Monday, August 13, 2018

EQ&You: Emotional Expression and Trust

This week's EQ&You goes hand in hand with the August Performance Pointer which will be coming out on Thursday.  If you want to build trust, use a little more of this...

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Months in a Minute

Top Left: Me and Stephanie Moy at S.P. Richards, Top Right: WithIt Women's Conference in Charleston, Bottom Left: Speaking at SNHU's Adjunct Instructor Summit, Bottom Right: Me, Steve Friedlein and the fabulous folks at Otis College of Art and Design
This month’s post is a twofer. We missed the June Minute because we were just too dang busy. This week I have completed my 95th flight since Jan 1st, flying through 18 airports. Work has been very exciting with several new clients on board, personally has been challenging (see last week’s post). My daughter Annie is about to start back to high school next week, she is in 11th grade and starting at a new school in a new state so we are all interested to see what’s different between NH and AZ. I have also been in a more reflective mood lately too, with everything going on and a BIG birthday a few weeks away I am working hard to make everything I do meaningful. I have seen old friends for the first time in many years. I am working to make everyone I talk to feel better. I want to add value to anything I touch. I want to ensure that the people I am with know that I love and appreciate them. I don’t want to worry about silly things or stress out over something temporary. I am working hard to maintain a good perspective. I hope you have been able to have some business and personal experiences this summer that have enriched you as well.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

One Last Act of Love

We had a sudden death in our family this month. It was my mother’s husband of 8 years who was 69 years old. His son’s wife had delivered pre-mature twins just the night before, a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between life and death. My mom needed immediate support from us in comforting her and helping with all the necessary arrangements that had to take place. When I arrived to see her and schedule the appointment with the mortuary, I asked what my step-dad had shared with her about his final wishes?

She said, “We never talked about it.”

I know that the topic of death is uncomfortable for most people.  How many of us want to contemplate our own demise? It’s the easiest thing in the world to postpone and procrastinate about. But, it is also very unfair to the surviving family members who are not only reeling from their shock and grief but now also are asked to make very big decisions that are even more complicated when you have stepfamilies involved.

My second book called “Choose Resilience” was all about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone using emotional intelligence. I warned of the dangers of unexpected change when you are not prepared for it and it played out before my eyes in the last few weeks. Fortunately for us, my step-brother who was his only child was incredibly supportive of my mother and made all the decisions about his father cooperatively and inclusively with her. This is not typical.

Because his father chose not to have an uncomfortable conversation or even put some things in writing, he put his son and his wife into a traumatic position. His son had a wife in the hospital recovering from a C-section, he had twins in the NICU, he had a 2-yr old son he needed to take care of and then be available to drive to the funeral home which was 3-hours away several times during that week. He and my mom had to discuss everything from cremation to inheritance and did so under emotional duress while trying to guess what he would have wanted. It was so unnecessary and unfair in many ways to the people he claimed to have loved the most in his life.

I took this opportunity to talk to my mom (who is 76) and confirm my understanding of what she wanted us to do when she passes on. And it made me happy to know that I made the decision years ago to establish a trust, a will, a health care directive and write down my funeral wishes. If you haven’t done this, especially if you are in a blended family, I beg you to please do so. If you cannot afford to have someone prepare these for you, you can at least create a will and write down your final wishes on your own. Your loved ones will appreciate it more than you will ever know. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

How to Use Your EQ with a Boss Who Has None

The Clueless Boss

Think Horrible Bosses. Okay, maybe not that bad, but working with someone with little self-awareness or empathy can make your life miserable. So how do you outsmart a boss that appears to have little to no EQ?

Do frequent check-ins. The lower their EQ the more likely they are to be a control freak. Keeping them updated pro-actively prevents them from needing to get deep in the weeds of your work.

Don't give them enough information to be dangerous. When you provide a laundry list of problems or complaints you set yourself up to get a negative response. Keep updates brief and concise and always provide solutions to any problem you share.

Work around them. Use your organizational awareness and network so you have resources around the company happy to help you.

Never go over their head or use the BCC. We know it is tempting but usually backfires and results in a disaster.

