Professional EQ

I want to talk about the relation between emotions and professionalism, but I have been unable to find an article that just seems to ... explain it, or make some amazing inspiring point about it. So instead I just am going to put a collection of all the halfway decent points I found in various articles here, and maybe we can discuss our way to enlightenment, ha.

What is EQ?
Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who coined the term emotional intelligence, recently talked to the Huffington Post about the many characteristics of emotional intelligence. Lets go over a few here, so that we can know what to train in.

You're curious about new people
Do you ask a lot of questions when you meet someone? Do you actually listen to their answers? Then you might be a highly empathic person, someone attuned to the needs and feeling of others, and you may also mark high on openness to experience–a trait correlated with creativity.

You're self-aware
To be emotionally intelligent, Goleman says, you need to have confidence. To have confidence, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Then you work from that framework.

You know how to pay attention
As Arianna Huffington told us, you can’t make connections if you’re distracted. Additionally, the ability to remain focused–and not carried away by texts and tweets–predicts not just the ability to form strong relationships and cultivate self-knowledge, Goleman says, but also your financial success.

“Your ability to concentrate on the work you’re doing, and to put off looking at that text or playing that video game until after you’re done,” he tells the Huffington Post. “How good you are at that in childhood turns out to be a stronger predictor of your financial success in adulthood than either your IQ or the wealth of the family you grew up in.”

You can say no

If you have high emotional intelligence, Goleman says, you can avoid unhealthy habits and otherwise discipline yourself–which also allows for relationship-nourishing, success-engendering non-distraction.

You know precisely what's pissing you off
Folks with a high EQ acknowledge emotions as they come rather than repressing them or misattributing their causes. You could also call this emotional agility.

You trust your intuition
There are neuroscientific reasons for trusting your gut: they’re markers for what to do next. Part of having a high EQ is learning when to trust them.

Is expressing emotions at work a terrible idea?
In How We Work, Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Leah Weiss says we equate professionalism and leadership with emotional suppression, but it actually is the No. 1 barrier between us and our purpose. “Thinking the feelings themselves are the problem, we try to get rid of them or ignore them altogether, not realizing how much of our mental resources are burned up in the effort. And the effort is a fruitless one. We think that stuffing our feelings down is the best and only way to get by at work, but when we do that, we block the pathways to a vital source of information: our emotions,” she writes.

Ms. Weiss notes that much of our behaviour is driven by our emotions or our reactions to our emotions, even if it doesn’t feel that way. She highlights “the ladder of inference,” the process by which we jump from observation of data to interpretation of that data. When this happens, it’s important to be aware of what is driving our conclusions, emotions and actions. While our emotions happen in response to situations, she stresses that the situations don’t create our emotional responses.

“Once we recognize that we are climbing the ladder of inference, we can descend back to less subjective information. For example, when a co-worker says something that upsets us, we can ask a question that will help us parse what that person’s motivation was,” Ms. Weiss says.

I've never heard of the ladder of inference before? We could have a quick chat about it if people are interested.

Instead of suppressing emotions, we need to be mindful of them and regulate them.
Reframe and reappraise: Mindfulness teaches us that you can reinterpret situations in a healthier way. Ms. Weiss gives as an example when your boss doesn’t give you the information to accomplish an assigned task. You can stomp around, complaining angrily, or you can approach him calmly and gain the desired info.

Accept: You can recognize, name and understand your emotions. For this, she says it helps to know how you are tuned – what your triggers are. She shares the three-step ACT system of emotional regulation: accept your reactions and be present; choose a valued direction; and take action. With ACT comes defusion, learning that our feelings are not factual truths carved in stone but sensations and reactions that will pass. “Feelings aren’t facts” is a common saying for AA practitioners.

Get moving: Find a physical action that helps to transition out of an emotional state, such as walking meditation or applying that technique of focused attention on workouts with repetitive motion, such as running, cycling or rowing.
So, don’t suppress your emotions at work. And don’t ignore them. Take note, and regulate them more effectively – like the professional you are.

Mastering Yourself, Not Just Your Emotions
In their 1994 book The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, a group of writers and editors led by the systems scientist and management guru Peter Senge tried to tackle this issue head-on. The gist of their recommended approach was to throw out many traditional notions of emotional control.

When we talk about mastering our emotions, we often mean controlling them and keeping them in check. But for Senge and his team of scholars, mastery had a different meaning. Instead, it was about acknowledging, exploring, and understanding them. We should take quiet time to see how we’re feeling rather than rush on by and leave them to ambush us later. In any situation we confront, they argued, we should consider not just our thoughts about it, but also our feelings.

Personal mastery then becomes not about controlling your feelings, but working with them productively. That means learning to understand and respect what your biochemistry is trying to tell you.

Maybe an idea makes you uncomfortable but you can’t see a rational reason for why. In that case, it’s likely that your emotional response system has detected something your conscious, reasoning mind has missed. Explore the feeling, delve deeper, and you may find a problem and its solution that you would otherwise have missed.

Real Motivation
Many efforts to motivate employees rely on compensation and recognition for good performance, and the threat of negative consequences for poor performance. But in this view of emotional mastery, work needs to be rewarding in itself, a notion that subsequent research has largely vindicated.

Here is what you can gain by getting emotional at work:
More growth.
The study's author says thinking about a failure logically can lead to rationalizing it away. If instead you allow yourself to have an emotional reaction, you give yourself the opportunity to feel that pain and learn from the experience.

More honesty.
People can always tell when you are hiding your true feelings -- that stands in the way of building mutual trust. Having open and frank discussions creates a culture of honesty where everybody feels free to express themselves and their opinions in constructive ways.

