Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

What’s your EQ?

It’s a pitfall in the workplace, especially among managers, that leads to mistakes no matter how strongly to protest it. Multi-tasking makes us feel like we’re getting things done, but are you really? Travis Bradberry, cofounder of Talentsmart and author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, writes about the scary research findings behind multitasking in this article for Forbes.

Stanford University found that “people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.” This makes sense, as you are not fully functioning on the task at hand as efficiently if it had your sole attention. OK, so we’re not as great as we think we are. Big deal. But Bradberry continues on to present further research to report that multitasking lowers your IQ and causes brain damage. Ouch.

“A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasked experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.”

Not only is there impairment, but doing things such as texting and watching TV, Bradberry writes, harms the part of the brain that holds the ability to empathize and control cognitive and emotional responses. This is where his company Talentsmart comes in.

Talentsmart is like the Lumosity for EQ training that offers workshops to regain self competence. I have been through several professional workshops that focussed on tips to performing better in the office, but they seemed to almost prize the ability to multitask. As mindful future and current managers, we must be aware that we can do everything, but we have to do it one thing at a time and pass along this information to our employees.

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3 comments on “What’s your EQ?

  1. laurenelizabethdickel
    October 16, 2014

    WOW! This is a very interesting find. As someone who always multi tasks ( even as I read this article) I am fairly concerned. I always assumed that multitasking was a great skill, marveled at by those who struggled with it, and I was proud to be able to do it. Now, I wonder if my friends who could not multi task are actually better off!

    That said, I would love to read through the actual scientific study. It would be interesting to see how many subjects they tested and what other contributing factors were involved. There must be a difference between the types of activities you do while multitasking and your IQ/EQ levels.

    Also.. isn’t it a common conception that women are better multi-taskers than men? What does this new research say about that…

  2. lcrowley2014
    October 17, 2014

    Ugh I despise multi-tasking at work but sadly, I feel it has become almost expected of people, and a terrible part of workplace culture (like eating lunch at your desk, which I am also doing right now…)
    While this study seems a little sensational – I too would like to look at the actual science beyond the headlines – on the surface, it makes sense. It’s really hard to actually get anything DONE when we’re switching in between several tasks because, for me at least, by the time I’ve focused back in to where I was before I switched tasks, something else pops up and I’m pulled away again. And I’m sure many of us working in smaller art environments are familiar with tight office quarters, flocks of part time/volunteers/interns that need guidance, people dropping in, etc. etc. …In the words of my Dad, longtime manager of people, “Even my interruptions get interrupted.”
    So, besides rant, I try to do a few things to keep multi-tasking to a minimum such as close out of email when working on a project (don’t worry, they’ll always be there when you get back), schedule actual work not only interruptions (meetings, calls), create realistic, hierarchical to-do lists and get up to stretch my legs when I realize I’m completely unproductive. It’s not always possible, but I feel more sane when I can be scheduled and organized, not jumping all over the place.

    Also…I think women are better multi-taskers than men, but maybe, according to Forbes, that’s not such a good thing. Although it is nice to be able to walk, talk, and chew bubble gum at the same time 😉

  3. jessicamallow
    October 17, 2014

    We live in a multitasking generation! Even when studying, reading, working, interruptions happen frequently. The advent of the red notification bubble on smartphones is as addicting as anything else! Our culture breeds on urgent reaction, when it should be thriving and focusing on important but non-urgent issues, one at a time, such that we can then focus more clearly on the process and outcomes. Great share!

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