“Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts!” – Qui-Gon
“Feel the Force. Don’t deny your feelings.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Jedi Mind Trick #4: Pay Attention to Emotions
Our society loves science and rewards intelligence. In my world of helping people and teams reach their potential, conversational intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, and positive intelligence are all bodies of knowledge that complement cognitive intelligence. It seems the only way to get someone’s attention is to talk about intelligence.
Few workplaces adequately discuss feelings. It is either unacceptable (“Just the facts, please.”) or not condoned. In talent reviews I hear leaders compliment others saying, “I like them. They’re non-emotional. As a result, they make better decisions.” The irony is that neuroscience tells us most decisions involve emotions, made in the limbic system of the brain.
We buy something because we want to feel a certain way. There’s no data, no analysis, no return on investment – we just want it because we think it will make us feel differently. And it does… for a while. The most successful people in sales are emotionally intelligent, as are the most influential leaders in any organization. They’re paying attention to what is happening emotionally with themselves and everyone else. Some say there is a 7x correlation to upward mobility and the practice of emotionally intelligent approaches vs. simply relying on one’s IQ. Yale School of Management added a test of emotional intelligence to its admissions requirements.
There is something of consequence to this idea of paying attention to feelings and emotions. Scholars place the foundations of emotional intelligence (EI) back into the 1920s. Daniel Goleman helped to popularize and mainstream the concept of EI back in 1995. Experts in the field have not yet agreed upon an exact definition, but many would define EI by the four boxes below:
In the Star Wars movies, The Force and The Dark Side are not thought about, they are felt and experienced. All of us are feeling and emotional beings. We just pretend we are not, especially in both western society and the business world. What if we were to understand our emotions better and learn how to leverage them for our benefit and the benefit of others?
We know those folks that are emotionally intelligent, don’t we? They seem to have extra antennae, effortlessly reading the room while they’re aware of and managing themselves. How do they do this? It starts with paying attention: to ourselves, to what is going on around us, and to others. Everything starts with awareness. But the real magic happens when we do something with that awareness. I can be quite aware that I interrupt and talk over others, but if I don’t do something about it, the awareness is pretty worthless. I can be aware that the group is derailing in a meeting and feel the energy leaving the room, but if I don’t address the matter, I’ve missed an opportunity for a positive outcome.
A sampling of emotionally intelligent behaviors include:
|Showing empathy||Listening effectively||Independence|
|Flexibility||Stress tolerance||Impulse control|
|Self-actualization||Optimism||Effective reality testing|
|Assertiveness||Healthy relationships||Problem solving|
I like the idea of thinking of EI as a form of The Force. In the Star Wars movies, note what the Jedi do when they look to invoke the force – they close their eyes. Just this simple step can allow us to better focus, become more aware of our feelings and emotions, and read a situation or a person more effectively.
Many people are taught not to pay attention to, or to understand, what their feelings and emotions are telling them. To do so is a move into the Discomfort ring of the graphic below. However, it is in discomfort where we learn the most.
Try the following steps to increase your emotional intelligence and experience more of The Force:
- Ask for feedback to increase your awareness. Feedback is just that, no need to take it personally. We’re not as great or as bad as we tell ourselves we are.
- Practice “WIFM” with others. Ask yourself how they would answer the questions, “What’s in it for me?” This simple practice can increase empathy, relational functioning, and effective listening.
- Share your emotions. It’s okay to say to someone that you are frustrated. It allows others to know where you’re at. Ask others the same and see what you learn.
- Read body language. More than half of all communication is non-verbal. Your ability to pick up nonverbal cues makes you more effective. You can’t read body language through email.
- Write down feelings as they happen. This practice “tunes you in” to what is happening and can keep you from self-inflicted wounds. If you are “triggered” in a meeting, it is simply a trigger. Some triggers merit a response, while most do not.
- Learn to balance fact and emotion. Our minds need them both. If you are immersed in feelings, ask yourself what facts need to be considered. If you are immersed in facts, ask yourself what your gut or heart is telling you.
This concludes our four-part series on Jedi mind tricks. I hope you’re able to use all four tricks to affect positive outcomes for yourself and others.