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Building Emotional Intelligence

Want to improve your emotional intelligence? Here is a good place to start.

Before we delve into how to build your emotional intelligence let’s first look at exactly what it is. In short, it’s how to identify and manage your own emotions and that of others. Psychology Today breaks it down further into three skills: “emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.” Due to the varying personalities, capabilities, and difference emotional strengths of individuals in the workplace, it’s extremely helpful to build your emotional intelligence and studies show that those who do are better able to motivate themselves and their teams. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

3 Vital Questions
If you struggle with speaking too quickly, without thinking things through first, this is a great method for you. Before you say something ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me now?

While it only takes a few seconds to answer this in your head, it can be a huge game changer in improving your emotional intelligence.

Lean into Awkward Silence
Going off the point above, it’s a good idea to think for a second before you answer, especially if it’s an important question that warrants a thoughtful response. While it might feel awkward, give yourself 5-15 seconds to think of what you want to say so you are able to articulate it in a more meaningful way instead of fumbling with your words while trying to get your point across.

Give and Take Feedback
Thoughtful and helpful feedback is vital for a person’s growth and development. When you are receiving feedback instead of feeling criticized, view it as valuable. If you leave the conversation with your ego feeling a little bruised, give it some time so your emotions are more in check, before asking how that feedback can help you improve. On the flip side, if you are the one giving feedback try to focus mostly on the positive. Tell them what they are doing right as this will help motivate them, and if there is something they need to improve upon, approach the topic in a friendly matter and try and relate to the issue. Perhaps it’s something you used to do as well so share how you changed. It’s important to give them tools for how to improve vs. just stating that they are doing something wrong. People want to be given the chance to succeed so show them how.

These are just some fast and easy suggestions on how to quickly build emotional intelligence. It’s an important skill to strengthen not only for your professional career, but your personal life as well as it will help you become more empathetic, self-aware, and have more self-control over your emotions. If you want to develop this skill further, Inc., has a great article on this with even more tools.

Building Emotional Intelligence

Dealing with Work Interruptions

Whether working from home or in the office, work interruptions are inevitable. While sometimes they can be a welcome distraction, such as a quick conversation with a co-worker about an enjoyable subject, there are other times when you are deep in concentration and a distraction steers you off course. Distractions come in many forms: a text message alert on your phone, scrolling through social media mindlessly or just having someone talk you while you’re in the middle of working on something. Below we will look at some ways to minimize interruptions and how to reset when an interruption does happen so you can quickly get back to the task at hand.

Minimizing Interruptions and Distractions
To minimize interruptions you first need to think about what your main interruptions are and match a solution to that specific problem. For instance, if you are easily interrupted with text or personal email alerts on your phone, set it to silent for an extended period during your work hours and only have it alert you when you receive a phone call (which typically are more urgent and work related then texts are). If your problem is scrolling through social media when you are supposed to be working, give yourself a schedule. Instead of checking it when you’re simply bored, stick to a schedule that works for you. Perhaps that’s checking social media once or twice a day for a set number of minutes. Another common interruption is noisy coworkers. Either let them know ahead of time that you need to be focused and can’t be interrupted or simply put on a pair of headphones to signal to them you’re not in the mood to chat. Likewise, if you’re working from home and need to stay focused, let your family members know that you can’t get interrupted during your workday and ideally work in a room with a door you can close. While these are just some examples, think about what interruptions you deal with most often and a solution to that issue. Here is a great article if you need further help with this.

Getting Back on Track
As we said before, interruptions are inevitable so it’s also important to have solutions to help you quickly get back to your work. If you think it’s hard to get back into the zone after an interruption you’re not alone. There was a study from the University of California Irvine, that showed “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.” If you have multiple interruptions during your workday it can be hard to get all of your daily tasks done. One hack to quickly try and quickly refocus after an interruption is simply to give yourself 5 minutes. Instagram’s cofounder, Kevin Systrom, had a trick which is: “If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.” Another tip is to challenge yourself and see how quickly you can get back into the zone after an interruption. Have it be a game and see if you can get that 23 minutes and 15 second average down to 20 minutes, then 17, and so on.

We all deal with interruptions while working and these disruptions not only decrease our productivity but also increase our stress. Think about what your most common distractions are during your workday and put some measures in place to mitigate these distractions and if that fails, try the above tricks to get back to the task at hand faster.

