Posts Tagged ‘emotional intelligence’

10 Ways to Seize Initiative

Do you know what you want and go for it? Or are you still waiting for that miracle, for some act of fate, or for someone else to hand it to you on a silver plate?

If you’re anything like me, you tackle the projects you enjoy, and procrastinate on the ones you do not. Yet, it’s often those ‘undesired’ projects which help move us closer to our goals. Why, then, do we put them off?

Seizing initiative is a competency of emotional intelligence but one that many struggle with. Those who are strong in this skillset keep an eye out for opportunities — even create them! — and don’t hesitate when it’s time to act. They go above and beyond and don’t let red tape slow them down. They are risk takers. They see ahead to what needs to be done, make a plan, then take action before it’s forced upon them. They are good at mobilizing others (colleagues, teams, etc.) to collaborate and are strong motivators.

Those who struggle with seizing initiative tend to be procrastinators, and shy away from planning and setting goals. They function in a reactive mode vs. a proactive mode. They often need direction from outside sources to light a fire under them, and resist working on projects which land outside the bounds of their immediate area of responsibility. They tend to not want to take risks. When things get tough, they tend to quit easily. Constantly postponing decisions and action causes them to miss opportunities.

“People are always blaming their circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.”

George Bernard Shaw

Why do some shy away from seizing initiative, even when it’s what is needed to get what they want? Understanding your whys can be a great way to move toward growth in this vital competency. Which of the following reasons for a lack of initiatives can you relate to?

1-You have a fear of the unknown. It’s easy to get comfortable and complacent in routines, or ‘the way things are’, because it doesn’t require extra effort and we can predict the outcomes, boring as they may be. When we try something new, there are unknown outcomes. What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if _____ (you fill in the blank)?

2-You have a fear of the known. Remember that last time you suggested something new, or launched into a new project, and you failed? Or someone ridiculed you? Or the project didn’t go as planned and you were scolded? We use the phrase, “Don’t rock the boat.” When you think you know something will turn out badly, or know your effort won’t be rewarded, it’s easier to shy away from innovative ideas and actions. Our focus on negativities of the past prevents us from wanting to try again.

3-You think it’s someone else’s job. Many don’t take initiative because they think it falls under someone else’s responsibilities. Possibly you’re waiting for someone else to do it, or tell yourself, “It’s the manager’s job,”, or “Our leader should be doing that.” Or, maybe you leave things up to fate. Rather than taking ownership of what’s next, you often defer to someone else.

4-You’re buried in the details. How’s the saying go? “You can’t see the forest for the trees” (John Heywood). It’s easy to let the minute details, which are a part of every project, prevent us from taking time to dream and visualize what could be, thus seeing the bigger picture. How can you seize initiative on new project when you can’t even keep up with all the constant demands of your current projects?

4-You’re stressed and tired. You may have too much work already on your plate, or are physically and mentally worn out. Or maybe you’re dealing with issues at home which are spilling over into your emotional capacity at work. Daily, unmanaged stress can wear you down, and the thought of taking on another project could put you over the edge.

5-You’re just not motivated. Maybe you don’t get along with your boss, or feel your pay is too low. Maybe you’re not getting the recognition you deserve, or don’t feel like anything you do really matters. When motivation is low, a lack of initiative follows closely behind.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Pablo Picasso

Want to learn to seize more initiative? Start by asking yourself (and responding to) these prompts:

  1. What is it that you want? List out a few things that you currently don’t have which you want (new job, more responsibility, a raise, recognition, that new client, etc.) and write out some goal statements.
  2. What changes would you need to make to reach those goals?
  3. What hurdles are preventing you from getting those things you want? It may be a person, or time constraints, fear of outcomes, or a lack of skills, or _____ (you fill in the blank).
  4. Who do you know who might help you reach these goals? Write down their name. It may be a mentor, or a coach, or a motivated colleague.
  5. In which specific areas at work (and at home) are you currently procrastinating? What emotions do you experience when you procrastinate?
  6. What activities do you tend to do instead of doing the ones you ‘should’ be doing? (i.e. scrolling on your phone, working on easier tasks, chatting with coworkers, etc.)
  7. What are the consequences of your procrastination?
  8. What was the last great thing you accomplished? Was it easy or did it take hard work? What emotions did you experience when you accomplished it?
  9. What would you gain from taking action toward these goals? How would you personally benefit? How would others benefit?
  10. What are some practical ways you could maintain momentum once you get started (i.e., breaking the goal down into ‘smaller bites’, doing one thing each day, enlisting the help of a friend, writing tasks down, etc.)

Grab your journal and write down your responses to these questions. Talk with a trusted friend or colleague, or enlist the help of a social and emotional intelligence coach to discuss these with.

I get it, taking action can feel like too much, and it’s can seem easier to stick with the status quo. But think about what future problems you could eliminate by taking action today! So start small. What is ONE THING you can do today toward a desired outcome? Then — do it. Celebrate your wins along the way, and remind yourself often of how good it will feel when you accomplishment your goals.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

Karen Lamb

Staying Aware of Emotions

Article submitted by Amy Sargent-Kossoff

Do you notice your emotions before they erupt into hurtful behaviors? This skill may sound like a quality only reserved for the emotional elite — empaths or those with an extremely high EQ. But you may be surprised to learn that anyone can develop this competency of emotional intelligence.

We all like to think we are self-aware. In her book, Insight, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, from a series of surveys, found that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% actually are. Do you fall into the 95% or the 10-15%? That’s kind of a trick question, because, based upon her research, if you think you’re in the 10-15%, there’s a 95% chance you’re not!

Emotional self-awareness is the ability to notice and label your feelings, in the moment, and to be able to connect them to the why. Try it, right now. What are you feeling? Can you name it specifically? For example, you may feel angry, but notice if it is truly anger, or something else. Maybe it could be more accurately described as irritation, disappointment, or disillusionment. Once you land on a specific word, then try to connect it to the why. Why are you feeling what you’re feeling? Is it because of a conversation which just took place? Or were you recalling a negative memory? Or did you just see something you didn’t like on the news? Those who are strong in emotional self-awareness are able to tune into these feelings, name them accurately, connect them to their cause, then use these feelings and emotions as a valuable source of insight.

Learning to hide

So many of us at a young age were taught to hide our emotions, or pretend we were not feeling them. “Wipe that look off your face”, was a common instruction in our household. Another familiar phrase we often heard was, “Are you really crying about that?”, as if feeling sad was not OK. We quickly learned that if we could conceal our emotions, then we might not get in trouble…and not getting in trouble seemed like a good thing!