More passion.
If your team thinks you do not care, it can be demotivating and even demoralizing. Show them you take things personally. Your intensity and dedication will rub off, allowing your entire team to feel meaning and purpose.

More innovation.
Honesty and passion are the spark for so many great ideas. If you are more worried about avoiding conflict than being straightforward, how can you have those conversations that lead to changes and innovation?

Do not deny your feelings -- let them motivate you and fuel your growth.

Even negative emotions can be an asset if you channel them positively. You can show disappointment and frustration while remaining professional. Just make sure you do it in a respectable way. Your emotion should not be directed at others negatively.

How simple, seemingly irrelevant, factors can have a significant impact on the choices we make every day.
“What we find across various different studies is that our emotions can cloud our judgment in two main ways,” she says. “One is that they make it difficult for us to judge whether advice is good or bad. And then two, depending on the emotion we might be feeling, we might completely shut down and not listen to advice at all. Or actually rely on the advice too much.”

Francesca Gino, author of the book Sidetracked, explains that if someone feels anger, even if that feeling is completely unrelated to the decision they have to make at hand, that person might discount the information provided by others and focus solely on their own opinions. Or, if someone is feeling anxious, they might be unable to judge the quality of advice they receive, relying on the advice too much, because they don’t feel confident that they can come to a good decision on their own.

Case in point is Gino’s study where she and her co-author Maurice Schweitzer of the Wharton School found that the emotion people felt after watching a short movie clip affected whether they took into account advice they are given. In the study, participants were asked to guess a person’s weight based on a picture of the person. Everyone would be paid depending on the accuracy of their guess. Then, some participants were asked to watch a National Geographic clip about fish in the Great Barrier Reef while others were asked to watch a clip from the movie My Bodyguard that showed a young man being bullied.

Afterward, all participants were given another participant’s weight guess and asked if they wanted to revise their initial estimate now that new information has emerged. The findings showed that 74% of participants who watched My Bodyguard–and felt sadness for the young man–disregarded the information they were given, relying on their initial guess, while only 32% of participants who watched National Geographic disregarded the new information, which in turn, led to greater accuracy and pay.

Another study, led by Richard Larrick from Duke University, from 2011 found that aggression increases in hot temperatures. After analyzing data from 57,293 Major League Baseball games, he found that the probability of a batter being hit by the opposing team’s pitcher increases with a spike in temperature.

Now that we know emotions–even simple ones like the irritation one feels in a traffic jam–make it difficult to analyze information properly, what should we do about it? Below, Gino offers tips to consider:

Delay decisions
If possible, give yourself time to make decisions since research shows that emotions are short-lived and humans typically go back to “baseline states” after some time.

The significance of this “cooling off period” is shown in the example of Korea, where after the country introduced a six-month period between the time you file for divorce and the start of proceedings, they experienced reduced divorce rates. It’s also the reason why 21 U.S. states require couples to wait up to six days after receiving their marriage certificate to actually get married.

Increase awareness and question-asking
The more cognitively aware you are in a specific moment that emotions are affecting your decisions, the better off you’ll be. Gino suggests taking your “emotional temperature” in those moments.

“No matter how emotional you are as a person, we should be able to understand whether we are in the right mindset to make certain decisions,” she says. “Sometimes, this is difficult to realize so the solution is to find people who are close to us who are going to be able to point out to us that we’re really not in the right state to come to good decisions.”

She adds: “In a very honest way, ask yourself questions and really understand whether you’re in the right emotional state to make a decision. If you had a fight with a spouse or feel particularly stressed out at work, maybe that’s not the right time to make an important decision, so I would delay the decision to another point in time.”

It also helps to downplay the events that lead up to your emotions. For example, if you’re feeling angry after being stuck in a traffic jam for hours, remind yourself: “It’s just traffic.” This reduces negative feelings and affects the physiological and neural responses you’ll have to those events.

Stop Worrying About Your Lack of Emotional Intelligence
Do not be overly concerned about your emotional intelligence. Instead, focus on yourself and the following traits and your own sustainable happiness will follow:

Are you genuine?
We need more people who are willing to be themselves, whether they are a little quirky or shy. We work hard to reach our goals but we are also not afraid to share our true selves from time to time. We can celebrate our accomplishments and cheer each other on, and feel sadness when things do not go our way. Real people are not afraid to feel and express real emotions — regardless of how others react.

Are you with purpose?
When you live your life with purpose, it changes everything, from the way you order your priorities to the way you treat others. People who have a vision for what they want to accomplish are not wandering aimlessly through life. They set a strategy and goals, and they are excited about the possibilities ahead. They do not worry about what others think of their chosen path.

Are you kind?
Kindness still matters. That is why we look for people who will treat everyone with respect regardless of their position or station in life. They respect others as they do themselves, because it is the right thing to do, not because they worry what will happen if they misbehave. They also forgive others and move on easily when they are not treated with the same kindness themselves.

Are you responsive?
The Responsive Method is a guiding principle of our company — that interactions with urgency are what move us forward. We need people who understand that achievement happens via action and that our customers and team members depend on rapid responses. By reacting quickly to requests, we demonstrate that we value the other person and what they need.

Do not get me wrong. I am all for collaboration and unity, but we should not be focusing on it as an end goal.
So, when emotional intelligence becomes more about getting along and making others feel good — I think it takes us farther away from being successful and building what matters.

Being true to ourselves. A sense of purpose. Kindness. And crazy hard work and responsiveness. These are the real gems we should be focusing on.

Bonus article: Why you should sleep at night