One Reason We Struggle With Emotional Intelligence

And What To Do About It

I became interested in emotional intelligence for several reasons:

  1. I have been an executive for over 24 years. In that time, I noticed reoccurring behavior patterns in myself and in those I worked with, that were getting in our way.
  2. I have been married for 30 years this month and I have become aware that my need to be in control was not as empowering as needed for my wife and five children. My personality traits cause me to become defensive because of certain triggers and circumstances. I started learning how I could become a better husband father and leader.
  3. I started working for a leadership development company and I became fascinated with emotional intelligence. My findings has helped me train over 11,000 business professionals and since then coach scores of executives to be more effective in their roles.

I have learned that everyone has some sort of conditioned behavioral patterns they are dealing with.

Some behavioral challenges are like mine, most are different. Some people have a need for significance or to be liked. I am working with a group that puts on a major youth event every year, to teach young people valuable life lessons, and give them opportunities to lead and serve. Jonas, one of the adult leaders, had an unconscious desire to be liked. Because of that, he planned activities that would be fun and make him popular with the kids. This caused the event to go significantly over budget. To Jonas, the need to be liked overrides the need to stay in the budget and give the kids service opportunities, which will develop their leadership skills. Other leaders are frustrated with this behavior. However, most are conflict avoidant, another behavioral pattern. They do not want to hurt Jonas’ feelings, so they don’t say anything to Jonas’ face. This behavior pattern, to avoid conflict with Jonas, led them to complain to others behind his back.

There are multiple behaviors that could be getting in your way. Perhaps you have a hard time saying no. For example you meet with a friend who you know is going to ask you to join a volunteer board or do something you do not have the time or bandwidth to do. You plan to say no and instead you leave the meeting having said yes again. You promise yourself you are going to be nice, loving and supportive to people you love. Instead, you snap and belittle someone you care for in a moment of weakness. You promise you are going to hold your peace and listen to others, but you end up over sharing and “one upping” with your stories. These behaviors keep reoccurring though we desperately want them to stop.

What will it take for you to solve the problems you currently face? To get the results you want and those expected of you? There will always be challenges or changes in your life. The one consistent element is you. There are many things in your environment you can’t control. You can control your response to what happens. To effectively control your response, develop your emotional intelligence! There is a high probability that in the next six weeks you will get frustrated. There is a huge value for you to be able control your frustration. There are tools available to you that will really help you improve your emotional intelligence and help you become the leader you want to be and your team wants to follow. Become the friend, spouse, or the parent your family loves to be with.

Why Emotional Intelligence Is So Hard

With all the benefits of emotional intelligence and the overwhelming evidence of the other benefits, research suggests that only on third of the population is aware of their emotions as they happen. There is simple reason the number of emotionally intelligent people is so small.

We are not conditioned to be emotionally intelligent. We do not judge ourselves by how emotionally aware we are. Instead, we typically judge ourselves by how right we are or how intelligent we are. This behavior is not necessarily our fault. It is the result of consistent programming from our childhood until now. Early in our educational experience, we started getting homework. With the homework, we met the red pen. When we did your homework and made a mistake, we usually received notes in red pen in the margin usually pointing out our mistakes. This process was repeated over and over through our education process. You were constantly judged on how right you were. And when you were right a lot, you got to go to the next grade, you were rewarded for being right, and then you get to go to college and the process of being right was reinforced here. The world is full of people trained and conditioned to be right.

We may get hired or promoted because of knowledge or technical skill we obtained through our education. Most of us know someone who was promoted and failed. Because they were great at the task or job, they were promoted. In a leadership role, emotional intelligence skills are needed because as a leader, we get things done through others efforts. We no longer do the job, but manage others who do the job.

Most of us have received very little feedback on our emotional intelligence through our formative years. Most of us have the EI competencies of a 4th grader. We’re all emotionally 4th graders with longer legs. Most of our behavioral patterns are developed by then and we carry those habits into adulthood. Most of us judge ourselves on how right we are. The best leaders understand this and have begun to develop their EI competencies.. The Harvard Business Review Article written by Daniel Goleman makes it clear that the “smarter” you are, the more likely you are to be less effective in a leadership role. Read When Being Too Smart Hurts You. Think about how most people judge themselves. “Am I right? Was I right?” Is it possible to be 100% right and not handle the situation well? Yes. It is not enough to manage based on how right you are. The ability to be right doesn’t matter. The ability to have a positive impact does. For more information on impact, see our article, Is the Fundamental Attribution Error Destroying Your Team.

