Relationship: The art and practice

Relationship. Unusual dog and cat pairing.Managing your relationship with others is the fourth pillar of Emotional Intelligence or EI.

Do we really need other people?

“No person is an island, entire of itself; every person is a piece of the continent.”

John Donne said this. I have changed the quote a little for reasons of gender correctness because the 16th and 17th century world of John Donne was markedly different too our enlightened utopia. That aside, the basic truth of his statement is unaltered.

The answer to the question is a definite yes. We need other people. Even if we don’t like them we do need them.

You need to build solid and effective relationships with other people in all areas of your life and work. All of us need to develop strong personal and professional networks. We also need to be able to operate effectively as key elements in the networks of others.

When the first three pillars of emotional intelligence are firmly in place we can then begin to create and successfully manage such relationships and networks.

Our friendships, family connections and working relationships can define us. Modern life is nigh on impossible without them. Even if it were possible to live entirely alone and isolated, for myself at least, it would be a miserable and pointless life.

What defines a relationship?

We can most usefully talk about the word relationship here as either the way in which two or more people are connected, or the way in which two or more people or groups think about, feel about, interact with and behave toward each other. The first part of the two-part statement above defines a relationship’s connection component and the second part speaks to the quality or nature of the relationship.

For example, a residential landlord may be said to be in a relationship with a tenant due to the fact one rents the other a dwelling; this is a straightforward relationship description based on connection. You might also describe the situation by saying the landlord and tenant have an uneasy relationship; because the tenant is always waiting until the very last minute to pay their rent. This speaks more to the quality aspect of the relationship. A low-quality one in this example. Relationships can fall anywhere on a spectrum running from strong to weak.

You will have a huge number of relationships in your life. Some you will be aware of and actively managing and some you may be aware of but have no interest in managing.  There may well be some you are aware of but have no ability or opportunity to manage and yet more of which you are simply unaware of at any level.

So how does knowing this help?

This whole series has been about emotional intelligence in the real world and has focused on developing and using EI as a leader or manager. Being an effective leader or manager is all about building solid sustainable relationships with other people, groups and organisations.

This is where the magic happens. Knowledge as they say is power.

As you will have been working on your emotional intelligence, you will be more self-aware and better able to regulate yourself. Also, you will have a better understanding about what makes other people tick. Now, you are ready to look at your relationship with the world in general and more specifically other people.

You can now begin to consciously and intentionally identify, investigate and then classify the relationships in your life. This will then allow you to redefine them if necessary or build upon them in new, interesting and beneficial ways.

Relationship connection comes first

The connection comes first, and you have a surprising amount of control over who you connect with and which groups you associate yourself with.

You may not be able to choose your family and relations, but you can choose your own friends. Up to a practical financial and skill-based limit, you can choose where you work and often, who you associate with within that working environment.

You can choose who you wish to approach to initiate a potential new relationship and you can refuse some or all such approaches to you if you so desire.

Bear this in mind because it is important; you always have choices.

With no connection there cannot be a practical personal or business relationship.

Relationship quality follows close behind

If a relationship exists at all then it follows that the relationship has some sort of inherent quality which defines that relationship. This inherent quality can also determine the stability and durability of the relationship. Any inherent qualities can be both positive and negative and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical within any relationship. Some qualities can overpower others and take control of or even destroy a relationship if not managed and controlled.

For example, in a marriage, if one partner deeply mistrusts the other, this can lead to paranoia and stress. The untrusted partner can become so upset with the suspicious atmosphere they seek external comfort and misbehave. They likely would not have misbehaved at all in a trusting environment. If this happens the mistrusting partner sees it as validation of their mistrust and it has in fact become a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is obviously not a high-quality relationship. Even if both parties split up and found other partners, they may inadvertently repeat the same negative behaviour with similar outcomes.

Any business or professional relationship can be impacted the same way. There can be high-quality and low-quality interactions.

Whilst you had quite a bit of control over the relationship connection, you can only ever have full control over one half of the relationship quality; your own half. This means you can always choose how you behave and respond, but you have no direct control over how the other party reciprocates. You can of course try to influence the other party or group but, if the situation is extremely bad the best thing to do may be to break the connection entirely and end the relationship.

Managing a relationship is a deliberate & conscious creative act

One of the key things with managing relationships is that word managing. You need to manage them. You need to manage the connections you make then you need to manage your contribution the quality of that relationship.

This management does not happen magically. Situations rarely fix themselves spontaneously.

The successful and effective management of a relationship really is a deliberate and conscious act. Ideally this happens on both sides of the relationship; these generally prove to be the better relationships overall.

