired. I really cherish my time and life and love how I don’t have to interact with anyone who annoys me. I missed working with millennials (we had an older workforce) and I missed all the wokeness and virtue signaling of the latest cause. I feel so fortunate. The EQ that I need to work on is not letting it show if people annoy me and figuring out how to be more accepting of those people that you have to interact with because they are socially or family related. I need to lighten up with my criticism. I don’t criticize outwardly but it’s in my mind. I need to be more happy go lucky like Sam.

  24. Bad EQ is one of my greatest pet peeves, and I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. It’s difficult to fault someone for being oblivious, since they are usually oblivious to this quality in themselves as well. But I’m regularly astonished by how consistently some commit unforced errors by failing to respond appropriately to a situation or conversation partner.

    In past posts, you noted that not everyone has skill, but anyone can work extra hard to get ahead. If I’m honest, I’ve gotten ahead on EQ, rather than either of those. Reading others and responding in the manner they prefer goes surprisingly far.

  25. I had a similar experience with a steel salesman who came to our fabrication business. We were having a pretty normal chat when things turned towards tariffs and foreign competition. The salesman basically said “can you believe these idiots who think they can compete with foreign fabricators? Tariffs are the worst possible idea.” Needless to say, he did not make any sales from us for a long time after insulting our USA-based business.

    1. Antonio Zoli

      My late father used to say “do you have 20 years experience, or one year twenty times over”? Having done steel sales many years ago for a short stint, my late father’s words played out to be accurate. I’d add it was also an occupation for donut dunkers, mostly. Having spent some time in metal fabrication/weld, I get your sentiments. I’ve spent the last 14 years in scrap metal recycling, and that takes the honor roll for what my late father said.

  26. Good one, Sam! Thank you!
    I recently left a silicon valley role where i built a dream facility and a dream team. It provided similar services as other facilities on campus but to different teams. Other managers of those facilities decided to trash talk my equipment decisions and me, a full time employee co-worker, within weeks of when I started at the company. After a little over a year with little change, I realized the emotional intelligence/emotional maturity was so low with these people that it was a waste of time to keep offering olive branches and my management team remained passive the whole time. Thankfully I was able to leave on my own terms after making sure my vision was complete. It’s a shame that level of toxicity can exist in an otherwise decent place to work. I discovered and followed you during those years and I have no regrets taking and leaving that job, even though I left slightly too soon to orchestrate a severance. Thanks again!

  27. Oh my goodness I totally know what you mean about having a masseuse who doesn’t understand “less pressure please”. I haven’t had a massage in a long time, but I had one many years ago and told the woman 3 times during the massage to lighten up. I ended up with bruises! And complained to her manager and never went back.

    Can’t believe that guy said Asian ghetto like that. That’s so rude and insensitive. So many people are clueless that way.

    I know I’m not perfect and have had bad EQ moments but I try my best to learn from them. My mistakes have generally come from bad timing or blips in communication.

    Great food for thought in this post. Your real life examples really show how a lack of EQ can be costly and negatively impact one’s ability to make money and grow wealth.

  28. Sam-

    Completely agree. I have succeeded a fair amount and also failed almost as much along the way. Some of my biggest failures earlier in my career were around not thinking “win-win” in negotiations or in working with my colleagues. BTW, appreciate your comment about having to work on EQ yourself. I continue to work on it, thirty-five years into my career!! BTW, along those lines, could you respond to an email I sent you a week or so ago?

  29. Hey Sam, as a minority definitely see this in my office (pre-covid). I’ve been called Jeremy Lin, and even asked if I like eating dogs on one occasion. I think people are overestimating our colleague relationship with friendship and shows a low level of EQ. I maintain professionalism, but know that the extent of any relationship with some people at work ends at executing on what I need to deliver at work.

    This is at a very successful tech company in the Bay Area by the way.

    1. That’s annoying. You should try some comebacks actually, if you feel secure with your position. I always dished it out at work because we were on a trading floor and that was the culture.

      Who is the Jeremy Lin equivalent of your antagonist? – I’d take that as a complement actually. But you can say, “Hey, you look like Jeff Hornacek, but with no athletic skills.”
      What is the animal equivalent of a dog for your antagonist? – “Do you like eating squirrels for breakfast?”

      Give it a try and see how it goes down! If people can smack talk, they’ve got to certainly take the smack talking as well.

      1. Most of these comments were when i was an intern/entry level. I actually quickly moved into management and have some footing to talk back. One of my favorite ways to respond is to ask them to elaborate.

        “Can you explain that for me?”, “Can you help me understand that more?”
        It’s priceless watching these people fumble through their racism.

      2. I am Asian American and have experienced my share of racially insensitive comments too at school and later in the workplace. However if you find that kind of culture toxic and disagreeable, I would consider other options rather than responding by “dish[ing] it out” because “that was the culture.” I tried returning insults a few times to fit in, but it just felt wrong because I was perpetuating the very culture that I was so averse to. Now, I just don’t play that game. If I feel like I have a good chance to change my group culture, then I will speak up. If not, then I will look for a new group or company all together.

    2. Hey Sam and Andrew! As a female visible minority, I’ve my fair share of low EQ racist remarks from a wide age range of people at work and at school. I got awkward remarks such as “tell me everything about China” or “why are you so short” from people age mid-20s to mid-50s and from students to staff engineers. I maintained professionalism and asked them questions such as “what do you mean?” They didn’t stop. I eventually left the organizations and didn’t report to management. I chose not to spend energy in the matter.
      The mid-50s guy got laid off after I left. I’ve heard from the grapevine that he asked others low EQ questions to others. He never found another job again. He may never know what he did wrongly.

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