Quiet Quitting & Quiet Firing: The Need for Upgraded EI Skills

Dr. Relly Nadler: Welcome to Leadership Development News, Profiles and Practices of Top Performers. I’m Dr. Relly Nadler. Dr. Cathy Greenberg, my esteemed cohost is with us as always.

Today we are going to talk about this phenomenon that’s new but old: quiet quitting, quiet firing. The Need for Upgraded EI Skills. We’ll tell you a little bit about what that is and what are some things that you can do and also maybe why we have this phenomenon of quite quitting. Whether it’s quiet quitting, or quiet firing; sometimes it’s quiet dumping—breaking up with somebody.

Cathy, before we jump into all of this, welcome to the show.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I just want to follow along. Some of the data and the research that is out there on this subject is pretty amazing. You know as you said, Relly, this has been around actually, since the concept of quiet quitting, since after 2001, shortly after 911. I’m sure we are going to get into all the reasoning behind what quiet quitting is, where it came from, its history, how it’s impacting our quiet firing, or I guess, our TikTok lives as well. It seems like there are many people talking about this on TikTok. I’m sure it also relates to other topics like the great resignation.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Cathy and I just finished doing a supervision group for what is called The College of Executive Coaching. We are both on the faculty there. One of the people—today was day 1 and it’s over 8 weeks—so what is this emotional intelligence? So, I gave some of the rationales that you and I already know.

  1. It’s easy to understand. What do you know about yourself—how do you manage yourself? What you know about others—how you manage them.
  2. It is evidence-based.

We are going to share some of the evidence not only about emotional intelligence but also how it ties to this. Not a new phenomenon but maybe new wording about quiet quitting.

Let me say a couple of things about this and we’ll jump into this.

It’s a term that social media has taken by storm, really just the last month or two. There have been articles in Fortune, Washington Post, NPR, Harvard Business Review, New York Times, LinkedIn, Gallup about that.

You mentioned this, Cathy, it may have first been seen on TikTok, and there’s a user called @dkchillin who defines quiet quitting as you are still performing your duties, but you are no longer subscribing to the hustle-culture mentality that work has to be your life.

So, you are going to do the minimum to avoid burnout. We are going to get more into that but then today, Cathy and I will look more into what it is, what are some of the causes, and which EI skills can help you. Maybe we will zoom into some of those from a how-to standpoint around self-awareness, which could be stress tolerance, and being assertive.

Those are the things that we are going to zero in on. Cathy, let me just turn it back to you before we get into it a little bit more of what it is and maybe why we have it.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Yah. You and I have been talking about emotional and social intelligence now on this podcast for, as you said, quite some time. In fact, it’s hard for me to actually …

Dr. Relly Nadler: You don’t want to say the number do you?

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: The number, I can’t believe the number. It’s been a long time, but we are still having fun.

Dr. Relly Nadler: It’s not like giving out your age, so we can say it’s been 16 years. You and I started this in 2008. It’s been pretty amazing.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Yah, and to that amazement, in the time that we have been doing this, we can go all the way back to the 18th century employer from a comment that I was reading by a gentleman from Kerry Business School, also TikTok has a lot of followers for Kerry. What he’s basically talking about here is something that Bartley the Scriber told his 18th Century employer; I would prefer not to.

It goes all the way up to those of us who know Seinfeld, George Costanza setting up a nap station beneath his desk in the 1990s which really was the antithesis for me of quiet quitting. Everybody in the audience broadly understood that aspect of Constanza as his retreat from not only the workplace but workplace ambition.

This is not a new concept, right, by any stretch of the imagination. Relly, you’ve written immeasurable books on the subject of emotional intelligence and leadership, and you’ve used thousands of tools over the years with your students whether it be at the College of Executive Coaching or your broad array of coaching clients, or in our new book, Emotional Brilliance.

We both have been using a term that seemed to recycle itself like clothing from the 60s and 70s that we are seeing now throughout America. I get a kick out of it.

But these are not new concepts. The alternative buzzword born on TikTok uses the new word quiet quitting but it’s the scope of the national conversation. What I’d like to focus on for our audience today is what this phenomenon means, where it comes from, why now, and what we can do about it.

Between all of our books, I think all-in-all maybe 18 or 19 of them. If we include the eBooks, we’ve got at least 25 or 26 collectively. I think between the two of us we have at least got 100 years of experience. I’ll leave it at that.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Close to it for sure.

Good, so this idea of why now—it ties into, Cathy like you were saying, all of the things we already talk about. I’m glad it has got this kind of a little bit of a new buzz because it’s bringing up the same things.

So, some of the data that we know, Gallup…most of us know is a pollster, and for people in our fields, their biggest part of their revenue is from their research, Gallup Management. They found that 50% of the US workforce today is quiet quitting. It’s with synonymous with engagement, or …

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Say that number again, Relly. That’s pretty significant.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Yah, this is very current. 50% of the US workforce is quiet quitting. So, you know Gallup looks at actively engaged, engaged, and actively disengaged. So, I think they are looking at putting those numbers together.

What they have found is that there has been a drop to 32% of people who are engaged. It had been around 34% and higher. But what is interesting is for employees under 35, these are our millennials and Gen Z, so the newer ones in the workforce, that engaged employees is even less with this population. It dropped 6 points. Disengaged increased by 6 points. So, it dropped 6 points of who is engaged, and more people are disengaged. This is why there is this idea of quiet quitting.

Now, on the positive side, it could mitigate burnout. Cathy, you and I know about these people that we are dealing with it all of the time; burnout. So, it really is what is the minimum that someone can do? In corporate speak it would be, hey, I’m meeting expectations. The engaged or highly engaged exceed expectations.

So, we have a big part of the population and it’s because many folks are so burned out and emotionally exhausted at work with everything. The pandemic, do we go back, where is Covid, where’s my family. It’s such a burden for leaders because they are dealing with people who are emotionally exhausted if not burned out. They don’t have the energy to exceed expectations and on some level, they are creating boundaries with this newer generation. It’s different from Gen X or the Boomers. The Boomer has been growing up on exceeding expectations.

Let me pause there to get your input.

You can listen to the entire interview above by clicking on the play button.

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