Communication, compromise, respect, trust, understanding, listening, compassion, etc… are all key elements of positive healthy relationships. You need to be constantly checking and monitoring to ensure these elements are front and centre. If they are missing or disappearing, then some action will need to be taken. You will need to take charge and manage.

Bear in mind, you may be the party causing the issues. Manage yourself. Sort it out or break it off.

I also used the word creative here. Creativity is an important component in the management of any relationship. When things which have worked in the past stop working then you need to get creative. Try something new. If it fails, try something else. Use your judgement here and don’t end up flogging a dead horse. Tenacity is a good trait, but stubbornness is not so good.

Relationships are not good when either party is too passive or too aggressive. Balance works best.

Is the EI puzzle complete now?

The four pillars have now been covered in this article series, but your work has only just begun. Like the game of chess, the rules can be straightforward enough, but it can take at least one lifetime to get good at the game.

You are hopefully more aware of emotional intelligence as both a concept and a practical learnable skill. I recommend making it a priority in your life. Firstly, seek your own balance across the four EI pillars. Then seek to raise your skill level in all the EI pillars equally and to as high a point as you can.

Life is not meant to be a spectator sport. Get involved in your own life and enjoy it to the max. If you are not in control of your life, then someone else will be. Trust me, controlling it yourself is far better.

What next?

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Emotional Intelligence in the real world

Self-awareness and how to develop it

Self-regulation and its importance to you

Understanding others and how to do it

Culture of dishonesty can poison an organisation

Computer error or a demonstration of rotten organisational culture?Mistakes,  lack of ownership & faulty organisational culture

Am I being too precious or thinking too deeply about this rotten culture thing?

Is it me being paranoid again? It can’t just be me can it?

Please let me know what you think.

The inciting event

My wife and I were in our local branch of our building society, I won’t bother naming them but they are a big outfit here in Wales, and encountered an intriguing incident.

It is not even the event itself which is of interest/concern/annoyance to me but the underlying systemic issues it points to.

Our teller was so busy trying to up-sell/push various financial items to us – none of which we wanted – that she messed up the cheque we were supposed to get and instead printed the passbook update all over the cheque.

Here is the cause for concern. It was fairly obvious that she had messed this sequence up. I make mistakes all the time. Everyone does. If she had taken responsibility and fessed up I would have happily accepted it and let her make the necessary corrections.  We all make mistakes and nobody is perfect. Least of all me .

Here’s the thing. Instead of fessing up she straight away said the computer had made a mistake and that it had never done this before. The computer department would have to be informed. Really? It was the dishonest excuses and buck passing which really took the jam out of my doughnut. Is this an organisational culture thing here – I think it might well be.

The deeper issues

Here are the problems as I see them:

One

She assumed her customer was ignorant to the extent they might not be aware that she was using a dumb terminal and, as no one else was having any problems, it must have been her error. This excuse might have worked back in the 80’s but not now.

This shows a serious lack of understanding of her customers and/or a complete disregard for them.

Two

She believes there really is a terminal issue which indicates a severe lack of training in this branch at least.

Three

There is a strong blame culture within the organisation and admitting an error will lead to a reprimand rather than a learning experience. There is therefore no impetus or encouragement to do the right thing and be honest with customers.

Four

Too busy up-selling (perhaps for commission) rather than paying attention to and tackling the job at hand in the best way possible.

Five

The whole financially based organisational culture is as rotten as every other financial institution and cares not a jot for its customers.

My belief and the possible solution

I suspect a mixture of all these and perhaps a few others as well.

The solution would be a top-down examination of organisational culture with the emphasis on installing and improving the  levels of emotional intelligence in both the organisation, leaders, managers and all employees.

They are a business which relies on people so start treating people as thinking feeling creatures rather than simple numbers and annoying interruptions to their busy working day.

If it is just me overreacting please let me know. I believe it all points to a more sinister reason. I believe there is a fundamental total and systemic lack of genuine customer care in many modern financial organisations. It can be fixed but only if they choose to fix it themselves or are forced to fix it by us.

Understanding others and how to do it

Understanding others - students talking and interacting

Understanding others is the third pillar of EI

Understanding other people is the third pillar of emotional intelligence. I’ll say it right from the start and make no mistake here, other people are incredibly different from you. Your job is discovering and understanding just how different they really are.

Everyone else is just like me, aren’t they?

Wrong! Understanding others using this statement as a starting point will leave you confused and struggling to get on with others. Again, everyone else is not just like you.

How do they think, behave and feel differently? In what ways are they different from you and me? How are you and I different? Are there any similarities at all?