“To tell someone not to be emotional is to tell them to be dead.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? 

As a result, we learned the misnomer that certain emotions were not acceptable, and better left hidden away in the dark. Such is how many of us embarked on a lifetime of tuning out and discrediting emotions, either by ignoring them or bottling them up inside.

“But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

In contrast, someone who is emotionally self-aware tunes into feelings, listens to them, and allows them to guide their actions.

Labeling Emotions

Another common misstep is that we have learned to sort our emotions into two categories — good or bad, or, more commonly, positive or negative. And you’ve probably learned that those ones labeled as negative are to be avoided at all costs. Think about some of them — disappointment, frustration, jealousy, anger, annoyance, to name a few. I don’t know anyone who enjoys experiencing these emotions. Do you? They are unpleasant and feel, well, awful. So we do whatever we can do to never feel them. However, if you’re human, you probably realize that it is impossible to always avoid negative events (and the unpleasant emotions which result). And all emotions to provide the vital insights which can guide your next steps.

“Your emotions make you human. Even the unpleasant ones have a purpose. Don’t lock them away. If you ignore them, they just get louder and angrier.”
― Sabaa Tahir, A Torch Against the Night 

And though in the moment it may seem helpful to divert the conflict which results from unpleasant emotions, avoiding them does nothing for your emotional self-awareness. On the contrary, blocking out certain emotions prevents us from experiencing the full gamut of emotions which is normal for humans. For example, if you have never experienced sadness from loss, how can you fully experience the joy which comes from gain, if you have nothing to compare it to?

All emotions are acceptable — even if you don’t enjoy them. And all emotions have something to say — if you choose to listen to them.

The 10-15%

People who are strong in emotional self-awareness recognize all emotions are helpful, not just the ‘positive’ ones. And they take it a step further. They recognize the connection between the emotions they feel and the thoughts they think. Reflect on the last time you felt ‘heated’ emotions…a time when your buttons were pushed. Did you think about the situation at all after the incident? If you’re like me, you most likely ruminated on it for hours to come, rehashing the situation over and over and over!

Something to note — from your thoughts come behaviors.

Those strong in emotional self-awareness also notice how feelings have an impact on things like job performance and health of relationships. They are able to articulate what they are feeling and express them in a way which builds relationships, not tears them down. And best of all — they have learned to recognize the physical symptoms — how the emotion shows up in their body — before the emotion hits.

What is your body telling you?

Learning to listen to your body is a great way to build emotional self-awareness. For most of us, our body signals us to the emotion before it erupts. For example, think about the last time you felt, say, really stressed. What did that feel like in your body? Some people experience a dry mouth. Others begin to sweat profusely, or their face flushes. Some report they can feel their heart beating rapidly. Others get a sick pit in their stomach, or feel weak in the legs, or their hands begin to shake. What do you feel when you experience stress?

“Among my stillness was a pounding heart.”
― Shannon A. Thompson, Seconds Before Sunrise

Recognizing the bodily symptoms of strong emotions can serve as an early warning system, before the emotion erupts, that something is starting to happen which may not end well if we don’t manage our next steps. Learning to notice these physical symptoms can help us prepare for the action we want to take, rather than being a victim of reaction.

If you Struggle with Emotional Self-Awareness

Still not sure if you’re strong in emotional self-awareness or not? Note these indicators of a need for growth in this emotional intelligence competency:

  • You get irritated, frustrated or angry easily, and treat people in an abrasive way when you do.
  • Your hot emotions cause headaches, lower back pain, neck or shoulder pain, heart racing, sweaty palms, anxiety attacks or other signals, yet you do not heed nor pay attention to them.
  • Your day-to-day actions and behaviors are not in alignment with your personal goals and values.
  • You often feel out of balance in terms of you work life, health and family.
  • You think you’re a terrific leader when in reality, no one seems to like working for you. Maybe some of your key players have recently quit or a friend/family member does not want to be around you.
  • Your actions are hurtful to others, yet you don’t notice their pain, or even worse, blame them for it.
Growing in emotional self-awareness

What I love about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed. You don’t have to stay stuck in behaviors which aren’t working. It’s not like personality, or your genetic makeup, which is pretty much set at a young age. Emotional intelligence is about noticing emotions, in the moment, then choosing to act (instead of react) in a way that builds up instead of tears down. Even if you’re not very good at this today, you can try some exercises to build a new muscle — your emotional self-awareness muscle — and after practice, begin to make a shift in your behaviors. How?

7 Steps toward Greater Emotional Self-Awareness

Here are seven ways to begin to improve your emotional self-awareness:

1-Make a habit of checking in on your feelings. Throughout the day, take a moment to notice what you are feeling, and why. Name the emotion specifically and accurately if possible.

2-Take notice of your bodily signals such as sweating, headaches, clenched teeth, tense shoulders, etc. and try to connect them to the why. Ask yourself, what is my body trying to tell me? Is it dread? Is it angst? Is it worry? Note which feelings are connected to which body signals.

3-Allow for quiet time each day. Use this time to be introspective, to listen to that often-quiet inner voice and what it’s trying to say. Do you need to take a break? Do you need to speed things up? Do you need to switch gears? Do you need to go talk to someone? Listen and respond.

4-Practice the pause. When you feel a particular ‘hot’ emotion (one which, maybe in the past, has led to behaviors which got you into trouble), learn to pause. Take a breath, or two, or three. Take a walk. Get some fresh air. Call a friend. Write in your journal. Slow down the time it takes for the signal which caused that hot emotion to move from the amygdala, the part of your brain which spurs you to fight or flight, to the cortex, where you can process and react reasonably.

5-Gather feedback. Ask those closest to you, friends, family members, or colleagues, how you come across in heated moments. Have colleagues watch you in a meeting and let you know how your emotions were presenting themselves. The honest reflection of others, especially those you can trust, can provide great insight into blind spots, something we all have.

6-Get in the habit of feeling the feels. If you’re someone who has a habit of blocking out emotions, it’s time to step into the brave new world of letting yourself feel them. This can be unpleasant at times. That’s OK. Remember, all emotions are acceptable and are trying to tell you something. Think of them as that one dear friend who actually will speak the truth.

7-Notice how your emotions lead to your thoughts, and your thoughts to lead to your behaviors. Recognizing the link between emotions and your actions is a great way to begin to make shifts in behaviors which are not serving you and others well.

