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Are You A Social Chameleon? (Read This To Find Out!)
To truly understand the concept of emotional intelligence (of which the “social chameleon” is one dimension), I urge you to read Daniel Goleman’s book titled “Emotional Intelligence”.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a social skill, and it has several key dimensions that can be used to assess an individual’s competence or ability in relation to his or her competence or ability. No one is “born” with a certain EI. You can develop your EI by learning.
An important dimension of EI is “interpersonal efficacy: the ability to get along with others – including people you don’t like”.
Now, this is why EI is a skill that must be learned. Not everyone can manage to see it successfully (ie in harmony with others). Yet, learning how to do so can determine how successful one will be in life—especially if one chooses to work in a social environment that places a high premium on that dimension of EI.
In order to get along with others they need to make a positive/good impression on the people they interact with. It requires being able to quickly determine what those people “like” or “interest” in, so that you can skillfully/subtly align yourself in a way that makes those people “think or feel” that you share the same likes or interests.
Those who are able to master this skill of “effective impression management” often achieve their goal of having successful relationships with different types of people in different social environments. And in many cases, this ability helps them succeed in professions/professions such as – acting, trial law, sales, diplomacy, and politics – where a person may find themselves in a relationship with person(s) they dislike.
They consequently become “social chameleons”—individuals able to change or adapt themselves more or less to suit the social environment in which they find themselves.
And that brings me to the point of the title of this article. When a person with this ability takes it to a negative extreme, where he begins to apply it without “integrity”. That is, when he/she does it without being true to his/her inner values. I mean, when s/he is duplicitous – deliberately showing one face to the world, hiding his/her true self deep inside, with the intention of deceiving and manipulating others for extreme gain. At this point s/he could become a nappy social chameleon!
If you haven’t gotten it yet, an ANCHORLESS Social Chameleon is a person who uses his/her interpersonal skills/”social polish” in a dishonest way, thereby relating to those people. Another word for this, as mentioned earlier, is duplicity – the quality of being two-faced (not idiobia o!), or “speaking out of both sides of the mouth”. You never know what such people really believe or stand for – especially on moral or ethical issues.
In society, they are people who jump from one political party platform to another on the slightest hint that doing so may bring them good fortune. Today they speak in support of a cause, tomorrow against it. It’s mostly about them and what they do that ultimately benefits them. They use their skills to assess which of two or more opposing groups has the greatest chance of winning, and skillfully play where they have the greatest advantage.
When there are large numbers of such people in any society, it often takes a long time for real development, or positive changes that benefit the great majority, to occur. This is because in such places, selflessness is a virtue that is frowned upon. The few people willing to act so selflessly will often find themselves accosted by such anchorless social chameleons, to move on – leading to the former’s despair!
Any social group or organization that wants to develop and progress (be it a company, family, union or nation) needs to ensure that its members are “trained” as early in life as possible (as Daniel Goleman puts it) to “use .more their social polish in keeping with their true feelings…” so that they can act according to their “deepest feelings and values, regardless of the social consequences”.
Everyone has the ability to learn or develop their EI. As long as a child is trained early on to recognize and develop the various dimensions of EI, he will eventually become a socially competent adult—one who is able to engage in reasonably balanced—and successful—interactions with others.
Although I find it important to focus on this important “meta” ability, it is not to be used by anyone with EI as an excuse to be “honest or duplicitous” in order to be “popular.”
In some instances, I have had some people express the opinion that another person is not working with EI, because that person refused to compromise with them on some fronts. Or maybe s/he wasn’t willing to make certain concessions they requested. Does this mean the person is not emotionally intelligent? Are we to believe that emotionally intelligent people are those who do not reject other people’s requests?
My answer, which I know is the correct answer to the above questions, is no. Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t mean you can no longer say ‘no’ to people who ask you to do something you don’t want to do – especially if you’re convinced you have a good reason not to.
In fact, I’d say the onus falls on the other person to ask why you said no—especially if you haven’t done so in the past. Assuming that you, as the person asking for a favor, are the only one with legitimate needs that deserve priority attention is a huge lack of emotional intelligence. Why is this happening? Get Goleman’s book, and read to find out.
Final Word: So, now that you’ve read this, let’s get back to my question-form topic: Are You a Social Chameleon?
If your answer is yes, then I congratulate you on having that level of self-mastery that opens doors for you, in your relationships with others.
However, and this is important, it is important that you be careful to avoid crossing over to the extreme negative end of this ability scale, where you begin to function without emotional integrity. Fail to do this, and you become the nappyless social chameleon described above – which can cause you great embarrassment if another person (probably a “social chameleon” in all honesty) – decides to pick you up!
NB: You can google “emotional intelligence” and “social chameleon” to learn more.
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