Work-Life 11/12/2015

Emotional Intelligence:How Leaders Tap Into The Power of The Shared Experience by Leslie Juvin-Acker

Feeling. That’s the key to emotional intelligence. It’s impossible to retract our emotional receptors during the process of connecting. The process of connecting with others is to understand and feel our own emotions in relation to theirs.

Feeling isn’t a cerebral act. While the brain processes emotions, it itself doesn’t feel them. Our emotional centers in our body do. That’s why we feel emotions in our body and not in our mind. Our minds perceive and compute, but our hearts and bodies connect. The energy that someone emits, if we’re open enough to receive it, can tell us a whole world of experience that allows us to fully understand how someone feels.

Think of it like this: Rejection. Did you first think of getting dumped by a lover? Refused a pay raise? Denied a job or promotion? We may not know the context of someone’s situation, but boy, do we understand how rejection feels.

People with the ability to go to their feelings seem to “go with their gut”, “have an intuition”, and “feel in touch” with their relationships and decisions. These metaphors speak volumes on how we subconsciously connect to others and conduct business based on emotional sensitivity.

The best salespeople understand emotional power - try the product, feel the texture, imagine the sensation of having/doing/being… We’ve heard these scripts before, but is that all there is to it? Of course not. The ability for the salesperson to empathize with your sensational experience builds trust and mutual respect. Trust and mutual respect are one of the main reasons why people buy from one salesperson over another.

Shared emotional experience lets us know that we’re not alone in the universe. It’s says, “We’re here together in this life. If you’re experiencing what I’m experiencing emotionally, then you must be like me.” We seek that likeness, that camaraderie at home, with friends, and certainly at work.

So, the moment you find yourself in a situation at work that seems awkward or upsetting, go straight to the emotional component of the situation. Allow yourself to simply feel the “vibes” as to what they’re really saying. You might be surprised as to what your intuition tells you.

Someone might be blasting you over a missed deadline. At first, we think they’re angry jerks. But, after a moment, that anger feels like frustration which then feels like fear. The fear might have little (or everything) to do with you missing the deadline. That fear, upon further inspection by asking probing questions, reveals your colleague wants to beat traffic to show up to their kid’s sports match on time and is afraid of disappointing his child because, when he was a child, a relative disappointed him and that made him feel sad. I know this sounds like psychobabble (a lot of the stories we create in our minds are) but the feelings are real and genuine. The truth, based on all my years of experience in coaching, lies within the emotions.

Understand the emotions and understand the context of the situation. Emotional intelligence pays off because not only are we able to connect, we’re able to control our own responses to what seems indecipherable. I could go on for days about emotional intelligence and leadership. How hiding emotions is generally the emotions we fear of making others feel. Like, hiding fear of inadequacy because of a fear of making others feel insecure. This one happens a lot with managers.

All of this might seem mysterious, but it’s not. Humans, while complex in our ways, are quite simple creatures. We’re boring and predictable most of the time. Why were Shakespeare’s plays so fascinating? Drama is built upon unsettled emotions. Imagine, if Romeo and Juliet’s parents had a little more empathy and emotional intelligence, the “star crossed lovers” probably would have just gone on and broken up six months later like most bored teenagers do. But where’s the drama in that?

Which leads me to my final point: Leaders are in place to create harmony. Emotional intelligence is the key to creating harmony in the workplace. Understanding our own feelings and recognizing them is the bridge to connecting with others. Know how someone feels and let them know that they’re not alone in that feeling. The rest is gravy.

Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Ourselves:

1.    Thinking of basic emotions, do I know what sadness, happiness, joy, fear, rejection, shame, and grief feel like? Am I able to recall a moment in which I felt this way? Can I recognize these emotions in others?

2.    Referring back to a stressful or confusing moment I’ve experienced at work, can I remember what the basic emotions were that underlied the experience? What can those emotions tell me about what was happening?

3.    Do I feed off unresolved emotions in an attempt to control a situation? What would happen if we dealt with the discomfort right away?

4.    Going back to the last time I was upset about something at work, was I really upset about what happened or was there something deeper lurking beneath the surface?

5.    Do I allow myself to gain wisdom and insight from my feelings and those that I feel from others? If not, why? If so, what wisdom have I gained about my relationships?