Shirzad Chamine has written a tremendous book, Positive Intelligence, that does an excellent job of explaining the fact that the human brain often doesn’t act in our best interests. Chamine’s book helps explain, in layman’s terms, the complexity of the human brain and how it often leads to negative behaviors in adulthood. The author writes about the concept of Positive Intelligence, which he defines as “the control you have over your own mind and how well your mind acts in your best interest”. In order to measure this, Chamine created the concept of the Positive Intelligence Quotient, that he defines as “the percentage of the time your mind is acting as your friend rather than as your enemy; or, in other words, the percentage of time your mind is serving you versus sabotaging you”.

Chamine has developed a two minute assessment to determine your Positive Intelligence Quotient. Your score is rated on a scale of 1 – 100, with 75 be the ‘tipping point’, below which “an individual or team is constantly being dragged down by the invisible forces of a net-negative vortex”. Alarmingly, “only 20 percent of us score above a PQ of 75, and that’s why only 20 percent of individuals and teams achieve their true potential”. The book explains this phenomenon by referring to the world of neuroscience and the fact that the human brain is wired for survival and so “is looking for the negative and dangers to your physical and emotional survival”. Thus, the brain is constantly in ‘fight-or-flight mode’ and often “selectively looks for the negative signs of danger while ignoring positive signs of opportunity”. Unfortunately, the positivity that resides in the brain gets overshadowed.  Chamine writes, “When in survive mode, thriving takes a back seat. Although many opportunities might arise for a shift to a positive thriving mode, the brain with this narrowed focus is incapable of registering and capitalizing on them”.

Here are some of the applications of Chamine’s Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ):

  • Team-Building – “The sustainable way to build a high-PQ team requires a twofold focus: (1) help the team members increase their individual PQs; (2) train the team to pay attention to the PQ Channel during team interactions. To help team members focus on PQ during team meetings, Chamine recommends asking the following question: “If an alien who didn’t understand our language witnessed this interaction between Kathy and Karl, would he rate is as a positive energy exchange, a negative energy exchange or neutral?” He adds, “The power of the PQ conversation is that it moves everyone to a place of curiosity about how they can improve themselves rather than focusing on how someone else should change”.


  • Solving Complex Problems – Chamine writes “Your rational brain might make you smart, but your PQ brain makes you wise. While your rational brain is only limited to information that you know and remember, the PQ brain can access the much vaster library of anything you have ever experienced or learned, including things that you might not even be consciously aware of”. Thus, in solving complex problems, Chamine highly recommends activating one’s PQ Brain.


  • Working and Living with Difficult People – According to Chamine, there are Saboteurs in the human brain that work against your best interests. “They are a set of automatic and habitual mind patterns, each with its own voice, beliefs and assumptions that work against your best interest”. With respect to dealing with difficult people, Chamine recommends that you become aware of your own Saboteurs and control them, fuel your Sages (your parts of your brain that has access to your “wisdom, insights and often untapped mental powers”), help you discover and put boundaries around your Saboteurs.


  • Managing Stress – “All stress is Saboteur generated. Under the Sage’s influence, you focus on doing what needs to get done, but you don’t sweat the outcome”.


  • Developing Other People – According to Chamine, the majority of leadership, emotional intelligence, communications, conflict resolution, customer service and other kinds of similar training don’t work because “most of these trainings focus on higher-level competencies, while leaving the deeper underlying Saboteurs intact…The problem is that if the nasty Judge is left intact, it will soon override any benefit derived from the training”. He concludes that, “if you want to develop other people in a significant and lasting way, your best bet is to start with PQ training”.


  • Developing Relationships with Others – The Saboteurs usually get in the way of developing genuine relationships with others. The key is to be aware of your own Saboteurs (and those of others) that prevent the development of healthy relationships while generating conflict:


Judge – “Causes you to make a whole lot of assumptions about the other person’s intentions”.

Controller – “Tends to intimidate others in a conflict”.

Stickler- “The Stickler’s certainty about the right way is often not shared by others.

Avoider – “Directs your attention away from the conflict”.

Hyper-Achiever – “Can make you feel too goal-focused, causing you to miss the relationship-building gift of the conflict”.

Pleaser – “Prevents you from asking for what you want or need and encourages you to accommodate the other person too much”.

Victim – “Causes you to take things too personally”.

Restless – “Causes you to avoid dealing with the pain and drama of conflict. You might choose to shift your focus to more exciting and pleasant things”.

Hyper-Vigilant – “Forcing a high level of vigilance on others is unfair and places an onerous burden on them”.

Hyper-Rational – “Might cause you to be perceived by others as cold, distant or intellectually arrogant”.

Positive Intelligence is a must read for managers in any organization.