“How you react emotionally is a choice in any situation.”
― Judith Orloff

Remember, while all emotions are acceptable, all behaviors are not. Once we start noticing our emotions, even as they start to erupt, we are then empowered to choose our thoughts and behaviors which follow. Comedian Craig Ferguson offered these sage questions to help filter next steps:

  • Does this need to be said/done?
  • Does this need to be said/done by me?
  • Does this need to be said/done by me right now?

As with all new habits, developing this competency will take practice. Instead of shooting for perfection, try becoming a little more emotionally self-aware each day. And when you miss (which you will, because you are human), be quick to forgive yourself, without shame, so you can get back to moving along again down this new path.

“Feel, he told himself, feel, feel, feel. Even if what you feel is pain, only let yourself feel.”
― P.D. James, The Children of Men 

Teaming Up: 9 Ways to Build an Emotionally Intelligent Team

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

The power of working together

You’ve probably heard about the teambuilding balloon exercise. No? Here you go, then. Each team member of a large group is given an inflated balloon with instructions to write their name on it, then throw it into a pile with hundreds of other inflated balloons in the room. After scrambling the balloons, the challenge was given: find the balloon with your name on it. After 15 minutes not one single person was able to find their balloon. They were then instructed to find any balloon in the room with a name on it and give it to the person whose name was on it. Within a couple of minutes every member of the team had their own balloon.

The team leader shared the lesson learned: “We are much more efficient when we are willing to share with each other. And we are better problem solvers when we are working together, not individually.” [https://www.teamworkandleadership.com/2015/10/short-teamwork-story-you-will-want-to-share-with-your-team.html]

What does a strong team member look like?

Teamwork can be defined as the ability to work well with others toward a common goal. I think the word synergy defines it best: “Synergy, n., the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” The word is derived from both the Latin word synergia and the Greek word sunergia, meaning cooperation, and the Greek word ergon, which means work. [https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/]

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

People who exhibit this competence of emotional intelligence not only work cooperatively with others, but enjoy it, even when opposing personalities and perspectives are involved. They are good at creating an identity for the group, and know how to draw each participant into enthusiastic participation. They are sharers. They freely share ideas, plans, resources — and the credit, both for positive outcomes and disappointing ones. Somehow they are able to put team goals before their own goals. They know how to build trust and respect.

Who is the best team-builder you know?

Those who aren’t so good at teambuilding tend to prefer working alone and struggle to coordinate efforts with others — or simply don’t want to. They’re known for saying “that wasn’t my responsibility” when a ball is dropped, or, “that was someone else’s job.” They tend to avoid conflict, and withhold information, unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally. They are known for not wanting or needing help from others. Without realizing it, they can undermine team decisions and actions by isolating themselves as a lone wolf, an island, by not abiding by team norms or standards. They see the team as a weight which slows them down from reaching goals.

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

Mattie Stepanek

Today’s challenges to teambuilding

In the United States alone, it’s estimated that 41.8% of employees work remotely, and 56.8% work remotely at least part time. It’s predicted that this number will double by 2025. And while there are many benefits to remote work, this upward trend can take a toll on team cohesion if we’re relying on in-person interactions to connect. For some, navigating internet platforms for online meetings has proved challenging. For those who have mastered the art of online meetings, they know well that communication can be muddled with internet drops and lags. We’ve all sat in an online meeting when someone is talking and suddenly their voice is reduced to electronic sounds and blurred images. As you know, not a lot of relationship-building happens in those moments.

In just one year alone, from 2020 to 2021, Americans received 40% more daily notifications from emails, texts. And because it’s impossible to read facial expressions and hear tone in texts and emails, these methods of communication can lend itself toward a great deal of, well, miscommunication. [https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-future-of-work-by-2025-36-million-americans-will-be-remote-workers/]

Despite these changes, the need for clear, concise communication is vital to building heathy teams and promoting collaboration.

What you can do to be a better team player

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Ken Blanchard

If you struggle with teamwork and collaboration, you are not alone. The great news about emotional intelligence competencies is that they can be learned and developed. Here are a few ways you can start sharpening your teamwork and collaboration skills:

1-Seek out opportunities to work with others.

2-Take a genuine interest in learning more about others, both their professional and personal lives.

3-Make it a goal to ask each team member how you can best support them, regularly.

4-Keep your team members informed of your aspirations, plans, and timelines.

5-Ask for other’s perspectives and viewpoints — and be open to having your own opinions changed as a result.

6-Develop your conflict resolution skills.

7-Share your knowledge and don’t be an information hoarder.

8-Give credit to whom credit is due.

9-Make it a point to treat everyone with courtesy and respect, no matter their job title or role.

Which one of these will you try today?

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford

Embracing Empathy

Article submitted by Amy Sargent

Have you noticed your empathy has taken a turn for the worse over the past few months? Is it getting harder and harder to really care about others’ complaints and concerns? Do others seem way “off” in their beliefs and opinions? Are you hanging out less and less with those who are different than you? Do you find yourself rolling your eyes at people’s “drama” instead of responding with understanding? At a time when it is needed most, why is it so difficult to comprehend — and even value — the feelings and perspectives of others?

Empathy can be defined as the ability to sense what others are feeling, and take an active interest in their concerns. It’s about noticing how others are feeling, feeling it yourself, and taking action to support them through the tough times. Empathy is the capacity to know – emotionally – what another is experiencing, AND being able to express or communicate your understanding in return.

It’s a noble skillset, and something I’d guess we’d all like to have more of. Then why is it such a struggle?

Why don’t I care?

In her article, “3 Reasons Why Empathy is Hard“, Rujuta Pendharkar,  Founder and Principal at People Plus Results, points out that your genetic makeup, and the amount that you were nurtured and taught empathy as a child, may play a role in the struggle. If empathy was not modeled to you at a young age, it may be more difficult for you to exhibit empathy than those who were brought up in nurturing homes. Good news, though, lest you think it’s hopeless! Empathy, being a competency of emotional intelligence, can be developed, even if you got off to a bad start. So don’t let that be your excuse to tune out to others’ emotions and feelings.

