Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

#Ep. 74 How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

November 02, 2023 Jean Balfour Season 2 Episode 74
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
#Ep. 74 How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
Show Notes Transcript

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively. It is no longer considered a soft skill—it's a critical competency for us all - both individual contributors and leaders. Higher EQ has been shown to improve job performance significantly including higher sales, increased productivity and reduced stress. 

In this podcast Jean Balfour shares practical strategies to help you:

  • Understand why being emotionally intelligent is critical 
  • Learn the 4 components of emotional intelligence
  • Develop strategies for building emotional intelligence

Download Guidebook for strategies to build your self-management skills:

To read blog on emotional intelligence and future of work, read here:

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i intro intro Hi, everyone, and welcome to Making Sense of Work. We've been talking about emotional intelligence and the impact it has on our lives, on our working lives for decades now. And yet I still meet people who are not really sure what it is. And more importantly, we'd like some guidance on how to develop it, how to deepen it. So in today's podcast, I'm going to open the door on what we really mean by emotional intelligence or EQ and share practical ideas for how to deepen this. To support you in this, we've created a practical guide on how to build your self management, which is one of the parts of emotional intelligence, and we will put this on our website, on the blog's page, and also put a link in the show notes, and you can go there and download a free resource. Daniel Goleman was the person who brought the emotional intelligence to our attention in about 1995 with his book, Emotional Intelligence. But in fact, he wasn't the founder of it. Two researchers began to talk about it, Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and then he picked it up. And then since then, our understanding of EQ and why it matters has grown enormously. For example, when emotional intelligence was first talked about, we believed that self awareness was the most important part. But as time has gone on and research has gone on, we've understood more that social awareness is really critical and goes hand in hand. After all, there's no point in being self aware if we're not socially aware. So, emotional intelligence is really key to help us to be effective in our working lives and I believe, actually, in our personal lives. And Goldman defined it as the capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others and to manage emotions effectively in ourselves and in our relationships. I think this is a beautiful definition and a very tall order. I am going to share how I think emotional intelligence and developing our emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey. It's not something we do once, it's something we keep doing. Because if we're going to do those things he talks about, to recognize our feelings, recognize others, manage our emotions and be effective in our relationships. That's going to take some work and it's very important work. We're seeing that EQ matters more now than ever with the growth of AI and the shifting nature of work. There's a lot of discussion about what the future of work looks like, but there's little agreement about what the future of work looks like, except about empathy. All of the studies, all of the research studies put empathy is the number one skill that leaders and individuals will need moving forward. And of course, empathy sits within emotional intelligence, and I believe therefore makes it more important than ever. If we want to develop and deepen our EQ, we need to understand it, and there have been four key factors that are described about what it is, and there are then guides for how we can develop it, and I'm going to go through each of those four and share with you some insights on how to develop them. They are self awareness, Self awareness, social awareness, self management, and relationship management. The first two, self awareness and self management, are about me, they're about my internal world, and social awareness and relationship management are about how I relate to people outside of me. So it's both an inside job and an outside job, and as I've said, I'll share more about each of these. So let's start with self awareness. The definition of self awareness in the EQ world is that we are able to recognise and understand our moods, our emotions, our drives, as well as understanding the effect these have on others. So it's not just that I know myself, it's that I know how I'm impacting others. And what we see is that when we have good self awareness, we become more self confident because we can realistically self assess. So if I can say, I'm good at this, I'm not good at this, or this is how I see myself, this isn't, we're more able to see ourselves as we are. We're able to laugh at ourselves and we're able to be really clear about our strengths and our weaknesses. What I've noticed in myself is that as I've deepened my self awareness, I've found it easier to take feedback. Because when I get feedback now, I think, okay, that relates to that part of me, that connects to this part of me, and I can make sense of it, and it comes out of that deepening self awareness that I've been on in this, really commitment to knowing myself. There are also layers of ourselves, and my own experience is that we uncover these as we go through life. It's not a one step thing, and so we need to be really curious about how we do that. An example of this is about... How self awareness is about our values. our values impact so much of how we live our lives, how we lead, how we are led, and they have such an important impact on us. Let me give you an example