When you get down to it, other people can be confusing and strange. It can be hard enough to try and figure out what makes us tick. Once other people get involved in any part of our lives and work, it can get very messy and complicated. Life would be technically easier without other people, but it would be a lonely and essentially pointless existence. We need other people and generally we like other people, so it makes sense to try and understand as much as possible.

The big problem is that everyone is as unique in their way as you are in yours.

How do people differ?

How long is a piece of string? I’m afraid I can’t offer a better answer than this.

Think of any one attribute you may possess. Do you perhaps believe you have a well-developed sense of humour? Well, now consider all the people you may already know. If you had to place them on a scale running from “no sense of humour at all” to “funniest person on Earth” where might they be placed. Where would you fit? Now imagine all the people on Earth placed on this line. If the line was long enough everyone would find a place to stand. Because we cannot realistically do this we tend to lump people together into sub-categories of our own design. You might see yourself in the very funny category and see someone else you know as being in the totally unfunny category. However, someone else might place you in a category of their choosing such as idiotic clown or buffoon perhaps. It’s all very subjective.

Psychologists, sociologists and many other “ologists” have tried to make more scientifically rigorous and objective categories and classifications. They have done this to improve everyone’s understanding but their terms can often cause more confusion than ever for everyday folks. These terms can of course be very useful to create a scientific lingua franca or common-language for differentiating people, but you will find many of these to be equally as subjective in the real world.

How can you get the knowledge you need?

Do you really have to know everything about everyone?

The good news is, although each one of us is truly unique, we can also be usefully categorised and bundled in quite general ways. For example, a classic and well-used distinction is that of psychologically introverted people versus psychologically extroverted people. People can all be usefully placed at some point on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert. Such information can be used to inform the style and even content of your interactions with them as well as their interaction styles with others.

These broad-brush definitions, classifications and spectra are not truly accurate, but they are incredibly useful ways to inform our own thoughts about and behaviour toward the other people we interact with. They could be said to be intentional and well-meant stereotypes. They represent a good starting point for quickly developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

With a little study and practice you can become very adept at recognising where other people lie on these broad category spectra. At this point you can then begin to adapt your communication and behaviour styles to get the best from any encounter with them. You can also begin to analyse interactions they have with others. Achieving this level of skill and adaptability will put you in a great position as a manager or leader.

Initial sources for understanding others

As a minimum, I recommend you read as many books as practicable on the subject. Read widely and read both fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps do some courses. Study psychometric instruments of various kinds. Get a mentor. Watch educational videos. Listen to audios. Watch movies and root out the motivations and communication styles of the characters. Learn the “ologists” classification language if it helps.

Subscribe to podcasts, newsletters, social media communities and any other source of information which will help you get a handle on other people and what makes them tick. You will find you also learn a great deal about yourself whilst you do this.

Do it constantly but be clearly aware from the start that there is no end to it. There will always be more to learn. However, every time you do learn something new you will be able to put it to immediate and very practical use. It is sometimes frustrating but also highly addictive at the same time.

What is the best way forward?

The biggest and best tactic of all

This one tactic will yield you the biggest and most useful results of all.

Become a conscientious and dedicated student of human nature. Become a people watcher.

Warning! Please don’t become an out and out stalker or a voyeur. These activities are quite rightly illegal. I’m talking about observing people as part of your everyday life and during normal interactions with them.

As you watch people and observe how the behave, think, feel, communicate, look, listen and demonstrate emotion for example, make mental notes and comparisons.

Pick any attribute you like and run the same thought experiment which we did earlier for the sense of humour classification. Begin to create your own useful categories and sub-categories as required. Use the information as it builds up to form an opinion or model of that person in your own mind.

Now what do I do with these models?

This is where the fun starts.

Suppose you meet someone at a party and they smile broadly as they enthusiastically shake your hand. You like them immediately. They are very personable and touch you on the arm a lot as they talk.  Although they share some very funny holiday stories, they mostly chatter about themselves. They hit you with lots of hotel names and flight numbers too. They also seem to know a lot of the other people here at the party.

In addition to the feeling that you like them, in just five minutes or so you have also been able to gather a great deal of potentially useful information.

If you were asked to describe this person in one sentence you might now say, “X is a likeable, funny, tactile, outgoing type who appears well-connected, likes details but doesn’t ask many questions about me.” Through observation and classification you have created a new and consistent understanding of this person.

This would go a long way to helping you adapt your communication style and behaviour to get the best out of any future encounter.

This activity is both fun and addictive. Enjoy using it every minute of every day.

Why does this knowledge matter?

“I like to treat everyone else the way I like to be treated.” Have you ever heard or used this expression? I’m sure we all have at some point in our lives. The thing is, laudable and generous as it sounds, it is wrong and can be very unhelpful when dealing with others. Given that we are agreed upon everyone being different a more effective statement would be, “I like to treat everyone else the way they most like to be treated.” A subtle but hugely important verbal and mindset distinction.