Simple distraction may be yet another cause. We live in an age where options abound, and there are many voices demanding our time and attention. “Buy this, sign up for this, attend this, learn to do this, join this, add this…” — the push to do more and be more and accomplish more bombards us from all directions. Rujuta notes, “We’re living in the age of distraction. We’re probably the most distracted of all generations in human history.” Research by Ryan Dwyer points to the fact that modern technology, while wonderful in many ways, can sidetrack us from deepening relationships with family and friends. [https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180810161553.htm]

Another factor that deters us from empathy may be that we have become overly self-absorbed. Can you believe there was a time when “selfies” were not a thing? Notice on social media how many times the words “I” and “me” are used. Online platforms instruct users to build online profiles, using photos and videos of themselves, touting accomplishments, achievements, and wins. We are given ample opportunity to share, brag, celebrate, show, and tell — about ourselves! Don’t get me wrong, it’s terrific to exhibit self-confidence and possess personal power…but not so much that we neglect and dismiss others. Rujuta goes on to say, “As a society, we’ve undergone a tectonic shift. We’re now about selfies, self-promotion, personal branding, and self-interest. Sometimes this comes at the cost of paying attention to others’ thoughts, feelings, needs, and concerns.” [https://www.peoplematters.in/blog/others/3-reasons-why-empathy-is-hard-26826]

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”

— Daniel Goleman

Empathy and Stress

And don’t forget fatigue and stress. When we are tired, physically and emotionally, and experiencing chronic stress, it makes it tough to really care about what others are going through — and feel what they are feeling. Think back on the last time you were worn out. In that moment, how much energy did you have to pour into others? One study points out that those who are stress-prone are able to identify others’ emotions — exercising “cognitive empathy” — but that they weren’t so good at what scientists call “affective empathy”, or that ability to feel what others are feeling. [https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_is_the_relationship_between_stress_and_empathy]

Yet, stressful times are when empathy is needed most, especially for leaders. Quint Studer, in his article, “Why Empathy is the Most Important Skill a Leader Can Develop Right Now“, says, “When people are stressed and anxious, the ability to show empathy is the most important skill a leader can have. In hard times, building trust and engagement really matters, and empathy is the cornerstone of those connections.” When people feel listened to and understood at a deep emotional level, and when that understanding is acknowledged or communicated, people feel affirmed and validated. [https://thebusyleadershandbook.com/why-empathy-is-the-most-important-skill-a-leader-can-develop-right-now/]

Assessing your Empathy Skills

There are some tell-tale signs that your empathetic skills may need some work. Read the following statements, and see how many you agree with:

  • I find myself stereotyping people who are different than me
  • I do not understand why some people feel the way they do
  • Others’ strong emotions take me by surprise
  • I am finding myself in conflict with others more often than not
  • When I’m in conversation with others, I have a hard time reading what they are thinking and feeling.
  • I often do what is best for me without regard to how it may make others’ feel
  • Some say I come across as indifferent or uncaring

If you agree with any of the above, consider taking a step toward developing more empathy.

“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’”

– Brene Brown

How to grow in empathy

The ability to empathize depends upon our ability to notice and identify our own emotions. A simple way to do this is to keep an Emotions Journal for a few weeks. Notice how you feel when you wake up, and try to name it specifically. Jot it down. Then notice how you feel as you get ready for work. Same thing — name it specifically, and write it down. Note how you’re feeling at lunch time. Then in the early afternoon. Then as you finish up your day. Notice your feelings in the evening, and before you go to bed. After a few weeks, notice any trends or patterns. Begin to attach a why to each emotion by asking yourself, “Why am I feeling this?” Try to withhold self-judgment as you do this exercise. Try not to label your emotions as good or bad — just notice them for what they are. If you need help, consider enlisting the help of a social and emotional intelligence coach to help you with self-awareness.

Once you are able to notice and label your own feelings, and starting to understand why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, you can now turn your attention to others. Becoming a good listener is key. There’s simply no way you’ll be able to feel the emotions of others and respond if you are not listening. Here are a few tips to tuning in to others in a more effective way:

  • Call out your Cynic. Cynicism and empathy do not play well together. Notice any hurtful behaviors you may exhibit toward others regularly, such as belittling, diminishing, rejecting, scorning, labeling, dismissing or ignoring. These behaviors make others feel invalidated and demoralized. You may exhibit these outwardly through words or behaviors, or may just be thinking them. Instead of shaming yourself when you notice your Cynic’s appearance, try saying, “There goes my Cynic again.” Then replace these invalidating thoughts, words, and behaviors with gratitude or appreciation if possible.
  • Make time for others. This means stopping what you’re doing to really listen — including putting down your phone. Stop. Stop walking. Stop typing. Stop thinking about what you need to do next, or what you’re going to say next. Stop, turn to face the person, and make eye contact. If now is not a good time to give your full attention, let them know that and schedule a later time to talk.
  • Attempt to pick up on the emotions that accompany words, and the whys behind them. Easier said than done, I know. But we so often get hung up on words (and which of us has never had something come out wrong or put our foot in our mouth?). When someone is speaks, ask yourself, “What is this person feeling? Why might they be feeling this way?” Notice their facial expressions. For example, when you ask them how they are, and they say “Fine”, can you see the flicker of pain in their eyes, or the fake smile they plaster on their face?
  • Adopt a “Me Too” attitude. When you notice someone else’s emotions, ask yourself if you’ve ever felt those same emotions.. You may not be feeling them right now, but surely you’ve felt that feeling before at some point in your life. Try to remember how it felt, and the why behind your own feelings. Though you may not feel that way on this particular issue, you can connect with them on the feeling itself.
  • Notice what underlying concerns the person may be trying to express. Often deep concerns are masked by annoying behaviors. For example, an over-attention to detail may indicate worry. An aggressive stance may be a fear of coming across weak. Bragging may indicate that they feel intimidated. Try to refrain judgment in these moments. Just notice what may really be going on behind the behaviors.
  • Acknowledge what you think you’ve heard with gratitude. After listening, paraphrase, repeat back, and clarify the emotions you think you are hearing (i.e., “Sounds like you’re feeling frustrated…am I hearing you right?”) Thank them for trusting you enough to share with you, to give you their time, to be vulnerable with you. Let them know how you appreciate them–even if you don’t agree with what they said or feel.

E.B. Johnson, in the article, “Why You Should Nurture Your Empathy Right Now“, says this, “Rather than allowing our apathy to set in, we have to learn how to understand our empathy and compassion and understand it in ways that empowers us to use it as a tool of change. If we want to overcome the pain and suffering of this modern world, we have to learn how to cultivate empathy in our lives and figure out how to relate to others in way that is both meaningful and lasting.”. [https://practicalgrowth.substack.com/p/why-empathy-is-important-2eb3d8c4f776]

Accepting and embracing the differences in others — in feelings, thoughts, perspectives, and behaviors — can be tough. You may be of the mindset of, “Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone just agreed with me?” And you’re right — it probably would be easier. But that is not how life works. Expressing empathy, despite the differences, provides fertile ground ripe for growth and learning. Comprehending and embracing those who are different is vital to harmonious living.

