Robin Hills: Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Robin Hills is based in the UK in the Greater Manchester area and is Director of Ei4Change. With over 35 years of successful commercial and leadership experience, he has worked in a variety of sales and marketing management roles with a variety of companies from small start-ups to large multinationals. These include the NHS, major pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, universities, charities, finance, and recruitment organisations.

In this podcast, we are going to be exploring EQ - Emotional Intelligence. This is something which I think we could all benefit from and is a way of understanding how we interact with others and knowing its significant impact on our lives.

I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Robin.

Health Podcast Highlights

Robin Hills: Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Introduction

Well, you will have heard of IQ, of course. Well, today we are going to be exploring EQ, Emotional Intelligence. This is something which I think we could all benefit from and is a way of understanding how we interact with others and the way we interact with others has a significant impact on our lives, obviously, and this is measurable, and treatable, and improvable. And my guest today is dedicated to that.

My guest is Robin Hills and Robin is based in the UK in the Greater Manchester area and is director of Ei4Change. With over 35 years of successful commercial and leadership experience, he has worked in a variety of sales and marketing management roles, with a variety of companies from small start-ups to large multinationals — these include the National Health Service, major pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, universities, charities, finance, and recruitment organisations.

His special interest lies in the very subject we’re dealing with today — emotional intelligence — and in particular linking together the outputs from assessment to give real practical relevance to improving effectiveness and productivity. 

Robin co-developed the coaching tool book, Images of Resilience, to broaden the understanding of resilience and a personal team in organisational level. He often presents on this topic at international conferences. And I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Robin Hills.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:00] I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I am recording this podcast, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Well, you will have heard of IQ, of course. Well, today we are going to be exploring EQ, Emotional Intelligence. This is something which I think we could all benefit from and is a way of understanding how we interact with others and the way we interact with others has a significant impact on our lives, obviously, and this is measurable, and treatable, and improvable. And my guest today is dedicated to that. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:56] My guest is Robin Hills and Robin is based in the UK in the Greater Manchester area and is director of Ei4Change. With over 35 years of successful commercial and leadership experience, he has worked in a variety of sales and marketing management roles, with a variety of companies from small start-ups to large multinationals — these include the National Health Service, major pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, universities, charities, finance, and recruitment organisations.

His special interest lies in the very subject we’re dealing with today — emotional intelligence — and in particular linking together the outputs from assessment to give real practical relevance to improving effectiveness and productivity. 

Robin co-developed the coaching tool book, Images of Resilience, to broaden the understanding of resilience and a personal team in organisational level. He often presents on this topic at international conferences. And I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Robin Hills. Welcome to the show, Robin. 

Robin Hills: [00:02:06] Thank you, Ron. Welcome.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:09] Robin. We hear a lot about IQ, the intelligence quotient, but what it is and I know this is an area in which you particularly specialise in — emotional intelligence. What is emotional intelligence?

Robin Hills: [00:02:23] Well, emotional intelligence really is being smart with your feelings. It’s the way in which you combine your thinking with your feelings in order to make good quality decisions and build up authentic relationships. So it’s understanding how you’re emotionally engaged to a situation and how other people are emotionally engaged and being able to determine the best ways to work in that situation, to get the best out of yourself, and to get the best out of everybody.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:56] And is the… What are the markers? How do we know if we have a high level or low level? You know, how do we make sure this?

Robin Hills: [00:03:05] Well, emotional… Well, emotional intelligence is measurable. The best way of measuring your emotional intelligence is to take a valid and reliable personality assessment and emotional intelligence assessment. And I use the EQ-i 2.0 quite widely, just simply because it’s got a lot of norms and it’s globally available. And it’s the most scientifically validated and reliable assessment of the emotional intelligence out there. But that’s all very well for people wanting to take an assessment.

Robin Hills: [00:03:44] How do you know whether you’re emotionally intelligent or not? Really, the only way that you will know that is by the relationships that you’ve got, the quality of the relationships that you’ve got with people.

If you’ve got good relationships, you make good decisions, you’re happy, you’re contented in your life and you think that everybody’s, everything’s going in the right direction. Chances are you’ve got a higher level of emotional intelligence than somebody who is making a hash of their life. 

