Today’s episode offers some practical tips you can implement today on how to improve your emotional intelligence. Even if you think you have it under control, I recommend that you visit these tips and choose one to practice this week.
In last week’s episode of the Leader to Leader podcast, I talked about rating your level of emotional intelligence on a scale of zombie to Oprah. If you missed it, go back and take a listen to Episode 64. The old adage is appropriate here: sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. So, how do you keep from being one of those who “opens mouth and inserts foot?” Well, I promised you that I would come back this week with some practical advice.
Think Before You Speak
I always think it’s a good idea to contemplate what you are about to say BEFORE you say it. It’s obvious advice, but there have been so many examples of this recently and how it works really well. Take a listen to Episode 62 where I share how Fran Hauser did exactly this and took action in a situation I hope none of you ever find yourself in.
This might be the most important thing you can do. We don’t often get the opportunity to evaluate our words in hindsight before they come out of our mouths (unless you have a time machine). But that’s exactly what you need to do: think about how what you are about to say might be interpreted.
Emotional Quotient Or Intelligence Quotient
There is a lot of content on the interwebs regarding emotional quotient or emotional intelligence. You will find one of it’s biggest proponents, Daniel Goleman, often facing off against those who hold to an IQ over EQ position – people like Adam Grant are squarely in this camp. Regardless of whether you think EQ over IQ or IQ over EQ, you can’t argue against the practical nature of raising your emotional intelligence. You don’t have to stay stuck where you’re at!
Carey Nieuwhof is a fantastic leader. Carey says your EQ explains why:
- Relationship quality
- Career progression
5 Emotional Intelligence Tips
He recently offered five emotional intelligence tips in a blog post that I thought was pretty succinct and practical. It’s important to remember that none of us have arrived. The most emotionally intelligent among us have room to grow. I know that when I evaluate my EQ shortcomings, I can become discouraged. We have all blown it.
Today, I want you to identify an EQ strength and think about one thing you can do to improve it.
Become A Student Of How You Impact Others
I love the question Carey asks: “What happens when you walk into a room?”
Do people tense up? Or do they seem nervous? Does the room go silent? Can you see a look of disdain on their face? Why is that? What if instead, they are happy to see you? Like all of sudden, you see their faces light up! It’s clear that they are sincerely glad you are there. Maybe relaxed or confident. As I describe some of those reactions, can you picture them on the faces of your peers or team?
When you walk in, do things improve or degrade?
Carey recommends asking people “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” Be ready for the answer to the question and don’t get defensive – that’s a recipe for disaster if you want to grow emotional intelligence. Do it openly, and honestly. Don’t be defensive. Just listen.
Your team, your family, your peers need permission to call you out on bad behavior. If you get angry when someone questions your demeanor, then you are going to shut people down versus having them open up to you. You will have to be intentional and ask frequently for their input.
Your willingness to change (at work or at home) is your secret weapon!
Protect Others From Your Moods
I can remember as a child that I could talk to my Dad or my Mom about anything…if they were in the right mood. You can bet that before I tried out the discussion topic, I tested the waters to see what the temperature was first! Your team, your wife, your children are no different. Don’t make them afraid of what they are going to encounter from you or you will find NO ONE comes to you.
Ginger has to remind me frequently that whatever I’m stressing about isn’t her fault. This happened just today before I recorded this episode. I was trying to tell her about some financing options I had been comparing and she was having trouble hearing me…so what did I do? I got snotty…yep, just like a little baby. I’m TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING IMPORTANT!
Knowing that you are blowing it (or have blown it!) is really important. Asking for forgiveness or apologizing when you’ve messed up is important. But you know what’s more important? Stopping it before it happen. Carey calls it self-regulating – “Self-regulating leaders realize that just because they’re upset, they don’t need to take it out on the people around them—at work or at home.”
Stop Blaming Others
Now you won’t be surprised or even challenge my statement if I say that you should take responsibility for your actions. Your hair might bristle a bit if I tell you to take responsibility for your team’s actions.
When was the last time you threw someone under the bus when you could have taken responsibility for the failure? Or when was the last time you didn’t own up to your mistake?
Be honest with yourself now: when things go wrong, do you shoulder the blame or look for someone to blame? Carey says that blame is the opposite of taking responsibility. He said that his team has heard him say “I’m the leader. I’m responsible.” a 1,000 times.
Has your team ever heard you say that?
Now think about the outcome when your team sees you take the fall for their mistake. This is powerful. When you lead by example, your team members are going to step up and own their mistakes. They aren’t going to abandon you – they will fight for, and with, you. If, on the other hand, you throw them under the bus, what do you think will happen when they have the opportunity?
Drop The Excuses
I live about a five-minute drive from the office. For the last 10 years, I’ve been extremely fortunate to not have to have the variable of traffic to consider when getting to the office (or home) at a particular time. I can never use traffic as an excuse for being late.
When I have to make a drive downtown (which can take 40 mins to an hour depending on traffic conditions), you can bet that I have to plan differently. Over the last several months, I’ve had to be downtown at specific times. Sometimes they were meetings that I was hosting, other times they were meetings where I was a required attendee, and others where no one had any expectation of me. In each case, I left EARLY, earlier than I had to, so I could be sure to arrive on time. No excuses.
We use a system for safety at work that we call TRACK. It’s an acrostic where the ‘T’ stands for think through the task. ‘R’ is recognize the hazards. ‘A’ is assess the risks. ‘C’ is control the hazards and ‘K’ is keep safety first. When it comes to the ‘C’ for controlling the hazards, your best bet is ALWAYS to engineer the hazard out of the equation. It’s the preferred option so no one in the organization will ever have to deal with that hazard again!
Think about your tendency for excuses like the ‘C’ in TRACK. Control it by engineering a solution that prevents you from having to come up with an excuse. If you’re a procrastinator, the engineered solution is to start your work earlier before it’s due. If you do your best work at night, the engineered solution is to save your energy for those most important tasks of your day for the evening.
Carey says “Poor leaders make excuses. Good leaders make progress.” And you can’t do both.
Don’t Sink To Their Level
This is a hard one especially if you have been wronged or wrongly accused/blamed. Carey says that a hallmark of emotionally intelligent leaders is their refusal to take shots—cheap or otherwise. When the dialogue sinks to a low level, they take the high road.
Here’s my favorite Careyism: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” He may not have originated it, but I’ve heard him say it many times and it’s true. Avoid it at all costs.
You will be wrongly accused. You will be treated unjustly. There will be times when you get a raw deal or the short end of the stick. Let it go. You don’t have to attack someone to defend yourself. Your body of work will do that for you.
To recap, be a student of your impact on others, protect your team and family from your moods, stop blaming others, drop the excuses, don’t sink to their level (or more vividly, don’t wrestle the pigs!).
Great Quotes From Carey Nieuwhof In This Episode:
“Self-regulating leaders realize that just because they’re upset, they don’t need to take it out on the people around them—at work or at home.”
“I’m the leader. I’m responsible.”
“Poor leaders make excuses. Good leaders make progress.”
“Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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