29 September 2010

How Sharp Are Your People Skills at Work? Take This 5-minute Quiz

By Kathy Simmons

The ability to interact with your boss and co-workers can make or break your career. Studies have shown that IQ takes second position to emotional intelligence in determining outstanding job performance and long-term success. Now, more than ever, you need to pay attention to your people skills to be hired, kept and promoted.

In the words of John Hancock, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions.”

Emotionally intelligent people have mastered the art of living in harmony with others. They respond appropriately when conflict arises, and seem to know the right thing to do regardless of the circumstances. Does this description fit you?

Measure how sharp your “soft” skills are by taking the following quiz:

1. A co-worker criticizes your idea in front of the boss. Which best describes your reaction?

a) Immediately remind the critic of his most recent flawed idea.

b) Say nothing. You'll vent with co-workers later.

c) Become angry and demand to know why the critic is being so non-supportive.

d) Thank the critic for his input, and promise to take the feedback under consideration.

2. Your boss is acting differently lately. She has been much less communicative and friendly. You would be most likely to…

a) Avoid her. Otherwise, you are likely to stay on her bad side.

b) Schedule a meeting and ask for her feedback on your work performance.

c) Assume she has personal problems and ask others if they are aware of details.

d) Begin working on your resume. You would rather quit than be fired.

3. You’ve just found out that you are the target of a nasty rumor at work. Which of the following best describes your response?

a) Do nothing. Rumors have a way of blowing over eventually.

b) Make it a point to find the source of the rumor and confront him or her aggressively.

c) Create a rumor about someone else to take the spotlight off yourself.

d) Become depressed and distracted.

4. A less-talented co-worker is promoted to a position you hoped for. How would you handle the disappointment?

a) Start looking for another job.

It’s obvious your talents are not appreciated where you are.

b) Resolve to make life difficult for the co-worker. She’ll earn that promotion!

c) Ask the hiring manager what areas you could focus on to be a stronger candidate in the future.

d) Pout, and hope someone notices your hurt feelings.

5. Your raise was much less than expected this year. How would you deal with the bad news?

a) Take a few extra sick days. That’s your way of evening the score.

b) Ask your co-workers how much they got. Then decide if yours was fair.

c) Go to your boss’s boss and express your disappointment.

d) Ask your boss what accomplishments would warrant a

re-evaluation in six months.

6. You discover that you made a huge mistake that will cost the company plenty of money. What is your solution?

a) Immediately bring it to your boss's attention and ask for advice on minimizing the damage.

b) Resign as quickly as possible.

c) Try to cover up the error as smoothly as possible — and hope nobody looks too carefully.

d) Blame others for their contribution. You won’t take the heat alone!

7. One of your co-workers regularly gossips about upper management. She seems to know quite a bit of information and it’s hard not to listen. You would be most likely to:

a) Listen eagerly, but never repeat what you hear.

b) Tell her in no uncertain terms what you think of her lack of loyalty.

c) Let your boss know she is gossiping.

d) Tell her you would rather talk about other things — then change the subject quickly.


1. d, 2. b, 3. a, 4. c, 5. d, 6. a, 7. d

6-7 correct: Your soft skills are razor sharp! You consistently display maturity when it comes to coping with the inevitable conflicts and disappointments that arise at work.

4-5 correct: Most of the time your soft skills are sharp, but there are times you fall short of behaving professionally. Watch your tendencies to retaliate or take things personally.

3 or less correct: You have significant deficiencies in your soft skills. To raise your awareness in areas of emotional intelligence, start by reading any of the following books:

· Working With Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman

· People Skills, by Robert Bolton

· Be Your Own Executive Coach : Master High-Impact Communications Skills, by Peter Delisser

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