Robin Hills: [00:04:17] Now, from time to time, we all feel in a situation where we think things could be better. So I think the important thing here is just to look at your current situation and think, how can I get the best out of the circumstances that I find myself, that I might not like the circumstances that I find myself in? 

But what is it that I need to do in order to get the best for myself and for everybody else around me? And in that way, you are likely to be showing greater levels of emotional intelligence than if you don’t have those considerations.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:04:57] I mean, you’re obviously a coach in emotional intelligence. So my next question is, is it fixed or is it something we can improve on? I think I know the answer that it is something we can improve on, but how do we go about that? I mean, we hear a lot about show me, I’ll say it, the person at seven, we aren’t show you the boy, but show you the person at seven, and I’ll show you the adult. 

I think it’s boy and man, but anyone we’ll be correct today. But, you know, “Show me the person at seven and I’ll show you the adult.” And I will mention a lot of our social intelligence, emotional intelligence, is really built-in at that fundamental level.

Is emotional intelligence fixed or something we can improve on?

Robin Hills: [00:05:39] Yes. I think it is. But the great thing about emotional intelligence compared with Cognitive Intelligence IQ is that emotional intelligence can be continually refined, developed, and improved upon up until about the age of 70. So in the work environment, you have an almost infinite opportunity to be able to develop and grow your emotional intelligence. 

Unfortunately, our cognitive intelligence is fixed around the late teens 17-18. So there’s not a lot of what we there’s not a lot that we can do in order to improve our cognitive intelligence, but cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence are not highly correlated. So if you’ve got a high level of emotional, sorry, a high level of cognitive intelligence, it doesn’t mean to say that automatically you’re going to be emotionally intelligent.

Robin Hills: [00:06:40] The great thing is that if you are highly, cognitively intelligent, you’ve actually got a bit of an advantage because you couldn’t apply your intellect to your emotions. And a lot of people with high levels of cognitive intelligence don’t like that idea because they have to be smarter with their feelings. And a lot of people don’t like their feelings because they can’t be measured and they can’t be worked within the same way as logical analysis. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:16] Yeah, I mean, I know I’ve been exposed to the Myers-Briggs assessment, is that a measure of emotional intelligence too?

Robin Hills: [00:07:26] I actually like the Myers-Briggs type indicator. I’ve qualified to step one and step two. It’s a coaching tool, Ron. And if it’s used well with a qualified practitioner, it will actually help you in terms of your emotional intelligence because one of the fundamental core components of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. 

And what the Myers-Briggs type indicator allows is for an exploration of your preferences, how you work with them, how you express them, and how you use them. And so obviously it helps you with your emotional intelligence.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:08:11] I mean, in that instance, was asking, “Are you an introvert? Are you an extrovert? Are you judgemental? Are you –“. Give us a little bit of a… Because I’m intrigued about this EQ-i 2.0 and some of the questions that it might ask. I mean, is it a very long and drawn-out questionnaire, or… give us a bit of a clue as to how it’s structured?

Robin Hills: [00:08:29] It is.. Sure, the EQ-i 2.0 (The Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0) consists of 153 questions, so it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and each of the questions is formulated around what’s known as the leak out scale. So it asks you a question: “I am engaged with people.” I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that: “I like engaging with people in every circumstance.”, and you will then mark yourself to never all the way through to always with grades in between. 

Now, the beauty of it being a seven-point leak-out scale is that you can go right in the middle if you need to, but obviously it’s better if it can force you one way or the other, you get a better response that way. 

Robin Hills: [00:09:36] So some of these questions will come along and they will ask you a very similar question, but phrased slightly differently. So you’ll have a different emotional response to it, and it will force a different answer. 

And certainly, after a while, you think, “Oh, this question is starting to tie me up in knots because what did I answer further back? Am I being consistent here?” And there are consistencies built within the assessment. And then once you’ve completed it, again, the important thing is you take the output from it and you’ll coach through the output.

Robin Hills: [00:10:17] So how relevant is this to you? Is this a true reflection of who you are, what you are, what you need to do in order to improve here? Is this right? When does it work for you? Well, when does it get in the way? Where are the opportunities for you to grow, learn, and develop? And what it will do is assess 15 traits or fundamental parts of your emotional intelligence personality as it were, and these will blend together. 

So you might be particularly strong in one area and you might have a low level in another area. And the way in which the dynamics work and the way in which they all blend together will give an assessment of how you are at that particular moment in time or when you took the questionnaire. 

