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.

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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!

Resilient Leaders Shine Despite Adversity

Marcia Hughes
©ATD2016, published May 2016

abelincolnPresident Abraham Lincoln remains a model of transformative leadership
more than 150 years after he served as the 16th president of the United
States. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—a great constitutional
and political crisis. Throughout his presidency, he was focused on his
vision of maintaining the unity of the nation with unwavering passion, yet was
able to exert high flexibility and impulse control in the strategies he employed.
He took time to listen well, seek out and consider diverse feedback, and was
willing to shift his strategies. No one had time during the Civil War to talk about
change management, yet that was the order of the day. Lincoln is one of our
best resilience teachers.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Resilient-Leaders

Multitasking Brings High Costs

multitaskpicRemember the days when you could drive your car without even thinking about talking on the cell phone or feeling like you “should” text at a stoplight even though it is illegal? Those were simpler times. In today’s world many think multitasking is an unavoidable process, but how has attempting to perform all of these tasks simultaneously affected performance? What’s the impact to our stress levels? The American Psychological Association published an article examining this very topic. They found that ultimately it takes longer and costs brain power to switch from topic to topic rather than focusing on one thing at a time. In addition to becoming less effective, multitasking greatly adds to stress – is it worth it?

If you are as busy as we are these days your to-do list can become overwhelming. To tackle the multitude of deeds that need to get done it seems reasonable to combine tasks. Why not peruse that new article while on a conference call? There also is a point of pride as we’re too likely to think “My brain can handle multiple tasks at once. I’m smart!” or “I’m efficient!” In the end we need to ask ourselves an important question: “Is it more important that I just get this done or that I get this done to the best of my ability?” Given that what we produce becomes a reflection of ourselves this question is easy to answer – or at least it should be.

A study conducted by Stanford University researchers shows that when we multitask, such as talking on the phone and sending and texting as we open up email, we’re compromising everything we do. Adam Gorlick writes that “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”

As Dr. Mary Case told attendees at the Emergenetics Brain Summit, “Higher switching = lower productivity!” Switching takes longer and our focus is compromised. The Stanford study found that the multitaskers couldn’t complete simple tests like remembering a sequence of alphabetical letters well. They could not keep the information sorted out because they kept seeing all the details.

The Stanford study tested two groups (heavy media multitaskers and those who don’t regularly do media multitasking) who were given three tests and the heavy multitaskers lost in every case. Heavy multitaskers have trouble filtering out irrelevant information, which can also be thought of as organizing their memories. They have trouble focusing on the project at hand as they’re thinking about what else is going on.

The conclusion we suggest you draw is slow down, enjoy the moment, and deliberately manage your stress. As you breathe take on one task, be it a call, an email or having a good thoughtful discussion with your colleague or family. You will have better relationships, stronger emotional intelligence and greater productivity overall. It’s time to start breaking the habit of trying to do too much at once and claim your life while supporting your brain and well-being.

Top 10 Reasons for Playing!

play-rainbow

  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

Avoiding Emotional 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. Do you agree? 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.

Pitfalls 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.

trap-jump-pitfall

  • 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.

people-puzzle

  • 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.
  • Pitfall: 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.

angry-redhoop

  • Pitfall: Blast your stress on all in your path.
  • Better 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.

Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

team_hugCollaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity. As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened. We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values. With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

CG Team Model-update2016Collaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills. Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey. When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively. Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process. Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders. Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal. More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator. Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch. Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations. These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

  1. Be aware. Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved. Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.
  2. Apply Intention and Attention. Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how. Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track. Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together. Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.
  3. Commit to the process. Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process. One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success. You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.
  4. Attend to others. Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection. It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another. You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process. Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.
  5. Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!
  6. Express your opinions and share your knowledge. If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved. Remember your actions speak louder than your words.
  7. List commonalities and differences. It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.
  1. Apply divergent thinking. Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours. At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.
  2. Be appreciative. Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work. Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.
  3. Make decision(s). At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer. Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing. Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works. Is anything askew? Did you take on too much at once? Does anything else need adjusting? If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success. What’s not to like about that scenario!