Lis­ten­ing in a dif­fer­ent way

Emo­tional-in­tel­li­gence skills sup­port col­lab­o­ra­tion, more open com­mu­ni­ca­tion, more trans­parency and less pos­tur­ing, less ego, and more peo­ple work­ing for the greater good and for the pur­pose of the or­ga­ni­za­tion suc­ceed­ing.* Mind­ful­ness forms an in­te­gral p

The Smart Manager - - Organizational Health - RAHUL SHAH IS HEAD, LEAD­ER­SHIP SO­LU­TIONS GROUP AT DDI IN­DIA.

Risk, un­cer­tain­ties, and dis­rup­tion on one hand and stress, anx­i­ety, and worry about the fu­ture on the other, are giv­ing sleep­less nights to busi­ness lead­ers who are oper­at­ing in to­day’s era of trans­for­ma­tion. Hence, it is crit­i­cal for them to man­age their emo­tions while they tread this chal­leng­ing path.

Re­search by Daniel Gole­man, au­thor of Emo­tional In­tel­li­gence: Why It Can Mat­ter More Than IQ, sug­gests that mere 33% of job suc­cess is at­tained due to IQ and tech­ni­cal skills while EQ con­trib­utes as high as 66% to a pro­fes­sional’s high per­for­mance. At the lead­er­ship level, it is not sur­pris­ing to know that 15% of a leader’s suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to IQ and tech­ni­cal skills while 85% is based on EQ.

Be­ing smart (IQ) is crit­i­cal for tak­ing the right busi­ness de­ci­sions and mak­ing a com­pelling ar­gu­ment to get oth­ers on board with a di­rec­tion, while keep­ing peo­ple on the move and ex­e­cut­ing on that di­rec­tion is mostly de­pen­dent on EQ.

Con­stant ex­po­sure to stress, anx­i­ety, and worry can make lead­ers im­pul­sive, ar­gu­men­ta­tive, ar­ro­gant, risk

averse, or avoidant. These and many other re­lated de­rail­ers can emo­tion­ally hi­jack lead­ers, lead­ing to wrong de­ci­sions, strained re­la­tion­ships, and a poor rep­u­ta­tion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The cause of emo­tional re­ac­tions has neu­ro­log­i­cal ev­i­dence. The neo­cor­tex and cor­tex are the ra­tio­nal por­tions of the hu­man brain, re­spon­si­ble for a higher level of think­ing, plan­ning, de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and prob­lem solv­ing. The lim­bic por­tion, the emo­tional cen­ter, is the store­house of all the ex­pe­ri­ences since birth. It al­lows to carry ex­pe­ri­ences for­ward to speed re­ac­tions to sit­u­a­tions.

For ex­am­ple, if you have been in an ac­ci­dent, the sound of screech­ing brakes is stored in the lim­bic por­tion. When you hear it again, the brain in­stantly sends out a dis­tress sig­nal, lead­ing you to slam on your brakes or tightly grip the steer­ing wheel. This part of the brain is al­ways send­ing mes­sages through­out the body. It can cause phys­i­cal re­ac­tions such as stom­ach tight­ness, neck pain, flushed skin, sweat­ing, a quiv­er­ing voice, etc.

Data flows freely be­tween the lim­bic and neo­cor­tex/ cor­tex por­tions. As the lim­bic por­tion works faster than the neo­cor­tex/cor­tex, it can take over ra­tio­nal thoughts. While this helps iden­tify dan­ger and trig­ger flight in haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions (to the phys­i­cal be­ing), it can also trig­ger sim­i­lar re­ac­tions in other dis­com­fort­ing sit­u­a­tions fur­ther lead­ing to emo­tional hi­jack­ing.

Emo­tional in­tel­li­gence is a part­ner­ship be­tween the lim­bic and neo­cor­tex/cor­tex por­tions of the brain. It guides you so that you can fully ex­e­cute your in­ten­tions rather than have them hi­jacked. Mind­ful­ness helps in strength­en­ing this part­ner­ship.