I don’t know if there’s ever been a time when empathy was needed more. What do you think? If you’re still not sure, consider giving it a try to find out.

The Choice No One Can Take Away

When we face difficult times, it’s easy to feel helpless. The tough events which happen to us are so often not what we’d choose to happen, and leave us feeling stuck, out of control, and left to react. I don’t know about you, but when things aren’t going my way, I don’t always react in the best light. Yet, while circumstances are at times dictated for us, robbing us of freedoms we are used to — we do have a choice over one thing, despite the circumstances: how we’ll behave in the middle of it all.

Behavioral self-control is a competency of emotional intelligence, and can be defined as simply keeping our emotions, impulses, and actions in check…especially the ones which are disruptive, hurtful (to ourselves and others), and damaging.

People who are good at managing their behaviors — even in the midst of tough times — notice their emotions, often before they feel them. Sound impossible? It’s not. They’ve simply learned to read the warning flags their brains send to their bodies when, say, stressors come to call. Think about the last time you felt very upset, or, say, worried. How did it show up in your body? Did you get a headache? Sick to your stomach? Flushed? Dry mouth? Shaky? Learning to recognize your bodily symptoms of oncoming stress can help you prepare for it, so, instead of simply reacting, you can choose how you WANT to act. Take a moment to note your own stress signals and where/how they show up in your body.

Another characteristic of those with strong behavior self-control is that they are able to stay composed and unflappable in trying moments. By restraining negative reactions, which, left unchecked can make a tough situation tougher, they are able to remain positive during tough times. It’s so easy to engage in negative, reactive behaviors — damaging self-talk, badmouthing others, overuse of food/alcohol/etc. — when things aren’t going our way. What’s your vice when you are at odds with others and/or the world? Notice it, and spend a little time noting how well it is serving you. Though hurtful behaviors may seem to bring some relief or satisfaction in the moment, they often don’t provide many solutions for the long run. So take pause, and ask yourself, “What are my reactive behaviors, and do they truly help or make things worse?”

Something I find admirable about those with strong behavioral self-control is that when they are faced with hostility, opposition, or aggressive confrontations, they are able to remain cool, calm, and collected. Just because someone else is acting poorly doesn’t mean they have to, too. They are able to choose to stay focused so they can think and reason clearly, restraining the tendency toward agitated reactions which escalate things. This includes keeping their mouth shut until they can cool down, something I strive to do more often!

Those who struggle with behavioral self-control instead, react impulsively. They don’t resist temptations and give in easily when pushed or provoked. They are often quick to anger, defensive, and go to extremes when they are faced with conflict and stress. Sometimes this appears as negative self-talk, such as, “This always happens to me”, and “I always mess up!”, etc., but often comes out as hurtful behavior toward others — saying and doing things which cause harm, whether physically or emotionally. 

Developing self-awareness is a first step in building more behavioral self-control. Notice the moments when you tend to “lose it”, and make a list of the things which trigger your bad behaviors. Maybe it’s when you turn on the news, or when you have a conversation with that one certain person, or when you hear of yet another change you’re expected to ‘roll’ with. Look at each trigger and think about a few ways which you could act differently — more constructively —  than your current go-to reaction. For example, if you get agitated when watching a particular news program, notice which emotions you are feeling, and name them. Then notice which thoughts follow closely on the heels of those emotions (e.g., “I hate that leader — he is an idiot!”). From your thoughts stem your reactions. If your reactive  behavior is to badmouth a particular leader on your social media feed, notice how you feel when you do that. Then, take an honest audit on what damage that behavior may cause. For example, you may discover you are losing friends left and right (no pun intended), that no one follows you online anymore, nor do they want to chat or hang out with you as a result — and you would like it if they did. This could be an indicator that the badmouthing others is not working so well for you. What is an alternate reaction you could choose — a better way of responding to a news report which upsets you? Jot these strategies down so you’re prepared next time your trigger button is pushed — because it will be. How might you feel if you reacted that way? What alternate outcomes might that behavior bring about?  The thought is that the next time you are triggered, you’ll be ready with a new, more beneficial action to try.

In heated moments, taking an emotional audit is a simple exercise you can do on your own, or with a group you work closely with, or with a close friend or significant other.  Here’s how it works:  When you feel triggered, practice the pause. Literally — count to ten, twenty, thirty, to put a little time and space between the stimulus and your response. Then, before you react, ask yourself and answer these questions:

1-What am I feeling?

2-What am I thinking as a result of these feelings?

3-What do I want to happen in this moment (what would be an ideal outcome)?

4-What am I doing to sabotage this outcome?

5-What do I need to do or say right now to get the outcome I want?

While we can’t always control our circumstances, we can choose how we’ll act. That’s a choice that no one can take away. With practice, and yes, it takes practice, we can begin to carve out the path we want to take in the new year — not in trying to control things which are out of our control (which, interestingly, causes more stress than anything!), but by controlling what is IN our control — our behavior.

Gratefully, Yours

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

For whom do you feel a deep sense of gratitude? Have you let them know?

It’s that time of year where we’re reminded to offer up thanks. And why not? Developing practices of gratitude is one of the simplest ways to improve life satisfaction. Research shows that expressing gratitude not only benefits the person receiving it, but also the giver, with positive effects sticking around for months.

Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons (University of CA) and Dr. Michael McCullough (University of Miami) conducted a study asking one group of participants to write about things they were thankful for during the week. A second group was to write about daily frustrations and a third group was asked to write about anything. After ten weeks of this, the researchers found that those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt more positive about their lives. Interestingly, they exercised more often and paid fewer visits to the doctor that the other groups! [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12585811/]

Another significant study on the benefits of gratitude was conducted by Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Penn State Positive Psychology Center. He assigned study participants to write a gratitude letter and deliver it to the recipient. The participants who did this displayed a drastic increase in their happiness scores, and these happiness benefits lasted up to six months after they letter was written and delivered. [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16045394/]

Gratitude is not only connected to reducing depression and worry-related anxiety, but boosts an overall sense of wellbeing and relationship satisfaction. When gratitude is expressed, the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with our ability to imagine our future, becomes activated, allowing us to ‘see’ more optimistic outcomes. Additionally, exercising gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain which controls functions such as sleep, eating, metabolism, and stress management.  Know of anyone who could use some improvement in those bodily functions?! [https://draxe.com/health/benefits-of-gratitude/   and https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain]

In an article in Psychology Today, author Amy Morin outlines these seven benefits of gratitude:

1. It opens doors to new relationships

2. It improves physical health

3. It improves psychological health

4. It enhances empathy

5. It helps with sleep

6. It increases self-esteem

7. It increases mental strength

[https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude]

Still not believing it? Give it a try! Keep a gratitude journal for the next ten weeks. Or, take a moment to write a gratitude letter to someone who’s had a positive impact on you, and deliver it. If you can’t deliver it in person, set up an online meeting and read it aloud to them.