And of course, because it’s dynamic, six months later, you might get a different result, a slightly different result because it is very robust, but it will change according to the way in which you’re working with your own circumstances.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:11:30] Can you give us an example of some of the traits that you know you become identified with, the categories that you’re identified within that assessment? 

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: How it works?

Robin Hills: [00:11:40] Yes, it’s broken down into five main sections in each of the five of them broken down into three subsections. But the five main sections are self-awareness and self-perception. 

Then you look at self-expression, which then links into interpersonal skills and capabilities, and that links into decision making, which then links to the way in which you manage and work with stress. 

Which links back to self-awareness and self-perception. So those are the five main core components, and they’re very similar in any kind of emotional intelligence model that you look at. Those components are fairly standard.

Robin Hills: [00:12:34] But each of them are then broken down into subsections. So let’s take the interpersonal skills, for example, that’s broken down into your interpersonal relationships. It’s broken down into empathy and it’s broken down into your social responsibility. 

So what that means is that the way in which you use your interpersonal capability or competency is underpinned by your empathy, the quality of the interpersonal relationships that you build, and the ethics and your social responsibility, and all of these blend together to give you your interpersonal capabilities.

Robin Hills: [00:13:25] Now, all of the other parts of the EQ-i 2.0 are broken down, and each of those could be measured so, within the EQ-i, you could look at the level of empathy that you’ve got, and you don’t want your empathy to be so high that you are so empathetic towards anybody and everybody, that you are too empathetic, which means that you burst into tears when somebody falls over in the street because you can feel their pain and you can feel their anxiety. 

But at the same time, you don’t want it to be right at the other end of the scale, where you have absolutely no understanding of the emotions of other people and you have no ability to empathise with other people. The ideal is somewhere I wouldn’t say in between, not right in the middle, it’s about seven or eight out of 10. That’s the kind of figure that you’re looking for when you… 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:14:35] Sweet spot?

Robin Hills: [00:14:35] …yes, that’s the sweet spot. A little bit too much. It’s a strength overplayed it that becomes a big liability for you. Anything a little bit lower might not be a problem because there are other compensating factors. 

But if you’re aware that you have, say, low empathy, you can then be more on the lookout for it if it then becomes a problem for you. So each of these scales has a sweet spot, and it’s a case of working with the sweet spots for yourself just to make sure that you are trying to work as well as you possibly can within that area.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:15:15] What’s the history of this sort of study of emotional intelligence, I mean, is it a relatively new exploration? Or can I even say science?

Robin Hills: [00:15:26] Yes, you can. It’s a social science. It really was kind of highlighted back in the 1930s with Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. It’s the interpersonal intrapersonal intelligence displayed together. And then Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer from Yale University did some academic studies in the late 80s-early 90s and these were published in the academic journals. 

But emotional intelligence was really only bolted to the public consciousness 25 years ago when Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, and journalist, published his books. And from the publication of Daniel Goleman’s books, the whole of the emotional intelligence arena has kind of mushroomed, and there have been a lot more, there’s been a lot more work and a lot more studies around emotional intelligence. 

And it’s now become accepted as being a fundamental part of good leadership, good communication skills, good team working, good resilience everywhere where we work within a work environment which involves working with people, it involves some aspects of emotional intelligence.

Robin Hills: [00:16:47] Also just to complete the picture, Reuven Bar-On, who developed his emotional intelligence inventory, the EQI, was working from a university in Israel, and he developed his measure of emotional intelligence around the same time and it dovetails very nicely into all the studies there is around emotional intelligence. 

He retired, has moved on, and sold the rights of the EQ-i 2.0 to a clinical… They are an organisation that deals with clinical assessments and clinical measures they’re Canadian, and they further researched and refined it into what is now the EQ-i 2.0. Yeah. 

But I must add just for completeness that there are other very good emotional intelligence assessments that are available. Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey have their own, Daniel Goleman has his own. They are all very good, and they were working in the same way as the EQ-i 2.0. I just happened to be qualified, did not one, and like it, but I could just as easily be qualified in any of the others.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:18:17] Yeah. Now you talked about different types of intelligence because I think in certainly when I knew I was talking to you, I was looking this up as in researching. There are eight different intelligences or it said to be, is that you know, music, sporting, academic, spatial, logical. Yada yada yada. 