of that. We all have different relationships to time, and my value is about time. might be different from your values about time. And if I'm not aware of my values, say my value is that I think it's important to be on time for things, then I may impact you because of how I relate to you in that. So if it's important for me to be on time and you turn up late, I might be really triggered by that. But your value might be that you were with somebody and you didn't want to walk away until you'd finished the conversation. You were honoring your time with them. So this is a little example of how understanding our values is really key to a good EQ. But not just that, it's also about beliefs, emotions, drivers, it's about triggers, the rules we live by, it's about our self talk, it's about an awareness of what's happening to us and how we are able, therefore, to name it, to see it for how it is. And I have some strategies that I use with coaching clients to help them to deepen their self awareness and I thought I'd share them with you. The first is to set a timer for two or three times a day and when the timer goes off to pause and stop and just run through some questions. What's going on with me now? What am I feeling? What am I thinking? Uh, what am I doing? How am I behaving? If I'm with people, how am I speaking? If I'm working, how am I approaching my work? So just really to stop and tune in to ourselves. Journaling, of course, can help with this and you can use specific questions like, what am I thinking right now. One of the things that I've noticed when I've done this is that when I pause, there's often a kind of thinking pattern that's running on autopilot at the back of my brain and I'm not noticing it and then when I stop and notice it, I notice that that thinking pattern It's actually having an impact on lots of things. It's impacting how I feel, it's impacting how my body is, it's impacting how I am with others, and it's impacting how I work. And of course it could be a joyous thought and feeling, and it could also be the inner critic. talking to us. And it's bringing that into my awareness, becoming aware of it, that then gives me a choice about how I do that. Another exercise you can do with a coach or with a friend is just to literally say everything that comes to mind, every thought, feeling, belief, concept, and just say it. Okay. And then there's this. And there's this, and there's this. And if you're with a friend, you could do it in a peer way. So you could do it each way. When you do it, don't censor it. Just let it all come up. Of course, mindfulness in the, helps All of the areas of emotional intelligence and especially I think with self awareness because when we're able to be in the present moment, we're more able to bring up what it is that we're thinking and feeling another thing that you can do. is decide to go into a situation and to really heighten your awareness in that situation. So, for example, if you have a meeting that you go to that you quite often come away from feeling a bit agitated, next time you go to that meeting, Listen to the meeting with one ear, but with the other ear, listen into yourself. Notice what your thoughts are happening in the meeting. Notice maybe any tension, maybe breathing sensations, your reactions to others. How are they reacting to you? Anything, look out for your own judgments. Often when I'm doing this, I spot judgments and I think, oh, that's not helping me here. Notice your feelings, anything that's happening in that meeting. Just notice them and if it's appropriate, jot them down or just become aware of them. Of course, another strategy is we can ask for feedback and insights, and I've recorded podcasts about feedback. So you can ask a trusted friend or someone that you know will be really honest with you to say, you know, where do you see me being strongly self aware and where do you see any blind spots I have? So really it's about focusing on deepening our self awareness. The second of the internal pieces is self management and I think this may be the hardest of all the four. Because this is about our ability to control and redirect our impulses. It's about acting before we think and suspending judgment and being careful about what we say. And the second of the internal pieces is self management. I think maybe this is the hardest of all the four because it's about our ability To control and redirect our impulses. It's about thinking before we act. It's about suspending any judgment before we act on that judgment. And this is really about us not being too impulsive and finding the space to choose how we are. When we think about self management, I think we often think about people who are loud, pit like me, perhaps, who cry or. are emotional, angry, but I also think it's impulsive behaviors for people who are lean towards being drawn inwards to withdraw when they're experiencing this to move inwards to escape or to look for ways of escaping. And the more we can see our capacity in this, the better we are. To control it because we need to be able to manage it. It's, it's really about having emotional flexibility and self-control, and the deeper our self-management becomes, the more we can trust ourselves to be good in situations. We need to be good in. I love this quote from Victor Frankl, which many of you will know between the stimulus and our response. There is a space. And in this space is our power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and freedom. For me, self management is about learning to find the space. It's to widen the gap between when I'm triggered and how I respond to it. When I am in a period of prolonged stress, so I'm likely not be responding well, I work out how to calm myself so that I can respond well. And in my own life, I, you know, I am an emotional person. I am a quite a, I, Some would describe a little volatile at times, and I've learned to find that space. I've learned to see, oh, something's triggered me, wait a minute, and I can then choose