The Heat of the Moment

Have you ever lost your cool? Have you ever let you emotions run wild? We’ve been reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. It’s a follow up on several prior books on the topic of Emotional Intelligence and serves as a practical guide with specific strategies on how we can heighten our self-awareness leading to enhanced relationships and superior job performance.

For those of us in family businesses where the interrelation of family and business is complex and intense, an understanding of our Emotional Intelligence is vital. We’ve repeatedly said that the most important attribute of leadership is self-awareness and this is at the core of Emotional Intelligence. Mastery can lead to enriched relationships with family members, co-workers, customers/clients and more. Whether it’s the server in the restaurant who brings you the wrong glass of wine or a sibling in business who tells you something you simply don’t want to hear, the more you understand your own reaction to the situation, the easier it is to deal with it.

Think of an experience when you lost your cool. What was the situation? Who was involved? What was said or happened that triggered a strong emotion in you? Now reflect for a moment on what you were feeling at that time. Identify your emotion. If, for example, it was anger, try to identify the intensity of the feeling. The more intense the feeling, the more difficult it is to manage and overcome and the less you’ll be able to understand the situation in rational terms. So, how do you handle it?

A client of ours, let’s call him John, and his mother, Marilyn, were deep in discussion about the future of leadership in their business. Marilyn was telling John about her desires – that the next leader would have had several years of outside experience prior to joining the company, that he/she would have a graduate degree and a proven record of growth within the family organization. John is one of three siblings in the business, none of whom had outside experience or graduate degrees. He instantly became defensive and started yelling at his mother asking if that meant that he and his siblings would never lead the business. This put Mom on the defensive and triggered an intense argument between the two.

After things cooled down, we asked John and Marilyn to look at the emotional side of what just happened from 30,000 feet. Marilyn said she understood how her desired criteria for future leadership may not have been in touch the realities and practicalities of their organization and their family. She said she was merely expressing a desire – what would happen in the best of all worlds. She admitted that what she said simply came out wrong. John realized that had he validated his mother’s desire and then asked her to explain her reasoning, their conversation would have taken an entirely different course.

We urge you to purchase a copy of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.   The book includes a code for you to test yourself. It’s confidential and only you will see the results of your level of emotional intelligence. We’re pretty sure you will find it enlightening and see the areas in which you have strengths and the areas you may wish to develop further. We also suspect that once you read it, you might even purchase additional copies – perhaps for your partner or spouse and perhaps for others with whom you work on a regular basis. The book provides a platform for discussions and reflective thought. Putting some energy into heightening your self-awareness is giving a gift to yourself and, surely, to others as well.

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