What are the 8 types of intelligence?

Robin Hills: [00:18:34] Yes. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:18:35] Yeah. And the intra and interpersonal intelligence are really where emotional intelligence sits, right?

Robin Hills: [00:18:43] Yes. Yes, that’s right. Yes, I would say that that’s exactly what it does sit. The intra is what goes on inside yourself so it’s your inner world of self-awareness, which we’ve talked about, and it’s the internal world of emotions — your own emotions, how you work with them, how you express them, how you manage them. And it’s mixed in there a little bit with motivation — how do I motivate myself in order to develop self-awareness and work with my emotions more effectively?

And then the interpersonal is what goes on in the outer world. So it’s the outer world of empathy, and it’s the outer world of social skills, and it’s mixed up with a little bit of motivation in there. How do I motivate myself to work with these people that I might not like? But at the same time, I’ve got to work with them? 

So how do I empathise with them and how do I use my social skills? I might really like working with them. So how do I keep myself motivated to do it in the right way?

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:19:51] Well, you’ve… I mean, we all strive to be better, I think we all strive to be better. And I know you’ve written about excellence. I make an assumption there. Maybe I shouldn’t. But what you’ve written about The Hidden Driver of Excellence, I wondered if you might talk to us a little bit about that. 

Book: Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Robin Hills: [00:20:06] Well, we all are striving to be excellent. We all are striving to be the best version of ourselves that we could possibly be if we indeed recognise that in the first instance. So really, what is it that we can do in order to be better? Now, you and I are engaging very well, Ron, and I’m enjoying the conversation that we’re having. 

We’ve got rapport even though we’re on opposite ends of the world. So what is it that we can do to make our relationship better? And after I finish this interview, I’ll go away from it and I’ll think to myself, “Yes, that conversation went well. 

These were some of the points I was able to clarify. Well, I’m pleased I’ve done it. But what could I have done better? Where did it perhaps not go as well as I wanted it to?” So that next time I’m in a similar situation, it won’t be the same situation. I can actually improve upon that and I can actually do better. And I just like to help you here by posing a question. “Am I emotionally intelligent?”.

Robin Hills: [00:21:22] Now, if I answer yes, it’s rather arrogant and self-conceited and so suggests that there’s no room for improvement. But if I have said no, well, what am I doing talking to you about emotional intelligence? So the questions, Ron, really it’s a work in progress and I’m still working on my emotional intelligence and I still got a few years before the opportunity for me not to develop emotional intelligence occurs because I reach the grand old age of 70. Like I say, I have a few years of that. 

But what is it that I can do to improve my engagements and do things better? There are going to be certain circumstances where I go into an engagement and I come out of it, and I think, yes, that work really well. I’m pleased with the way I interacted. And then there are other times when I’ll go into a similar situation and completely screw up. I’m human like you so I could learn from it.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:22:32] Well, I mean, I’m reading there that self-reflection is the key unless you are able to self-reflect on your own performance in any given situation. You’re not going to improve, but in order to do that, you need resilience. Resilience is an important feature of emotional intelligence. Is that a reasonable statement? Where does resilience fit into this? 


Robin Hills: [00:22:59] Yes, it’s a very interesting statement, Ron, because resilience itself is not a fundamental part of emotional intelligence surprisingly. Yet, to be resilient, you need to have a degree of emotional intelligence, and to be emotionally intelligent, you need to have a degree of resilience. So where does resilience sit? I know it. 

Resilience is an interesting concept because it’s very much the flavour of the moment, everybody talks about resilience. But so where does it come from? And we’ve got some very trite definitions of resilience. A lot of people assume that resilience is the capability of being able to bounce back. It’s not.

Robin Hills: [00:23:49] Resilience is much deeper than just being able to put up with stuff and to carry on. Resilience says it’s actually a metaphor that has come from material science. And if I take you back to your teenage years when you were at school.

Ron, in your science classes, you were putting weights on springs and bits of elastic and measuring the force there. You were actually measuring stress overstrain, which is the resilience of the material. Now that word, the time when we were teenagers, I’m looking at you and I’m making an assumption and that were…

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:24:33] Oh, no. I think we’re contemporaries. We’re contemporaries.