We all have a mental representation of the world as we think it is. This is our map of the world. Some people choose to hold a rigid and inflexible map whilst others attempt to add to theirs and develop new representations through learning and new experiences. Once again, we are all so different in so many varied ways.

Treating people in the way they like to be treated and communicating with them in their preferred communication style will create huge levels of engagement. It will lead to you understanding their maps of their world. This knowledge allows an ever-deeper level of connection.

Even if you don’t like other people very much, understanding what makes them who they are can greatly elevate you as a person, a communicator and as a leader.

Take the time and expend the effort to learn about and understand others as much as you possibly can. Become a people expert. Make the study of others a constant and habitual part of who you are. This will be critical as you move to the fourth EI pillar which is managing relationships with others.

What next?

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Emotional Intelligence in the real world

Self-awareness and how to develop it

Self-regulation and its importance to you

Relationship: The art and practice

Drive – what really drives you to succeed?

Drive. And your reason is? What really drives you?What really drives you?

Drive is the motivational force which propels you toward a desired situation or away from an undesired one. Your drive can also be called you why or reason for doing something. Drive is what pushes you to a successful conclusion.

So, why do you want to be successful?

It seems like an innocent enough question does it not? Almost a pointless question. I mean, really, who doesn’t want success?

It’s all about energy

Well, everything in life takes energy. This is a fact and you can’t escape it. Whenever you do or think anything or engage in any interaction with the world around you, there is an exchange of energy involved.

You must take energy in to exchange for the bodily and mental essentials you need as a human and there is only so much to go around for the additional things you like to have in your lives.

The drive to achieve success in any significant endeavour takes a lot of work and achieving the type of comprehensive success most people seek in all areas of their lives, takes a huge amount of energy applied over time. You can do it, but you will need to make sacrifices. You must focus your energy and use it primarily for the essential elements you need to achieve your successful outcome.

Drive equals motivational fuel

Something  is needed to drive you toward your success. You need a fuel to power that drive. Nobody can  run a car for long without fuel, can they? You cannot survive for long as a human without food or water, can you?

Your reason for achieving success is your fuel. What drives you is your motivational fuel. Your why must be compelling enough to make you give up the nice to haves and expend your valuable energy on your success essentials. If your reason is not compelling enough your resolve will fizzle out and die. Your plan will fail.

The first step in planning for a successful outcome is to determine exactly why you are doing it in the first place. You need to work out the origin of your drive because if you don’t you could waste a lot of valuable time, resources, emotion and energy .

There are two types of driver: Extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic drivers

External or extrinsic drivers, offering such rewards as money, fame or possessions, can be good drivers for some people but, as history has demonstrated time and again, even if they are achieved these things do not always provide the happiness or contentment which was sought. Many times, the external rewards do not prove healthy as the drive for success. Someone else always has more money, more fame or more possessions so there is no real end to it. Even if they do relatively well, compared to others, these externally driven types eventually burn out and give up. They often feel discontented and bitter. They sometimes ruin their health and emotional lives. Life is too short to waste.

Intrinsic drivers

Internal or intrinsic rewards tend to be far more powerful and effective drivers for success. An intrinsic driver might be as simple as feeling personally satisfied for doing a task well regardless of any thanks or monetary gain. In my experience, the most powerful intrinsic drivers are those which involve achieving success so other people benefit. Intrinsic drive is superb motivational fuel because they represent the true you.

An example

Perhaps an example might help clarify things further.

Consider which of the following two success drivers might make a middle aged, overweight and out of condition businessman start to eat a healthy diet, get fit again and then stay fit for as long as possible.

Drive 1: He wants to look good on the beach, impress others and fit into more stylish business clothing to help his career?

Drive 2: He wants to be able to play more sports and games with his children and stay healthy to help provide for them and help them as they grow toward their own middle age.

Which option would be most effective for him? Which option would drive you most effectively?

Over to you

The cost of gaining extrinsic rewards is often high. If you are driven by such extrinsic rewards you might want to dig a bit deeper and see if you can find more intrinsic reasons for wanting success. Intrinsic drivers take less energy and therefore can be more powerful and sustainable over time.

If you would like to dig deeper into the idea of drive and what drives people, you might like to try the following books:

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.

“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink

I can heartily recommend them both.

Take some reflection time and give some serious thought to what really drives you. If you need to make some drive changes, make them. It’s never too late to succeed.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Goals – Process or Outcome Driven?

Goals – Process or Outcome Driven?

