Read the full article at Forbes.com.
Dan is a senior financial analyst and, in his mind, he’s the best one on the team. But according to his boss, while it’s true that Dan’s financial skills are very good, his emotional intelligence is virtually nonexistent. And Dan’s coworkers would describe him as smart but also narcissistic, abrasive and tone-deaf.
Dan could really benefit from constructive feedback to get his people skills closer to the level of his financial skills. If only Dan had better people skills, his career trajectory and compensation would be much better than they are today. But thus far, Dan’s been impervious to feedback.
If Dan were a perfectly rational and unemotional robot, he’d hear the feedback and alter his behavior. But Dan’s got two problems (beyond his lack of people skills) that are impinging his ability to hear and accept his boss’ criticism.
First, Dan’s suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. As I previously wrote on Forbes, coined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are both unable to recognize their own incompetence and likely to feel confident that they actually are competent.
And second, Dan is employing a type of defensiveness that Professor Dunning and his colleagues call expedient escape. I recently spoke with Professor Dunning, who now teaches at the University of Michigan, and he told me that many people find the most expedient avenue they can to reject the feedback.
They might question the accuracy of the feedback (e.g. “you can’t rate my emotional intelligence low because I didn’t smile enough in the staff meeting”) or they might challenge the relevance of the feedback (e.g. “emotional intelligence is not relevant to being a great financial analyst”). Either way, as Professor Dunning told me, you’re telling people things that may cause them to question what they believe and there’s a good chance they won’t take it very well.