Google “Leadership Emotional Intelligence” and marvel at the number of hits on books, articles, and blog posts that have been produced. Not a week goes by without a new offering espousing the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and interpersonal communication for business leaders.
The term EQ was coined in 1990 and expounded upon by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book of the same name. Despite this on most top-10 lists of employee complaints, you will find poor communications and low EQ. One Harvard Business Review article in 2015 cited that 91% of employees believe that poor communications “drag executives down.” The timespan is 28 years! For a quarter of a century, we have been beaten about the head and shoulders on the virtues of EQ and listening. The books and blogs keep coming. Why are we still talking about this? We are still talking about it because the books and blogs, mostly written by and for business leaders pretty much say the same thing...“Don’t be an as$%#!le”. Few explain how to do it. Consider the following tips for becoming a right-brain leader and think about implementing them in your daily life.
Understand Conflict Management Tendencies
When stress is high, and you are angry (hurt, afraid) how do you respond? Do you become more aggressive in your tone and go into attack mode or do you shrink away from the conflict with appeasement to maintain the relationship? Perhaps you start spewing data and information to support your position. Understanding your default conflict management tendencies is critical to effective leadership. Equally as important is understanding the conflict management tendencies of the people with whom you work. There is a 66% chance that, during any interaction, the people you interact with have different conflict management tendencies than you. When you understand both your (and their) triggers and pain points, you are in a better position to influence.
Build and Maintain Relationships
Transformational leaders focus on providing one-on-one communication with team members. Good leaders express genuine care and concern for their teams as they build and maintain relationships. Quality relationships begin and end with tactical empathy. Your ability to demonstrate that you can view the world through their eyes. Displaying an understanding of their environment, emotions, and motivations is the foundation of trust and influence. How do you do it? Accusations audits, labels, mirrors, paraphrasing and calibrated questions.
Got news to deliver that may not be well received? Hit them with Accusations Audits. “What I am going to tell you is gonna sound horrible. You probably are gonna think that we are flip-flopping and you may think that we are uncoordinated or dysfunctional”...and then give them the news.
If the response you get contains an emotional element (and it will), label it, both the overt and latent dynamics. “It looks/seems/sounds like...”
Repeat back the last three to five words to demonstrate a deeper level of listening . People love to have others understand their world.
Give the meaning of what they are conveying in another form. Their thoughts, feelings, opinions, in your words.
Ask what and how questions to discover concealed information and motivations. Never assume you know everything. Don’t treat them the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they want to be treated.
How you say it is five times more important than what you say. Tone, demeanor and projected sincerity are more powerful than the content of your message. It will put those you work with in a more positive frame of mind. Studies show that people's’ brains work up to 31% better when in this state. Be likable. You will have more influence on your team if they like you. A smile and self-deprecation can go a long way. Choose your words carefully, avoiding judgment, condescension, and sarcasm. Intentionally create a void in the conversation to set up the message delivery and to ensure you have their attention.
These are basic hostage negotiation principles that leaders can is to improve their individual, team and organizational performance.