how I am. And I've got better and better at it. I'm not perfect, and those around me will know that. But I am working on it hard, because when we're triggered, we're not really in self management. When we're triggered, we're often in our fight, flight, freeze place, and when we're in that place, we're not operating at our best. So one of the ways I think we can learn self management is to start by finding a way to calm, to get back into our rest and repair state, into the parasympathetic nervous system, to be able to think clearly. and behave appropriately and I'm going to do two things here. One is I'm going to talk a little bit about triggers because this is what causes us I think often to not self manage and then also give you a couple of strategies for learning when you're triggered how to self manage. Here's a little example for me. I have a very strong value about honesty and that means that I trust that what people are saying to me is true and I also expect them to trust me. So I expect them to understand that what I'm saying I'm pretty sure is true. So I've learned over the years that if I'm in a situation where somebody questions what I'm saying, it can be a trigger for me straight out of the gate. And I can go from low up to 60 pretty quickly. And a good example of this is if I'm navigating and somebody else is driving, I'm a good navigator. I learned to navigate when I was young. I read maps well. And if I say turn left and the driver says to me, Are you sure? I'm instantly triggered. It's just so weird and I'm instantly like, how dare you question whether I'm right or wrong? And this is ridiculous. reaction to a question. Somebody's just checking. They're the driver. They have every right. They are the one turning left. They want to know they're going in the right direction, but I really overreact. Once I learned that this was a trigger for me, I did begin to find the space. I began to notice the trigger and not react so badly. I could still feel the kind of tension internally. I can still feel it at times. But I know I don't have to react now. I don't have to go off the deep end. I can stay quiet and calm. I can feel my discomfort. I can breathe into it and say, yes, really, we need to turn left here. So it's really good for us to think about what are the things that take us out of being in a good state. and into this gripped and not so good state, so that we can learn to find that pause, to get better at it. Of course, this links back to self awareness, but it's also about self management. There's a list of the triggers on the handout that you can find on the blog on our website, so you can have a look at those and see which of those might be relevant for you. And here's what to do when you find yourself in that situation, where you can feel everything rising up within you. You're a bit triggered and you're really concerned that you're going to overreact. How do we get back to equilibrium so that we can respond in a way so that we come out of the situation feeling good about ourselves and not feeling shame for how we behaved? And for me, the best way of this is grounding. It's about bringing myself back into my body, back into the present moment. It's sometimes called dropping anchor because it's about anchoring yourself. So have a go at it now. Just wherever you are, you may be standing or sitting, start by noticing your feet on the floor. Notice where they are. How does the floor feel? How do they feel? And then Notice your body. If you're sitting, be aware of your body in the chair. Notice the chair beneath you. Maybe the back of the chair. Notice where your head is. Become aware of your breath. Don't change it. Just notice it. And maybe just sit with this for a minute. Then you can look around and see what you see. What do you notice? Get really specific. See if you can find three things that are orange that you can see now. Or what can you hear in your environment? What are the noises around you? Then come back to your feet and notice your feet on the floor. I wonder if you noticed a shift even as we did that very quickly. This is something you can do anywhere. If you feel yourself knowing that you're not in the best place, just connect back into your body. It is grounding. Your feet on the floor is a very powerful thing. Breathing is powerful. Blow out air. Come back into that space. Now, that may work for you, grounding works for many people, but you will also want to find your own exercises that are a way of bringing you back. Another way to do this, to bring us back to equilibrium, is actually to name our feelings. This might sound a bit counterintuitive because when we're stressed or triggered, we usually want to our feelings, we want to ignore them, but actually we know that the opposite is more helpful. Name the feeling and then get really granular with it. So if you're feeling angry, try and work out what that anger is. Are you offended, annoyed, grumpy because you didn't sleep? What is it? Is it a value clash? What is it that you're feeling? Try and identify it. Try and name it. Get to the heart of it. It actually diffuses it. It takes the power out of it. It doesn't get rid of it, but it gives you more power to choose how you are in the moment. You can say, Oh, I know what's going on here. I really feel that that is such a clash on my value and that's making me angry. And now I understand that maybe I can calm down a bit. Self management takes a lot of determination and practice, and we can get better at it. As I've said, we've created a handout for you, and there's links there to help you think about how you can deepen your own self management. So let's move into the external pieces now. Self awareness and self management are about how we are internally. We're going to look now at developing social awareness, and this really is about our ability to understand the emotional makeup of people, and that's really about empathy. Teresa Weissman is a nursing scholar, and she's described the four attributes of empathy. The