What You Can Do To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence?

  1. Learn about emotional intelligence:

    Study the subject and learn how important it is. I recommend a couple of good books: Working With Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, and Emotional Intelligence 2.0, By Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. This book comes with an online assessment to help you understand where to focus your EI self development strategy. Which brings us to the next suggestion.

  2. Self-Assess:

    A 360 Assessment is a great tool to understand the impact you are having on your direct reports, peers, managers and more. It takes a willingness to get better to seek the feedback of others. Another great tool is the ProScan Personal Development Profile. This survey will help you identify your behavioral patterns that help and hurt you. It will help you understand how you are being depleted of energy based on your environment which may be making it harder to control impulse urges when you are triggered by an event, person, or situation.

  3. Work with a mentor or coach:

    Enlist someone at home or work to help you identify the behaviors you exhibit which are not helpful to your success and the success of your team. An effective coach can also interview key people in your life to help find patterns of behavior that would be helpful to address.

  4. Identify your emotional triggers:

    Read What Sets You Off? When you identify events, situations, or people that trigger your patterned responses, you can prepare yourself. Greater awareness of how your environment triggers you is a hallmark of increased emotional intelligence.

  5. Develop your team:

    Empower the people around you to become more aware. This will raise the bar for the entire team and create positive reinforcement for all to begin to improve behaviors.

  6. Observe others:

    Pay attention to other people and notice how they behave in certain situations. Identify behavior your want to emulate and behaviors you want to avoid. For more information read Sharpen Emotional Intelligence by Observing Others.

  7. Be curious:

    Be curious about your behaviors. Ask why you behave a certain way in certain situations. Do your best to be an observer of your own behavior. This is a coaching technique that can be very helpful. Read, Change Your Altitude. There is a saying, “That which we observe, we are no more.”

When you improve your emotional intelligence, you will experience immediate benefits to your ability to change your approach and be more dynamic as a leader. You will be more productive and better able to achieve the results you desire.

The Author, Spencer Horn, is the president of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC.

Act As If…Today!!!

Experience the fulfillment and happiness of achieving your future goals, your new year’s resolutions TODAY!

Over the years I have learned a principle of success called “act as if”. Believe, think, act, dress, talk and feel like someone who has already achieved success. The idea is to begin to program your subconscious to find ways to help you achieve the success or goals you desire. William James considered by some to be the father of psychology said, “If you want a quality, act as if you have it.” The famous Jack Canfield writes about this principle in his book “The Success Principles”.

It is fascinating how powerful our thoughts are. I heard of a study that looked at why college students drink. Several students reported they drank so they could be more sociable, outgoing and fun. They thought the alcohol helped them to achieve these goals. The experiment divided students into two groups, one with alcohol and the other group were told they were getting alcohol when in fact the drinks where non-alcoholic. The first group with alcohol behaved how you might expect at a college party. The second group, surprisingly, behaved very much the same. Participants laughed and socialized and even behaved as if they were inebriated. The point is; they did not need the alcohol to be outgoing, fun and sociable. They just needed to think they were those things and they were.

If you want to get a promotion at work, start behaving in a way expected of those in the desired position. This will make it easier for management to believe you have the ability to do the job and may help you get the promotion. If you want to lose weight, behave like people who are healthier. If you see yourself as healthy, you will put down the doughnuts and begin eating better and exercising more. As a result, you will lose weight and be healthier. Visualize the success you desire and begin behaving today as if you had achieved the success.

Wayne Dyer wrote a book called, “You’ll See It When You Believe It”. Do you believe this or do you believe the more common maxim, “I’ll believe it when I see it”? If you prefer the scientific method to a principle of faith, consider how many people successful in business, sports, or life believed they would achieve before the evidence of that success appeared. Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest. I said that before I even knew I was.”

Perhaps you want more scientific proof that faith works. Within two decades of Einstein discovering his theory of relativity, Dutch physicists Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg made a similarly profound discovery. The units that make up the atom act in a much unexpected way. The mere act of observing atomic particles influenced the way they behaved. Meaning our thoughts influence matter. Thought is what the universe is made of. Matter and energy are two of the forms that thought takes. Everything in the world is made of Atoms. Atoms are made of energy. Energy is made out of thought. This has enormous implications for the power of your thoughts. Your thoughts determine your results in business and in your personal life. Napoleon Hill says “thoughts are things.”

The Heisenberg principle has been applied in psychology. We know that just observing people in test groups influences the outcome of the experiment. You probably behave differently when your boss is watching or your employees behave different when you are watching.

