Top 10 Reasons for Playing!

reasons to play

  1. It feels good and makes you happy!
  2. Happy is good! Good for your health, for your decision-making, for your relationships….. Heck, what isn’t it good for?
  3. It’s good for our world economy – a stretch? Maybe, but what about the recreation dollars we spend even if we’re just driving to a great hike in the forest and taking a picnic. And happy people have more capacity to slug through the difficult conversations to get to good collaborative decisions. Tell that to the G-20 – or even the G-7 leaders!
  4. We build resilience, defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and elasticity, as in the ability to spring back after things are bent out of shape. Resilience is enhanced through play, through relaxing and through nourishing reflecting. Play regularly to be prepared for life’s twists and turns.
  5. It makes other people happy.
  6. You can get good exercise and increase your cardio vascular functioning.
  7. Brain health and well-being.
  8. We satisfy our own developmental need to be creative and feel competent.
  9. We can be more creative while playing with novel possibilities in an environment where we can be flexible and relaxed.
  10. To interact and be reflective without it seeming so serious – “Hey, why did we miss that grounder when Holly hit it?” “What shall our team do next time?”

Play has been described as unplanned behavior, in other words activity that emerges and evolves spontaneously from within its own context. It occurs in a climate that facilitates creativity and innovation. Young children accomplish the majority of their most critical early learning through play. But guess what, adults learn best in the same sort of attitude — relaxed curiosity. We just don’t emphasize play nearly as much as can serve us. For children play is considered valuable because it develops their social relationship skills, helps build positive interactions between the child and their classmates, and provides the chance to let off a bit of steam (reduce or prevent anger). It also builds on their skills of sharing and taking turns. Isn’t this what we want for ourselves, our families and our teams? Of course it is!

At Collaborative Growth we’re declaring July as a great month for playing. We hope you take time to enjoy this beautiful month whether it’s quite sunny for you in the northern part of our globe or snow is whitening your world in the southern hemisphere.

We also want to express our gratitude for Freedom. In the United States where we live, July 4th is the day we celebrate our nation’s Independence. Let us all embrace freedom with our intentions that really includes liberty and justice for all to help build a world that works. Neurologists assure us that seeing requires believing so let’s join our combined vision in seeing a world that works for all!

Blessings and our thanks to all of you!

Marcia and James

Team Conflict – Opportunity or Loss?

This article presents a brief summary of ideas from Chapter Seven of our book, The Handbook for Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence.

CGrowth HandbookDoes your team expand its skills when faced with conflict? One of the questions on the TESI team survey, is “Our disputes stimulate team productivity.” How would you answer that question about your team? If you find you and your team have room to grow, one of the key strategies is to develop team skills in divergent thinking, which is the ability to think along different perspectives and to consider one another’s different perspectives. Conflict just is what makes it useful or destructive comes from the attitude and capabilities of those charged with responding to the conflict. Those capabilities are built with emotional and social intelligence (ESI). Seven competencies required for team success are identified in The Emotionally Intelligent Team. These seven are assessed by the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®). Conflict resolution is one of the seven competencies, and it’s the one that teams struggle with the most.

Nine elements compose a team’s skill in handling conflict. These include skills in patience and willingness to work problems through, the ability to use the ESI skills of empathy and assertiveness, recognizing and working with differences in personality among team members, and the ability to choose different strategies for resolving conflict according to the specific circumstances of an individual event. For example, a team must choose their battles causing them to avoid some problems. And there are times it pays to be competitive rather than cooperative or collaborative—although competitive benefits may be limited to a stimulating challenge such as the first one to solve a complex problem gets a free lunch. One of the most important skills for success is to be able to invite and consider different perspectives. This is the powerful skill of divergent thinking – and it’s a solid success differentiator.

At Collaborative Growth, we conducted a study evaluating TESI results of team conflict resolution skills to consider the relationship of conflict resolution to skills in divergent thinking and in relationship to the other six competencies assessed by the TESI. We found a strong relationship between a team’s ability to appreciate and use divergent thinking and its effectiveness in solving conflicts.

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method that is essential to effective team work because it’s at the heart of the ability to generate ideas and to listen to highly different perspectives. It is often used for creative and problem-solving purposes. The goal of divergent thinking has several applications with the primary benefit being the capacity within the team to think along different lines and to feel safe and supported in discussing differences. It includes generating many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time and may involve breaking a topic down into component parts to gain insight about different aspects of the matter. In the best of circumstances, divergent thinking occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are often generated in a random, unorganized fashion. During conflict, divergent thinking requires strength at the individual and team level to think about alternative scenarios even when there may be a strong temptation to protect the original way of assessing a problem. Working in an environment safe for divergent thinking supports Collaborative Intelligence™, the pinnacle of team emotional and social intelligence as reflected by the TESI team model.