Goals - you need to aim at somethingGoals? Enough already

Goals. I can almost hear you screaming, “Oh no! Another article on goal-setting? Enough already.”

Well, yes and no.

I’m not going to discuss how to set them as such, but I will look at why setting them is so critically important to achieving success in any endeavour and I will also briefly discuss two classes of goals and why it is good to know the difference between them.

Why are they so important?

When you set a goal, you are making a commitment, either to yourself or to the world at large. You are setting a clear intention to do or achieve something. You should set them with great care. How you set and handle your goals says a lot about your character, resilience and mental toughness. Some people set them and fail repeatedly, yet carry on until they get their big win. Certain people fail once or twice then give up entirely. Other people never try anything at all. Some people go all in for the big prize whilst others are in it for the long-haul. There are many variations. By the way, I will talk more about measuring success and failure and other key goal related factors in other articles.

Goals and goal- setting work

The key message I want to put across here is that, all other things being equal, forming well-conceived and well-designed goals will give you a far better chance of success than not having goals at all.

We humans are easily distracted creatures. We will wander off track.  Having a compelling goal gives us something to come back to when we wander, like scuba divers might use a safety line to guide them to a shipwreck then back up to the dive boat again. If we don’t have a goal we could end up anywhere. Some people are happy to drift through life like this but I’m not. I create goals for myself.

I firmly believe in and follow the tenet, “If you want to get ahead get a goal.”

Process goals & outcome goals

There are two classes of goals I want to mention now, namely outcome and process.

Most large goals employ both classes at various times but, I believe it is important to know the difference between them and when to use each one most effectively.

Outcome goals

Outcome goals have a defined result or target to be achieved, often within a clearly specified period. I am writing this on New Year’s Day, so it is apt because outcome goals are the ones we are all familiar with. We generally form our new year resolutions using outcome goals. They can be very powerful, but they can also carry within them the seeds of their own failure. With the very best of intentions, we all tend to set very lofty, large and distant targets, and this puts immediate pressure on us.

For example, “I’m going to work out and lose 20 Kg in weight by the start of the summer holidays and I mean it this year, no excuses.” It has solid intention but there is no clear route to follow. As I mentioned, we humans are easily distracted. The first setback often becomes a terminal block and we feel down because we gave up. Better luck next year.

 Process goals

A process goal is a one where the aim is to complete certain activities or actions on a regular basis for a specified amount of time. There is no expected result as such but because you will follow a regular and repeated process you will gain your successes and results along the way.

An example might be, “I am going to go to the gym and work out for an average of 3 times a week for the next 6 months.” There is flexibility here and options for catch-up if obstacles are encountered. There might be any number of outcomes, both positive and negative. Through following this process you will discover them as you work out for the 6 months. When the 6 months is up you can look back and compare your before and after status if you need an outcome assessment. Your focus will be on taking as much control as possible over the process itself and how you follow it rather than on a distant goal which you may or may not achieve.

It might look like I’m down on outcome goals. Not at all. They each have their merits when designed well and used appropriately. They each have drawbacks which need to be accounted for.

The best option?

I won’t recommend a “this is the one you need” method because everyone is different. I tend to adopt process goals for my far-reaching plans. This promotes the formation of (usually) beneficial habits and long-term positive changes. For example, “I intend to go for at least one walk every day for the coming year.” I tend to use outcome goals for specific time-critical steps which need to be achieved to help facilitate the process goals. For example, “I will redesign my entire business calendar and course schedule by the end of the first week in January to enable 1 hour of walking time to be available every day.”

Experiment with both types. When you find a method which works for you, stick to it and thrive.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Self-regulation and its importance to you

 

Self-regulation and its importance to you

Self-regulation is crucial to getting things done

What is self-regulation?

The second pillar of emotional intelligence or EI is the regulation of self or, as it is more commonly called, self-regulation.

Regulation in the sense we will use it, means the control of a system or process such that it remains at a desired level or rate. Self-regulation means how we control ourselves, either to ramp specific effort up or down or to maintain effort at a specific level or rate.

Once we become aware of something about ourselves, we can then decide if it is beneficial, neutral or harmful to us. We can then further decide to improve on beneficial areas, take neutral areas and improve them if desired and reduce or eliminate harmful areas of our lives.

Those are the steps then. We become aware of something, we decide to act in some way then we take the action we decided upon. Sounds simple when put like that doesn’t it?

If it is so simple, why aren’t we all completing our goals and taking our selves to our absolute best? We often know what to do but we either can’t start it or sustain it.

Why don’t we act?

Humans are lazy creatures. I’m fundamentally a lazy man. There I said it and I feel better about myself. Like it or not, it is true. Some people are not as lazy as others for sure, but we are all lazy creatures at heart.

