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Blog - Super-charging Your Emotional Intelligence for Difficult Conversations

Super-charging Your Emotional Intelligence for Difficult Conversations

Posted by Xander Hough - Guest Blogger 19/06/15

We are thrilled to welcome Xander Hough this month – Head of HR at global creative consultancy Wolff Olins - who offers some insightful guidance on the importance of Emotional Intelligence when having a “difficult conversation”... 


Difficult ConversationsSuper-charging Your Emotional Intelligence for Difficult Conversations


When the concept of emotional intelligence first emerged in the scientific community it was arguably to promote recognition that there was more to life than being “book smart” and that in the workplace it paid to be “people smart” too.  I am increasingly coaching people at all levels of the business in how to talk with others about emotive or otherwise difficult subject matters, hopefully transforming a lot of fear into confidence.  A well-managed difficult conversation comes from using a tool box of solutions so here are the top two ways you can super-charge your emotional intelligence to master those tricky interactions.

 

It all starts with you

People with high EQ attend to their own thoughts and feelings.  Mindfulness practice has helped many to become more attuned to their own internal emotional experience but there are other activities which reap the same benefits such as practicing yoga or meditation.  Invest in any of these and I guarantee, you will better acknowledge and think more objectively about your own emotions and by having a better understanding of yourself, you are predisposed to processing the emotions of others.  We can become wrapped up in our own feelings but the successful management of a difficult conversation lies in turning your focus to the other people in the room.  Observe their behaviour and use your awareness of your own emotions to manage the conversation as you go along.

 

You must ask for feedback

I hate to break it to you but you’re terrible at assessing how emotionally intelligent you are.  In fact, research indicates that you’re more likely to accurately gauge other aspects of your mental capabilities than you are your emotional intelligence.  In order to truly super-charge your EQ, you must invite feedback from everyone in your life to give you feedback.  Ask some basic questions;

 

  • How do you think that meeting went?
  • How do you feel about this?
  • How did I come across in that conversation?
  • I was trying to convey X, Y and Z in this meeting, what did you take from it?
  • Could I have read the room better?  Do you think I lost anyone at any point in the conversation?
  • How did you read the energy level of the group just now?
  • When I said/did that, how did it make you feel?

 

And during your interactions you can sense-check your perceptions;

 

  • It looks like you’re not happy about that, is that right? 
  • I can see that you’re upset; talk me through how you’re feeling.  
  • Would it be fair to say that…?
  • It sounds like X, Y and Z – have I understood that correctly?

 

Listen to this feedback and use it to adapt your behaviour in future.  Over time the combination of reflective practice and using feedback will boost your emotional intelligence.

 

Xander Hough - Guest Blogger
Xander Hough - Guest Blogger

Xander Hough is HR Manager at Wolff Olins in London and also works as a coach, HR consultant and mediator. He’s on a mission to change the popular negative HR stereotypes by getting people to think differently about the profession. Xander Hough is HR Manager at global creative consultancy Wolff Olins in London. https://twitter.com/xanderhough https://www.linkedin.com/in/xanderhough, http://www.wolffolins.com/

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