Who will you listen to actively today?

Who will you listen to actively today?

Active listening invites you to go beyond the words. It suggests to take note of the body language, the facial expression and the tone of voice. Active listening shows respect, builds empathy and creates trust.

So here is a resilience practice we invite you to cultivate this week:
During conversations, I focus on the speaker and do not interrupt.

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies.  Are you making good use of it?

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies. Are you making good use of it?

Original publication in Medium.com on December 31st 2019

Victor E Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. And in that space is our power to choose our response in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

React vs respond

Reactions are instinctual. There’s no filtering process when you react in a situation — you’re running on auto-pilot. When you react, you do and say things on impulse, and don’t consider the implications of what you do or say.

Written by Thomas Oppong

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Original publication in LinkedIn on septembre 11th 2019

Two European telecoms had partnered to develop a new product. Each had a team of engineers devoted to the product, but those team members each stayed in their own company headquarters, never seeing the other, even though they were working in the same city. The teams emailed each other—and soon the partnership broke down as the emails devolved into a flame war.

A consultant called in to help with the crisis had a simple solution: he got the two teams together for an offsite where they had beers together and got to know one another. The resulting empathy, he knew, would heal the split. The new product was delivered on time.

With the faster pace of change and disruption, markets and teams have become more diverse than ever. And alongside the digital whirlwind and the emergence of artificial intelligence, the human side of work, paradoxically, matters more than ever. Our relationships with colleagues, clients, and business partners will play a major role in the organizations that rise to the top and those that flounder. Empathy, our ability to understand and relate to others, will be key to success for organizations and their employees.

Empathy Bridges Cultural Differences

Take the increase in global business relations as companies go multi-national, markets become global, and the workplace itself morphs into an international reality. People who excel in empathy are most successful at leading cross-cultural teams and managing global customers. Understanding others’ points of view creates bridges across cultures. This is critical, for example, on teams who may never meet each other in person, yet need to communicate effectively.

On international assignments, empathic leaders get along well with people from very different backgrounds and cultures, and can express their ideas in ways the other person will understand. They also quickly pick up on unspoken cultural norms, enabling them to have smoother relationships.

Research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is a crucial predictor of cultural adjustment, which means better outcomes on overseas assignments. Global managers with strong EI were able to adapt to new cultures and so received more positive feedback from their supervisors. In contrast, managers with low EI were more likely to struggle to adapt to a new culture and end their assignment early. By reducing the cultural gap, emotional intelligence enables managers to find commonality and build connections while on an international assignment, both in and outside of work. The result: success for their career and organization.

Build Loyalty in the Face of Change

Then there’s the relentless pace of mergers and acquisitions, during which the most effective leaders must recognize and deal with their employees’ unspoken feelings, such as fear, in order to successfully motivate and inspire them. Leaders who empathize with the emotions that uncertainty or change bring can find resonance even when delivering bad news.

Rosa Chun at the Manchester Business School found that a major factor in the low success rate of mergers results from a lack of understanding of the human side of such a disruption, and the emotions that roil within employees while companies are integrating. Too many organizations focus on the obligatory aspects of a merger—ensuring legal compliance, maintaining revenue, and keeping shareholders satisfied—while ignoring the human side of mergers and their emotional cost.

Particularly during a merger, clear communication can make the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, loyalty and poor morale. In Chun’s study of a major pharmaceutical company that has grown through mergers and acquisitions, empathy was found to be the most desirable characteristics leaders could display during a merger. Organizational empathy, Chun found, yielded “employee loyalty, perceived job security, satisfaction, and emotional attachment” during and after a merger. By paying attention to the human side of mergers, leaders avoid letting the merger become an organizational crisis.

How to Strengthen Empathy

A first step in strengthening our own empathy might be simply taking some moments amid the distractions of life to care about the emotions and suffering of those around us, particularly those impacted by our decisions. Further steps might include: 

Active listening. Active listening is vital to relationships that work—letting us forge deeper connections throughout our lives. Showing genuine interest in what the other person is saying and feeling puts this into action, for example by asking follow-up and open-ended questions. Once you begin to strengthen your connection with someone, you can use what you learn to inform your future conversations.

Open up. You can complement active listening by opening up yourself. Sharing something deeply personal—such as a difficult experience or current struggle—lets us share our emotions and connect with others on a deeper level. If you’re a leader and find it difficult to disclose your emotions to your team, try talking with a colleague first.

Try well-wishing. Research has shown that people who spend time each day wishing well to themselves and others create a sense of ease, kindness, and greater well-being. In a well-wishing practice, we extend compassion to ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues, and even people in our area we do not know. For a simple well-wishing practice, choose a routine activity such as walking your dog or driving to work to do a silent practice. Offer silent good wishes to the people nearby, to the people with whom you will be meeting with next, to those with whom you just met, or even to yourself.

Whether you’re preparing for an international assignment, leading a merger, or simply want to improve connections throughout your life, empathy is crucial for leadership success and personal well-being.

Written by Daniel Goleman 

 

When expressing gratitude, don’t focus on yourself

When expressing gratitude, don’t focus on yourself

Original publication in Harvard Business Review on November 28th 2019.

Practicing gratitude — making a deliberate point of being thankful for the positive things in your life — is good for your happiness and well-being. But when we express our gratitude to others, we have a tendency to talk about ourselves when we should be thinking about them. Often when we get help and support, we want to talk about how the favor made us feel: “It let me relax…” or “It makes me happy….” But expressing gratitude shouldn’t be all about you. Helpers want to see themselves positively and to feel understood and cared for. So the next time you thank someone, try “other-praising” instead. Acknowledge and validate your benefactor’s actions: “You go out of your way…” or “You’re really good at….” Doing so will strengthen your relationship with that person.