first of these is to take the perspective of the other person, to see the world as they see it. It's also about standing in their shoes and to be non judgmental. Then it's about recognizing emotion and feeling and to be open to see it in another person. And the fourth is about communicating our understanding of that emotion. So it might be about, I see you're feeling really sad today. Just naming it and seeing it is so powerful. In many ways, developing empathy in us. Is doing these four things. Am I leaning into the other person? Am I suspending my judgment? Am I being open to emotion in others, even if that emotion is really difficult? And am I communicating my understanding of that emotion? And I want to share a little bit about how connection helps us build empathy. Some people find empathy is very natural, but for others, actually it's much harder. We don't talk enough about this. Some people are really, not really hardwired and get better at it. And one of the ways that we can build empathy and do this is actually find something in common with somebody. It's really simple. Finding something small like, we both like tennis. Can help our brains get into more sync and we can lean in to being a bit more empathic with the other person. I've talked before about how I worked with engineers and marketing people in an engineering firm and the marketing people said they found it hard to empathize with the engineers and it was the same the other way and then the marketing people realized That engineers really loved what they were building. They loved their bridges, and they could talk to them about their bridges and get really curious about it, and then they found a door into the conversation and were able to talk and connect and empathy followed from that. So finding some form of connection is important. The other thing that you can get better at is reflecting on what others might be concerned about. This is obviously what empathy is, but just thinking about it, noticing what might be going on for this person in this situation and noticing your own judgment. Often somebody will say to me, Oh, I've got such a problem with so and so, and the first thing I'll say is, Have you spoken to them? Because so often we don't talk to people, we just assume. So we can do two things. One is we can try and work it out. We can lean into it. We can think to ourselves, I wonder what's going on for this person. Or we can go and talk to them. And we can take them for coffee and ask them. It doesn't have to be, a difficult conversation. But working on that, working on that empathy and on the relationship is really impactful. Another exercise that you can do that might sound a bit strange but I've done a number of times is to go on an empathy walk. So go down to a mall or a beach or somewhere where you go where there's quite a few people. Go on your own. And just walk around or sit on a bench and notice the people around you and begin to be curious about what they might be feeling. Lean into their feelings and see if you can notice it. And do it, obviously, subtly without staring. I once ran this exercise with a group of surgeons, um, and I was working with, not necessarily renowned for empathy, I think in many ways it's easier for them to switch off empathy in their job. So we were working on this, we were in Edinburgh and I invited them to go for a walk for 20 minutes. After they had stopped arguing with me about whether they wanted to go for a walk, they went off and they came back and it was, it was really a wonderful thing to see because they came back and said, ah, this city is really happy. And then we talked about it. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was on, which of course has a lot of comedy. People had come to be entertained and they picked up on the energy that was around. They hadn't seen it before. We'd already been there for two days. All they had to do was tune in to the energy and the feeling in the city. It wasn't that complicated. Just put that kind of radar on and they noticed it. And it was great fun. It was a wonderful moment for all of us. So, as I've said, in all of this, if you're not sure with empathy, just ask. The fourth and final one is relationship management, and this is about really building networks. It's about our ability to find common ground and build rapport and influence people. And I'm, I'm going to slightly cheat here in the podcast, in the interest of time, I recently did a podcast on influencing, and you can go there and listen to episode 72 to hear that. But let me just tell you a little bit about the importance of this. Matt Lieberman, who's a neuroscientist and done a lot of work about relationships, says that relationships and our drive to relate is really fundamental. He says that being socially connected is in our brain's lifelong passion. It's been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years. So, learning to relate, learning to be good at relationships, building on that is really key. And again, some of you will feel this come naturally and for some of you it will be harder. And take small steps. Set some exercises of going for a coffee with people, taking time to be with people. Noticing the people that you think that you will find it harder with and see if you can lean in to building a relationship with them. Particularly in organizations, relationships oil the wheels of everything that happens and they are fundamental and so focusing on building relationships is really important. These are the four factors, then, of emotional intelligence, self awareness and self management, social awareness and relationships management. And I said at the beginning, developing emotional intelligence is a never ending journey. We need to keep doing it. We need to keep developing it. So I invite you to make a commitment now. Choose one of those four areas that you think you could do some work on and commit to doing something on a self development journey. outro outro outro outro outro outro outro outro