Dealing with Work Interruptions

How Companies Can Attract Millennials

With almost half of today’s working generation considered to be a Millennial (anyone born between 1981 and 1996), companies need to be strategic in recruiting this generation’s top talent. To do this, companies need to understand what is important to them and what they value most in their work situations. Having a good work-life balance is one of the top factors. A survey on FlexJobs found that “78% of millennials say they would be more loyal to an employer if they had flexible work options” and “70% of millennials have left or considered leaving a job because it lacked flexible work options”. Given that this is such an important issue for Millennials, here are some suggestions for how companies can attract this generation.

Remote Work

A Deloitte study found that over 50% of Millennials surveyed said that remote work opportunities boosted productivity and 75% said they’d prefer to have more opportunities to work remotely. Due to COVID-19, remote work has dramatically increased and for Millennials, they will want the flexibility to remain once the pandemic has passed. With companies such as Twitter telling their employees they can work from home “forever” is a clever strategy that will likely entice the Millennial job seeker.

Flexible Work Hours

Millennials also prefer to have more flexibility with the hours they work. With many Millennials now parents themselves, or looking after their own parents, they prefer to have a flexible work schedule. This may look like their day starting at 6am and ending at 10pm but taking breaks during the day to take care of their family duties and personal well-being. Millennials feel that if you are completing quality work, meeting deadlines, etc. it shouldn’t matter the exact hours that you get your work done so long as you do get it done.

Company Culture

A company’s philanthropic involvement is also important to Millennials. They want to work for a company that gives back to society and makes a positive impact on the world. One way companies can do this is through fundraising events and having employees volunteer part of their work hours at a non-profit or charity. It’s important for employees to be part of the conversation and have a vote in what organizations they help support. Having part of employee’s work hours devoted to a meaningful cause helps them feel that they have a better work-life balance and are contributing members of society.

Thanks in large part to technology, for Millennials there is often an overlap of work hours and personal hours. They may answer work emails during dinner or while watching a movie in the evening but also want the flexibility to not be tied down to their desk Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. In order to both attract top talent and avoid employee burnout, it’s imperative that companies offer flexibility not only with schedules but also where employees work. Furthermore, for the Millennial generation, giving back helps them feel more connected to society and that they are serving a larger purpose.

How Companies Can Attract Millennials

What To Say To Inspire and Motivate Your Team

Business leaders right now not only have the challenge of encouraging their (possibly remote) teams to continue to hit their targets and goals, but they also need to provide comfort during these uncertain times. If your employees are tired, have lost their focus, and just seem to need a morale boost, one great way to help encourage them is through your words. As you will learn below, it’s essential to express your appreciation for your team frequently and genuinely. Also, asking your team for feedback and how they are doing would be showing an interest in your team’s emotional state and well being. Having open communication can help them be more productive and feel more connected to the company’s mission. Here are some ideas on what to say to help inspire and encourage your team.

Express Your Gratitude and Appreciation
A Gallup study looked at the power of praise and recognition and found that employees who receive praise once a week have increased levels of productivity, higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, and are more likely to stay with their organization.  Unhappy employees are also costly employees. The study found, “It costs the U.S. economy between $250 and $300 billion every year in lost productivity alone. When you add workplace injury, illness, turnover, absences, and fraud, the cost could surpass $1 trillion per year, or nearly 10% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”. Expressing your gratitude and appreciation for your team on a regular basis is essential if you want a higher functioning and loyal team. Doing so will show your team that this is a group effort and their work and help is essential.

Feedback and Communication
For your employees to feel like valuable members of the team you need to encourage open communication and give them a safe space to express and voice their opinions. A collaborative environment where all team member’s opinions matter will spark creativity and help create out-the-box ideas that can help take your company further. Ask them for feedback on what they think would benefit the company the most and find out if there is anything you can do to help them with their goals and visions.

Show your Vulnerability
It’s also important for your team to see your vulnerability and that you don’t have all the answers. Brené Brown, who is one of the experts in this field, makes a strong case for vulnerability in the workplace saying “To lead is to be vulnerable every minute of every day; there is no courage without vulnerability.” In an interview with Salesforce, she suggests organizations operationalize their company values — take each value and translate it into three visible behaviors. This exercise helps you consider what kind of leader and human you want to be right now.

As we continue to collectively navigate these challenging and uncertain times, be the kind of leader you aspire to be. Show up for your team and express your appreciation for them, create an environment that fosters collaboration and communication, and be honest and transparent.

What To Say To Inspire and Motivate Your Team