Source: Adapted from “Stop Making Gratitude All About You,” by Heidi Grant

 

OPTIMISM

OPTIMISM

Research Highlight: Optimism is a super skill

95% of the most successful 10% of people scored “I think and communicate with optimism” with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’ (in a sample of 21,000).

The human mind is Velcro for the negative. Based on a high threat environment, a negative and threatening explanation might have been advantageous. Today, pessimism disables you.

Only 9% of the least resilient people score optimism with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’.

Question: How can I explain this adversity in one enabling sentence?

Condition: Notice but reject the easy negative self-talk

Discipline: Think and express yourself with positive language

Caution: Our times are testing. This will take courage.

What you can do right now?

  1. Ask someone close if you are optimistic or pessimistic. Explore an example
  2. Watch the content of your thoughts. Notice the words you choose to make sense of a situation. For example: “This always happens to me”
  3. Explore different ways to express the situation. For example: “What could I do differently” Notice the shift from blame to responsibility.
  4. Be alert for positive news.  Some suggest that we aim to express at least three positive observations for every complaint.

In the background:

  • Fatigue, isolation and distress will reduce optimism
  • Sleep well, be social, relax and play
  • Nurture your positive emotions – joy, gratitude, appreciation, hope, kindness

Note: With the current social instability, political malaise and climate risk, the value and importance of optimism will increase. It is well proven that optimism can be learned and has wide ranging personal and economic benefits. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is proven an effective solution to depression. We use the term situational agility to describe the healthy and adaptive use of the optimism in key situations.

Own your joy!

4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

Original publication in Forbes, October 17th, 2019

The Western world has largely been shaped by an admiration of logic versus emotion. Yet as humans, it’s impossible to operate with just one or the other. In today’s world, where artificial intelligence and digitization rule, many leaders and organizations are expected to adhere to a new social and environmental way of thinking, a more human way of thinking. Qualities like empathy and sensitivity, which used to be viewed by many as weaknesses, are now often seen as strengths. Emotional intelligence (EQ) has become more than a buzz phrase — it’s now a widely practiced tool embraced by progressive executives to increase their companies’ bottom lines and improve corporate culture.

I see the benefits of EQ every day in my work with executives and teams. Over the course of my career as a therapist, I’ve learned that many of the interpersonal skills we use to strengthen our personal relationships are the same skills needed to fuel success in the workplace.

However, the questions remain: How did we get here, and are we prepared for what’s to come?

The Origins Of EQ

Great philosophers like Aristotle studied the effects of emotions, what triggers them and how to deal with them. Aristotle is believed to have once said, “Anyone can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” This statement demonstrates an early understanding of EQ, yet this way of thinking didn’t take off until much later. In fact, it wasn’t until around the 1980s that companies started to take notice of the effects of a positive work culture on employees. During this time, Reuven Bar-On, a clinical psychologist whose assessment tool I’m certified to use, began studying the answers to two questions: What makes people successful, and what makes people happy? The results of those studies started a journey of conceptualizing, researching and applying EQ.

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term “emotional intelligence” in 1990, defining it as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Salovey and Mayer worked together to clearly define and measure the effects of EQ, which piqued the interest of larger corporations concerned with hiring and retaining top talent.

Clinical psychologist and author Steven Stein, who co-founded a business that publishes computerized psychological assessments, also contributed to the study and spread of EQ. In 1994, he met Bar-On, who asked him to publish his EQ assessment tool. Today, many coaches (myself included) use this tool in their work with clients.

Later, Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of EQ and helped spread the idea throughout mainstream culture.

The Modern And Future Leader

Today, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a leading company that doesn’t have a focus on EQ. Organizations all over the world have turned to EQ to help them hire, promote and develop their employees. They recognize that a positive work environment can help attract top talent, drive employee engagement and affect profitability and performance — and the right leaders understand this too.

Leveraging EQ

The modern and future leader integrates the realms of both logic and emotion. They leverage EQ in a way that goes beyond gauging how employees are feeling and toward successfully navigating complex business situations. They can nurture our strengths rather than pick apart our weaknesses. They create and foster meaningful relationships with a multigenerational and diverse workforce. And while they’re no less focused on strategy and competition, the modern leader operates with adaptiveness, compassion and mindfulness.

Here are some tips for how to leverage EQ as a leader.

• Practice self-awareness. Take stock of how you feel and react to certain stressors throughout the day. Notice how your emotions contribute to your actions. In order to understand the emotions of others, you first have to be in tune with yourself.

• Listen carefully. This is surprisingly difficult for some leaders. It can be tempting to think that listening is merely following rather than leading. However, in order to make and sustain more meaningful connections and tailor communication styles to the right people, learn to become a better listener.

• Be open and embrace conflict. A good leader is willing to problem-solve and dive into disagreements rather than run away from conflict. A leader with a high EQ level is much more likely to problem-solve effectively, rationally and with a certain level of poise and composure.

• Make culture a priority. Purpose-driven leaders understand what engages and excites employees and work to cultivate an environment that fosters their creativity and engagement.

Living In The Present And Learning From The Past

Today, smart leaders are driven by opportunities and the future rather than by the past or their egos. They might learn valuable lessons from past triumphs, but they don’t attempt to preserve the status quo. Instead of worrying about looking good or staying consistent, stay vigilant and on top of future trends, and don’t be afraid to embrace the flow of new ideas.

Written by Roberta Moore