Always connect for them how what they are doing is hurting them getting what they want. They probably won't care about you or what is important to you so you have to put everything in the context of how they unintentionally impede their own desired results.

The Enlightened Employee

It will also be important for you to maintain your Stress Tolerance so throughout the day take breaks, get some exercise in or be protective of family time on weekends no matter what.

Use your Flexibility to pick your timing well. Pay attention to their moods, are they a morning person or an afternoon person? If they are not a morning person, don't ask for something at 8am on a Monday.

Focus on results. Most bosses won't care as much about how as what. Use your Self-Control to resist the urge to go passive-aggressive and just tell them what they want to hear to get them off your back. A better way is to set polite but firm expectations of what can be accomplished when. Most of the executives we work with that have little EQ respond well to someone who occasionally challenges them in a professional and appropriate way.

Use some Empathy, they likely have a lot on their plate too, and odds are they were promoted for their technical skills, not people skills so don't expect them to be someone they are not. Sometimes lowering your expectations is the best way to stop being perpetually disappointed.

And lastly, take control over what you can - your thoughts, your attitude, your reactions. You are not a victim forced to stay in a miserable situation. If it becomes unbearable to work with the person, make an adult decision and get yourself to a happier place.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Curse of Being Competent

There is an old saying, "If you want something to get done, give it to the busiest person you know."  If you are that person, the odds are your company will continue to lean on you, whether or not you have the bandwidth or aptitude. Too often, this dynamic leads to a new kind of dilemma, one that you may have lived through, or are currently facing. It's called The Competency Dilemma.

A competency dilemma doesn't simply occur as a one-time event.  If it isn't successfully resolved, it can ultimately become a barrier to professional success.  Without regard for the signals and alerts along the way, it can trigger an alarming state of "task creep," one by one, extra little tasks find their way to your desk.

The Competency Dilemma:  A Progressive Condition

At the time we're hired, or when we're promoted into a new position, the most common goal is to exhibit ways to prove our worth.  We strive to assure those around us, (and particularly our leaders) that the decision they made in hiring or promoting us was indeed the right choice.  Showcasing our skills and abilities (competencies) is a natural response to our primal need to survive in a new environment.
Over time, our competencies become apparent within the culture.  We may ultimately find ourselves becoming the "go to person" for multiple projects that begin to stretch our ability to prioritize and manage a wide array of requests.  Suddenly, we awaken to a newly defined, and amazingly expanded job description.

And so, the dilemma begins.  Discretionary time is greatly reduced or becomes non-existent.  Our personal and professional identities become blurred, and the need for restructuring is imminent because the consequences often include high stress, family strife, damaged peer relationships or even health issues. It's usually not a sustainable situation.
If you are reading these words and are starting to realize that you are currently experiencing a personal Competency Dilemma, it's time to take action. The solution requires a proactive approach.  I am not going to say that you are being taken for granted, but the truth is that no one is going to show up at your desk with a solution on your behalf. It's time to reset some boundaries and establish a renewed state of personal and professional alignment.

The Competency Dilemma:  Awakening & Defining a Solution

Start by clarifying the expectations put on you. How much is actually delegated and expected, and how much is the perpetuation of old habits from you or them? Are there things that could be more effectively managed by another team member?  Could you be partnering more productively with others, in order to benefit both you and the organization?  Is the bulk of your workload out of alignment with the responsibilities associated with your job description?   If so, when was the last time you initiated a discussion regarding the areas in which you possess the most significant competencies?  And, what are the areas of development in which you'd like to gain a new understanding or skill?

The thought of being the catalyst to a discussion based on the need to re-align your workload can be intimidating at first glance.  However, as we all know, the ever-pressing potential of a personal business crisis awaits those who are unwilling to communicate tactfully on their own behalf.

Unfortunately, we don't usually awaken to the potential dangers of a self-described Competency Dilemma until we begin to feel the stress and overload associated with being assigned (or when we have "over-volunteered" for) projects beyond our capacity to function effectively.

The dilemma didn't evolve in a moment's likewise, a long-term definitive solution will only be consistently successful as a result of your ongoing effort to enact positive change.

Remember:  Your ability to thrive within any organization is based upon your capacity to function within the limits of your competencies. And, that is something everyone wants.