Then let us know how you are feeling!

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Becoming Trustworthy

Article submitted by Amy Sargent

“Do you trust me?”

It’s a familiar line from romcoms. The protagonist is getting ready to do something crazy and wants the heroine to go along with him. He reaches toward her with an open hand, hoping she’ll abandon all logic and jump.

And don’t we love it when she jumps?!

It’s fun to watch on the big screen, but in real life, trusting others can be tough. If you’ve ever been lied to (and, who hasn’t?), or betrayed, or deceived in any way, there’s a good chance you say, “No thanks, I’ll stay here and play it safe.”

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

Stephen Covey

Trust–or a Lack of–in the Workplace

In the workplace, trust can be especially difficult to navigate. First of all, there’s a professional persona we all put on when we head to the office. Much of professionalism lends to a healthy workplace, by setting appropriate boundaries, offering mutual respect, and using polished, effective communication skills. However the downside is that sometimes our professional self looks nothing like our real self, and can leave us (and others) feeling, well, nothing. And that cold, hard shell of inauthenticity can be both exhausting to maintain, and empty.

Secondly, there’s fear. Fear of all shapes and sizes can prevent us from trusting in professional relationships, and instead, choose to stay closed off, hiding behind our masks of inauthenticity. Fear of not getting that promotion. Fear of being fired. Fear of management disapproval. Fear of employees not liking you. Fear of looking silly. Fear of looking too confident. Fear of … you fill in the blank!

However, without trust, the workplace becomes nothing but a hollow movie set of actresses and actors, pretending, resulting in shallow, unengaged teams.  Imagine, instead, if we could build authentic, value-driven teams working together with integrity to achieve success.

Wondering why your key players are quitting? Maybe it’s a lack of trust. Shelley Smith, in an article she wrote for Forbes entitled Lack of Trust Can Make Workplaces Sick and Dysfunctional, notes, “Team members who don’t trust their leaders are likely working the bare minimum and planning to get out.” She goes on to say, “If you don’t trust your team, you’re likely either micromanaging or withholding information and working on initiatives on your own or with a select group of people. This can create a vicious cycle, as your team may respond by pulling back even further, so you’ve created a perfect storm in this self-fulfilling prophecy of distrust.”[https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/10/24/lack-of-trust-can-make-workplaces-sick-and-dysfunctional/]

On the contrary, a workplace embedded with trust enables team members to feel safe — safe to be innovative, safe to achieve, safe to take risks, safe to fail. Paul Towers, Founder at Task Pigeon, shares this wisdom in his blog: “Successful businesses are built on relationships. Relationships between employers and employees, staff and customers, internal stakeholders and external stakeholders. At the foundation of all relationships is trust.” [https://blog.taskpigeon.co/workplace-trust-trust-important-workplace/]

What is trust?

What does it mean to be trustworthy?

It’s a way of behaving which creates a bond, or connection, with others which is appropriate, empowering, and safe. A trustworthy person is reliable and dependable and others feel enabled to speak their truth(s) and be themselves. Those with this competence of emotional intelligence encourage and participate in appropriate self-disclosure. In other words, they’re not afraid to share information — about themselves, about the project, about the company, when appropriate.

Trustworthy individuals are willing to be influenced by others, and are open to changing their minds in conversations with others. They are known to maintain high standards of personal integrity (doing the “right” thing, even when no one is looking), and their public behaviors match up with their personal behaviors. They treat others fairly and with respect. They genuinely care about others. They make good on their promises.

Would you want to work for/with professionals like this?

And if we asked them, would your colleagues, clients, and customers use these descriptors when talking about you?

Tell-tale Signs that Trust is Lacking

When trust is absent from relationships, it rears its dubious head in several ways. Do you notice any of these behaviors in your day-to-day interactions?

  • You’re not that great at establishing open, candid, relationships
  • You’ve developed a reputation for lacking integrity
  • You tell lies, often
  • You blame others for your mistakes
  • You say one thing and do another
  • You make promises which you can’t — or don’t intend to — keep
  • Your behavior is erratic, and inconsistent
  • You treat some people poorly
  • You’ve undermined others for your own gain
  • Others never come to you as a source of guidance or wisdom

If you can relate to any of the above, it may be time to do some work on developing the skills which build trust.

Trust Makers

Building trust, as in all emotional intelligence competencies, can be developed. Here are some ways you can begin your journey toward becoming more trustworthy:

  • Develop personal relationships with others by working on your listening skills. Ask open-ended questions, and tune in, carefully, to what’s on their minds and in their hearts.
  • Be accessible. Do others feel safe popping in your office to say hi, or talk about something which is important to them? We’re not talking about having no boundaries. But within your office hours, be sure to schedule time when you can be available to others.
  • Develop integrity. Check to make sure you’re doing the right things, even when others are not looking. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor or a social and emotional intelligence coach to help build new behaviors where needed.
  • Always deliver on your commitments. If you say you’ll be somewhere, be there. If you say you’ll do something, do it. Let cancellations be a rare event, not something others expect with you.
  • Never knowingly mislead others or lie.
  • Know your personal values, and consciously articulate and demonstrate them in your day-to-day activities. It should be obvious to those who work closely with you and/or have a close relationship with you as to what you esteem and believe in.
  • Admit your mistakes. Own your missteps, and refrain from pointing the finger at others. Learn to express a quick and heartfelt, “I’m sorry” when you miss.
  • Don’t badmouth others. Let your words edify and lift up, both in person and when, on the rare occasion, you are talking about someone when they’re not in the room. It’s possible to openly discuss areas of growth without shaming or belittling.
  • Treat others with respect, no matter their title or ‘status’ within the organization.
  • And finally, be consistent with all of the above. Being trustworthy is not a one-time event. It’s a recurring and iterative way of behaving.

