Day 3 of ESaC

Vulnerability. I did not expect to feel so exposed and vulnerable in a training session. And yet there’s something in the clue of the title of the course which suggests this was going to happen. We’re studying Emotional Skills and Competencies, based on the work of Dr Paul Ekman, who has provided us with a way of readily identifying universal emotions.

Day 3 was all about practising the skills and competencies we were learning about. We took our time to understand the PEER model. Practising and preparing, engagement, exploration and resolution. This model helps you to prepare for encounters which are likely to be highly emotionally charged. Remember, the whole purpose of ESaC is about identifying in yourself when you are feeling emotions, recognising them in others and having better, positive relationships as a result.

In the ‘P’ stage it’s about getting yourself ready for the encounter. The term used was ‘clean down’. How will you give yourself the time, and space, to mentally ready yourself. In ‘engagement’ we’re concerned with how the other person is responding to us, and what we can do to make that more effective. In ‘exploring’ we’re doing exactly that, exploring what new developments you see arising. And in ‘resolution’ we should be looking to see what can we do collaboratively that creates the ideal outcome.

We took our time to think of common situations where we can apply this model, in order that we can practise ESaC so we don’t lose that learning. I was glad to see we were given the time to do this, as it’s often just given five minutes at the end of a training session. We then had to conclude by practising a role play. You know the kind, think of a situation, describe it to the other person, see what happens with the conversation. I couldn’t shake a conversation from my head I thought I should have and decided to go with it. I couldn’t have guessed I was so unprepared for the conversation and where it would take me emotionally.

I’m glad we did the exercise as it raised the importance of getting the PEER model right. Crucially, for me, it highlighted just how triggers create that ‘spark before the flame’, and how you choose to react is very much in your hands. I’ve come away from the training feeling very motivated to learn more about these triggers I experience, and how they affect me.

I hope you’ve found the review of the 3 day course useful. For any questions do get in touch, or just leave a comment below.

Day 1 of ESaC

I’m attending a three day course called Emotional Skills and Competencies. It’s run by DPG Plc, whom I came into contact with via Mr Mike Collins whom I met at the first L&D Connect unconference. This is my how I’ve found day one.

The course focuses on helping you to understand emotions in you and others. It is completely built on the work by Dr Paul Ekman. Followers of this blog will know I hold Dr Ekman in high regard in the field of psychology, body language and insight into human behaviours. That, for me, automatically puts this course a par above anything on emotional intelligence that is in the open market.

Essentially, Dr Ekman has provided us over 40 years of research and development into what emotions humans feel, how they are displayed facially and physiologically, and what process we automatically goes through whenever we feel an emotion. Dr Ekman has found there are seven universally recognised emotions – sadness, surprise, contempt, happy, anger, fear and disgust. When we feel one of these, there are distinct facial and physiological reactions that accompany each one. We’re hard wired to react in these ways, and we can’t escape it.

It’s been useful to spend today understanding these emotions, and how there are other descriptors which we may associate with each emotion. For example, With ‘fear’ we may also feel anxiety or apprehension, with ‘sadness’ we may feel gloomy or despair. Through understanding the emotions we are able to increase our self awareness, and recognise the ‘spark before the flash’.

We’re starting to learn that when working with others, before you can start to ‘read’ them using these techniques, you have to create a base line from which you understand what is ‘normal’ for that person. From that point, once you start to observe reactions from them, you are able to determine what change that person is going through, and how you should best respond to them. Ultimately, what this course is trying to help us to achieve is how to have more productive and constructive relationships.

As we’ve been going through the course, two things come to mind. This is a must attend course for anyone who deals with other people on a regular basis. Learning about emotional competencies in this way is a sure fire way of helping everyone to understand how to recognise emotional reactions they are feeling, others are feeling and therefore how to work better with others. This isn’t restricted to HR, L&D, OD, Coaching professionals. This is anyone in the business world who regularly has to present, influence, facilitate or lead others.

The second thing is this is proper learning and development. We’re getting first class training from Phil Willcox and Aaron Garner, who have been trained by Paul Ekman International. Where discussions are meandering into other realms of hearsay and myths, we’re being given quite clear guidance on what scientific research has proven and what it hasn’t.

More tomorrow.

The Positive You

Today is one of those days. One of those days where you need to hear this. You, and you alone, control your path you tread. Call it destiny, fate, pre-determination, or just life, and it amounts to the same thing. And in equal measure, know this. You, and you alone affect those around you by your very presence. The dynamics of human interaction are fascinating and interwoven with such nuance, simplicity and complexity that it is here you can see a dance happen that is magical.

It’s easy to dismiss and explain away the mood we feel, or the frame of mind you have, or the people you meet, and just not seeing that it all starts with you. Your life is full of decisions which will either make your life richer, worse, better, boring, interesting and dull. And those decisions were made by you. No-one else makes them no matter how you might think this is the case.

So I lay down to you a law. A law that states that you are allowed to be positive. A law that states that you are allowed to feel good. A law that states you are allowed to believe. A law that gives you permission to live and enjoy life. This law is simple – be the positive you.

