Emotional Intelligence, EQ is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
The book I connect with and benefits my career most on the subject of EQ is ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’ by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, Patrick M. Lencioni.
In last Tuesday's post, I explained why emotional intelligence is critical to your career and promised to share one positive and one negative experience in my career involving emotional intelligence or lacking emotional intelligence.
I am going to give you one example of positively addressing an issue and one negative example of mismanaging an issue.
More recently in my career, I had an employee that was my friend before I became her manager and then suddenly could not stand the site of me once I became her boss. My approach had not changed, this was just an individual that I did not know well, I was promoted within four months of hire in the organization, and I got to know her more over the next few years as her manager.
When I became pregnant with my first child and was experiencing ‘all day morning sickness' this individual told my director I was pregnant before I had even reached 12 weeks and before I was willing and able to inform my employer. Yes, can we say ultimate betrayal! However, I did not react to the employee, and I did not let it outwardly affect my relationship with the employee.
I share this because later that year when I returned from maternity leave, this employee came to my office weeping and in need of help at 4:50 pm. Now my child was in daycare at this point, only five months old and I desperately wanted to leave on time to go scoop him up and spend time with him. But the employee was going through a terrible divorce and told me her husband picked up her children from school without her consent and she had no idea where they were.
So I stayed, I got on the phones, and we contacted police, lawyers, and within 30 minutes we found her kids and got her set up with an affordable lawyer that could help her throughout the rest of the process.
Let me say that no matter what as a manager it's your responsibility to be aware and get over your hang-ups to help your staff. Our relationship did not change after that evening. My employee went back to hating me, I was a bad person, and blah, blah, blah.
But the rest of my staff saw my actions, and this further instilled in them that I meant it when I said I cared for them and that no matter what I had their interests at the forefront of my decisions and actions.
Earlier in my career, I was a ‘Lead' for a team of 15 high-call volume consultative sales representatives. My manager entrusted me to lead the weekly team meeting and introduce the technique I developed to increase customer retention.
In theory, the meeting should have been my opportunity to shine, but that is not what happened. I let an individual, whom I spent quite a lot of time with outside of work I might add, detract from my message and turn the meeting into a referendum on how I handle conflict.
All team members and superiors knew the person I reference as a challenge to manage. My first mistake was taking his contempt for my leadership and suggestions personal. Again, he was my friend, and I think our friendship gave me the false impression he would embrace me in the workplace as a leader.
Now the juicy part, what happened? I was leading the meeting, and my friend rudely interrupted and said something along the lines of not needing any new tips, and he wanted to get back out on the floor. My terrible reaction, I'm cringing just writing this, was to look at him directly and say, "Why don't I continue when you can sit down and behave like an adult!"
Wow, can you believe I said that? I knew that I was out-of-line. I could not believe I had said that, and worst in public. And to make matters worse, the boss I was trying to impress was in the room to witness my failure.
My boss took me aside, something I should have done with my heckler, and explained that being in charge is knowing the time and place to address conflicts. While I may have been correct in my assessment how would my reaction ever change the outcome? How could my team member ever feel safe to express dissent or be interested in my help?
I share this experience because luckily my friend forgave me and even apologized for his behavior. But I learned a valuable lesson, and I never let anyone control my reaction again. I learned to think first and also became known within that organization and each one after as cool, calm, and collected. I became the person that removed emotion from the situation and worked to find multiple solutions to resolve conflict positively. And you can too.
Until next Tuesday…
Comment Below: What is one negative workplace interaction you wish you could change?