Wouldn’t we much rather stay in bed for that extra five minutes? Who wouldn’t rather leave the gym until tomorrow or better yet, next week? The decorating can wait until after the holidays. One last biscuit then I’m all over that diet? Be honest with yourself here, if you won the big lottery prize would you go to work on Monday?

We are evolutionarily conditioned to conserve energy because energy was historically hard to come by. It still is in certain parts of the world. Sure, times and circumstances have changed for many of us and the modern world we inhabit expects us to be dynamic and energetic all the time. The problem is our wiring is largely geared for laziness and economy whenever and whenever possible. Much of our behaviour and thought is automatic because automation uses less energy than concentration and focused thinking. To want to carry out such work and burn the required energy, there must be a big trade-off in terms of reward versus effort.

Much of the time we don’t, won’t or can’t create for ourselves a compelling enough reason to act. We can often decide what we want to do but we often struggle to get started and do it. If we do start, we often struggle to keep going.

What about willpower?

Willpower is often seen as the separator of the achiever from the non-achiever. The almost magical difference between the person who can control themselves and the person who cannot. If we are honest most of us don’t really know what it is, and we cannot really point to it or identify it in any meaningful way. We believe we know when we have it or not, we are certain we know its effects, but we struggle to define it clearly.

In psychological terms it is the ability to delay gratification in the short-term to meet desired longer-term goals. It takes effort, concentration and energy to maintain willpower. It often relies on cool or logical thinking and the avoidance of hot or emotional reactions. Unwanted or non-useful thoughts must be overridden. It can be derailed by various physical and external effects. It is a limited yet replenishable resource which can and does run out, often when we need it most.

So, can you rely on willpower alone to regulate yourself? It’s risky at best. You need to be ever vigilant and on your guard. If you are anything like me, you will be easily distracted by the next new shiny object to come into your field of awareness. My various failed attempts at dieting and hitting the gym attest to this. My willpower often proves weak and simply not up to the task when I need it the most. How is yours?

I want to suggest a better route for all of us.

Automatic for the people

We apply willpower on a task by task basis. Too many tasks take too much willpower which tends to run out anyway. Once one thing flops over and we eat the cookie the rest come tumbling down after it and we are off the wagon yet again. To compound our misery and inadequacy we humans are also cognitively miserly. We like low-energy automatic thinking. Willpower takes concentration and energy. We generally don’t like to concentrate and focus for long if we don’t have absolutely to. Willpower needs help.

So, to reduce the amount of willpower you need to get the job done, I recommend creating as many habits as you can to help you regulate your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Habits are the ultimate automatic process; both good and bad. Keep the willpower because you’ll always need it.

This isn’t an article about habits, so for more information and some great advice on making and breaking them, I recommend you read the books, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and “Nudge” by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein.

Make self-regulation easier to do and harder not to do

What I do want to talk about here is making self-regulation both easy to do and extremely hard not to do. What I mean by this is all about manipulating your environment to produce or install in yourself the actions, thoughts, emotions and behaviours which you want to produce or install.

It might be easier to use myself and my experiences as a gym goer as an example.

Fitness

Suppose I want to go to the gym (this is not a hypothetical – I really need to get back to the gym) to get fit again. I have a poor track record it must be said. Starting early in the morning works for me but I am very good at making excuses not to go. There are always things to do.

The trick is to first begin to manipulate my environment to make it less likely to create excuses. I can set two or three alarm clocks at five-minute alarm gaps. The alarms are tuned with my most hated radio station and I place them physically out of reach, so I must get up and turn them off. I also set out my gym bag and all my bits and bobs ready to go plus my clothes next to the bed. No excuses. I even check the driveway route for my car is clear. No excuses.

I can still welch out here because it is only myself I am letting down. Here’s the clincher. I arrange to meet a buddy to exercise with and we share transport every other day. I don’t want to let them down and they don’t want to let me down. We have instructions to bang on the door until the other one gets ready. Avoiding annoying my lovely wife ensures I will never let it get to this stage.

I’m outsourcing my self-regulation.

Behaviour

What about keeping a lid on angry outbursts at work? Simple get someone you trust to monitor your behaviour and keep you honest. Initiate a hefty fine to go to charity if you screw up. Make a site wide apology the penalty for transgressing. You won’t want any of these events to transpire so again your self-regulation is outsourced.

Make failure to meet deadlines a very public thing – you’ll learn to love hitting them.

Diets

What about diets? Buddy up again or join a club. State your goals clearly and publicly so you must hit the target. Throw out all the unhealthy food and drink in your house. Don’t visit fast food outlets. I even heard about someone who took some horrendous “before” pictures and gave instructions for a trusted friend to post them on social media if the target was missed. They hit their dieting goals and then some.