In the best situation, divergent thinking by team members or the team as a whole is followed by the ideas and information being organized using convergent thinking, that is, putting the various ideas back together in a new organized and structured way. Without divergent thinking, teams cannot reach the payoff of in-depth consideration before arriving at convergent thinking, because they haven’t fully considered the problem they are seeking to address. Yet, diverse thinking can be difficult at a team level in part because of a process known as groupthink. Janis demonstrated the effects of groupthink by describing that even after groups become aware of the risks of an unfavorable process, they’ll go along with it because of the pressure for achieving group consensus. ESI is a big help in preventing groupthink. Being aware of emotions around the team, and having effective response strategies, will support the courage to get beyond the compulsion to agree with one another.

Teams work best when team members welcome different perspectives and feel safe in resolving conflict because they know that doing so can lead to increased productivity and a better work environment. Tips for growing conflict resolution skills are found in Chapter Seven in The Handbook for Developing Emotional and Social Intelligence. That chapter summarizes our research on divergent thinking and provides many ideas for helping teams expand their skills in working with positive and negative emotions.

WEBINAR: Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork in Times of Distrust

Free  Webinar June 8th at 1:00PM EDT
Register Now

Coach-Sample-Report-coverThe national and international political conversations are making it even tougher to be positive and productive in the workplace! If your team ever suffers from cynicism, a lack of trust, or poor communication, please attend our new webinar: EI and Teamwork in the Times of DISTRUST. If there are no such struggles on your team, “Get back to work!” Don’t waste company time on our cool invite. Otherwise, we invite you to Register Now.

In 2006 Martin Delahoussaye, our editor at Wiley & Sons, suggested that we write a book on how emotional intelligence can improve the quality of teamwork. They had published Lencioni’s groundbreaking work on the five dysfunctions four years earlier and wanted something that would examine effective teamwork through the lens of EI.

Our book, The Emotionally Intelligent Team pioneered how developing behavioral competencies in seven different areas like Motivation and Conflict Resolution could improve friendliness and team performance. Next Martin asked us to develop an assessment for measuring these seven competencies, and that resulted in the TESI®, the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®.

The TESI has been used to help teams working in historical flashpoints like Gaza, Kosovo, Haiti, and South Africa, in leading global businesses such as Apple, American Express, Medtronic, and in local, state, and federal government agencies.

After nine years of administrations of the TESI, we would like to share with you what TESI associates worldwide have learned about using EI to offset what Lencioni called the number one cause of dysfunctional teamwork – DISTRUST, but we’re not going to make you wait that long. The webinar will be June 7th at noon EDT. Register Now

You will learn how to assess your team in these seven skill sets and what you can do right now to reduce conflict, improve performance and build positivity among your team’s members. Please join us! 

Leading Organizational Change in a Divided World

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. Nelson Mandela

Effective leadership across an organization is the key differentiator to maintaining competitive advantage and organizational performance. Creating organization culture that supports ease in communication, dealing with conflict, collaboration and mutual respect establishes success for the organization and loyalty from leaders and their staff. Yet, creating a cohesive culture is harder now than ever given that our 24/7 news cycle and polarized politicians seem to be scaring everyone to one side or the other of value-laden issues.

Organizational culture is impacted by society’s brewing fear and discord.

Today’s leaders are challenged when members of their workforce view change and tasks from very different lenses resulting in increasing fear and discord.

Leaders who have grappled with these challenges include Abraham Lincoln, Angela Merkel, Nelson Mandela and Sheryl Sandberg. Every leader faces cultural challenges, these four leaders demonstrate the strategies that differentiate those who can surmount cultural hurdles and build engagement thus preventing the organization from sinking into divisiveness. Success requires building emotional intelligence, managing change and influencing in a manner that creates a sustainable environment where people can and will communicate and build bridges.

Four strategies that differentiate successful leaders are:

  1. Intentional & Positive Strategy
  2. Accountability
  3. Common Language – Unified and Integrated Use of Assessments
  4. Inspiring Purpose

Intentional and positive strategies call for evaluating your organizations state with honesty and clarity. What’s really going on? What are the first level staffers, seeing, feeling and hearing? State your intention to the workforce to pay attention and continue to build a positive

and engaging workplace. A positive outlook opens new neuronal pathways so unexplored opportunities become available. With hope, new energy and creativity is invited. Keep your eye on the ball and on any initiatives. Show the staff this is a reliable change, not a flickering thought that will be gone by next week.

