More tips to improve your EQ

More tips to improve your EQ

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a skill set that you can always benefit from growth, and it’s one of the few areas in which you don’t experience a ceiling as far as capability. We’ve covered the foundations of leadership on shows 145-149 and you can find many resources for supporting your EQ here.  Today we’ll give you even more tips to help you continue to drive for further growth.

Run toward conflict instead of away from it


Conflict, like a sunset, is inevitable.  You can’t prevent conflict from happening in your work or personal life any more than you can prevent the sun from dipping below the horizon. As a leader of people and leader over an area of responsibility, you’ll better serve your team and the business by courageously stepping toward a conflict and addressing it early. 

It’s certainly not an instinct that everyone possesses. You’ll find leaders or co-workers who are passive-aggressive or conflict-adverse. The troubles only build up for those folks as the problem or situation further deteriorates. As you stand out from the crowd in your leadership (and EQ) skills, approach the conflict with active listening skills to understand the other person to get to a positive and agreed-upon resolution.

Be mindful of communicating outside of work hours


Email Ugency Bias is a phenomenon caused at least in part by the fact that response speed has increasingly become a proxy for dedication and hard work. It’s the feeling, whether it’s warranted or not, that you need to get back to the other person ASAP. This can also be heavily influenced by who the person is or what the role is. 

An emotionally intelligent leader realizes this and considers their communication with others outside of working hours in order to not impede on their downtime and help to encourage a healthy work/life balance. Include expectations with those who have a tendency to get back to you no matter the hour or struggle with prioritization. 

“Please don’t feel the need to respond today. We can talk about it on (X Date).”

“I know you have a busy morning tomorrow, so if you can get back to me by the end of the day that would be great.”

“We’re presenting next Friday, so let me know this week what you think.”

Even if you do this, there are going to be some folks who are just wired to ignore your date and next it back to you as soon as possible. The implication is that it doesn’t matter what you say, if you send messages during off hours, you’ll be denying those people a chance to connect. Leverage scheduling your emails or have them in your drafts to send after it’s time to get back to working hours again.

Show a willingness to share what you are feeling

Some leaders are just not comfortable expressing their emotions to those that they work with. While this doesn’t give the person a free pass to be unprofessional and succumb to outbursts and fits of rage, it does mean that you show up as your honest and true self. In your environment, this may mean sharing both the good news and the bad. It also means celebrating the wins while acknowledging the tough days and losses. 

Our fears, insecurity, internal visual of what a leader looks like, and uncertainty in direction can all put up barriers As a result, we put on a facade that hides who we truly are. Help strengthen your emotional intelligence by taking small steps here to open yourself up to others. 

You can find a deeper dive into this topic at How Transparency Helps Your Team and Career (Show 305)

Stay mindful of your pace


As leaders, we are often action-oriented. Do the thing and do it now! I’m often the same way. I’d rather knock something out than need to go back later and follow up on additional items. While that action-orientated stance can be very beneficial in eliminating additional meetings as well as freeing up time for your future self, it often serves you well to pause and not immediately respond to external stimuli. 

Those that pause before responding to those external stimuli, think email, messages, complaints, or even good things like opportunities, will often come out with the upper hand. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate that slower reaction times give them space to be more strategic in their thoughts and protect them from emotional knee-jerk reactions. 

Continue to hone your emotional intelligence skills to bring better balance into your work/life rhythm, and a healthier environment for yourself and those that you serve. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Habits to improve your EQ

Habits to improve your EQ

Emotional intelligence is one of those universally needed skills that transcend industries, leadership levels, and educational backgrounds. Everyone benefits from having stronger EQ skills as they navigate relationships with others as well as how they manage much needed self-care. 

Today, we’ll cover some tips to help you dial in and strengthen your EQ skills in your day-to-day interactions with others. 

Learn to rehearse what you’ll say


We all have unique quirks that we are not aware of, especially when it comes to how we verbally communicate. Emotionally intelligent people have a good understanding of this and are mindful to understand what their quirks are and are intentionally building in new phrases as a habit to connect with and inspire emotions. 

A common phrase that people use as others share hardships or challenges that they are going through is “I know how you feel.” There may be positive intent in the statement, but the phrase doesn’t convey understanding like you may think that it does; it communicates completion. “I’ve heard and acknowledged you. Now let’s move on.”

To take the response to the next level you may say something like, “I hear you and I think what you are saying is …..” This shows that you are actively engaged with the person and gives them a chance to correct your understanding or continue the conversation. 

Positive intent is great, but without putting thought into how you communicate, you may never reach your goal of having a meaningful connection.

