Show some emotion

Can you gauge your Emotional
Intelligence Quotient on the web for nothing? Sue Weekes puts a selection of
free EQ-testing websites through their paces.

As a well-adjusted, team-playing, empathic
individual, I figured there wouldn’t be much lacking in my Emotional
Intelligence Quotient (EIQ).

I had managed editorial teams for
several years and, publishing being a creative industry, it had inevitably
brought me into contact with some strange hybrid types – brilliant writers
whose prose was completely at odds with their displaced personalities and suede
shoes and fascist sub-editors who make Mussolini look like the Andrex puppy.

As a managing editor sitting
betwixt and between the above and the shopfloor, however, I always felt I’d
made the best of a bad job and was a popular manager who people responded to.

If I had a self-criticism, it was
my need to remain popular with the troops – I was once told I would never
amount to much at management level because I couldn’t go out there and sack
half the team.

So could an online EIQ test teach
me anything about myself? Could it make me a better manager? Could it, maybe,
make me even more popular with my workmates?

Well, first off, there’s no shortage
of places to go online to explore your EIQ. Exponents of Daniel Goleman’s
theories on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace have done
a good job of populating the Web, with EQ tests to be found everywhere: on
management consultancy pages to women’s online community sites.

I began my quest at the Turnkett
Leadership’s site at www.leadershipcharacter.com/eq_quiz2.htm

The relatively short test took less
than 15 minutes to do and my options were to strongly agree, moderately agree,
have no opinion, moderately disagree or strongly disagree with each question.

Disappointingly, it didn’t develop
much beyond a straightforward personality test, beginning with questions like,
"Would you describe yourself as soft-hearted?" and building to a
barely challenging "When I’m upset at someone, I usually try to put myself
in his or her shoes for a while…."

However, the questionnaire is
followed by an eclectic list of statements to tick, which ranged from whether I
used illegal drugs to if I experience frequent stomach bugs, and concluded with
some job-specific questions such as, if I was a manager, how well did
subordinates rank my effectiveness. Overall, it was a mildly stimulating and thought-provoking
experience so I clicked to generate my EQ report with interest.

Given the test seemed somewhat
superficial at times, the results were among the most useful and practical of
any we tried. I was given two scores, one for "empathic concern" and
another for "perspective-taking ability". My personal score appeared
in yellow with the group average score – all of those who have done the test on
the site; 1635 to date – appearing as a blue bar so you can instantly see how
you compare.

As I suspected, being a bit of a
soft touch, my concern score at five was higher than the average of 3.97 and my
perspective was just below average at 3.60. My developmental advice (of which
there wasn’t much – and I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you) stated I shouldn’t
worry so much about upsetting others and, if I were a manager, I should
remember that subordinates expect a boss to be fair and even-handed. It also
said I am socially intelligent and fairly diplomatic. The advice wasn’t
earth-shattering but, nonetheless, sufficient to make me think and confirmed
what I’d always thought about my management abilities.

To road test the site properly, I
then ran through the test again, assuming the personality of a totally
unreasonable and unsympathetic nutcase (if such a person does exist, you
wouldn’t want to share desk space with them). I managed to register two
distinctly below-average scores, which warranted a great deal more
developmental advice than my original had, much of which was valuable. Bear in
mind though that in common with many online EQ and IQ tests, results come with
a number of riders – ie, your results "describe how individuals on average
behave", and "each detail may not be a perfect fit for your unique
personality".

Next I went to Queendom.com (www.queendom.com/tests/iq/emotional_iq.html),
a site which specialises in a number of interactive quizzes as well as IQ and
EQ tests. This time the test was much longer at 70 questions, which would take
an estimated 35-40 minutes. Questions again started simply (‘When I feel
crappy, I don’t know who or what is upsetting me’), to scenarios where I was
asked to make a behavioural judgement on something or somebody, such as nasty
Nancy the secretary who’s nice to her superiors but obnoxious to subordinates,
and bed and breakfast owner Emma who doesn’t like getting out of her depth at
party talk.

It’s a far more soul-searching test
than the one offered by Turnkett but sadly the results let it down. I was given
three scores – 107 for behavioural aspect, 105 for knowledge aspect and 106
overall – and was told my EIQ is very good. Apart from that it told me little
else that I didn’t know already (I was optimistic, positive, adapted well…)
but that there was room for improvement.

However, rather than give some
solid developmental advice like the Turnkett site, it pumped out the standard
"Advice & Tips: How to Increase Your EIQ" and some handy links to
HelpHorizons.com who, surprise, surprise partnered Queendom in the test, and
also to Cyberia’s Bookshelf where I could no doubt exchange money for a book on
EQ. I ran through the test as my nutty alter ego and, as I expected, the EIQ
was low. But apart from a few lines summing up the results – my low EIQ had a
negative impact on all aspects of my life was its thrust – I just received the
standard Advice & Tips and those handy links once again.

Such commercialism left a nasty
taste so next I headed to the Hay Group’s site (www.ei.haygroup.com/resources/default_ieitest.htm),
which has an association with the man who started off the whole EQ in the
workplace thing, Daniel Goleman (the Hay Group has formed an alliance with
him).

This proved fascinating, being
entirely scenario-based and – even better – gave the answers at the end of it.
Questions had me responding and reacting to people and circumstances such as
turbulence on a plane, an angry client, a racist joke-teller, an indecisive manager
and an uninspired team. Answers are awarded points, and more than one answer
can get the maximum of 10, with a possible 100 up for grabs. I felt I’d
answered the questions in line with the way I’d answered previous tests but I’d
somehow slumped to a well below average 35, with 50 being average.

Mildly deflated, I sought sanctuary
at iVillage (www.quiz.ivillage.com/uk_work/tests/eqtest.htm),
the women’s community site, where a banner advert on the page asked "Does
your name match your performance? Heather means shrub." Here, in a quiz
more reminiscent of those I used to do as a teenager in Jackie and Blue Jeans
magazines, I notched up my best EIQ of the day, being adjudged 60 per cent correct.
Before politely wishing me luck in my future EQ, it advised that just because
I’d done well in the test didn’t mean there wasn’t room for emotional growth.
Point taken.

So are EIQ online tests worthwhile,
or is a daily fix of Banana Lotto a better use of your online time? Well, given
the odds of winning the jackpot on the latter, an EQ test is probably the more
rewarding of the two. If you’re serious about EQ in the workplace, they are no
substitute for a proper consultant. However, suggesting that certain members of
the workforce do the Turnkett or the Hay Group’s online offering would
certainly give a useful picture of someone’s EQ. The only real potential harm
in them is to someone with a low self-esteem who may have this reinforced by
one of the sites in isolation and without the support of a counsellor. Overall
though, and given that an EQ is evolving all the time, they’re not a bad way of
staying in emotional check.

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