The people you have in your life, at home, friends and at work, all influence and direct your presence, but you control what you do. The things you read, watch, play, turn off all create an existence that is yours for the taking. What you eat, drink, and consume gives you a sense of life. How you feel, express yourself and let others know is what informs your self-awareness. These things and more enable you to exist and be your best.

Help others to understand, let them see there is a better way. You, you’re ok, I have faith and believe in you. It’s the person you dismissed, the person who wasn’t included, the person who didn’t hear, the person who wasn’t selected, the person who got left out, the person who didn’t achieve. They need to hear this message. You can deliver it, if you want to live a better life.

What I write here is just the beginning. It’s an awakening to help you be more than you are. You are the best version of yourself, but are you the best version to others? Are you helping them to see there’s a better way? We have a right to life, and a responsibility to help others live. This is what being positive will help achieve. Can you do it?

Thoughts from the #eqsummit

I’ve had an interest in the area of emotional intelligence for a while. From when it first came to the fore, many people were sceptical about the latest fad and dismissed it. There are a few reasons for this. It was new and only a handful of people actually understood what it was. It hadn’t been fully developed or thought through, so the full breadth of what it could offer hadn’t been realised. It felt too new age and not thorough enough to be taken seriously by major organisations or practitioners.

Fast forward to 2012, and we’re a long way from the 1990s. Many individuals sought to stick with this new thinking and really helped to advance its development. At the same time, studies were being done in other areas of psychology and science that would lend some very useful information to the area of emotional intelligence.

Last week, I attended the #eqsummit which sought to highlight just how far we’ve come in human understanding, and what this means for individuals, organisations, and society. The focus was on what emotional intelligence has been able to uncover and help with. At any conference/summit event you expect a product to be pushed at you. In this respect, you could not fault the PR from Roche Martin. They are a well-established group who have developed EQ tools such as the ECR (Emotional Capital Report)*, which is used by them in organisations to provide a basis for assessment, development, and coaching. It is also used by researchers and independent consultants for similar purposes. Of the 300-400 delegates present over the day, you can be sure Roche Martin will have gained considerable leads and demand for their product.

PR aside, the presenters over the day were well chosen and gave good insight into what using EQ as a methodology has helped them to achieve. Dr Martyn Newman, who owns Roche Martin, gave the opening keynote. He’s a very well polished and practised presenter, and is clearly on the speaker circuit often. His background in psychology and psychotherapy came through strongly, and gave solid credibility to his presentation. He provided links to developments in neuroscience, behavioural psychology, cognitive psychology, and talked about leaders and the top ten qualities they possess. I’m always cynical of these types of lists, and Dr Newman gave a useful way to think of these in the context of EQ:

Self-awareness – is about self-knowing and straightforwardness
Self-management – is about self-control, self-confidence and self-reliance
Social skills – is about relationship skills
Social awareness – is about empathy
Adaptability – is about being adaptable, having optimism and self-actualisation (not in the Maslow sense, but in having a passion for what you do)

He provided an interesting way to think about how early EQ has been present in those who just do it well. He said for years, scientists claimed that running a mile in less than 4 minutes could not be achieved, and if attempted would be severely detrimental to a person’s health. Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier. And not only did he do this, but in the following year, 45 other runners did the same. Dr Newman offered that if there wasn’t a sense of some of the qualities described above present in all of these individuals, then it must have been drugs that made this feat possible.

The ten qualities he described provide a very interesting way to think about EQ. I’ve used the broad categories before, and understand there are nuances to each that need to be understood. A point re-iterated was that unlike IQ, which hits a peak at the age of about 20, EQ is a set of dimensions which can fluctuate and we can be better at them in some instances, and very bad at them in others.

My real reason for attending the summit was to hear from the very eminent psychologist, Dr Paul Ekman. I’ve studied his work on micro-expressions and enjoy the rigour which he brought to the understanding of human emotions. I could talk a lot about his talk, but for a very informative post about this, go take a read on Jon Ingham’s Strategic HCM blog. It’s an excellent summary of the talk. The things that struck me were how he continues to work in this field, and is able to present to a large group when he is over 80 years old. His relationship with the Dalai Lama is not only impressive, but clearly an important part of his life. That they have regular conversations face to face is just awesome.

It’s always useful to get a perspective on how organisations have used EQ to help them improve the way they operate. This was usefully provided by Optus, an Australian based telecommunications company, and Quiksilver, the apparel surfing company. Both companies gave examples of where using EQ helped their senior management and Exec teams understand what they do well when relating to others, where they need work, and how to adapt their communication style for different people. It’s interesting that we forget we have to do this at work. We just assume everyone will understand what we have to say.

I really enjoyed a talk by Andrew Humphries, who has started a social enterprise (called Attitude Academy) in using elearning tools to provide coaching for school children to help them understand how to develop social skills. This is in partnership with schools and is provided on a group basis as opposed to individual children. He provides coaching for clients and through this makes his income which gives him the basis to be able to do the coaching for children.