Robin Hills: [00:24:37] At that time, Ron, resilience just was not talked about in terms of human psychology. It’s coming in the last 20 to 30 years. And unfortunately, it works to a certain extent. But what about too much resilience? What happens when you put too much weight on a string or a bit of elastic? It breaks, doesn’t it? Or it stretches, so it doesn’t actually bounce back. 

So what about that in terms of resilience within the human psyche? What about learning and growing from situations that actually contribute and help towards resilience? What happens in certain circumstances where we’ve got absolutely no resilience and I think the word is it’s fine because everybody knows basically what it means.

Robin Hills: [00:25:39] Unfortunately, it’s got some major major limitations because we learn, we grow, we develop through resilience, through adversity, and we become better because of it, not despite it. So my definition of resilience is you have to have a realistic optimism in adverse situations. 

Again, I’ll mention it, you may not like the situation that you find yourself in, but that is reality. Then you have underpinned a deep, firm belief that life is meaningful and you’ve got core values that you could work with. And then you need a degree of creativity and adaptability to work around the situation in order to develop and grow and help people as you come through the circumstances. And that, really, for me, is the definition of resilience.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:41] Mm-Hmm. I love it. Well, that was true. I love that Robin and I particularly loved your definition of going back to the physics of resilience, being stressed over a strain. I loved that because we could really get carried away with all sorts of metaphors in health care. 

But I think we tend to learn a lot from our failures or setbacks when things haven’t gone right. You know, we probably learnt more from that than we do any other time. I mean, we might do in my own case, I might see 100 patients and it goes extremely well, and I don’t even give a second thought to it, but that one patient that didn’t go well.

I spend 99 percent of my time thinking about it. I’ve gone past the 99 that I treated well, there’s that one that happened, things didn’t work out as we thought. So it’s those setbacks or failures that we really learnt from, don’t we?

Setbacks and failures: How we learn

Robin Hills: [00:27:34] We do, we do. But we must not allow our failures to define us. Let’s look at the 99 patients who walked away from your consultation, thinking Dr. Ron is the best physician on the planet. That is where you actually are defined, Ron, not in that one patient where for some reason you just happen to do something not quite as well as you could have done. 

And in those circumstances, you will be defined more by your empathy rather than your clinical capabilities in your clinical skills and your ability to say to the patient, “Look, I’ve screwed up here, you know, I’ve got it wrong. Let’s see what it is that we can do to put it right.” It’s what you do to put it right, rather than the fact that it has gone wrong.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:31] I wasn’t suggesting that I’d screw it up, just that they hadn’t responded as well as they should have. Yeah, but there is the part of emotional intelligence. 

Robin Hills: [00:28:39] Let’s accept that there are going to be times when perhaps your clinical judgement is it’s just not as good as it could be. Look, you’re human, Ron. You’re not automated, you’re not a robot, so you’re making a judgement based on what the patient is telling you around what the circumstances are, what you know of the current situation, your medical knowledge, and all of those things. 

So, you know, within that, there’s this wiggle room, you know, and occasionally you’ll go outside of the parameters, not because you want to, but for circumstances beyond your control. That’s where you go.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:29:21] Yeah. Now, and I think those are my point about making that was that those situations offer us an opportunity for real self-reflection about what we’re doing, how what we do impacts on others. 

Could we have done things differently? Or you could just say that was nothing I did had any influence on that it was just and how you deal with that issue, but back then onto personality types, because I wanted to talk about, you know, there are different personality types. Can we identify personality types? Is it kind of there are five or 10 different personality types? Is it as quantifiable as then?

Personality types explained and identified

Robin Hills: [00:30:02] Well, if we go back to the Myers-Briggs type indicator assessment that we spoke about earlier if this is the work of Carl Jung that was further developed by Isabel Briggs and her daughter. 

The two of them further developed the work of Carl Jung, and through their work, they have defined 16 personality types based upon the way in which people get their energy. The way in which they take in information, the way in which they process information, and the way in which they choose to orientate themselves in the world.

Robin Hills: [00:30:43] So we have this scale of introversion and extroversion, we have this scale of sensing an intuition, we have this scale of thinking and feeling, and we have this scale of cherishing and perceiving. 