Accountability to the change at all levels of the organization is essential. This is often the most forgotten step, perhaps because it can be uncomfortable to hold people accountable. Ignore it at your peril! You and your change will be tested multiple times. It’s key to notice and respond to those challenges to show you mean business.

Common Language follows from a unified and integrated use of assessments. When leaders and employees are using development and engagement language in a common way, there’s tremendous power to calibrate workplace engagement. This language comes from trainings and from the assessments used. We suggest you carefully chose the assessments to be applied in your organization and then intentionally work to build language that’s used in common. Assessments to consider include:

    • Personality – such as MBTI or Emergenetics, and consider topic specific personality assessments such as the Change Style Indicator and the Influence Style Indicator.
    • Skills – in terms of managing yourself and responding effectively to others, there’s no substitute for the EQi!
    • 360 for leaders. To build personal and interpersonal awareness and expanding skills the EQ 360 is powerful. Other good assessments include CCL’s Benchmarks. Additional specific value can be gained from more targeted 360s such as the Discovery Leadership Profile and the Emerging Leaders Profile.
    • Change – the Change Style Indicator, CSI, serves organizations powerfully by helping people understand their personality differences in how they respond to change and then being able to adjust their approach and expectations realistically.
    • Influence – the Influence Style Indicator

The Change Navigator focuses on the emotions of individuals as they navigate change and the stages of transition. It’s a powerful way for a team to take their pulse and understand how they’re doing individually and together. Different emotional responses show-up when Resisting change and to emotions that lead to Resilience.

Emotions that lead to Resistance Emotions that lead to Resilience
Anxiety Purpose
Confusion Enthusiasm
Frustration Optimism
Fatigue Confidence

Source: McKinsey Quarterly

Change Navigator © 2013, 2015 Discovery Learning International – All rights reserved.

Inspiring Purpose is supported by giving super respect to all involved in your organization. Super-respect introduces new awareness and connectivity.

Successful leaders will use their skills to understand the diversity of their workforce and how to approach change and influence their staff and co-workers. Then they will apply emotional intelligence skills to accomplish the desired behavioral change.

Influencing for Change in a Divided World

Leaders are role models; people will follow your example.
Is that a good thing?

Divisiveness in the external world is impacting organizational culture. When family members question sharing holidays because they don’t want to hear each other’s differing views, it is certain similar impacts are happening in the workplace. This creates a clarion call for leaders to proactively build an environment that supports connection over separation. We are discussing this vital topic in our webinar.

The source of this sharp discord is often based in value differences and that is what makes many so intransigent. For example, if someone believes it’s only right if people are treated X and someone else says no X – 3 is plenty for some people, emotional responses will be triggered. It’s likely both perspectives can be well argued, but they are hard to hear for the person disagreeing. This can lead to cliques and factions just when you need people to spark creativity in one another because they can think differently. What can a leader do?

Leaders need to start with evaluating their workforce and organizational culture. However, before they can evaluate others, leaders must first be personally accountable. Ask yourself how attached you are to your point of view and your opinions – are you open to hearing very different perspectives? When a position is important to you, can you listen and have a coherent discussion with a colleague or staff person who disagrees? Or do you just walk away? Leaders are role models; people will follow your example. Is that a good thing?

Now discern how your workforce is doing by reaching out and actively listening. You might create a task force to lead the effort. Ask questions and take notes in order to respond.

How are you and your team mates getting along?”

Are you having full discussions or do you stop in order to avoid conflict?”

Are there people here you’re avoiding that you used to work well with?”

On a scale of 1-10 where is our trust level riding these days?”

Give them a sense of how you see issues being discussed, and tell them how you feel. “I feel ___ because _____.” Then actively listen and role model how to respond to one another. “It sounds like maybe you feel ___ because ______.”

Talk about what you are learning while using all your smarts – IQ and EQ. if there’s an elephant in the room, expose the discord in a manner that keeps the conversation safe for exploration. That means that above all else everyone is treated with respect. Leaders are responsible for insisting on a safe environment that maintains the value that while disagreements happen, there can also be very solid areas of agreement. You want your staff to be able to move on from the difficult conversation and continue their work together with a willingness to listen and share.