Acting as if, does not mean you have all the answers or know everything you want to know. It means you believe you will know in the future. Several years ago I was consulting for Larry Miller Theater’s in Salt Lake City. I was working for the late, highly successful businessman Larry Miller. He developed one of the largest car dealership operations in the country. He owned the Utah Jazz NBA team and other businesses. My office was right next to the Utah Jazz offices. I was hired to help provide expertise on the IMAX theater Larry was building at his Megaplex development in Sandy, Utah. This was a new venture for him at the time. Larry was very financially successful. I was a consultant with no such wealth. Despite our financial disparity, Larry wanted to learn everything he could from me.

I love the quote, “When you come to a point you have no need to impress anybody, your freedom will begin.” Larry did not need to impress me. He wanted to learn from me, which I believe helped him have more success in his venture. The characteristics exhibited by Larry did not begin when he was successful. They started before and continued on after.

Act as if you are already successful and you will see success come to you. Here are some of the behaviors successful people I know demonstrate. I will be working hard to “Act as if”, with these suggestions in 2016, WILL YOU?

  1. Acknowledge other people’s ideas and contribution:

    Successful people are confident enough to not be threatened by brilliant contributions of others. Always look to lift others up. This in no way will hold you back. Celebrate others successes. Recognizing others good work and contribution builds trust and respect. This will make it easier to get through tough times with team members it will also help them listen when you have to correct or discipline them.

  2. Apologize for offenses and mistakes quickly:

    Be willing to admit when you make mistakes. No one is perfect. Even the most successful leaders make mistakes. Hiding your mistakes will only make things worse. If you have caused offense, address the situation as soon as possible. You want as much help as possible on the way to your goals. Unfortunately, we are often our own biggest stumbling block. Showing humility will get you back on track faster than ignoring or covering up.

  3. Listen:

    When you are talking, you are not learning.

  4. Speak well of others:

    If you truly do not like someone, take advice from Abraham Lincoln who said, “I don’t like that person. I must get to know them better.” You cannot lift yourself by tearing others down.

  5. Be honest:

    The most successful people I know have high levels of integrity. Always tell the truth. This does not mean we have to be harsh and critical as some popular politicians of our day. I have the most respect for successful people who tell it like it is with dignity and respect.

  6. Ask questions:

    This is one of the fastest ways to success. It requires you to think and listen, two habits of highly successful people. Click here to learn more about this.

  7. Be interested:

    Care about others. Most people are not successful by themselves. They mostly receive the help, mentorship, labor, effort and support of others. Show you care about others and they just might be willing to help you more.

  8. Be in the moment:

    Enjoy today while you are striving for future success. I have heard people say, “never be satisfied”. I believe a better approach is to be constantly improving. Too many of us miss the benefits of being happy with who we are and where we are today. A fear of complacency may be fueling this. Remember successful people, from our perspective, have arrived. They enjoy the fruits of their success. They also enjoyed it along the way. If your eye is always looking to the horizon, you never arrive. Worse, you miss what is happening in your life now. Enjoying today is not complacency. By all means, strive. Just remember to enjoy the ride.

Waiting until you are successful to demonstrate these behaviors will slow your efforts to achieve them. Start today. Act as if. Enjoy the ride!

The author Spencer Horn is President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. You may also enjoy these additional articles: “The Help You Need To Achieve Your Resolutions”, “The Power of Accountability”, “Silence Your Saboteur”

Silence Your Saboteur!

Learn How We Derail Our Goals And Steps To Get Back On Track

Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with a personal coach. I learned how I (and others) self-sabotage when working towards our goals. In my initial meetings through various processes, my coach discovered my values and goals in several areas of my life. Subsequently, I would meet with her weekly on the telephone and discuss how I was doing in my business and in my personal life. I would report on my progress toward achieving my various goals. Through this process, I discovered a saboteur that would show up from time to time and stop or slow my progress towards my goals. This saboteur was no foreign or domestic terrorist. This saboteur was grown much closer to home.

I had declared I really wanted to achieve certain financial goals. When I didn’t achieve these goals as expected, I would become frustrated. This caused me to push harder to achieve my goal. You might be thinking, “bravo Spencer, push on!” What I found was the harder I pushed the further I would get from my goal. I would become cranky and curt with co-workers and loved ones. In these moments, my way of being was blocking me from achieving my goals. My coach asked me to give my sabotaging behavior a name so I could recognize it when it showed up.

