Archive for the ‘EQ’ Category

Thanksgiving Leftovers

OK, so I finally threw out the remaining crumbles of Thanksgiving stuffing last weekend. Now that we’re headlong into the rush and buzz of the holiday decorating/shopping/singing/gift-giving season, I have this deep need to hold onto the simplicity of Thanksgiving—“the holiday that’s just about food and family”, as one of my friends described it. I’ve had several people confess to me recently that Thanksgiving is actually their favorite of the holidays, and I can’t personally argue against this sentiment.

How can anything be better than having a day—or a season—to reflect on feeling grateful—to be well, to be surrounded by loved ones, and to indulge ourselves with harvest feasts that remind us of our abundance and blessings? No malls, no carols, no shopping lists to break the bank; but we still have the joy of gathering together to eat and talk turkey.

Gratitude is, by its very nature, good for us. (And not just because our grandmas taught us to appreciate and be thankful as a practice of living as civilized beings.) When we experience gratitude, appreciation and deep levels of caring, something amazing happens to our biology. Research demonstrates that when we feel gratitude or appreciation, we have increased levels of DHEA, the anti-aging hormone, flooding our endocrine system. In addition, acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, rushes into the neurological system to produce feelings of calmness, peace and contentedness; it is the body’s natural chemical that promotes relaxation during sleep, massages or other low-energy states.

I was raised on The Power of Positive Thinking. At an early age, my father introduced me to Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, the book that described the law of attraction years before The Secret. Practice in positive thinking can help shape attitudes of optimism, problem-solving and perseverance. New research in neuroscience, however, demonstrates that positive feeling—the deliberate invocation of a feeling state created through positive imagery—can have a direct and immediate effect on the body’s hormonal and nervous systems, and can create an actual shift in a person’s emotional state.

Last year, I became a certified provider in HeartMath, which is essentially a set of tools to help reduce stress, increase focus and live a heart-centered lifestyle. The HeartMath Institute has conducted and collected extensive research in neurophysiology, and has produced a wide array of tools, resources, publications and products which help people learn to work with their own biology to be effective in their work, in their play, and in their relationships. I’ll write more about HeartMath as time goes on, but feel free to check it out for yourself, or call me if you want a one-on-one demo.

And in the meantime, there’s no rule that says you can’t hang onto Thanksgiving a little longer. It’s not an accident that we start the bustle of the holiday season by giving thanks.  Keep it alive all season. Happy holidays!


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This week I watched as a friend was crushed by his supervisor.  He has worked for the company for the past four years, and is the perfect example of an individual who “owns” his job.  His relationship with the company goes beyond employee / employer but might be better described as he is a “FAN” of the brand and company.  I am not sure how many people I know really operate at this level of engagement or ownership – it seems like this level is above “Active Engagement” and generally reserved for the actual owners of the business.

Over the years the company has grown and created new infrastructure and levels of reporting – bringing a new manager between my friend and the company owner who he used to report to.  Of course this brings change, which can always be tough to deal with as a human. But this case is different.  Mike’s role is being reduced to a smaller set of tasks and responsibilities, not due to issues of performance but because of other growth needs of the company.  While Mike understands the strategic shift, it doesn’t make it easier for him personally.  The interesting question and opportunity to watch and learn will be to see how this affects his view of the company, his “ownership” in the brand and his performance as the biggest fan the company has.

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Too Empathic?

When I got my EQi results, I wasn’t too surprised to see that my Empathy score was the highest. I like to consider myself a caring person. The EQi defines empathy as “the ability to be aware of, to understand, and to appreciate the feelings of others,” so I guess I am good at it…

What was very helpful and useful to me professionally was not just knowing that I am empathetic, but how that can be good and bad in a work setting.

Clare provided the feedback for my EQi results. Because my empathy is high and my assertiveness is lower, I can let my concern for people and their feelings get in the way of saying what it is that I want/need to say.

Clare proposed some strategies to compensate for my lower scores using my higher scores and I’ve been implementing them over the last few months.

Looking back on it, one small conversation in regards to my EQ levels has really helped me move forward in my professional careers. It’s pretty cool.

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I had an experience this morning that reminded me of some EQ skills. Social Responsibility and Flexibility.

From time to time, I ride public transportation to and from work. This morning, I rode the bus. Instead of taking the suggested route, I took a riskier route that makes my transfer between busses very short. I’ve made the transfer each other time I’ve chosen this route, but this morning, a vehicle in front of our bus chose to wait for an unusually long time letting vehicles leave a busy parking lot. This minor delay was just long enough that I missed my transfer.

I had no choice but to be flexible and find a different way to work. Other than arriving later than planned, this was no big deal.