Once understanding is gained on workforce connectivity, leaders need to guide the desired change that can expand collaboration over separation. In doing so, success requires understanding the personalities of leaders and staff related to making changes. Data helps guide strategically targeted interventions. The Change Style Indicator® (CSI) identifies three styles of change. Through this assessment people find they are Conservers (prefer to accept the structure and make incremental change), Pragmatists (will explore the structure and support change that is functional), or Originators (comfortable with challenging the structure and preferring expansive change). These are big differences, and it is quite possible all preferences are represented in your workforce. To implement the change successfully people preferring each of the change approaches need to be brought on board. Without doubt, it’s tempting to say “Just do it!” The problem is that quick dictate can’t change internal states that are leading to the divisiveness. A defined viable path needs to be created. The foundation of change is strengthened with mutually agreed values, such as everyone deserves to be respected. Then use flexibility to gain buy-in and changed behavior from the whole staff through process that influence change and show how with emotional intelligence skills.

Throughout this process leaders are influencing people to change their behavior. No one can make someone else hold different values or communicate differently. What leaders can do is invite changes, demonstrate the inclusive language, hold staff accountable and use many other strategies to influence success. Once again, data helps. The Influence Style Indicator™ guides leaders and staff to understand the approaches they now use and to recognize how to expand their repertoire of influence strategies. Leaders charged with building rapport and engagement need to select influencing approaches that walk their talk. Two orientations are possible – advocating or uniting. Then having chosen the overall approach the specific styles a leader might employ are rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring and bridging. It is easy to argue that for a change such as building collaboration through improved communications and patience that inspiring and bridging are the best strategies. However, use caution in narrowing your style. Check out the preferences in the workforce. For example, sometimes assertiveness is required to set boundaries for what is acceptable.

Emotional intelligence skills contain the wherewithal to actually make the changes once leaders have selected their change and influence strategies. Making cultural shifts of this importance can well call on all 16 skills of the EQi. The most impactful are:

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Assertiveness
  • Optimism – and Happiness

These are skills that can be learned, sharpened and tailored to specific circumstances. Many of our books and other articles show you how.

Demonstration of super respect, with reciprocity, makes the fundamental difference. This introduces new awareness and connectivity. Successful leaders will use their skills to understand the diversity of their workforce and how to approach change and influence their staff and co-workers. Then they will apply emotional intelligence skills to accomplish the desired behavioral change.

Coaching Leaders & Teams to Grow Conflict Resolution Skills

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

We are often asked to work with leaders, staff and organizations to guide them in improving their conflict resolution and communications skills. It is an honor to have this opportunity, one we don’t take lightly. Our intention is to facilitate a transformative process that results in sustainable behavior change. Reaching that long term goal requires investment by the individual, team or organization and the coach/facilitator.

Make no mistake about it; this is about making significant change and usually from deeply imbedded habits. Change is Hard Work – it’s possible yet it requires focused commitment and practice. Coaching individuals & teams to change, grow and produce requires:

  • Understanding (the cognitive part)
  • Commitment (the inspirational part)
  • Practice (the determined part)
  • Feedback (the collaborative part)

Success is built through following our four step process to improving conflict resolution skills. If sustainable change is desired, none of these steps can be missed and the dimensions of understanding, commitment, practice and feedback must be interwoven throughout the engagement.

Step One: Diagnosis and Willingness

The first step is making the decision to seek coaching and facilitation to help an individual or team to improve their conflict resolution and communication skills. You’ve heard the maxim that a stitch in time saves nine. However, it’s likely that by the time this decision is made there’s considerable challenge. Nevertheless, build these skills as soon as possible, the earlier you can intervene the better, even if you only save four stitches instead of nine.

At the beginning we normally ask the participant(s) to take one or two assessments, the EQi for individuals and teams will take the TESI or both the EQi and the TESI. All individual responses are confidential and used only to support development. This allows the participants and the coach to have data on the current state of skills and

competencies and to highlight both areas that need to be improved as well as existing strengths that can facilitate the change process. The EQi2.0® reflects one’s overall well-being and ability to succeed in life. It explores the role that sixteen different elements of emotional well-being play in one’s life, by applying the fifteen skills in this model together with happiness as an indicator of emotional and social well-being. How one uses skills such as assertiveness, empathy, impulse control and optimism significantly influences their communications and conflict resolution success.

The TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) is an internal 360 which measurers the team’s performance on seven team competencies including communications, conflict resolution and stress tolerance. Team members rate the team’s performance and then the aggregated results are presented to the team, with each individual’s scores remaining confidential. This allows team members to speak frankly with one another and quickly advances the discussion to building a successful action plan.

Willingness to honestly review current behaviors and results is central to making meaningful change. Fortunately, we don’t need 100% willingness at the beginning. There needs to be agreement to participate, however the vigor with which the participant(s) engage usually expands over time. As they perceive the possibility that they don’t have to stay stuck in this uncomfortable pattern and gain a sense of safety and trust in the process, willingness to make change usually grows significantly.

