Emotional skills are more important than ever for 21st century business. Good leadership can be quickly undermined by lack of emotional regulation. Without the skill to manage your own emotion, leaders can act impulsively. Harsh works can burn long built bridges of connection in seconds, leaving damaged working relationships in ashes. And what is ultimately damaged is trust.
So, what can you do?
First, leaders need to be self-aware of the things that cause them to be dysregulated. The body is the first clue. By scanning for sensations that signal distress, you can start to reverse the process. Sensations like a tight throat, a pounding heart, judgmental thoughts, sweaty palms, and a knot in the stomach are signals that shouldn’t be ignored. Our body gives us clues to our state of mind constantly. Understanding how your body speaks to you is worth investigating with curiosity.
Once you know what is happening, giving yourself permission to step away, take a breath, and sooth yourself. Use your five senses: focus on something beautiful, listen to music, smell something calming, put an ice cube in your mouth. By focusing on these sensations, the brain has to shift. As we calm down, you can gain perspective and choice how to respond to a situation, rather than reacting impulsively that could negatively impact important relationships.
For your teams to feel respected and valued, they need to feel heard. Listening to those around you is an important skill many leaders struggle with; however, it is critical for everyone’s success. When teams feel heard, they will not only give you their best, they will give you their loyalty.
An easy way to remember this skill is G.I.V.E. (adapted from the work of Marsha Linehan, PhD)
• (be) GENTLE: approach the conversation in a non-threatening, open, receptive and available way.
• (be) INTERESTED: John Gottman says it is more important to be interested than interesting! This
means you are attentive, curious, and focused on listening, not to just respond, but to
understand what is being said. You are allowing the time to really pay attention while
setting aside your own preconceived ideas of what might be happening.
• VALIDATE: Validation is about understanding. It is not about fixing a situation, or finding a
teaching moment. It is saying “I get it” without looking for rebuttals. The primary goal is
to have the speaker feel heard. This step MUST ALWAYS precede problem solving.
• EASY MANNER: Being approachable and creating a safe space where people can come to you with
concerns is an important skill. It allows you to be professional without being intimidating.
Safety increases trust and communication.
Remember, learning new skills is a practice, but one that is well worth it! It is not enough to work from the top down. To be truly successful, we must work from the inside out!
If you would like to listen to the show Skills of Connection follow this link to hear the replay!