Dear Dr Sylvia,
I have been reading a lot about emotional intelligence recently. My first question is, ‘what is emotional intelligence?’ Actually, I think it is about the capacity to control and express oneself and handle interpersonal relationships with ease,
Am I right? I think so.
Therefore, I would love to hear your answer to the following question.
“Is it more effective to talk mostly about facts or add lots of vibrant colors using emotional words at work?”
I believe everyone on the leadership track is looking at the importance of how to communicate effectively. That means without coming across as a drama king or queen.
Thus, do you suggest we should use more emotion laden words or stay with numbers and other data?
The tale of two employees
Here are emotional intelligence examples. Wonder which you will think is the better way. of what I mean. This just happened last week and has me curious about how you would coach these two men.
Jeff told me he needed clarification with his boss about a just approved project. He felt it was not heading in the right direction. His boss, known as a “hot head,” does not like conflict.
Jeff said, “I was concerned with the ramifications of telling my boss that the numbers were off. Therefore, I went in with only the facts. My boss disagreed and said to do what he had told me.
I left the conversation feeling frustrated. It was then I chose not to make waves. To clarify, I would do what I was asked.
I stuffed my upset. Yet, underneath, I really hope the project fails so I can say, “I told you so!”
Stan said he went to talk with his boss about the new project. There was concern that the numbers were off. He said to me: “I found myself biting my lip to keep my cool. When challenged, he loves to be right. That means there is a lot of negativity.
I heard a voice in my head say, “Speak up, and don’t be a wimp.”
So, I told my boss in these words, “It’s always uncomfortable to disagree with you. However, I don’t want to come back one day with an ‘I told you so’ attitude. Just know that I am willing to take the challenge. In other words, I will talk straight even if it means there will be some fires to put out.”
I used the facts to underline the problems and used emotional words like ‘if we fail’ to spice things up.
What do you think works best?
Curious About Emotions
Timing is everything
Thanks for the question. It’s important to look at the power of facts and the importance of emotions in the workplace.
I bet, if we asked people to vote, they would say that Stan in Scene #2 is the winner.
When it comes to timing, they are both right.
In Scene#1, Jeff was not ready to show his upset. His fear was he would have been even more angry and frustrated.
He may have then said something inappropriate. To clarify, once words are out of your mouth, you are no longer in charge of them.
What Jeff needs is some coaching. There is so much benefit in getting to the bottom of why he is fearful. For example, confronting conflict, especially with a strong “hot head,” needs to be explored.
Only then will he be in a positive position to take on someone who intimidates him.
In Scene#2 Stan shows up in a strong position to speak up. He knows how to use emotional words without pushing them out like a sword to the stomach.
He used “if we fail” to include himself and his boss and therefore, the accountability was on both of them. That was great positioning.
He also showed excellent leadership abilities by being willing, albeit with some trepidation, to be open and honest.
Stan was willing to talk openly. He had little interest in being the ‘gotcha guy.’ There was no benefit in retorting with “I told you so.”
Looking at the big picture
Studies show that emotional intelligence is more important, or at least equally important, to intellectual capacity.
It means, considering not just your own ideas and feelings, also those of the others included in any project.
Understanding the WHY
From first-time hires to long-term bosses, I suggest that everyone consider the underlying reasons it’s so hard to speak up. It’s time to gain the courage to talk truth to power. In conclusion, facts and emotions need to be included for successful discussions.
Yes, facts are more objective, emotions more subjective.
I suggest that Stan from Scene#2 looks like a great candidate for future promotion. I only hope that Jeff from Scene#1 does some coaching sessions. Or at least reads my emotional intelligence book, “Don’t Bring It To Work,” to find out why he holds back emotionally.
Here is to your (and everyone’s) success,
P.S. I would like to gift all that read Don’t Bring It To Work with the companion Pattern Aware Success Guide. Send me an email and it’s yours.