Now what Myers-Briggs, I say, type indicator does is it gives you an indication of your preference. So it’s not an absolute, it’s not measured. It’s not a measure of strength. It’s just giving you an indication of your strength of preference. So in terms of extroversion introversion, it’s not saying that you are extroverted or introverted.

You have a preference for extroversion or you have a preference for introversion. What they define by that is where you get your energy from. As an extrovert to somebody with an extroversion preference, you get it from the outside world of people, of things. 

And that’s where you get your energy from by going away and talking about things and engaging with other people. Or do you have an introversion preference, which is a preference for your internal world? It’s as if you have a kind of battery system and you get your energy by quiet reflection.

Robin Hills: [00:32:08] So at a party, both types will be outgoing, talkative. They will engage with people a lot. They will get a lot of buzz from the environment. A person with the extroverted preference can carry on all night and after the event. 

They’ll go on to something else or they’ll talk to people back home, whereas somebody with an introversion preference from time to time will just have to go away from the situation just for a few moments quiet reflection just to get their energy back up to a level where they can go back and engage now. 

Anybody observing that would probably think, Oh, they’re all extroverts, but they’re not. They just have a different preference for engaging in that environment.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:32:54] Well, I mean, my wife was a Myers-Briggs facilitator, and she used to practise, you know, she would do the tests on me and I could never remember whether I was an ISTJ or whatever. And anyway…

Robin Hills: [00:33:09] Well, I think that’s one of the interesting things about the Myers-Briggs type indicator where I’ve said that there are these 16 personality types. I can’t judge. I’ve been working with the tool for all 15 odd years now. When I meet somebody, the last thing I do is to try and compartmentalise them and put them in a box and give them a label as ISTJ or ENFP or whatever. What I’m doing is just engaging with that person and enjoying the moment. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:33:40] Yeah. Thanks, Robert. And I’m going to make my wife listen to that last statement, that’s for sure. Now, listen, your work takes you into workplaces. Yes? Into companies? Is most of your work within companies?

Work with companies

Robin Hills: [00:33:54] Well, it is. I mean, since the pandemic, a lot of my work has gone online and people are actually taking my online courses on emotional intelligence of their own volition or because they’re being asked to through their company. But a lot of times I do go into organisations that I work with organisations to help them.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:34:17] So, so I mean, workplaces have really changed. I mean, during the industrial revolution, the workplace was largely physical, whereas today it is stresses are largely mental, which eventually actually manifests as physical issues. What are some of the common symptoms of workplace stress that you’re seeing? 

Well, let’s talk about pre-pandemic, and we’ll come to the post. You know, this pandemic. Well, if I asked you that question prior to the pandemic, what would you have said if I had said, what are some of the common symptoms of workplace stress that you see?

Robin Hills: [00:34:54] Well, I think, Ron… Well, thank you for clarifying that we should actually demarcate pre and post-pandemic because I think moving into the future post-pandemic, we’re going to go into another paradigm within the work environment today. I don’t know what that is and there is some resistance certainly in the United Kingdom in terms of working in new ways, and I think that will be detrimental these this resistance. 

But going back to pre-pandemic, I think we were moving away from the kind of industrialised militaristic ways in which people are working in siloed teams, with a sergeant major at the helm of the team instructing barking orders and telling people what to do to a more loose, empathetic environment where people were empowered to make their own choices in their own decisions with a focus on doing things in the right way, for the right reasons, for doing it at the right time. 

And I think we were starting to see some changes where a lot of the stress and a lot of the resistance was lying and a lot of the issues around pressure and wellbeing is where an organisation was insistent on this is the way in which we’re going to do things and you will conform to our way of doing it. It’s our way or the high way. Whereas I think a lot of people were suddenly realising that, yes, that worked back at the end of last century.

Robin Hills: [00:36:39] But now we’re into the 2020s, where people have their own capability of making their choices, of making their decisions. And as long as the attitude is right and as long as the ethos is right, then they should be allowed to work more fluidly and manage themselves and manage their own decisions.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:37:03] Mm-Hmm. I mean, I’ve seen this pandemic as a tremendous opportunity for health. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but it is true because as we reflect on our health more than ever before, it’s an opportunity to improve it.

The pandemic

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:37:21] Now, work. The work environment, post-pandemic. We’re not even post-pandemic, but pandemic. The start of this pandemic has forced us to reflect on so many of our practises. 