What areas could you apply these ideas to? I believe all self-regulation issues are adjustable in this way. Positive and negative.

Now let willpower work its real magic for you

You took the pressure from willpower by creating habits and manipulating the environment. The good news is you now have that great resource available to you whenever you do need an extra push or shove. That early morning “kick in the tailpipe” to get those tired legs out of bed and into the training gear. The extra push to knuckle down and hit that deadline. The restraint to hold your temper when every fibre in your being is screaming to unload on the jerk in front of you. Willpower can now show you its real power.

Some last thoughts on self-regulation and EI

Knowing something is only half the battle. Taking some effective action based upon the knowledge is the next key step. No action = no results.

If you can’t, don’t or won’t dig deep and take full responsibility for your own actions you will always have problems. If you don’t control what you do or need to do based on your own self-awareness and feedback, someone or something else will take control for you. Trust me, you won’t enjoy having no control.

Understand what you need to do. Decide to do it. Set up suitable conditions to enable you to create a habit for doing it and penalties when you don’t. With patience and practice you’ll only need to use your willpower where it can do the its best work.

Is any of this easy? Absolutely not. Is it even possible? Yes, it is! If I can do it, then anyone can do it. Many other people prove this every day. Prove to yourself you can do it and go ahead and do whatever it is you need to do. People will notice the changes in your ability to get the important things done. Your emotional intelligence and your self-regulation level will get higher and higher as a result.

The next post in this series will look at the third EI pillar which is understanding others.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Emotional Intelligence in the real world

Self-awareness and how to develop it

Understanding others and how to do it

Relationship: The art and practice

Self-awareness and how to develop it

self-awareness or self awarenessWhat is self-awareness?

Self-awareness, or awareness of self, is the first pillar of emotional intelligence and it really is the key to everything.

At a fundamental level self-awareness means being aware of the existence of an entity or presence which is identifiable as you. The idea that you are a distinct and unique being when compared to all the other beings around you. I’m going nowhere near this philosophical rabbit-hole but feel free to explore it yourself if you like that sort of thing.

A more practical definition is the conscious knowledge of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Developing more self-awareness is the intentional monitoring of one’s current self and the practical application of work and adaptation to produce a desired and different future self. This is generally known as self-development.

Why is self-awareness important to your self-development?

You must start somewhere. If you don’t know where you are starting from how can you plot an effective course to anywhere else?

A deep and honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses takes real courage but the knowledge you will gain will pay huge dividends.

Assuming you have decided to develop yourself, it is well worth getting right down deep and looking at your inner self in a radical new way. This is scary. Seriously, it is very scary. We tend to hide ourselves from ourselves using sophisticated internal narratives which even we come to regard as absolute truth. These are not truths but rather constructs we have created to rationalise and make sense of our own inner worlds, combined with our experience of the external world. We form beliefs and hold values about both our inner world and the outer world.

When we formed these narratives they would have been, or at least have been believed to have been, highly beneficial and useful. As our lives move on they may well stay useful but often become simply neutral; being neither useful or non-useful. Problems can arise when these narratives become non-useful to us. They can even become detrimental and harmful to us. We either decide or are forced to choose to make changes. When we decide to do this ourselves, with or without help, this is called self-development.

Ways to get under the hood

Assuming you have chosen to become more self-aware to make changes you must now get started. You can follow several pathways to make progress. By the way, I don’t believe many people ever gets to total self-awareness. Total self-awareness is the realm of the buddhas and other enlightened beings. I have never gotten close and simply treat the process of my life as a work in progress. I am simply enjoying the journey of discovery.

Completely solo self-discovery might be possible, but I struggle to picture someone making genuine and sustainable progress in isolation. We all need feedback to understand progress and this is easier working either directly with other people or using resources created by others who possess the knowledge and skills we seek.

I will briefly discuss five areas here:

  • The Johari Window
  • Psychometric tools and instruments
  • Coaching
  • Mindfulness
  • Other self-development resources

The Johari Window

One interesting model for getting you started is to look at something called the Johari Window. The model was devised by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham back in 1955. The name chosen simply derives from a combination of their names. The model essentially states we have four symbolic or metaphorical areas within us and these impact on our interactions with the wider world. I’ll leave you to look on-line for information about the Johari Window model. It is fascinating and very well-documented, so I will not waste your time by reproducing unnecessary material here.