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Captain Insano

The purpose of this exercise was to help me identify my saboteur. I worked to understand what my saboteur would sound like when he talked. I identified his fears and more importantly, his values. I needed to understand how the saboteur’s values would hijack and terrorize my declared values for his values. The name I gave my saboteur was Captain Insano, made famous by Adam Sandler’s “Water Boy”. In the movie, Captain Insano is a wrestler who the Water Boy idolizes. He offers his services to Captain Insano through a nationally televised fan show. When captain Insano learns the Water Boy is 31 years old, he maniacally laughs at him in front of the TV audience. In this moment his vulnerability is exposed, and his hopes and dreams of working with his idol have been sabotaged.Block What you think

After this original inspiration for the name of my saboteur, I learned that the Urban Dictionary defines “Captain Insano” as an individual who may or may not be at fault for their habitual stupidity due to their bi-polar nature and lack of general common sense. My saboteur would show up at vulnerable times and stop me in my tracks. Many of us construct saboteurs as a self-protection mechanism. Most often they protect us in an awkward way. They will say to us, “stay where you are at, it is more comfortable here!” “It is okay to be mediocre because not as many demands and expectations are made of you!” In a relationship, a saboteur might tell us to avoid taking a chance so we won’t get hurt.

When I declared I wanted to write a book. Captain Insano showed up and asks, “what have you got to say that people want read?” He convinces me I am neither interesting nor unique. When I became CEO of a company that had been struggling, I would hear Captain Insano tell me the fight I was experiencing was not one I could win. He said I should just give up and not put myself through unnecessary pain and misery. He told me I deserved to be successful and perhaps that could be achieved elsewhere. He justified for me why it was okay to give up and give in. If you are like me and want to achieve your goals, it is time to stop the saboteur inside your head for good.

Steps to defeat your merciless saboteur:

  1. Identify your saboteur:

    Notice when you feel frustrated, angry, sarcastic, dismissive, afraid, unmotivated or upset. Your specific block to success could be fear of failure, fear of success, conflict avoidance, verbally attacking others, steamrolling others, need to be right, focus on problems, inability to say no, controlling, inflexible, have to work too hard, need to be liked, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, overly skeptical, overly agreeable, analysis paralysis, critical, procrastination and many more. Consider asking someone you trust for help identifying your self-sabotaging behaviors.

  2. Name your saboteur:

    Notice what is happening when the above negative feelings arise. Begin to understand what situations give your saboteur power. Recognizing that you are recognizing will help you regain control of your thoughts and behaviors. Naming your saboteur will help you to not take yourself so seriously and become more objective about your behavior.

  3. Focus on the outcomes of success you have declared:

    When you hear the saboteur talking negatively in your ear, Block focus-on-where-you-want-to-go-not-on-what-you-fearstate the outcome you desire. For example, when Captain Insano tells me no one wants to read or hear what I want to say, I tell myself “people are interested in what I have to say. I have ability to influence people to achieve positive results.” As I focus on these positive statements, I hear the saboteur less and I begin to program my subconscious thoughts to start supporting my goals declared by my conscious thoughts.Block celebrate-what-youve-accomplished-but-raise-the-bar-a-little-higher-each-time-you-succeed-mia-hamm

  4. Celebrate your progress:

    Recognize that you are making improvement. If your saboteur is strong, understand it will take time to defeat and be kind to yourself. You may have years of practice listening to your saboteur. Avoid letting your saboteur talk bad about you. When you start to notice any improvement, it is okay to cheer yourself on. Gain confidence with each small victory and keep moving forward, even after a challenging time where you may have taken a step or two back to your old habits.

  5. Get out of your comfort zone:

    Look for opportunities to get outside of your comfort zone. This is where you will learn new empowering behaviors. Recognize the conversations with your saboteur are designed to keep you in your comfort zone. When that happens, you will not move towards your goals. Do something uncomfortable everyday. Call a new prospect, ask for help that you need, get up and give a presentation, etc.

  6. Breathe:

    When you are frustrated upset or angry, often during these moments you are not breathing effectively and the lack of oxygen encourages your saboteur. Slow down and breath. Oxygen helps Captain Insano fall asleep.

As I have gotten control of my saboteur, my results have dramatically improved. He still shows up from time to time. I am more equipped to deal with him. As a result, I feel much happier and more confident.

Start now to defeat your saboteur. Achieve the success you deserve! If you feel you are getting stuck, work with an expert who can help you, do it today! Remember…Block insanoThe author Spencer Horn, is President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. You may also enjoy these additional articles: “The Help You Need To Achieve Your Resolutions”,“The Power of Accountability;” “Act As If Today”