How have, what have you seen the biggest changes that have come about? And you mentioned resistance in the UK to some of those changes? Are people wanting to go back to the pre-pandemic model?

Robin Hills: [00:37:47] I think a lot of organisations and the UK government are very keen to get people back into the workplace, but I think a lot of organisations and a lot of people are resistant to that because they’ve learnt through the pandemic that you don’t need to be in the office to be effective. 

You don’t need to be sitting there from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. You don’t need to have to sit there two hours at the beginning of the day and two hours at the end of the day in a traffic jam or waiting for public transport to go to where you live or to go to your place of work. And I think a lot of people have learnt a lot more work to be done virtually.

Robin Hills: [00:38:33] Now, a lot of people are very resistant to that. A lot of senior managers are very resistant to it, and a lot of the government officials are very resistant to it, and they’re actually saying you will be back in the office. Well, yes, in certain circumstances, you know, if you work on the factory floor and you have to use a large bit of technical equipment, you’ve got to be in that office. 

But if you’re doing a piece of work that could be done virtually, then there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t be done virtually. And I think a lot of organisations are rethinking. There are some very good organisations that are shedding their very large offices because they don’t need them, and they’re downsizing their offices and working with their people to work in a way that will work for them for their future. They’ll become leaner, they’ll become fitter, they’ll become a lot more adaptable. A lot more quickly. They will survive.

Robin Hills: [00:39:37] Those organisations which are going to be insistent that everybody has to be back in the office because we need to see the whites of everybody’s eyes 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M because otherwise, they’re not working. People will choose to leave. They’ll go and work for another organisation where they’ve got the flexibility to build in childcare or parent care or quality of life. 

So if somebody wants to take a walk in the countryside between two or three every day, that’s their choice as long as they actually produce the outcomes. It needs to be defined and needs to be measured, doesn’t matter whether they do it between 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon or between 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, as long as the person’s got the capability to do it, and it doesn’t affect them adversely.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:40:30] But coming back to and I totally agree with you, and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity because I think people are realising what a high price they pay for commuting to and from work.

Challenges to emotional intelligence in virtual work 

Robin Hills: [00:40:40] Yeah.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:40:40] And how much more quality time they have both to contribute to work and their home life. But one of the things you mentioned was empathy before, and so much of our engagement on an emotional level is our ability as humans to co-regulate. 

For me to look at you and see the facial expressions that you might for the body language that you’re doing, are you fidgeting? Are you focussed on all of these? What are some of the challenges to that kind of social engagement that a distant working relationship has?

I mean, we’re all learning it to some degree over Zoom and in our different platforms. But how does this affect the model of emotional intelligence, what it is, does it posing a new challenge? 

Robin Hills: [00:41:32] Almost definitely. And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, Ron. It’s the ability to be able to empathise with people and to be able to engage with people at a social level. You know, as human beings, we’re social beings, we need interaction and we need interconnection. And I think the better model for the workplace environments is allowing people to choose what will work for them and what is right for them.

So going back to the introversion extroversion scale, there are going to be a lot of people who have a very strong preference for introversion that are quite happy to spend five days a week at home, not engaging with other people. Well, perhaps not five days a week, four and a half days a week, but at some point they do need that engagement with other people.

Robin Hills: [00:42:32] Now there is some people with very strong extroversion preference that need a lot more engagement. So I think it’s up to each individual to choose. Do I want to be in the office now? Let’s assume we’re talking about an environment where the person has full control of choosing where, whether they can work at home or whether they can work in the office. Let’s take the organisational decisions out of that. 

There are going to be some people that would choose to go into the office one day a week. There will be some people that would choose to go into the office four days a week, five days a week, and some people might have a very strong introversion preference. 

Some might choose to go into the office five days a week because their domestic circumstances don’t allow them to work from home because they work in the kitchen because that’s the only place where they can get a good Wi-Fi signal. And the kids are running, right, during the summer holiday, and there’s loads of distractions. Now in those sorts of circumstances that we need to allow the person to make the decision as to what is right for them.

Robin Hills: [00:43:44] But I think it is right that every organisation says what we would like is a minimum of one or two days a week within the office. And then it’s up to the teams to decide, right? If everybody’s coming in on Thursday, on a Thursday, please make sure that you are in the office between these times. 

