January 28, 2020

Your EQ: Yes You Can Overdo!

I was standing in line at the grocery store when the woman behind me started talking to me. Unprompted.

She told me about her granddaughter’s 11th birthday, her ex-husband’s plane ticket, and her son and new girlfriend’s travel down from Massachusetts to also join the party. In under three minutes.

She even showed me pictures of her step-grandson on her phone. As I turned away to check out, my head was spinning from way, way too much information. From a total stranger!

Has this TMI happened to you? On a plane, in the gym—or in the office?

The reality is that we all have our personality quirks. And we could all benefit from greater insight and self-awareness.

Which makes me think of Corinne, a CEO of a rapidly growing and well-respected non-profit. She invited me to work with her staff to provide greater team stability amid so much change.

I quickly discovered her team adored her. Brilliant, warm, expressive, self-aware and inclusive, she created a culture of trust and safety. I admired her—and even wondered why she hired me.

Then I sat in on some staff meetings and my eyes popped open. She was so self-aware, and so transparent with her feelings that she unintentionally hijacked the discussions with her emotions— sucking the air right out the room.

In my one-on-one meetings with her staff, I learned that while people trusted her implicitly, they also felt she didn’t listen well to needs and contributions. They didn’t say it, but I heard it: they felt it was all about her.

When I shared this with Corinne, she was startled, upset and embarrassed. She had no clue of her negative impact on her team.

In fact, Corrine had a gifteven if it was a bit over-the-top.

She had the ability to use her emotions to successfully express what she was feeling, and to get others engaged through this expression.

In the language of EQ, we call this emotional expression, and because of it she had cultivated solid relationships with staff, board and community.

What she didn’t realize was that EQ skills are like muscles. We can under-use, actively-use or even over-use (because it’s so well-developed) any one of them.

Here’s the good news, though.

Even when we over-use an EQ skill to our detriment, we don’t want to stop using it. Actually, we can’t stop using it. It’s a well-honed muscle that knows when to spring into action. We rely on it.

What we need to do instead is bring it into balance with other EQ skills.

For Corinne, this new insight was enormously helpful. She quickly began to notice how her emotions could shut people down. Together we focused on better utilizing her impulse control and empathy to shift her attention from self to others.

It also helped her to know that when people under-engaged with their emotional expression, there are equally challenging consequences.

Because when you can’t read someone’s face—when you can’t tell what they are thinking or how they’re reacting—it puts the relationship in jeopardy. Often people will shut down, then disengage, and eventually disappear.

So while having a poker face is handy at the poker table, it can be lethal at the conference-room table.

If you or someone you know under-engages with their emotional expression, a successful practice is to verbalize more feelings in conversations: I’m looking forward to this project, I’m concerned about the outcome, I’m pleased with this work…

Where are you along the continuum of emotional expression?

How effectively do you share and communicate your emotions… to get others… in touch… with you?   

The key to developing (or providing balance) to any EQ skill is curiosity.

So whether we’re at the poker table—or in line at the grocery store, showing total strangers pictures of our family—one thing is for sure. When we find a way to balance our EQ skills and approach—when we really get in touch with ourselves—we take a huge step forward in getting in touch with others.

Here’s to all the relationships in your life, and your ability to use your emotions effectively to get others in better touch with you.

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Emotional Expression, Emotional Intelligence, Impulse Control, Influence and Persuasion, Interpersonal Relationships, Self-Awareness , , , ,
About Deene Morris
Engaging Emotional Intelligence | Team Think Generator | Psychological Safety & Inclusion | Moving Positive Change Forward

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