Your coworker just doesn't get it.

You tell a funny joke, roll your eyes and reach up for a high five that is never reciprocated.

You yawn sarcastically, but a work friend gives you a blank stare.

Guess what? You're dealing with someone who lacks emotional intelligence. It might be frustrating or even annoying, but the truth is that people who don't quite know how to read nonverbal cues can teach you a lot about how to become a better boss or colleague.

Interestingly enough, those with a low EQ can even help you improve as an office worker.

1. Some people need you to write down instructions

People who can't read body language, true intentions, or expressions prove one thing about how we interact in the office: There are varying levels of emotional intelligence. When you see someone who can't seem to communicate non-verbally, it's a good reminder that communication is hard and sometimes you have to find workarounds. With some colleagues, that might mean writing things down--as a text, a Slack message, or an email. It might mean using an app to track all of the tasks you need to do on a project. Don't rely on emotional intelligence as a communication medium because it doesn't work with everyone, and some people are simply not operating on that wavelength.

2. Simplicity is the key to communication

One of the big realizations I've had working with college students as a mentor these past two years is that simplicity always wins. I recently moved to a project management system where everyone has three tasks they are working on at once, and it's been helpful as a management tool and for communicating about what everyone is working on. Those who lack emotional intelligence are not simple-minded--many are quite smart and understand accounting principles and math problems better than anyone else. However, if you want the masses to understand key objectives or your overall mission, it's best to avoid layers and layers of complexities. People who lack emotional intelligence don't see layers. They see a task and a due date. They respond to direct commands. Give them that.

3. Repetition wins

One of the things I love about mentoring is that you can see real, actual growth in people over time. It's wonderful because you see an actual difference in skill and talent, thanks to your efforts (which is quite fulfilling). However, with people who lack emotional intelligence, it's going to be a challenge to relay information effectively at times. You have to spell it out because a smile and wink won't work. This is where repetition wins. If someone lacks the ability to read others, to intrpret what they mean visually, then you have to explain it succintly and repeat yourself later. It's information force-feeding. You're making sure the level of emotional intelligence won't impact understanding.

Published on: Feb 26, 2019
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