Learn to leverage the 5 whys technique on yourself


Self-awareness blind spots don’t conform to levels of leadership or personality profiles. Everyone has them in some form or another. Going back to your childhood, when you were wide-eyed and full of curiosity about the world around you, ask yourself the question “Why?” as you reflect on your motives, desires, needs, and actions. 

Sure, you could answer the first “Why?” fairly superficially, but that’s why you leverage the power of the 5 Whys Technique which says basically that you can get to the root of any problem or concern by asking the question “Why?” as a response to quickly get to the root of the matter. 

  1. Why do I want that new role?
  2. I want the title, extra benefits and pay that go with the role. (Ok, why is that?)
  3. The pay would help relieve the pressure at home and I really want to be a director. (Why is that?)
  4. It validates my hard work and who I am to others. (Why is that important?)
  5. I have a high desire for affirmation and recognition.

And there it is. In 5 whys we got down to the root of the personal situation and a view into our own self-awareness. If you use this technique on yourself and you can’t articulate a compelling answer then it is likely a sign you are misaligned with what you are trying to accomplish or it’s an unexplored area of self-awareness that you may need to take more time to reflect on. 

Stay mindful of your pace


As leaders, we are often action-oriented. Do the thing and do it now! I’m often the same way. I’d rather knock something out than need to go back later and follow up on additional items. While that action-orientated stance can be very beneficial in eliminating additional meetings as well as freeing up time for your future self, it often serves you well to pause and not immediately respond to external stimuli. 

Those that pause before responding to those external stimuli, think email, messages, complaints, or even good things like opportunities, will often come out with the upper hand. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate that slower reaction times give them space to be more strategic in their thoughts and protect them from emotional knee-jerk reactions. 

End connections with gratitude

The feeling and demeanor that you leave a conversation with is often what others hold on to. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence know this and often go out of their way to find something they can express gratitude for, toward the end of every conversation. Some examples may include:


Easy examples:
“I really enjoyed our time together today.”  “Thank you for taking the time to talk.” “I really appreciate your feedback and will use it to help influence how we move forward.”


Tough examples
: “Thanks for listening and understanding.” “Thank you for coming around to my way of thinking.” “I appreciate the compromise here.” These all build a bridge halfway to the other person but aren’t necessarily a feel-good moment that someone wants to build the other half back with you.

Take it to the next level: Learn to express thanks for something you know the other side will agree with, rather than something that might trigger an undesired emotional reaction. In tough conversations it may look like, “I know this wasn’t comfortable to talk about, but I really appreciate the opportunity for us to come together here. I’m going to take your feedback and get you the resources that you need by ( agreed upon date).”

If this isn’t a regular practice for you, be mindful to insert this sentiment as you close out the conversation. Those virtual meetings with a flurry of goodbyes at the end are a great place to begin to step into this behavior. Are you going to stand out with your gratitude as everyone else goodbye? Probably not, but you are putting it into practice, and that helps build repetition and behavior change. 

Growing your emotional intelligence is a process that is a journey as opposed to a course that you become certified in once you complete the training. Continue to work on practical ways to grow your EQ to make you a more impactful leader to those around you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

A reminder of what you can’t control

A reminder of what you can’t control

Have you ever warned yourself out mentally thinking about a person, situation, or change that you ultimately have no control over? Maybe a better way to phrase the question is not how, but how often! Growing through and letting go of those things that you can’t control can be challenging and cause you anxiety, and stress, and can ultimately derail your day, month, year, or life if you let it take too much of a hold on you. 

Today we’ll dive into a few reminders of those things that you can not control in order to let them go and move forward in a healthy way. 

The past


As obvious as it sounds, you can’t control the past. Nevertheless, others and perhaps yourself will shackle the past to a person or relationship that can become an unbearable burden. Sometimes that may be justified; think of abusive relationships or all-around toxic relationships (Show 205). Other times, you need to move past the past so you can have a better future. 

For those that hold the past against you: The other person will always have the choice and power to hold on to your past or let it go. The best that you can do is continue to show how you’ve grown and matured. Be sure to check out our recommended steps for turning around a bad reputation. (Show 174)

If you hold on to the past yourself: Freeing yourself from the past can be extremely challenging depending on the situation. I’ve talked to and coached people who have been recovering addicts, close combat veterans, people who have contemplated and survived suicidal thoughts, and others who have had a really rough path to travel. If you carry a heavy burden, get help through a professional counselor, psychiatrist, or other trusted and certified avenues to help you get back on track. Remember to give yourself some grace and don’t try too hard (Show 136)

Sometimes when we think about the past we focus on what we could have done differently. That’s good to a point. Use that reflection to grow towards the future, but to get stuck at that moment in the past is not beneficial for you or anyone else. 

