Emotional Intelligence – People Are Listening

Living your life with emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence – People Are Listening

Earlier this week I had a revelation.  People read what I write and listen to what I have to say.   It’s funny because I don’t often think about the people who read this blog and don’t leave a comment or contact me directly.  Apparently, my thoughts and ideas influence others and not just those within the human resource profession. This has always been my goal but when you are punching keys behind a monitor or speaking in front of a large crowd at an event, it might not feel that way.

Regardless of our blog traffic, our twitter followers, or the number of friends of family members we talk to and interact with everyday, the reality is that our words and actions are being evaluated and watched by others.  People we conversate both good and bad process the information and our auctions many different ways.  That’s a huge amount of responsibility when you consider the impact your own words or auctions can have on influencing others.

This understanding of impact is described as emotional intelligence and was a session at the Southwest Regional Human Resource Conference this past week.  While I wasn’t able to attend the presentation, the tweets from Steve Boese and others got me thinking.  (Steve’s article,  HR Southwest – Do I have to talk about my feelings? )

Are we living our lives with emotional intelligence?  Do you have the ability to manage your relationships with others so that you can live your intentions and values?

But more importantly, what if your values or beliefs are not shared with or by others?  Does this make you a bad person to someone of little worth or value?  And if so, what gives a person the right to determine this?  If your values or belief system, doesn’t align with another, do basic human qualities like respect and dignity no longer apply?

Last week you may have read about a talented, young man age 19 from Norman, Oklahoma, who committed suicide several days after attending a very heated and ugly discussion regarding the city recognizing October as GLBT (Gays, Lesbian, Bi, Trans-gender) month.  He sat in a room full of adults and influencers of children, their family, and the community making statements and comments without consequence. Their words and conversations influencing others and shaping the reality and perception of those that sat in the city council meeting room.

And those in attendance included my cousin, Zach Harrington, the talented, young gay man age 19 from Norman, Oklahoma who committed suicide a week ago today.

I’m not here to debate religion, politics, or public policy with this post.  I’m here to make you aware about the importance of values and emotional intelligence.  Reminding yourself that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and that there is no possible way to judge others without having walked a mile in their shoes.  Our family is grieving a young man who was struggling to understand and learn who he was and find his place in this world.  His battle really no different than our own.

For the last five years since moving to Oklahoma, I have volunteered and worked with an organization called HeartLine that seeks to provide suicide awareness, prevention training, and 24 hour assistance for family members, friends, and persons throughout Oklahoma.  I’ve donated hours, money, sweat and tears to an organization that seeks to help people like my cousin before it’s too late.

Take accountability for your actions and know that you are influencing people more than you can imagine.  Consider living your life with emotional intelligence.

Photo Credit CEO and Norman Transcript.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.

Reader Interactions


  1. Charee says

    I’m heartbroken and can’t even imagine how hard this has been for you and your family. Deeply sorry for your loss.

    The way you incorporated the need for emotional intelligence in our daily lives was impactful and i hope it helps to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of our differences. We certainly don’t have to agree with someone’s values or beliefs ~ the very least we can do is try to understand and do our best to learn from each other.

    I hope there is some comfort in the realization that people do listen to you. There’s a reason why and that’s your ability to share, educate and inspire others unselfishly.

    This hit very close to home. You, Zach and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers for longer than you know.

    Thank you for posting this.


  2. Recruiting Animal says

    I’m very sorry to hear about your cousin, Jessica. Here in Toronto we have a gay man running for mayor. He left a cabinet post in the provincial government to do that. Still, unfortunately, I’m sure that there are many young people suffering the same way your cousin did. I hope it doesn’t happen in the future.

  3. Jennifer McClure says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this issue Jessica and reminding everyone in a meaningful way how important it is to think about how our words impact others. I’m so sorry about the loss of your cousin. I will be thinking of him and your family and will say a prayer for all.

    • blogging4jobs says

      Thanks Jennifer. I sincerely appreciate the message. I’m normally don’t write things so very personal but I think getting the message out there outweighed the need for our family’s privacy.



  4. Career Sherpa says

    You’ve shared your very personal information in such a wonderful way. I too am very sorry for your loss.

    Your post speaks to the larger issue of emotional intelligence and I agree, we need to work on this as a society. Respect for others, and taking accountability for our words and actions!

    Thank you for this post!

  5. Shennee says

    I appreciate you sharing such a “personal” story with us all. There are lessons to be learned here. David and I are very sorry for your loss. You are so right about for every “action” there is a reaction. I will do my very BEST, to live my life with Emotional Intelligence.
    The words: Think, before you speak, still resonate with me after all these years.
    Please let me know if I can do anything for you. Keeping your family in my prayers.

    • blogging4jobs says

      thanks, Shennee. It was very hard for me to write this post but I’m glad I did. The hardest things to write about are the ones most close to home.


  6. Krista says

    Thanks for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss and regretful that attitudes and actions haven’t advanced as much as we would all hope.

  7. John Jorgensen says

    Just read your post and all I can say is…..not sure I know what to say. One of the most powerful pieces I have read. Thank you for opening up and sharing. It takes a strong person to do that. My thoughts are with your family in this extremely tough time.

  8. Chris Frede says

    I am so sorry for your loss Jessica. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your cousin with all of us. You and your family are in my prayers. Take care.

  9. jen says

    News of his death made me so sad. I’m sorry to learn of your close proximity to this sorrow, Jessica, but I know you can add special comfort during this time. You just did by writing this post.

  10. hrmichelle says


    Thank you for such an open and timely post. Every day we are hearing how chldren are bullying other children who are “different”. What are we teaching our children? Do we care about their emotional intelligence? Do we care about our own?

    Why can’t grown, educated adults realize what damage their words can do? My heart breaks for your family and the young man who felt this was the answer.

    My oldest son is gay. I’m very open and honest with everyone I know about this. It makes me crazy when people say “I don’t believe in homosexuality.” It’s like saying I don’t believe in air. What they should say is I don’t understand or I don’t agree. I’m fine with that. I’m not trying to change anyone’s belief system. But until you have raised a gay child you don’t know.

    Forgive me if I have hijacked your post here. It touched a nerve. Grow up people – emotionally!!

  11. Jonathan Hyland says

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. As an openly gay male, I don’t think you could’ve said this any better.

    I’m incredibly sorry for your loss, and you and your family have my condolences.

  12. Marianthe Verver says


    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for being so brave. In sharing your story hopefully we can all consider our influence and actions and make a difference.


  13. Trish McFarlane says

    My deepest sympathy for you and your family Jessica. Thank you for educating about how our words affect people, and often in ways we don’t think about. I hope that this post will be passed on to many more people and spread the word about emotional intelligence. I will never, ever understand how a person can intentionally verbally harm someone for being gay or lesbian. Even if their religious beliefs don’t “approve” of the lifestyle, it is never ok to go after that person in any way. Shame on any of the council members or participants at that meeting who made your cousin feel like he was not good enough, or who made him feel like he was worth less than them. Excellent post. Thank you.


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