Rebuilding Trust

“Trust is the easiest thing in the world to lose, and the hardest thing in the world to get back.”

R.M. Williams

If you’ve broken someone’s trust — which we all have at some point in our lives — know that it can be rebuilt. It won’t happen overnight, and it takes work to establish a trusting relationship again. A formula which seems to work is consistency + time. The person who lost faith in you must be willing to trust you again, and if they’re not, you may need to let that relationship go. But if they are, they will need to see consistent, trust-building behaviors over a long period of time in order to trust again.

These developmental tips must be practiced regularly to turn them into habits. This can take time. But becoming more trustworthy is the only way to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships, both at work and at home.

“Trust is like love. It can’t be seen, but its value is immeasurable.”

― Frank Sonnenberg

Managing Conflict with Emotional Intelligence

Article submitted by Amy Sargent.

It takes two to tango. It’s an old, overused phrase, yet one which still accurately illustrates the fact that conflict doesn’t happen in isolation. Think of the last conflict you experienced. Was it about you, with you, against you — or was another person involved?

Conflict is defined as a serious disagreement or argument. It can also be defined as an incompatibility between two or more opinions, principles, or interests, or, a word to describe when two people are at a variance. In more simpler terms, conflict means to clash. [https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/]

Do you clash with anyone these days?

A common way of dealing with conflict is to point the finger at the other person’s misses, flaws, and faults. It’s most likely the most preferred way of ‘handling’ conflict. However, you’ve probably discovered that finger pointing doesn’t make the conflict go away, and sometimes, exacerbates it. Another way we deal with conflict is through control — trying to control the other person. But try as you may, you probably realize it’s nearly impossible to make someone else do/be what you want them to do/be. There’s only one part of conflict you can control: you. Margaret Paul adds, “When it comes to control, it’s important to remember that the only thing we actually have control over is ourselves, our attitudes, our beliefs, our behavior – our intent.”

This should come as good news. It is tiring to attempt to control others. If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean.

“Attempting to constantly control everyone and everything around you is not only exhausting…it is also futile. The only real power you can achieve in this life is being in control of yourself.”

― Anthon St. Maarten

So, let’s talk about the emotional intelligence competency of behavioral self-control as it relates to conflict. What is it, and how do you know if you’re doing well with it, or struggling?

Behavioral self-control simply means keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check. It’s not about not feeling certain emotions…or pretending they are not there…or stuffing them inside. It’s actually about fully feeling emotions — but not letting them have the driver’s seat. Instead, we feel them then choose how we want to behave.

A controlling nature

Trying to control others is a primary hurdle to developing behavioral self-control. If it’s always someone else’s fault, and if only you could make the _____ (fill in the blank), where is the space for you to look at your own areas of improvement to make a shift. You may be thinking, that’s not me — I don’t try to control others. What does a controlling personality look like? If you can answer yes to any of the following, you may be a bit of a controller:

  • I usually think I am right in most disagreements
  • It’s important for me to be right
  • I criticize others, either to their face or behind their back — or in my mind
  • I always have a better solution and offer it freely, even when not asked
  • I clearly see others’ faults, but don’t notice my own
  • I think things will be better if we do them my way
  • I’m often telling others what they should be doing vs. what they are doing
  • I have a hard time saying sorry (because I’m rarely wrong!)

[https://www.innerbonding.com/show-article/553/self-control-vs-controlling-self-and-others.html]

Sometimes having a controlling nature is a form of self-protection. Maybe you’ve experienced trauma where someone robbed you of your freedom or safety at one point in your life, and now, the only way to maintain any control is to control others. Controlling others may simply be a way to cope. If that’s the case, no shame. Seek the help of a professional therapist or counsellor if this resonates with you to further explore what’s going on.

“You always seek to control others when you are not in full ownership of yourself.”

― Cicely Tyson

Controlling rarely brings the relationship results we’re looking for. Instead, focus on something(one) you can control…yourself.

People who shine in behavioral self-control

People who are strong in behavioral self-control are good at managing their impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well. They stay composed, positive, and unflappable even in trying moments. They restrain negative reactions and stay focused under pressure. They are self-aware enough to maintain their stamina and performance in emotionally-charged situations. Instead of being a victim to tough circumstances, they choose not to escalate a problem when attacked, provoked, or aggressively confronted by another.

While there are some people who have mastered this, most of us struggle with one or more of the above. Which one of those would you like to improve upon? What benefits might you experience if you were to grow in that area? Which of your relationships would it positively effect?

Raven Ishak says, “While you may believe that you can control a lot in your life, the reality is that you really only have control over one thing: your emotions.”[https://www.bustle.com/articles/147204-6-ways-to-let-go-of-control-enjoy-life-more]

Think back on your last conflict. Which one of the above could have helped with the disagreement if you or the other person could have exercised more of it?

People lacking this competency

How can you tell if you struggle with behavioral self-control? You probably won’t be surprised, but those who could grow in this competency tend to:

  • React impulsively
  • Get involved in inappropriate situations because they can’t resist the temptation
  • Respond to problems in a non-constructive way (yelling, hurling insults, etc.)
  • Are quick to anger
  • Tend to be defensive
  • May become angry, depressed or agitated when faced with conflicts and stress on the job (may even think of quitting)

Again, no shame here. We all have areas in which we can grow. If you could choose one to work on first, which one would you choose and why?

Development tips

Self-awareness is the first step to developing stronger behavior self-control. Once you’ve identified an area (from the list above) you’d like to work on, make a list of things that cause you to “lose it” – your triggers or “hot buttons”. Note who pushes those buttons most. When is the next time you will be in contact with them? Then, write out a strategy to deal with each of these issues the next time they arise. If you’re struggling with ideas, consider enlisting the help of a social and emotional intelligence coach.

Having a plan of attack will help you to choose a more constructive response when issues come up in the future.

And while you do this, watch your self talk. That little voice in our head is really great at doing everything it can to justify poor behavior. Instead, tell yourself what it looks like to stay composed and calm. Describe to yourself what an optimal outcome would look like, and what you could do to achieve that. Then tell yourself you can do this.

That way, the next time you hear the phrase, “It takes two to tango”, you can make it about dancing, and not about conflict.

Accurate Self-Assessment

Article submitted by Amy Sargent

When you look into the mirror, who do you see? If someone was looking at your reflection with you, would they see the same thing(s) in you?

I’d like to think I have an accurate view of myself. I mean, I’m old, and I’ve lived with me for 50 some years now. You would think I would know myself well…and I do…in some aspects.

