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EQ1101: The Life Skills Module Every Singaporean Should Have Taken in School
Top image credit: Unsplash

This post is sponsored by the National Youth Council.

Module code: EQ1101

Module title: The Art of Emotional Intelligence Quotient in the Workplace

Semester: Every day

Faculty: Life  

Course description: This is a compulsory module. Students are required to pass before graduating or being considered a self-respecting adult.

We will cover tips on navigating the workplace, from making a stellar first impression when you walk into interviews to understanding the implicit dynamics between colleagues of varying job titles. Topics also include: social media no-nos, how to put yourself in the shoes of an annoying colleague, and how to lead a team of conflicting personalities.

Workload: This is a lifelong module that aims to teach students how to excel at work. It is hard work for some, but easier for others. As such, the number of hours spent working on EQ1101 per week differs accordingly.

To give you a sense of what the course entails, here are teaching materials from the first lecture, including sample exam questions for students to test their understanding of the material. As with life, there are no correct answers, only preferred answers.

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Lecture 1: Four Challenges You’ll Face at Work That Have Nothing to Do With Actual Work


You just want to be employed, so you try to impress your interviewers by telling them you’ll work damn hard because you’re still young enough to ‘chiong’. In theory, it sounds like you’re the perfect employee; in practice, such ‘passion’ can do more harm than good.

To prove yourself, you may end up pulling all-nighters or putting up with insanely meaningless tasks like editing your boss’s 200-slide PowerPoint for grammatical errors. In the process, you make compromises affecting your health and personal values.

Show enthusiasm, but don’t go overboard. Please love yourself.  

Example exam question:

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Small talk sucks. (Does it?)

Networking is boring as shit. (Is it really?)

Reality check: half the people who diss small talk probably don’t know how to do it well. The other half don’t realise its bigger purpose: a social lubricant that allows you to explore a deeper connection.  

But under the right circumstances and with the right people, small talk and seemingly banal networking sessions can be enjoyable and insightful. They reveal parts of your colleagues’ personalities or lives that you might not have been aware of. This might finally help you understand why they think or behave a certain way, and how to turn that into a strength for the team.

Example exam question: 

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Negotiating salary is more intimidating than haggling on the streets of Bangkok. On one hand, many people might not know how to bring up a raise or what to say, so they just don’t do it at all. On the other, never try, never know, right?

Before you go into the negotiation guns blazing, consider your language. Don’t tell a long-winded story, but leave room for explaining how a raise could benefit your overall well-being.

Then, have a tangible outcome in mind before negotiating. Broach a raise tactfully and assertively, with a concrete number or percentage that’s slightly higher than what you really want. This leaves room for negotiation.

Example exam question: 

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Some people like to complain about how they really hate office politics, how “toxic” their colleagues are, and how they’re always “damn shag”.

Complaining can sometimes be cathartic, but it’s more helpful to learn how to navigate the minefield of “office politics”. This includes diffusing tension between two colleagues with a personal history, managing favouritism and double-standards, and reading your boss’s body language on a bad day.

A skillful mediator is able to reach a consensus because they have honed their perceptiveness and intuition through practice and observation, noting patterns in others’ actions. They know how and when to confront tricky problems.

Example exam question: 

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No matter how many LinkedIn articles you read or how you’re graded for performance reviews, being a better worker is about taking charge of your own learning. And if there’s one skill that everyone learns on any job, it’s EQ.

At the same time, EQ can refer to many things, from being mindful of your colleagues’ working habits to speaking to your employer about his flaws.

In the comments below, tell us: What are some other skills you think are necessary to survive and thrive in the workplace?

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