There was a panel discussion at the end which was a chance to Q&A with the presenters over the day. This was fine, but I don’t think added anything extra to what had been presented. A fair bit to think about from the day, and Roche Martin can hold their head up high knowing they’ve sold their product extremely well.

*I’m not being sponsored to make mention of their product, but it is worth making mention of and taking a look at what it does.

Should you be Emotionally Intelligent?

Last week I posted up a list of statements that asked the question: Are you Emotionally Intelligent? Today, I’m going to back track a moment and start exploring what this means and what we’re trying to achieve. The interesting thing about Emotional Intelligence is that since Daniel Goleman compiled the various pieces of work that exist and settled on this terminology, a whole world of work has been spawned, and a lot of it very insightful to the human condition at work.

A company I’ve had contact with in the past was Consulting Tools. They’ve invested a lot of time and effort into developing an array of online questionnaires that help to develop your EQ in various ways. A psychologist by the name of Reuven Baron developed an inventory that helps you to assess your emotional strengths and weaknesses. There’s a well known consortium known as the EI Consortium who try and drive best practise in the development of EQ tools, research and reports.

It’s all impressive. And it’s all useful. Ultimately it comes down to how open you are to changing. Actually, it’s about how open you are to the possibility that you need to change. But why? And why use EQ as a measure? Well, if we think about the ‘why’, it’s because EQ helps us to think about a wide berth of behaviours that influence the way others respond to us. That is, the way I act elicits a response and I either understand that or I don’t. If I do, and I can see my behaviour might need to change as a result, then I can be pro-active about it. If I don’t and I remain ignorant, then going through a proper 360 questionnaire helps to raise the awareness, and I can then do something about it if I think I need to. But it’s all about your perception of your effectiveness.

Which is probably the hardest thing to perceive of yourself. Even if you’ve down the self-awareness exercise, do I perceive there’s something I need to now go ahead and do? And do I need to improve my behaviour across all the EQ competencies? Well, no. But you need to understand that you are more than capable of displaying them, and given the situation you are facing, it is your choice about how you do this.

For example, if your EQ competency of ’empathy’ is low, this does not mean you are incapable of being empathetic. It means that you do not display this competency that often and need to recognise the situations where you need to display it better.

Is it possible to improve how you display your EQ competencies? Absolutely. Through robust coaching, feedback, personal reflections and more, you can build more awareness about EQ and about how you display them. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do for my personal development is learn how to do this well. And it’s something I remain continually mindful of. As an L&Der, it’s almost a basic component of what helps me to be effective at what I do.

As with most self-development tools, use EQ as a way of helping you to appreciate what you’re already good at, what you can do and should be doing to maximise this, and to think about what you’re not good at and what you can do to not let that get in your way. And only work with those who have formal qualifications in the area or a thorough understanding of the tools.

Are you emotionally intelligent?

I ran a workshop session with a group of leaders in the business today and spoke about Emotional Intelligence. I’ll say more about the topic in another post, but for now, look at the statements below and see what it starts to make you question about yourself…

Self-awareness

I recognise my emotions and the effects these have on others.

I realise the links between my feeling, what I think, do and say.

I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

I am open to candid feedback, new perspectives, continuous learning and self-development.

I can voice views that are unpopular and go out on a limb for what is right.

I am decisive and able to make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures.

Self-regulation

I manage my impulsive feeling and distressing emotions well.

I think clearly and stay focused under pressure.

I build trust through reliability and authenticity.

I admit my own mistakes and confront unethical actions in others.

I hold myself accountable for meeting my objectives.

I am organised and careful in my work.

I adapt my response and tactics to fit fluid circumstances.

I seek out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources.

Self-motivation

I am results-oriented, with a high drive to meet my objectives and standards.

I pursue information to reduce uncertainty and find ways to do better.

I can find a sense of purpose in the larger mission.

I use the group’s core values in making decisions and clarifying choices.

I am ready to seize opportunities.

I can cut through red tape and bend the rules when necessary to get the job done.

I operate from hope of success rather than fear of failure.

Empathy

I am attentive to emotional cues and listen well.

I help out based on understanding other people’s needs and feelings.

I seek ways to increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.

I acknowledge and reward people’s strengths, accomplishments and development.

I offer useful feedback and identify people’s needs for development.

I respect and relate well to people from varied backgrounds.

I see diversity as opportunity, creating an environment where diverse people can thrive.

I accurately read key power relationships.

I can detect crucial social networks.

I can accurately read situations and organisational and external realities.

Social skills

I fine tune presentations to appeal to the listener.

I can orchestrate dramatic events to effectively make a point.

I deal with difficult issues straightforwardly.

I listen well, seek mutual understanding and welcome sharing of information fully.

I articulate and arouse enthusiasm for a shared vision and mission.

I lead by example.

I can recognise the need for change and remove barriers.

I can spot potential conflict, bring disagreements into the open, and help deescalate.

I build rapport and keep others in the loop.

I promote a friendly, cooperative climate.

I model team qualities like respect, helpfulness and cooperation.

I adapted the above from information found on the EI Consortium site, called The Emotional Competence Framework.