Other people’s actions and choices


I’ll say that this one got me for a good portion of my early leadership days. I struggled with people who I had invested in and given all the tools to be successful, but only throw those tools away and set themselves back through poor choices in both the leadership and life walk. 

Giving the person the support and tools to be successful is in your control. How a person uses (or doesn’t) use the tools is totally up to them and fully out of your control. Know that you did your best and remind yourself of the work that you put in to reassure yourself when others make poor choices. 

If you still have interaction with a person that falls into this scenario, be respectful and cordial in the conversation. Share your concerns if you have a level of trust with the other person, but don’t carry an expectation on yourself that you have to redeem or restore that person. 

What others think or feel… especially about us. 


We typically put a high value on what others think of us, even those that we have no relationship with at all. We can hyper-focus on what a person thinks of us or how they feel based on our own insecurities and need to be validated. If you find yourself consumed with thoughts about the other person, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How much control do I have over the other person liking me?
  • How helpful is the time spent thinking about this person?
  • Does all this time and mental effort thinking about the other person add any value back to me?

If you answer no, then think about the things that you can control. What can you do to keep refining to make a better version of yourself?

Change


People love their comfort and safety! There are few things guaranteed in life, but change is certainly one of them. Change is easy to see. Think about the you from a year ago and no doubt you can see change both good and bad that has occurred since then. 

You cannot stop change, no matter how much we may want to at times. What we can control, however, is how we deal with change. Check out our tips on navigating change and conflict. (Show 295) steps to futureproof your success (Show 182)

Lean into those areas that you can control as you navigate relationships with others and as you continue to build a better you for the future. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

What to do when you are thrown under the bus

What to do when you are thrown under the bus

Being suddenly thrown under the proverbial bus is one of the worst feelings there is in a working relationship. It’s the sense of being betrayed by someone that you likely had some level of trust built with for their own gain. Perhaps you were blamed for something that you didn’t do, or they broke your confidence to share sensitive info, or perhaps they embarrassed you in front of others to make themselves look better.  Whatever the reason, you’ve likely experienced it a time or two or you will most certainly experience it as you continue your professional journey. 

You’ve been thrown under the bus, now what?


The thing about being thrown under the bus is that it always comes unexpectedly and suddenly. Perhaps you align with your work partner only for them to say that they totally disagree with your position after reading the room. That initial sting can send you swirling in many different mental directions at one time. 

In the moment:

  • Let your EQ save you: This is another great work example where a strong EQ  (EQ series starting at Ep 145) will swoop in and save you from any further damage. Do your best to instantly react, especially in a public setting. Let the emotions wash through you and then begin to react in a way that reflects well on you. In some situations, you may only have a few seconds while other times, you’ll have more than enough time. 

  • Save face by taking the high road. It’s ok to say that whatever the other person said or did was a surprise to you and that you need some time to process and reflect. Offering the take the conversation offline in a meeting environment can take the heat off for now and keep the meeting moving forward as well. 

After the incident:

  • Accept that this has happened and move forward:  It can be hard to obsess about the incident… besides, you’ve likely been wronged and it can feel very personal as you continue to unpack in your mind how everything unfolded. At the end of the day, there is nothing that can be done to take the incident back. It happened. Mentally acknowledge that it happened, remind yourself that it does not lower the value that you see in yourself as a person, and begin to move to the next steps for closure and growth. 

  • Get to the truth and root of the incident: Instead, of trying to find solace and validation with others, approach the other person who threw you under the bus after the incident and ask what happened. It’s fair for you to seek clarity and understanding of the reasoning behind their decision. Be mentally prepared because this conversation can go many different ways:
    • They may reveal their true colors and were never an ally to begin with
    • They may have acted impulsively and are regretful
    • They may not have the self-awareness to even realize what they did was wrong and hurtful

  • Don’t retaliate: It may be tempting to volley back resentment and anger or even worse, plot your revenge against the other person. Remember your values (EP 357 EP 358) and avoid this at all costs. You’ll have more productive ways to deal with the person based on the things that you learned from the experience. 

Learn and grow from the experience


The shock of a break in trust can be difficult to overcome, in fact, it’s one of our highest searched subjects on the internet. Trust is certainly one of the lessons that I learn during the times that someone has thrown me under the bus – specifically how far my trust can go with the other person going forward. I would rarely fully write the person off, but I certainly reframed the relationship and became much more mindful of what I said or did around the person. 

I’ve had others share with me that the lesson that they learned is that they trusted others too much. While I get where the person is coming from with this kind of statement, my experience has shown me that that kind of attitude and become the building block to a fundamental change in their leadership behavior in a negative way. You can’t stop trusting others because you’ve been burned. 