Step Two: Recognition and Ownership

Before a person buys into making personal change, he/she must recognize that the current way isn’t working. They need to take ownership of their own behavior and how that contributes to the difficult situations. At first it seems much easier to blame someone else – “It’s my bosses fault” or “It’s my team member’s fault” or “My organization doesn’t give us enough resources or time to do it right.” There could well be some truth in any of these statements, but they are not the point of the individual’s power. We can only change ourselves. Yet, fortunately, our changed behavior often leads to different responses. If an individual who used to create difficult conversations instead responds with collaborative invitations to work together, they are likely to receive a different response, although it may take a few times before the change is trusted.

Others, such as the team or organizational system likely contribute to the challenges. Often one person is treated as the Identified Problem yet it’s really a systemic issue. Frequently, the individual does contribute significantly to the difficulties occurring; however, they are very seldom alone in creating the difficulties. Thus in individual coaching we need to work with the individual to take full responsibility for their behaviors and to embrace learning to be more successful. Additionally, it is very useful when we also work with the team leader, the whole team or other key individuals to address how they are working together. Nevertheless, even if the others in the process won’t participate in recognizing and making changes, the coaching can be significantly beneficial for the individual. They will still gain skills that improve their engagement, are likely to enhance their productivity and reduce the negative feedback they receive. Sometimes these benefits play out more effectively in new situations rather than the on-going challenge area. The benefits of these behavior changes are certain to impact both their professional and personal lives as conflict shows up everywhere.

As a part of the recognition, the participant(s) need to understand what their challenges are as they respond to conflict. Are they avoiding, aggressive, or unreliable in that they don’t follow-through? These can be challenges for anyone, however, the problem to the team and organization is multiplied when these are challenges are held by the team leader. Then many people suffer the consequences of their poor conflict management.

Step Three: Learning New Behaviors

This is the role up your sleeves and build new habits time. It involves are four components of understanding, commitment, practice and feedback. As the cognitive awareness is developed of what occurs when their responses are curt and perfunctory, and the participant(s) become curious about what else they could do, we are starting to build commitment, the inspirational part. This is quite important to supporting the determination needed to start practicing the new ways. Finally, feedback will help to in fine tuning their approach, learning the right nuancing and getting it right. Both introverts and feisty people may not want to respond to feedback. This reluctance comes from different reasons, but can have the same consequences of not building the new relationships needed. Thus part of the coaching we do focuses on how to work with feedback as they begin using their new skills.

Key skills from the EQi that particularly influence conflict resolution skills are: impulse control, empathy, assertiveness, problem solving, flexibility and optimism. All 16 skills are influential because of the complexity of working with conflict, but these 6 are at the core of effective functioning with conflict. Let’s say that Jill has taken the EQi, which reports lower scores in impulse control and empathy. She talks over people, responds hastily, is highly judgmental and will tell her direct reports abruptly how they are failing, but seldom offers solutions or helps them make changes. She seldom recognizes their successes. You can imagine that it’s hard working on her team.

Circle-of-EmotionShe has come to us for coaching on how to improve her work with her direct reports because her performance review calls out these ineffective behaviors. First, we will help Jill understand the process of working with emotions as reflected in this graph that shows the circle of emotions. We would work with Jill to understand the consequences of her approaches, build her optimism that she can change and help her understand how valuable that change will be. Next we will work with her to articulate specifically how she is interacting with her direct reports. Together we will diagnose the trouble spots so new approaches can be identified and practiced. For example, if a direct report is speaking she needs to not rudely interrupt, but listen and then respond. Jill can create reasonable boundaries up front to let them know she only has five minutes before her next meeting if necessary, and then set a better time to fully deal with the matter. There are many specific and concrete skills that she can begin applying that can greatly change her success.

PIE color whole tagIf Jill’s team is also involved we will have them take the TESI and work with them on how they are participating in resolving conflict, which will necessarily include other competencies, especially communications. Through this process we can build enhanced resourcefulness throughout the team. As everyone gets better at working through difficult issues, the team’s success will improve and Jill’s changes can be more effective and likely will be more appreciated.

Step Four: Implementation – Practice, Fine Tune, Practice

This is the follow through stage that requires diligence and has the most positive payoffs. It involves the components of commitment, practice and feedback. A key part of coaching is to help pace the process of change so that her work builds her success and isn’t so overwhelming that the changes aren’t practiced. In our example of Jill we will encourage her to practice some changes, get feedback and then fine tune her approach. As a few changes start working and become natural, we can work on new and perhaps more transformative changes. Deliberate steps and managing the magnitude of what she is asked to do will promote and anchor her success.

