Here in the Pacific Northwest we seem to have recovered from our version of snowmaggedon and the signs of renewal are evident. Our weather has been unusually warm these last few days and daffodils and flowering cherry trees have taken full advantage of the opportunity to splash landscapes with bright yellows and soft pinks.
I love the vibrancy of this season. There is a palpable pulse and energy as the earth awakens and new life emerges from what has appeared to be dead or dormant.
After many, many months of neglect, I finally went outside today and trimmed the forest of five-foot-tall dead daisies in my front yard. I was inspired. I even pruned my elderly neighbor’s hydrangea.
In both cases, as I cleared and clipped away the dead foliage, I saw new growth that wasn’t visible previously. At the base of the dead daisy stalks was a thick green mat of leaves, evidence of the apparently invincible nature of daisies. The hydrangea was a bit more subtle. As I trimmed away the dead and dry flower clusters, I could see tiny leaf buds sprouting from the dry looking branches and stems. The more closely I looked, the more I saw.
Hope. That is the real message of this season for me. Even in the midst of difficulties...of devastating storms and destructive rains; of insane politics and oppressive governments. Even in the midst of all of that and more, there is hope. Life will emerge, and we can help. We can and do make a difference.
One of the ways we make a difference is by how we show up in our relationships with others. As partners and parents, as leaders and peers, as friends and advocates. As accomplices in the work of making the world a better place.
For this reason, I’m writing about emotional intelligence for a second month. May you enjoy and perhaps find a bit of hope and renewal!
EQ: WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
What comes to mind when you read that question?
Does Tina Turner’s voice float through your head? Perhaps you continue on with the lyrics and wonder about love being a second-hand emo- tion...or about the vulnerability of having a heart that can be broken?
Maybe you actually consider an answer to the question.
What comes to mind for me is an interaction I had with a client several years ago...and the 1992 movie A League of Their Own (starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, and Madonna, among others).
“Crying? There’s no crying in baseball!”
If you’ve seen the movie, that’s a line you’ll likely never forget.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s the very brief context: major league baseball was impacted by World War II and the owners of the Cubs got together and started a women’s baseball league.
Tom Hanks plays the role of a former Cubs player whose been drafted to be the manager of one of women’s teams. He’s not thrilled with the role and doesn’t take it or the players seriously. That line is his line when he is ‘communicating’ with one of his players.
Here’s the 2+ minute clip if you'd like to watch it:
Clearly, Hanks’ character is not demonstrating a high level of emotional intelligence.
But how does that connect to “what’s love got to do with it?”
Keep reading, it will become clear shortly.
Image Credit: Sherryl T. Christie
THE FOUR CAPACITIES OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE (EQ OR EI)
It may help to have a little background before I tell you the story of my client. We all have four capacities that determine our level of emotional intelligence...
- Empathy (other-awareness and compassion)...this is also new - Interpersonal/relationship skills
The Learning in Action EQ profile focuses on the first three capacities and provides a snapshot of what goes on inside of us when we are challenged. As you might imagine, the first capacity, self-awareness (or self-reflection) is pretty critical.
Although emotional intelligence is changeable (thankfully!), we can’t do much to change it if we aren’t willing to self-reflect.
One of the facets of self-reflection is the ability to access a range of emotions. This is important because emotions drive most, if not all, of our decision making, as well as provide the means through which we can connect and empathize with others.
Image Credit: Sherryl T. Christie
By over or under accessing certain emotions we can create problems for ourselves and our relationships. Let’s take a look at an example. “Love and joy? There’s no love and joy at work!”
There are times, early in some conversations, when you know you are in for a long ride. All you can do is buckle up, take a few deep breaths, and remember why you are in it.
Debriefing Fred’s** EQ profile with him was one of the conversations.
Fred’s Profile revealed that, when challenged, he would over-index on fear and anxiety and under-index on love and joy (emotional vitality). He had no idea what (appropriate) love and joy would look like in a professional setting and that, in and of itself, stimulated more fear and anxiety. And a large dose of defensiveness.
In a remarkable, yet somewhat tamer, impression of Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, he railed, “Love and joy? There’s no love and joy at work!”
The rest of the story...showing up as a whole person
Fred did manage to calm down, consider the entire Profile, and reflect on what was most meaningful.
The short story is that he worked on taking better care of himself (to replenish where he was depleted and to ‘find his joy’), replacing some of his fear and anxiety with clarity and confidence about the assets he brought to the organization, and building real relationships with his peers and leadership team rather than believing he needed to just perform for them.
An additional benefit?
He was promoted...twice. He is now an SVP in a global role. He shared with me the iterations of his cover letter for the first promotion. He was intentional about showing up in it as a whole person, authentically, talking about his ‘passions’ and his ‘personal journey’ along with his strengths and vision for the new role.
Image credit: Sherryl T. Christie
Here’s what he said about it--
“I really like this new cover letter. It is me, however it is not business me. I would fail business writing 101 in college with this cover letter. ‘There is no crying in baseball’... As you can imagine, the document was a necessity, however the exercise did reveal new strengths and weaknesses in my approach and thoughts."
Well done, Fred! The learning never stops...
So, what do you think...what’s love got to do with it?
If you are interested in learning more about the nuances of your own EQ, or about the Learning in Action EQ Profile, please go here or contact us directly.
We would be delighted to talk with you about it.
What are some of the behaviors of other people that trigger a reaction in you (that you don't like)?
What is your typical reaction or default pattern when you are triggered by those behaviors? How would you rather respond to those situations?
Who is someone with whom you could brainstorm a bunch of ideas that would be simple (and perhaps even fun... imagine that!) to disrupt the old pattern and make way for a new one?