Another way to gain insight from being thrown under the bus is to reflect back and understand some of the behaviors that may have been indicators that the person was capable of what they did. Some of those include: 

  • Trying to take credit for things that they did not do
  • A lack of reciprocating information about themselves
  • A lack of showing vulnerability in their role
  • Statements like “It’s not personal”

Being thrown under the bus is never fun and can really hurt, especially if it comes from a friend or close colleague. Represent yourself well during the stinging moment, seek clarity, learn from the incident and move forward. You’ll build a character trait that will serve you well as you continue on your professional journey. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Inclusive Leadership – Part 2

Inclusive Leadership – Part 2

Check out part one here!

The journey to becoming more inclusive is so rewarding on a personal level. There is personal joy and satisfaction as you see yourself grow and mature and this area is typically ripe for personal and professional growth.  

Today we are going to focus on actions that you can take as an individual and as a team to ensure that everyone feels valued and has a voice, feel valued, and want to stay around for a long time. 

Actions to take as an inclusive leader


It’s hard to have an inclusive team if you are an inclusive leader yourself. Even if you are that type of leader, your leadership will fall flat unless others see, feel, and understand it from you. Here are some personal actions to take as an inclusive leader. 

  • Seek out differences. Curiosity is a trait that many organizations look for in great leaders. It shows that they have a growth mindset and are unlikely to fall into a sense of arrival in their career. Curiosity also lowers overall risk across the leadership board. Get to know those that are on the edge of your network. Spend time with those that you interact with quite a bit, but don’t know so well. Look for the quiet ones in the room and take time to understand their perspective. Seek out individuals that are different that you to gain a larger worldview. 

  • Be present and tell your story. To lead a potentially large change, you need to be present in that change. You’ll gain more buy-in from those that you are looking to convince if they see that you are invested and involved yourself. Tell a compelling story and why it is important to you. Share the impact that your own personal journey has had on you and share the success stories of others (If they are ok with that) to help others see the vision. 

  • Understand your own inclusive shadow. Being an inclusive leader holds little value if you are the only one that thinks you are inclusive. Seek feedback from those that are different from you in their opinion. Do they see you as an advocate and supporter? Check-in with those that you trust and value as well. Doing this helps you find those blind spots that you have. It’s like you are both underestimating and overestimating different parts of how you lead yourself and others. 

  • Learn your impact. At the end of the day, what is your impact on others? Are you being emulated by others? Do you see some effort or behavior change that you didn’t see before? Are you being welcomed into more diverse groups that you were not previously a part of? Are people looking for your direction when it comes to inclusion? Seek a mentor or advisor on who to keep improving. 

Whether you are trying to change a small team or a very complex organization, you are more of an influence than you often give yourself credit for. Strengthen your own leadership skills in this area, so that you can lift others up. 

Actions to take as an inclusive team and organization


Thinking about your current state around inclusion may be daunting as you think about future possibilities. Start small. Here are some actions that you can take to help your people, team, and organization be more inclusive. 

  • Recognize that it is a journey, not a race. When you tackle inclusion, you are taking others through a journey where they likely will need to challenge their own biases and self-awareness. That’s a huge change in and of itself, without even considering the programmatic, and potential policy changes that need to be made. Keep at it and don’t get discouraged by early setbacks. 

  • Include the most impactful leaders. Many people automatically assume that the top leaders are the most impactful. They are in terms of strategy, but your middle managers are the ones that bring that strategy to life. Prioritize these leaders as you begin the journey. Include them in the process and leverage this group for advocates and early adopters. This will increase your likelihood of lasting change and accelerate your efforts toward your goal. 

  • Leverage data to tell your story. I absolutely love using data to tell the story of what the opportunity is and to celebrate the progress that has been made around an issue. Leaders can often rely on their perception or feelings when it comes to inclusion, “I feel like we are a pretty inclusive group and everyone is treated the same and welcome.” Dig in and gather data on the current state of the team. The data will often write the story itself around what the opportunities are. Be sure to listen to the show today for some examples of how to leverage data in a real way when storytelling. 

  • Pay attention to diverse associates and customers. Your diverse population has a higher likelihood of leaving the team when they don’t feel like they belong and are being heard. Tap into their life experience and their professional experience in the organization to understand what some of those nuanced and obvious points are that the group needs to work on. Also including them on the journey assures them that you aren’t simply paying lip service to change, but that you are truly invested in a new future together. 

Being a more inclusive leader has several benefits. You’ll be a more effective leader, the legacy you leave behind will be stronger and your company will be more relevant and profitable as a result. Take the steps today to help others become wildly successful in their roles. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH