Emotional Intelligence and the Case of The Interns Who Didn’t Get It

Every now and then, a news story causes people to snicker with a satisfying sense of knowing others got their comeuppance, even though a more appropriate response would be to use one’s emotional intelligence to consider applying the lessons of the story to one’s own life. Here’s one example of that, with the usual suspects — interns —in the unenviable role of learning a lesson the hard way:

A young reader’s request for advice went viral over the weekend, via a blog post on askamanager.com. The reader had received a summer internship with a company that does work in the individual’s desired industry.

‘Even though the division I was hired to work in doesn’t deal with clients or customers, there still was a very strict dress code,’ the person wrote. ‘I felt the dress code was overly strict but I wasn’t going to say anything, until I noticed one of the workers always wore flat shoes that were made from a fabric other than leather, or running shoes, even though both of these things were contrary to the dress code.’

The intern spoke with a manager, who made it clear that there wasn’t any leeway allowed under the dress code, despite the exception made for the other worker.

And that’s where it all goes downhill.

Angered by the ‘hypocrisy’ and having discovered that many of the other interns felt the same way, the reader and the others wrote a proposal stating why they should be allowed to stray from the dress code. The proposal was accompanied by a petition signed by every intern (minus one who refused to sign), and given to the managers. The interns asked for ‘a more business casual dress code,’ outlining the types of footwear they felt were more appropriate, along with a request that the group ‘not have to wear suits and/or blazers in favor of a more casual, but still professional dress code.’

And this is where the sense of comeuppance comes in — when the “should’ve just followed the rules” thought kicks in. Reportedly, the interns were pulled into a meeting the next day and terminated for “unprofessional” behavior. They were told to leave immediately, and it was explained to them that “the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in.”

And that’s what we call a ‘welcome to reality’ moment.

But the worst part of it all, and what proves that the interns’ decision to submit a petition lacked emotional intelligence, is the reasoning that comes next. After acknowledging the situation of the colleague who was given an exception due to her physical condition, the reader writes:

‘You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.’

Man oh man.

Read the lessons that author Justin Bariso offers up to other newcomers who demonstrate a lack of emotional intelligence (a.k.a. the know-it-alls).