Overall, investing in leader, staff and team improvements in working through difficult challenges can be quite effective. Building effective buy-in to the process from all parties greatly contributes to success. It is valuable to make a sufficient investment so that all four stages are implemented.

Avoid Emotional Intelligence Pitfalls at Work

pitfall_guyFrequently encountered emotional intelligence (EI) pitfalls that limit relationships and productivity at work are numerous. Ordering people to just “get it done” could well be the top pitfall of all. Several pitfalls and better EI Options are listed below.

Pitfall: Just tell your direct reports or others to do something.

Better EI Option: Use your EI skills in empathy and assertiveness to influence others to want to engage in your project.

trap-jump-pitfallPitfalls sabotage your success. When you just tell people to do something and you don’t take a few minutes to acknowledge them, build buy-in and guide understanding, you often invite opposition and resistance. Ironically you might have been so directive because you felt you didn’t have time for more engagement, yet the resistance will cost you more time in the long run.

Pitfall: Order your direct reports or others to be happy and engaged.

Better EI Option: Create a culture that builds skills in optimism, self-regard and emotional expression and thus supports staff agility and buy in. These and other EI skills are central to building an engaged culture with a “can-do” attitude. Your leadership has a lot to do with the responses you get. If you want happy and engaged direct reports, use positive language that supports optimism. For example, express the belief that together all of you will meet the big challenge, you just don’t know how yet. That wonderful word “yet” establishes the presupposition of success, and that helps create the outcome you’re looking for.

Pitfall: Ignore the impact of reassigning employees who have become friends and are working effectively as team members.

Better EI Option: Respond to and acknowledge relationships, notice how they support or weaken team work. When you need to make new assignments, help people process and accept the change.

people-puzzlePitfall: Insist that emotions be left at the door when it’s time to solve problems.

Better EI Option: Use all your smarts in solving problems; that is both your IQ and your EQ. People can’t think without using their emotions. So the question becomes whether you and your team want to be aware of your emotional responses, including your intuitive awareness, and factor in all your data when resolving the problem. We suspect people seek to avoid their emotions when they are afraid they don’t have the skills to manage the emotions successfully. However, this strategy frequently backfires as the emotions will leak out in some poorly managed format. It’s better to get training and coaching and be fully in charge of your responses.

Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.

angry-redhoopBetter EI Option: Learn strategies to regain your equilibrium when your buttons are pushed, then talk to others. You can breathe, use stair therapy, count to 10, any number of strategies work. Just give yourself time to avoid the adverse consequences of getting all tied up in knots! The key point is get more oxygen to your brain and give yourself a few minutes before you respond. Stair therapy is one of our favorites. When you feel triggered, tired or cranky go climb a set of stairs then come back to your office or to the situation and respond. Your renewed resilience will invite more welcome responses.

10 Actions to Make Your 2017 a Year of Authentic Success

success_pathHow was your 2016? We know it was challenging for many in the world. There’s a strong sense of divisiveness in communities and nations, war, displacement, financial troubles. Instead of continuing to list and focus on challenges, let’s move toward what is right.

What are you seeking for your personal success indicators in 2017? To gain a viable answer hold an internal conversation between your ideal self (how you would most like to live) and your real self (how you really live) and develop an authentic structure to your goals. Authentic success integrates these two parts into a happier and more successful you. Recognize that success is much more than money – consider well-being, compassion and health. Seek joy. Our article was so well received in earlier years as a way to frame moving into the New Year, that it’s back by popular demand.

Authentic success begets peace of mind because you are living and working in accordance with your values, strengths, and your sense of purpose instead of living in conflict. Reaching this highly desired state requires personal awareness. Without it you will be missing the joy from your current wealth by only focusing on what hasn’t happened. Happiness and optimism, both components of emotional intelligence, are vital to experiencing authentic success. The following 10 Actions are based on years of research in the fields of emotional intelligence and positive psychology and set forth choices you can make to change the quality of your life in 2017.

10 Actions to Make Your

2017 a Year of Authentic Success

  1. Define happiness. Know what you are looking for when you are seeking happiness. True happiness isn’t the quick food fix; even Belgian chocolates bring a temporary response. As an article by Carlin Flora, “The Pursuit of Happiness” in Psychology Today states, “The most useful definition – and it’s one agreed upon by neuroscientists, psychiatrists, behavioral economists, positive psychologists, and Buddhist monks – is more like satisfied or content than ‘happy’ in its strict bursting-with-glee sense. It has depth and deliberation to it. It encompasses living a meaningful life, utilizing your gifts and your time, living with thought and purpose. It’s maximized when you also feel part of a community. And when you confront annoyances and crises with grace. It involves a willingness to learn and stretch and grow, which sometimes involves discomfort. It requires acting on life, not merely taking it in. It’s not joy, a temporary exhilaration, or even pleasure, that sensual rush – though a steady supply of those feelings course through those who seize each day.”