But, as we all do, I have a few blind spots. Blind spots are simply areas of life where others see us differently than we see ourselves. They often are aspects where we view ourselves stronger, higher, more adept, more suave, more competent — you fill in the blank — than what those around us see.

Know Thyself

Accurate self-assessment. What is it, and how can we know if we have it? It’s a competency of emotional intelligence, and one which is vital to building a healthy self-image and healthy relationships.

“What do you mean, Phib?” asked Miss Squeers, looking in her own little glass, where, like most of us, she saw – not herself, but the reflection of some pleasant image in her own brain.”

― Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

Accurate self-assessment is an inner awareness of your strengths and limitations, without ill-placed pride, and without shame. It’s also knowing how to utilize your strengths and improve in your areas of growth.

Are you self-aware about your self-awareness?

Ironically, many think they are self-aware when they are not. Organizational psychologist and researcher Tasha Eurich notes, “With thousands of people from all around the world, 95 percent of people believe that they’re self-aware, but only about 10 to 15 percent really are.” [https://trainingmag.com/why-most-people-lack-self-awareness-and-what-to-do-about-it]. Do you think you fall in the 95% or the 15%?

Eurich goes on to note, “At the office, we don’t have to look far to find unaware colleagues — people who, despite past successes, solid qualifications, or irrefutable intelligence, display a complete lack of insight into how they are coming across.”

You’re probably thinking of someone (or somemany!) right now.

A question to ask — if they were reading this, would they be thinking of you?

Healthy self-esteem

Research shows that accurate self-awareness builds healthy self-esteem by making us more proactive and encouraging positive self-development (Sutton, 2016). It allows us to experience pride in ourselves and our accomplishments (Silvia & O’Brien, 2004). It lends itself toward better decision making (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992), and can make us better at our jobs, better communicators in the workplace, and enhance our self-confidence and job-related wellbeing (Sutton, Williams, & Allinson, 2015). [https://positivepsychology.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/]

Qualities of a self-aware individual

People who are strong in this competency tend to do a lot of the following. Which one of these is your strength?

  • Reflective and learn from past experiences
  • Understand your potential
  • Recognize your strengths and capabilities
  • Welcome candid feedback
  • Are continually learning
  • See clearly your areas of growth
  • Admit you have blind spots
  • Are quick to ask for help from others
  • Have the ability to identify and target areas for improvement and change
  • Demonstrate a desire to improve

“Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well.”

― Naya Rivera

Healthy relationships

It’s also important we develop an acute self-awareness to experience successful relationships. In her thesis at Pepperdine University, Camille Fung concludes that “Self-awareness is positively correlated with self-acceptance and quality of interpersonal relationships. This means that self-acceptance and self-awareness tend to increase and decrease together and self-awareness and quality of relationships do the same.”
[https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/288853605.pdf]

Blind spots (those areas where your mirror doesn’t show you what you need to see)

If you’re not sure if you have a blind spot in accurate self-awareness, ask yourself, “How many of these behaviors show up for me on a daily or weekly basis?”

  • Tend to want to appear “right” in front of others
  • Fail to ask for help
  • Compete with others instead of cooperating
  • Exaggerate their own value and contribution
  • Set unrealistic, overly ambitious and unattainable goals for themselves and others
  • Push themselves hard, often at the expense of other parts of their lives
  • Push others hard
  • Tend to micromanage and take over instead of delegating (“if you want it done right. . . “)
  • Take credit for others’ efforts
  • Blame others for mistakes, even if they made them
  • Cannot admit mistakes or personal weaknesses
  • Can’t accept feedback or criticism

It’s normal to have blind spots, and it’s normal to have areas of accurate self-awareness which need improvement. Recognizing the area you want to do some work on is a great first step toward improvement. A brave next step would be to ask those closest to you, whether at work or at home, which of the above qualities do they notice showing up in you?

“It is good to see ourselves as others see us.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Again, it’s OK to have areas around accurate self-assessment which need some work. No shame. Welcome to the human race. However, once you’ve raised your self-awareness around areas of growth, there’s no need to keep repeating patterns which aren’t working for you, or others. The good news about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed and improved.

Take a moment to brainstorm ways you could do LESS of one of the above behaviors. Then give it a try with the next person you interact with. Then try it again…and again…and again, until it become a new habit.

Development tips

In Nick Wignall’s article, “5 Habits of Highly Self-Aware People”, he outlines five ways you can tell someone IS self-aware. These can serve as ideals or goals to work toward. Which of these would you like to develop in your own life?

  • They listen more than they talk.
  • They’re curious about their own minds.
  • They look for emotional blind spots.
  • They ask for feedback (and take it well).
  • They reflect on their values. [https://nickwignall.com/self-aware-people/

Choose one and focus on doing more of that for a few weeks. As with building any new habit, it will take time and repetition. Celebrate your successes along the way. Then keep going. After a few months, take some time to journal what you’ve learned, where you’ve improved and where you still need work. You can continue to focus on that one aspect, or pick a new one to work on. Then do it. And give yourself a little grace in the process. Not to burst your bubble, but you’ll never be perfect at this. The goal is to express more accurate self-assessment more of the time.

It helps to have someone helping you along the way. Consider enlisting the services of a social and emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you as you shift in a new direction.

Accurate self-assessment and our world view

And accurate self-assessment not only applies to our view of ourselves, but our view of the world in which we live. I’m continually surprised when sharing my perspective on something, which is absolutely clear — and right! — in my mind, only to discover it’s completely different than what the next person is thinking. Same events, different perspectives.  How could that be? Which is right? Which is wrong? Could I possibly be missing?

Yes, I could. And also, I could also be right. Possibly a better question to ask is, “Can opposing views coexist in reality, each containing aspects of accuracy?” If yes, then it may be a combination of our accurate self-view and the perspective of others which bring us closer to awareness and truth.

Evolved EQ

Article and graphic submitted by guest author Joni Roylance

The journey to “achieving” Emotional Intelligence is a long one, and I have yet to meet anyone who says they have finished that journey. In other words, it’s an ever-evolving set of skills and qualities that are a direct response to the current culture, needs, and expectations of the American workforce.

The past almost two years in the workplace have been life changing for all of us, culture shaping for many companies, and have resulted in different expectations that talent has of their formal and informal leadership going forward. This infographic highlights some of the key shifts of what used to be acceptable EQ versus the elevated expectations of 2021 and beyond.

Please let us know your thoughts!