I was recently asked by a client to design some training on Emotional Intelligence (EI) and how it helps us at work. The brief was broad and, although I often use ideas and techniques that I would describe as EI, it had been a while since I had revisited exactly what it is it is and how it can make our lives easier.
I was reminded how the core of EI is self-awareness – a mix of recognising and understanding our emotions, knowing our strengths and limitations and self-confidence. This self-awareness then enables us to both manage ourselves (resisting jumping to conclusions, expressing our emotions well) and understand others (empathising with them and their feelings, perspectives and needs).
Picture credit ‘Roy Blumenthal‘ under licence from Creative Commons
These three elements then work together to enable us to work with others – be it influencing them, selling to them, managing them or helping them through change.
So why is it so relevant to us now?
I saw over the weekend the advent of a new dating site called Hater. The idea is that you find a match with people who share the same dislikes, frustrations and niggles as you. In its own words “Meet someone who hates the same stuff as you”. On the surface this sounds like a great idea; my husband and I are resolutely united in our dislike of many things - indecisive drivers, people who leave half opened yogurts in the fridge and so-called “journalists” and politicians who pedal fake news are our current top three!
But look carefully at the language. Hate is a very strong word. Disagree, dislike, don’t agree, or even don’t understand are much less provocative – and ultimately less harmful. Hate so often comes from lack of knowledge, understanding or even fear of the unknown – and being able to temper our words and even more importantly recognise and accept our feelings of “hate” and use them as a guide to what might really be going on for us is a key skill to learn. Whilst no-one is saying we should not say what we feel, how we do it can have far reaching and even disastrous consequences; witness the effect of people venting on social media and how that can change people’s lives and, in the worst cases, drive them to suicide.
And it’s not just at home. Many of the workplace situations we are asked to help with, especially in our work on managing inappropriate workplace behaviour, stem from people having an instinctive reaction or belief and not questioning whether there is another way of seeing a situation; they don’t put themselves into another person’s shoes to see that the world may be a very different place for someone else.
So next time you find yourself starting a sentence with strong words such as “I hate”, take a moment to reflect on what is driving that “hate” and what might be a better way of putting it. It may not help you find your ideal match, but you’ll be far more likely to build positive relationships with everyone else around you!
You may also be interested in the results of our workplace banter survey which shows the impact words and behaviour can have on others.
For more information on how we can help your managers and teams develop skills for a happier, more respectful workplace call us for a confidential chat on 01903 732 782 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Carruthers combines a background in business and finance with the “softer skills” of working with people and communication. Her passion is helping businesses become better places to work - so people thrive and the bottom line thrives too.