It is a state of ac­tive and open at­ten­tion to the present. When one is mind­ful, one ob­serves thoughts and feel­ings from a dis­tance, with­out judg­ing them. In­stead of let­ting life pass by, mind­ful­ness helps one live in the mo­ment and be more per­cep­tive to ex­pe­ri­ence. This aids in ef­fec­tive lis­ten­ing, build­ing clar­ity of thought, ef­fec­tive de­ci­sion mak­ing, and strength­en­ing re­la­tion­ships.

how to be­come more emo­tion­ally in­tel­li­gent

Lead­ers can be­gin strength­en­ing this part­ner­ship by fo­cus­ing in­ward and cre­at­ing a de­lib­er­ate prac­tice of be­ing aware of the emo­tions they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. For ev­ery emo­tion, there is a phys­i­o­log­i­cal re­sponse. You feel an­gry and your heart quick­ens. Get­ting fa­mil­iar with these phys­i­o­log­i­cal in­di­ca­tors will help lead­ers gauge emo­tions aris­ing in a spe­cific mo­ment. Mind­ful­ness in­creases aware­ness of these phys­i­o­log­i­cal sig­nals.

Re­search shows that peo­ple spend al­most 47% of their wak­ing hours think­ing about some­thing other than what they are do­ing. Of­ten you will no­tice that the body is in the present but the mind is not. It is either re­gret­ting the past or get­ting wor­ried about the am­bigu­ous fu­ture. It is dif­fi­cult to be aware of the present and tap the re­sources. Hav­ing rec­og­nized its im­por­tance, many or­ga­ni­za­tions are al­ready in­vest­ing in train­ing em­ploy­ees on mind­ful­ness.

Chade-Meng Tan has called this ‘high-res­o­lu­tion per­cep­tion’. Sharp­ened at­ten­tion builds high-res­o­lu­tion per­cep­tion into the cog­ni­tive and emo­tive pro­cesses. This en­ables bet­ter ob­ser­va­tion of the thought stream and pro­cess­ing of emo­tion with clar­ity, and the abil­ity to do so ob­jec­tively from a third-per­son per­spec­tive. Think­ing

Peo­ple spend al­most 47% of their wak­ing hours think­ing about some­thing other than what they are do­ing. Of­ten you will no­tice that the body is in the present but the mind is not.

about the past and fu­ture has im­por­tant uses like learn­ing and plan­ning but comes at an emo­tional cost and can con­trib­ute to stress and feel­ings of be­ing over­whelmed.

Here are some tech­niques to trans­form from ‘mind­full’ to ‘mind­ful’:

■ at­ten­tion train­ing

Avoid mul­ti­task­ing. Re­search has proven that the hu­man brain does not have the power to do mul­ti­ple tasks; its ca­pac­ity is re­duced by 37% if a per­son en­gages in more than one task at a time. So, when you re­al­ize you are mul­ti­task­ing, stop your­self and fo­cus on one task at a time.

■ en­hance self-aware­ness

Hot but­tons or trig­gers can dis­turb the equi­lib­rium of the mind and flood the brain with emo­tions which can di­min­ish ef­fec­tive­ness. Be aware of the en­vi­ron­ment, per­son­al­i­ties, events, words, phrases, or sit­u­a­tions that lead to a neg­a­tive emo­tional state. Be mind­ful of trig­gers. In­ter­nal chat­ter, also known as self-talk can take you away from the present. Tune into self-talk that turns into either pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive voices which can dis­turb your mind­ful­ness—lis­ten to the repet­i­tive pat­terns that in­flu­ence your be­hav­ior. Adelle Lynn talks about pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive voices such as self­doubt, op­ti­mism, per­fec­tion­ism, panic/drama, re­venge, cre­ativ­ity, pleaser, vic­tim, etc., in her book The EQ dif­fer­ence.

■ cre­ate new men­tal habits

Ap­point a self-coach who will pro­vide guid­ance and wis­dom, as and when re­quired; con­stantly mon­i­tor your ac­tions, help you stay in the present, and alert you when the body is in the present but the mind is not. To shift your at­ten­tion to the present, fo­cus on the sen­sa­tions on any part of your body. Do so un­til your mind re­leases the chain of thoughts you are caught in. Re­flect. Re­flect. Re­flect. Keep a jour­nal to help rec­og­nize emo­tions in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions. As you add to your jour­nal and re­flect on these emo­tions dur­ing meet­ings or in­ter­ac­tions, you can im­prove your un­der­stand­ing of your­self. ■

Hot but­tons or trig­gers can dis­turb the equi­lib­rium of the mind and flood the brain with emo­tions which can di­min­ish ef­fec­tive­ness.

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