A Charter of Emotional Maturity
One of the worst ways to try to get anyone to evolve is to imply that their difficulties might be theirs and theirs alone. Pinning instances of emotional immaturity down to particular people only serves to make them feel singled-out and ashamed and therefore liable to respond with irritation or denial. If the goal is to improve emotional maturity, the sole effective strategy is to describe the ambition in highly universal, generic and honourable terms, as applicable to every last human, not on the basis that anyone has done anything ‘wrong’ but because we all require help, from the CEO down to the recruit who joined last week. We won’t develop the courage to address our quirks until we witness everyone around us equally engaged by, and prepared to brave, the task.
Framing emotional evolution as a general priority isn’t just expedient politics, it is also deeply true to the facts. Every human being, however accomplished and skilled they might be, can be counted on to remain profoundly emotionally immature in a myriad of ways – and so can benefit from a process of self-exploration and reflection. There is no such thing as a proper adult, only humans marked by a fascinatingly uneven blend of qualities ranging from confidence and trust to suspicion and self-hatred. It isn’t, and never has been, an option for anyone to be wholly grown-up and entirely balanced.
In the circumstances, companies seeking to raise their emotional intelligence should sign up in good faith to a charter, relevant to all their employees, that both recognises collective immaturity and commits the organisation to improvement.
– Everyone who has ever lived is, and has been in certain areas, immature
– Everyone would benefit from attempting to develop their emotional intelligence.
– Everyone should welcome the opportunity to start on a path towards greater self-acceptance and greater trust in others.
– Our immaturities make us all – at points, despite our efforts – very tricky to work with.
– We are committed to trying to understand our immaturities, to admitting them to others with grace and humour, to listening to well-meaning feedback about them – and to overcoming them where and when we can, supported by our colleagues.
– We accept that the goal of emotional maturity is structurally no different from an ambition for physical health, and that both require regular training and a degree of effort.
– We won’t always succeed – but we are devoted to trying.
This is an extract from our book How to Get on with your Colleagues.