Action: Happiness is closely tied to being aware of what success truly means for you. Write your own definition of what Authentic Success means to you and intend to live in synch with your truth about Authentic Success in 2017.

  1. Practice mindfulness. While defined in a variety of ways, mindfulness simply means paying attention. Notice how you are feeling and why and then make a choice to stick with your current path or take a breath and intentionally shift.

Action: Set a time each day when you will review your day with intention to notice and expand your mindfulness. Even a short review will make a difference.

  1. Be you. Embrace yourself. Know your good points and that which you don’t consider so favorably. Know your styles and preferences and trust you are a good and resilient person. We received the following quote awhile ago and we give profound credit to whoever first said it though we don’t know the original source.

Action: Print this out and tape it around your environment:

nothing_wrong_quote

  1. Practice your 2% Solution. As Marcia describes in Life’s 2% Solution, the 2% Solution requires just half an hour a day (3 ½ hours a week if it works better to cluster your time). Spend that time doing something that’s deeply nurturing, meaningful, fulfilling to you. It may be what you’ve vowed to do later when you are free to explore long-delayed purposeful pursuits. This seemingly small expenditure of time is even more critical in today’s harried world, where work deadlines loom, the carpool to soccer awaits, the dry cleaning is piling up, and a dinner party fills up whatever free time is left. We get it all done, yet feel incomplete. This stress-filled existence leaches away our creativity, passion and sense of fulfillment. We sacrifice the long-view of our lives for short-term results, to check something off a list. No doubt, that scenario leads to burnout.

Action: Integrate your enhanced awareness from taking some of the above steps with your own 2% project. Investing 2% of your time in an unusual way on yourself will make a world of difference. It’s an achievable way of creating more work/life balance without having to turn your life upside down by radical change. You can learn more and follow the 10 step process found in my book Life’s 2% Solution.

  1. Relationships matter. Take time for friends and choose friends who support the values you wish to live with.

Action: Notice who your friends are. Ask yourself if you are giving the time it takes to cultivate valuable relationships. If not make a change. Keep your expectations of time with friends manageable.

  1. Carpe diem! Seize the day.

Action: Today is the only version of this day you’ll ever have. Take advantage of it!

  1. Know your values. It’s easy to get caught up in the multitude of options that expand daily from numbers of cereals to forms of entertainment to interesting books. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. Take advantage of your day by knowing what is truly important so you don’t get distracted with the job of making too many unimportant choices.

Action: Make a list of your top values – somewhere between five and ten items at the most. Then practice connecting your values with your choices.

  1. Create. It feels good! Humans are amazingly creative beings. You probably create much more than you realize and miss giving yourself credit for your gifts.

Action: Intentionally make a soup, draw a picture, write a letter. Whatever feels simply good to you and then stop and acknowledge the act of creating and give yourself time to enjoy.

  1. Express gratitude. This is a big one. Anytime you want to build happiness, be grateful for what you do have and go find a way to give. So much of authentic happiness is based in giving your gifts and in being a good and compassionate human being. Don’t make it hard; find easy and natural ways to give with no strings attached. Pay it forward is a great strategy.

Action: Take time to stop and say thank you. Notice how you feel and how the recipient feels. Keep a gratitude journal. Notice five to ten events that occur each day for which you are grateful. Be specific. Feel the gratitude in your heart as you write your list and as you read it over.

  1. Smile. It’s impossible to be grumpy and smile at the same time.

Action: If you are willing to change your emotional state, you will. Breathe, notice what is going on, notice any tension you are holding in your body, and be willing to let it go. Be quiet and smile for a full minute.

Authentic success combines your inner and outer strengths, though integrating these two is not always so easy. Good luck on your journey. We’re always interested in learning from you about how this works. Comment on our blog.

Blessings for a beautiful and resonant 2017 that flows with compassion for yourself and others.

Using Emotional Intelligence to Message Up & Across

messageManaging up or messaging up are goals frequently raised in executive coaching sessions. We add messaging across – that is to peers – to this imperative goal. Messaging up and across refers to intentionally and deliberately communicating well with your boss and those above your boss and with your peers. It is a deliberate effort to bring understanding and collaboration to relationships between people who may have different perspectives. The point is to convey respect by taking the time to communicate strategically. Remember your communication can be empathetic, compassionate, strategic and engaging all at once. In fact, this comprehensive packaging should be your goal.

