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The magic of emotional intelligence

Tip No. 2 on being more present


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So many people hate their jobs – and therefore are working to their maximum potential – because their manager does not know how to care for them. After working with thousands of people, I know that managers are not born; they are trained. Management is almost a dirty word, but shift your thinking and see that managing is the same as being more present. To have better organizations, we need to manage more and lead less. In May, I wrote about using different management styles at different times as a starting point for being a good manager. 

This month, I want to talk about how we manage our emotions and those of your teammates’.

One of the reasons I know management is a learned skill is because I have not always been that great of a manager. I had to learn how to be better. At IBM, I was a young manager, and didn’t have the emotional maturity to get the most from people. Once, I had a young intern that I saw so much potential in, but he had this way of going around me when he didn’t get what he wanted and it infuriated me. I want you to hear that word I just used – it’s a emotional word – infuriate. Anger is one of the most common emotions that shows up at the office, and it’s not pleasant for anyone. In the case of my intern, I finally let loose on him and gave him a piece of my mind.  

How do you think that went? 

Most of the time, anger doesn’t help us, and if we’re running an organization, it’s completely ineffective. No one wants to work for a jerk.

There was no way that behavior was going to be tolerated by my teammates and manager. I was pulled aside and asked to work on my EQ – or Emotional Intelligence.

What is that – you ask?

It’s the butter on bread. It’s the sugar in lemonade. It’s the icing on top of intelligence. We can be really, really smart – high IQ – but if we’re not likeable, trustable, knowable, our intelligence will only take us so far. EQ is often, a better predictor of success than IQ.

You cannot control your emotions – you can only control how you react to the world around you. We are all “triggered” by certain things. We only know how to fight (anger), freeze (despair) or flee (terror). If we can pause and teach ourselves how to bring emotion to the prefrontal cortex – our thinking brain – we make better decisions, asking ourselves: “Is that the best course?” “Did he mean to do that?” “Perhaps I am overreacting?”

For example, I was working with a client who was “infuriated” because an employee was always 15 minutes late. He was about to fire her – even though she was otherwise a high-achieving employee – because of this minor infraction. He was triggered by this because, to him, timeliness is a sign of respect.

As his HR consultant, I asked why she was late. She was embarrassed, but told me that her son’s school started at 8:00 a.m., and she couldn’t get to work sooner. It had nothing to do with his trigger point – matter of fact – her tardiness had nothing to do with him at all. My client agreed to move the start time to 8:30, and now he is no longer triggered by her.

The great news is that we can learn to have a higher EQ!

The first step is naming the emotion and building our own self-awareness. When you feel yourself triggered, pause and try to name the emotion. Sometimes you need to first call a timeout with whoever you’re with so that you can take this time. (By the way, spouses, children and parents are great teachers on our trigger points.)

Next then is to ask the question – are they doing this to me? Is that their intent?

If not, what’s a better tool I have for managing the trigger.

One of my favorite people in the world is triggered by brash responses, and sometimes he can overreact to what are otherwise benign events. He’s learned to be playful with it to see if they really are truly rude, or just using banter to try to build a relationship.   

When we see people arguing or bickering at the office, it is our job as the manager to stop this by helping our teammates build their EQ. There are very few times during which anger is healthy at work. You must stop these negative emotions from escalating in the office. 

Two more reasons people leave jobs are because they hate their manager or they hate their team. We can create better environments with higher EQ and ultimately keep talent from leaving. But we have to manage this. If we are only leading, we might not take the time to fix these problems.

Manage more. Lead less. 

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Kendra Prospero

Kendra Prospero founded Turning the Corner to help people connect to work they love and to end suffering in the workplace. She helps companies fully support their employees and helps individuals find jobs they are passionate about. Kendra believes that people who love their jobs are happier, more productive, easier to manage, and are all around better workers. Turning the Corner helps people and businesses transform the way they think and feel about work. Contact her at 720-466-8876 or info@turningthecornerllc.com.

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