Because we can get together as a team, we can work together as a team, we can plan as a team, we can make the decisions that we need to make. Because if you’re not here, we’re not going to be able to do it as a team or you’re just going to have to accept the decisions that we will make in your absence.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:44:26] I mean, I can only see positives in that because if we go to work five days a week, our engagement with people may be different to well, it would definitely be different than if we were there for that special occasion. 

You know, the one or two days where engagement with people that we work with is critical, that must have a very significant, I would imagine that would have a significant impact on productivity and the emotional intelligence of an organisation.

Robin Hills: [00:44:56] I would say it goes so far as to you’re ensuring then that you have a good quality relationship because it’s limited by the fact that you’re only together for a short period of time, right? What is it that we need to talk about? Let’s talk about that. Let’s have an engagement if we need to build up the relationship, let’s go and have a coffee together, let’s go to have lunch together.

Now you will know in certain circumstances there’s going to be a time when working virtually with particular individual works to an extent, but it needs to go somewhere else. It needs to go deeper in those sort of circumstances. 

You get to the point where you’re very frustrated by the media and you say to the person, Right, well, let’s meet up. Suddenly, when you’re meeting up with a person, you can talk at a deeper level just simply because you see, you know, the body language and all the other little bits and pieces that you were alluding to earlier, Ron. But so it’s up to everybody to decide how they… what it is that they need through their own levels of self-awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:46:10] Hmm. Robin just finishing up because if we have these people listening to this now and going, you know, this emotional intelligence, I’d really like to explore this a little bit more. I haven’t really explored it to any degree, what would be two or three things/tips that you might give somebody who’s interested in exploring this. 

Well, of course, have links to your online courses, but putting that aside, how would people start to engage and explore their own emotional intelligence?

Tips for people to engage their own emotional intelligence

Robin Hills: [00:46:39] Well, I think in the first instance, building up your understanding and awareness of emotional intelligence, what it is, and what it means for you is a good start. No, you don’t need to go to the extent of taking an emotional and intelligence assessment that we spoke about at the beginning of the interview. But there are some very good books and blog articles, there are some groups that you can join on Facebook, on LinkedIn just to find out a little bit more about this. 

I would refer you back to Daniel Goleman’s books, they are very, very good, but they’re not an easy read. So I would suggest that if you really are interested, get some books on emotional intelligence and read about them. Take the Myers-Briggs type indicator assessment with very much an open mind and be coached through it.

Robin Hills: [00:47:37] Look at it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Look at what your strengths are. Don’t look at your limitations. Don’t look at your weaknesses, that’s the easy bits to fall into. It’s this one percent of things which don’t go right. Look at the 99% of things that do go right. What is it that makes you different? What is it that makes you special? Live it, breathe it, builds upon it. Learn to engage with people at a deeper level. The to adapt and become more empathetic. 

So read, look out for it, when you’re watching films, when you’re watching things on the television, just watch how other people are interacting and think to yourself, how would I have interacted in that situation? What decisions would I have made? Would it have been better? Would I have done it the same way? Would it be worse? And just continually look at ways of thinking about yourself differently, but in an affirmative way, a positive way, and appreciative way.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:48:51] Well, Robin, what a great note to finish on, and thank you so much for joining us today. We’ll have links to your site and your courses. And we really appreciated you sharing your time with us today.

Robin Hills: [00:49:01] It has been my pleasure, Ron. Thank you ever so much. And I’m at the beginning of the working week and this is a brilliant start to my working week. Thank you.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:49:11] Thank you.


Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:49:14] Well, there’s emotional intelligence, and the book that Robin was referring to was written by Daniel Goleman on emotional intelligence, and the Myers-Briggs is a very interesting questionnaire that you can do that will give you a profile, your own profile, and the type of programme that Robin uses is the EQ-i 2.0, so that we can have links to those in our show notes and you can explore what your emotional intelligence is. But isn’t it good to know you can always improve things?

Now, you know there’s another quotient that we often are. In fact, it’s the whole purpose of this programme — you have IQ, you have EQ. And there’s this thing called HQ. And HQ is your health quotient. 

And your health quotient, as I understand it is a combination of your health and your understanding of the health issues. And if you’re listening to this, I think you’re improving your health quotient every episode. I know I certainly am. Look, I had this find you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.