If you are a CEO with a Board governing your organization, messaging up is vital. It’s also vital if you are a team lead, reporting to your supervisor. In fact how we communicate with others throughout the organizational chart is essential to notice. We know communications with your direct reports is fundamental to your success; this article will focus on a different dimension of communications. It’s a form that can be all too easy to miss when you get in the trance of accomplishing your every day list of tactical jobs. And that’s why good interpersonal relationships with those in higher organizational positions and with your peers requires purposeful action.

The potent emotional intelligence skills triangle of Assertiveness, Empathy and Impulse Control is your key to success, especially if you pepper your engagement with Positive Mood (happiness and optimism). With assertiveness you first need to be assertive with yourself by doing whatever it takes to make sure you take the time for this engagement. Put it on your calendar, have lunch or coffee with a peer once a week, meet with your boss regularly give feedback and take a few minutes to ask about his/her life and talk about yours. Create a personal connection; it’s the path to building trust. It’s what it takes for people to want to “get your back” to help you out in times of challenge. It demonstrates engagement, loyalty, and commitment, but more importantly it makes your job more fun. Assertiveness includes the ability to communicate your perspective, to stand up for yourself and to say no when necessary.

Empathy and impulse control govern the effectiveness of your assertiveness. When you demonstrate empathy the recipient of your assertiveness feels that your communication is made with their best interests in mind. That makes all the difference in whether your suggestions are considered self serving or made with their best interests in mind. And you know that deeply influences the response to your communication. Your skills in impulse control help you decide when to speak up, what tonality to use, and how to pace your engagement. Communicate with your peers with impatience and they will reciprocate – directly or indirectly.

Balance is your goal too little of any of these three skills can obviously can get you in trouble. Note that too much of any of these can get you in a lot of trouble. Too much assertiveness feels like aggressiveness; too much empathy feels like the boundaries are failed; too much impulse control turns you into a risk adverse person missing opportunities.

Here are key steps you can follow to message up and across effectively:

  • Be intentional and purposeful
  • Don’t confuse false humility with your poor communication if you don’t speak up for yourself
  • Be aware of and respond to your different personality, communications styles, and conflict resolution styles
  • Acknowledge others
  • Be a team player
  • Let your peers know you value them
  • Be honest and trustworthy
  • Provide solutions, not problems
  • Request feedback, feedback, feedback – ask for it directly
  • Work with strengths and weaknesses – yours and theirs

Messaging up and across is a powerful tactic for getting more interesting work, more responsibility, and enjoying your engagement at work. Use it well and it can help you improve your work/life balance as it increases the ability to set boundaries and have those boundaries understood and supported.

Crafting an Emotionally Sustainable Lifestyle

craft-playLife is precious and is best lived when we pay attention to creating an emotionally sustainable lifestyle. We are passionately committed to providing our services in order to support individuals and teams in living emotionally sustainable lifestyles. This is also known as living resiliently. Marcia’s book Life’s 2% Solution provides a well tested strategy for living with Passionate Equilibrium – being thoroughly engaged and doing so with a sense of balance. Additionally the EQi and EQ 360 for individuals and the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey) are developed to promote emotional sustainability.

The Collaborative Growth team model highlights the path for developing the seven skills measured by the TESI in the outer ring. Emotional and social well-being for teams is the result of following this path to sustainability for teams.

Emotional sustainability, also referred to as well being, can be measured with assessments such as the EQi ® and the EQ 360 ®. Dr. BarOn, the original creator of the EQi has pinpointed self actualization as the apex of all the EQ skills.

So just which EQ skills should you focus on to develop this life nurturing state? BarOn names eight, which he listed in the order of their importance:

• Happiness

• Optimism

• Self-Regard

• Independence

• Problem Solving

• Social Responsibility

• Assertiveness

• Emotional Self-Awareness

Bar-On, 2001, p. 92. “EI and Self-Actualization.” In Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life, edited by J. Ciarrochi, J. Forgas, and J. Mayer. New York: Psychology Press.

Frequently revisiting these eight critical factors will help you engage your EQ in a manner designed to support an emotionally sustainable lifestyle. At the team level the critical sustainability is developed by using the seven skills in the outer ring of the Collaborative Growth Team Model. These are powerful skills that can be developed at the individual and team level. The resulting quality of life will assure you and those you influence that it is worth the effort!