Tag Archives: socialized

Why Women Are Smarter Than Men

Trying to compare intelligence and gender doesn’t typically yield much in the way of productive discussion, but sometimes research comes along that makes it worth opening this particular can of worms.

Decades of research show unequivocally that men and women are equal in general intelligence (IQ), but that isn’t the case when it comes to emotional intelligence (EQ). There are subtle, and not so subtle, differences in men’s and women’s expression and understanding of emotions that must be explored and understood.

Gender is a common place for people to assign labels around emotion. Such generalizations have pegged women as everything from the “fairer sex” to overly emotional, and men from emotionally aloof to explosive. You’ll find that none of these platitudes are true.

There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to men’s and women’s performance at work. Emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of performance in all types of jobs, and 90% of top performers are high in EQ.

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” -Timothy Leary

TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people, and it’s clear that women have the upper hand. While women’s overall EQ score is just a couple of points higher than men’s, this is a statistically significant difference that shows that women have greater skill in using emotions to their benefit.

It just doesn’t answer the pressing question: Why?

To understand why women outscore men, we have to look at scores for each of the four emotional intelligence skills by gender. There’s a reliable pattern in the data that points to some interesting explanations for the gap.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is how well you understand your own emotions in the moment, as well as how well you understand your tendencies-the people and situations you handle well and those that push your buttons. This is the one place where men and women have perfectly equal scores. It’s also a place where men have been given a bad rap. People often assume that men aren’t tuned in to their emotions or don’t understand them. Clearly, that isn’t the case. Of course, men also have a tendency to hop on this bandwagon-by feigning to have no awareness or understanding of their emotions-in the hope of avoiding any accountability for their actions. Now we know better.

Self-Management

Self-management is what you do with your emotions once you’re aware of them. Because you can’t make emotions disappear, effective self-management requires channeling your emotions into producing the behavior that you want. This is the one area where men outscored women. I believe that the best explanation for gender differences in emotional intelligence is how we are socialized growing up (reinforced by societal gender pressures we experience as adults). In the case of self-management, men are often expected to be emotionally “strong” and in control of their emotions, which may explain why they outscore women slightly.

Social Awareness

Social awareness is how well you understand the emotions and experience of other people. This requires the ability to tune in to body language and other unspoken signals, because people don’t usually come out and say what’s going on with them. This is an area where women outscore men by a fairly large margin (statistically speaking). This is also a skill that women are socialized to practice and possess from childhood in ways that men aren’t. Right or wrong, women are expected to take care of other people (and are rewarded for doing so). This gives them an upper hand when it comes to social awareness. Men, to their detriment, aren’t rewarded for social awareness in the same way that women are, and this carries over into adulthood.

Relationship Management

Relationship management is the pinnacle of emotional intelligence. It requires that you use self-awareness, self-management and social awareness in concert to better your relationships as you interact with other people. You cannot hope to get the most out of your interactions with other people until you understand your emotions, cue in to their emotions and use this knowledge to adjust your approach on the fly. Women have a slight edge in relationship management for reasons described in the social awareness section.

The Advantage

Emotional intelligence presents a significant advantage for women in the workplace. Whether you’re a man or a woman, don’t just sit back hoping that you’re one of the high-EQ types. EQ is a flexible skill that you can improve with effort. To that end, here are a few things that you can do to improve your EQ today:

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, and adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you but not so great when you’re responding to a curt e-mail. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don’t let it get the better of them.

Get Enough Sleep

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence. When you sleep, your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think. Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and solve problems, kills your creativity and catapults your stress levels and emotional sensitivity. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough sleep. So they make sleep a top priority.

Stop Negative Self-Talk in Its Tracks

The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that-thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.

Appreciate What You Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

Why do you think women outscore men in emotional intelligence? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

IMR Practices May Be Legal, Yet…

There is one element of human behavior that is not very well appreciated by most people — for the most part, socialized humans follow the law.

However, people acting completely rationally will also take advantage of the law. They will not break the law, but nearly all of us will push the boundaries to accomplish our missions.

We do this every day driving our cars. We exceed the speed limit all over the place — maybe not by much; as we know, police officers are rather tolerant of someone going five miles per hour over the limit and much less tolerant of someone going ten over.

Part of this behavior stems from the fact that, with very little exception, laws, rules and regulations are restrictive — they tell us what we can’t do but don’t tell us what we can do. For the most part, this is because it is really very hard to determine what will be allowed — it’s much easier to describe what won’t be allowed.

When we combine law-abiding people who want to get their job done along with restrictive laws, we end up with what are commonly known as loopholes.

Loopholes exist because someone who needs to get something accomplished found a way to do so regardless of some proscription.

Take California’s independent medical review (IMR). IMR was conceived to expedite medical decisions outside of the court system. (Whether this mission is accomplished is the subject of much debate — and is not the subject of this post.) But IMR has produced an unintended consequence that arises from people doing their jobs, and doing the job well, within the constricts of the law.

There is a faction of the workers’ compensation industry whose job is to minimize ultimate claims costs. These are good, law-abiding, citizens. They follow the law … carefully and considerately.

What they have discovered is that an IMR denial of treatment is a final determination, and a final denial of treatment within the workers’ compensation context means that item can be removed from consideration when establishing a Medicare Set-Aside trust. In other words, something that a workers’ compensation payer would have been liable for before IMR is no longer a continuing liability to either the injured worker or to the federal government.

This also means that the cost of treatment is shifted from worker’s comp to Medicare.

Although this may be perfectly legal, and certainly even prudent from the workers’ compensation payer’s viewpoint, my bet is that this was not intended by the authors of SB 863, nor any other medical treatment limitation law in any other state.

The unintended consequence challenges the future of workers’ compensation. The purpose of workers’ compensation, as we have said time and time again, is to make it affordable for an employer to take care of injured workers.

We all get that. But I think we forget a fundamental concept: The obligation is the employer’s.

We don’t fulfill this mission when we shift the responsibility to someone else, such as the federal government via Medicare or Social Security.

Doing so, regardless of legality, invites scrutiny. And when there’s enough scrutiny there’s inquisition. And when there’s enough inquisition, there’s interference.

We’re on the cusp of that now. The public image of workers’ compensation couldn’t be lower. There are many talking about skimpy benefits, of wrongfully denied medical treatment, of passing the buck and of otherwise shirking responsibility.

These are acts that are, for the most part, the product of people working within the law to accomplish their missions and jobs without regard or even an idea of negative consequences.

This is now playing out with California IMR.

California IMR has been under attack since inception. The California Third District Court of Appeals, in Ramirez v. WCAB (SCIF), No. C078440, has granted review to test its constitutionality. Ramirez joins a case already pending at the 1st DCA, Stevens v. WCAB (Outspoken Entertainment), No. A143043, which also seeks to have IMR declared invalid. The basis of these cases is that fundamental rights of due process are violated because there is no legal review process.

Perhaps those challenging IMR have an argument. And just because someone is acting within the bounds of the law doesn’t make that action right, correct or good policy.

When OSHA released its recapitulation of prior research on the adequacy of workers’ compensation, it was seen by many as overreaching based on faulty research. Maybe, but this industry should be fearful, because OSHA’s report is, in reality, the dog barking because someone is intruding on its property and territory. It may not be trespassing, and there may be invitation, but the dog doesn’t know that and doesn’t care.

Eventually, the dog will bite. The states won’t like that at all.