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Want to Raise a Future Programmer or Engineer? It's Not All About IQ
  • One would assume that the most distinguishing characteristics of the most accomplished Google employees are their skills in computer engineering, programming, math, or some other technical skill. But, quite surprisingly, this isn't the case. 

    Of course, their expertise in these technical areas are topnotch, but it is their skill when it comes to connecting and communicating with other people that have become their most valuable asset.  

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    “Among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) expertise comes in dead last,” said Cathy N. Davidson, the founding director of the Futures Initiative and author of The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux,” in an article published in The Washington Post

    This insight was gained from Google's Project Oxygen, which was launched in 2013 to see the qualities that made for a good manager or boss. Google’s best workers were excellent in the following top four skills and qualities: 

    • being a good coach
    • communicating and listening well
    • possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view)
    • having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues

    The other qualities before technical skills (that came in eighth place) were skills related to problem-solving, abstract thinking, and critical thinking. 

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    In a 2017 study called Project Aristotle by Google to see what qualities good teams and its members possess, smarts took a back seat again to skills best learned outside of textbooks. Aside from practicing responsibility and dependability, team members knew to listen to each teammate and to hold back judgments. They also knew to give each member ample time to talk and share. The group discussions were a safe space to communicate because everyone recognized and respected the value of each member. 

    The message is clear: Kids who become successful as adults are not necessarily those with a high IQ score. What parents can nurture in their child early on is the emotional quotient (EQ). As explained by Howard Gardner, an influential Harvard theorist, “Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”

    To attain a high EQ, your child must have the ability to attune to his emotions and relate to other people from a young age. Start with these tips from Dr. Laura Padilla Walker, associate director of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life:

    Identify feelings and talk about it
    Encourage your child to be self-aware by identifying and validating his feelings when he's angry or upset. Say, “You’re angry because you want wanted to play with that toy. I understand — it’s okay to feel angry, but it’s not okay to throw things.” This way, he’ll know what he’s feeling is anger, and he can see and later understand that other children experience the emotion, too.

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    Model empathy
    Our actions can often speak louder than our words, especially to our children. They learn from seeing how we live our lives and interact with other people. You can also model empathy by expressing concern for other people or trying out ways to make someone else’s day brighter. From your example, he’ll learn how to manage his anger and other intense emotions especially those directed towards others. 

    Provide opportunities to care for other people
    Volunteering for a meaningful cause or simply helping out a neighbor in need is key to developing a child's ability to act on empathetic feelings, says Dr. Padilla Walker. If your child is old enough, look for opportunities around your neighborhood for you and your kid to volunteer or help out. It creates a good opportunity to learn about gratitude, too. 

    “We desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural, and social as well as the computational,” said Davidson. “Broad learning skills are the key to long-term, satisfying, productive careers.” 

    If you still aren’t convinced, Jack Ma attributed part of his success to EQ. Founder of Alibaba and the second richest man in China, whose worth is at a staggering $38.3 billion, said, “No matter how smart you are if you never know how to work with people, you will never succeed.” (Read more about it here.)

    Find more tips on how to raise a child high in EQ here and here.

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