While it isn’t a perfect fit with social responsibility, this got me thinking… I wonder how often I make a decision or do something that negatively affects another. The driver of the car in front of the bus was trying to be kind by letting a bunch of cars enter the road at a busy junction, but it caused me to miss my transfer. Surely the driver was completely unaware of some of the consequences of his/her actions.

Luckily for me, there really was no one to blame for this circumstance, for it was no ones fault (although, you could argue that if anyone were to blame, it’d be me). Knowing when to roll with the punches and when to fight back is a great EQ skill to develop and one that I constantly have to work on.

Also being aware of how my actions can affect others is an area that need to be better in. Luckily, I’ve got things like the EQi and DISC to help me know what areas I can work on.

Everyday, I consider myself lucky to be able to work with such great leaders and consultants who help companies and individuals become more efficient, engaged and profitable.

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No Engine Brake!

Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia lies one of my favorite road signs (you’re thinking, “this guy has favorite road signs?”). It is completely ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, I had to take a picture of it. Have a look:

It is illegal for any vehicle to operate an engine compression brake device with in the city limits "Except in an emergency"...

At first glance, one may say, “What’s wrong with that sign.” Well, nothing at face-value. Consider this, however: the sign is about the size of an American speed limit sign and the speed which cars are traveling when they pass it is about 35 MPH. There is no way anyone could read the entire sign traveling at that rate. It is just way too much communication for the medium and situation.

How often do we get caught in this same scenario? We have something important to say, but over dilute the meaning with extra words. How many times in life do we say too much, when all we really need to say is, “No Engine Brake”?

This ties into the EQ skill of don’t say any more than is completely and utterly necessary to make a valid and sound argument that supports the thing that you are trying to say by saying what you wanted to say to begin with skill.

Let’s all do better.

No Engine Brake

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Recently, I was in a meeting. Pretty exciting and unique, right? Well, it actually was a productive meeting for PeopleSmarts. We are helping one of our clients adjust to the current economic situation and prepare them for their future. Near the close of the meeting, one of the attendees made a wry comment that somewhat implicating PeopleSmarts as the cause of some of our clients troubles. Mind you, this was our first meeting with said client, so there isn’t much we could have done to help them before that meeting.

Regardless of the intent and accuracy of the comment, I felt a sudden urge to upbraid this individual, but luckily the EQ skill of Impulse Control stepped in first. Merrilee was also there and did a great job to acknowledge the comment, but minimized its ridiculousness by focussing on the future.

How many times have you seen people not control their impulses and it has been a bad situation? How have you used this EQ skill in your life? I’d love to hear about them…


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I recently spent 10 days on a river rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with a group of people whom I had not previously met. Most were friends of a friend; the opportunity to float and run rapids through 200-plus miles of nature’s grandeur was more compelling to me than knowing the crowd I would be communing with through the experience. I must say that I was delighted to find the group a warm and welcoming bunch who made the adventure, for me, a life-changing experience altogether. (But more about that in another post.)

Of the 16 people who embarked on this journey, about two-thirds were what I have come to call “green-collar workers”; that is, their education and careers were focused on protecting, restoring and preserving the environment. There were fish biologists, environmental engineers, restoration specialists, waste experts, species protectors, grant writers and river regulators.  Many of them worked in state or federal government positions in Oregon, California or Utah. For me, it was enlightening to spend time with and learn from people who really understood the issues of our environment from an educated and experienced place, not just from what they had read in the papers or heard on the evening news.

In my usual circles, talking about “EQ” seems an obvious reference to emotional intelligence, or what we often term “the street smarts of business success”. In this group, however, when I mentioned “EQ”, their most common reference point was “environmental quality”. In conversations about our various backgrounds and interests, I could tell instantly by their puzzled looks that we were not speaking the same language. Finally, (duh!) I recognized the discrepancy, and in the same moment nearly fell out of the boat laughing from a lightning bolt of insight. (Which, of course, puzzled them even more.)


Emotional Intelligence = Environmental Quality. (Now wait, you say. You’ve lost me.)

Think about it this way: When I ask people what they want and like most about their jobs, the most common answers I get are something like this:

“Working with good people.”

“Having a pleasant place to work.”

“Working with people who support and encourage me.”

“Feeling like I am making a difference in people’s lives.”

The environments in which we work are influenced more by the people who work there than the bricks and mortar that surround us.  “Environmental Quality”, while most often associated with water, land, air and species preservation, may also be a description of our workplace energy, culture, communication and camaraderie. And  well-developed EQ (emotional intelligence) may be the most significant contributor to EQ (environmental quality) in our workplaces.

How’s the EQ of your workplace?

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