  1. An “open” area of which we are aware, and of which others are aware.
  2. A “hidden” area of which we are aware, but of which others are not aware.
  3. An “unknown” area of which we are unaware, and of which others are unaware.
  4. A “blind” area of which we are unaware, but of which others are aware

Actively exploring this model as a formal exercise is an interesting and informative activity for individuals and groups. Why not try it out? Consider working with a coach or trusted friend and see what you can discover.

Psychometric tools and instruments

You could also examine some, or all if your budget will stretch that far, of the psychometric personality and psychological profiling tools, of which there are many. I will not bore you with the details, but a quick online search will reveal a substantial and growing list.

You may well have encountered such tools. They have their uses and can prove very incisive in some cases. There are many distinct types, and quite a number are aimed at highly specific aspects of personality or behaviour. Not all are good of course so buyer beware or caveat emptor. Do your research and ask your network for feedback and advice. The results provided should be interpreted carefully and in context. I recommend seeking out a trained and or licenced practitioner to get the best value from your experience. Once again, consider working with a coach or trusted friend and see what you can discover.

Coaching

I have mentioned coaching several times now and I must admit to some bias here. I am a professional coach and I work with many people on just this kind of personal journey. People sometimes worry about the cost of employing a skilled professional coach, but the transformational returns often far outweigh any financial investment. The experience is often life changing and I would highly recommend it.

Be coached by a trusted friend or colleague. Someone who has been on a similar journey. You could buddy up with someone and take the discovery journey together. I believe the journey is the important thing so begin it as soon as you can and do it the way which suits you best. Start with the why and the how will look after itself.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a simple meditation-based practice. It yields a variety of mental, physical and emotional benefits; Many of these are now scientifically shown as highly effective. Mindfulness meditations typically consists of focusing full attention on something and simply observing your thoughts and experiences as they appear. Thoughts are transient and thoughts are not the person. Mindfulness is all about awareness, observing without criticism and learning to be compassionate with yourself.

With practice, mindfulness allows you to differentiate between wholesome and unwholesome thought patterns. The mindfulness practitioner then has many options available for either letting thoughts go entirely or modifying them into more wholesome forms.

Over time, mindfulness practice can bring about long-term changes in mood, happiness levels and overall mental and physical wellbeing. Studies have shown mindfulness can prevent the onset of depression and positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression and reactive emotions so that if they do arise, they dissipate more easily. Memory, creativity, reaction times and even productivity can all improve. Mindfulness practice creates wholesome thought processes for improving or ameliorating any number of emotional attitudes, mental states and mind/body relationships.

Is mindfulness just mystical nonsense?

Neuro-scientists have highlighted and proved the brain’s ability to alter its structure and internal connectivity in adaptive response to repeated conditioning: known as neural plasticity. We are familiar with the idea that effectively and repeatedly practising any activity, such as a musical instrument, leads to more and more skill with that instrument. Running repeated thought processes over time will also alter the neural pathways to make that mode of thought easier and stronger; less commonly realised. Mindfulness takes positive advantage of this phenomenon and seeks to strengthen wholesome thought patterns for the benefit of the mindfulness practitioner and those around them.

To practice mindfulness is to use the power of our minds to give deep, focused and non-judgemental observational attention to our own experience as it unfolds.

Mindfulness is a gym for the mind and as such it opens a world of possibilities. I am a huge fan of mindfulness. Seek a good introductory course and get practising. You could even attend a guided retreat if that is your thing.

Other self-development resources

There are numerous books, courses, guides, videos, audios, apps and more besides, all designed to help you, or at least relieve you of your money, in your efforts to self-develop.

Choose carefully and work with solid proven sources. Once again, a good coach or mentor can help with this. Whatever you do make sure you do something.

Although self-development is often an internal pursuit, it is not a theoretical or spectator-based activity. It requires action so act. Do something positive and you are on your way.

Some last thoughts on developing self-awareness

You are the centre of your universe. It all starts with you.

If you can’t, don’t or won’t dig deep and fully acknowledge and accept your true, warts and all, self then the rest of your life will be inauthentic and superficial at best. Even if you learn to get on well with others, your lack of knowledge or ownership of your own core being will leave you with a sense of incompleteness and imbalance. In my experience others can sense this fundamental lack in you and they will treat you differently as a result.

This search for true self-awareness takes courage, commitment and massive honesty. I’m not suggesting you go and sit cross-legged on top of a mountain for years on end. I am suggesting you begin to identify your true strengths and weaknesses, your true values and beliefs and your true desires and fears. Work with a coach, friend or trusted advisor if you need to. Seek honest feedback and accept it with gratitude. Do whatever you need to do to learn more about the true you.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it even possible? Well, I’m still searching for my true self, so I can’t answer that one for you I’m afraid. In truth, you may never find the absolute true you but if you try hard enough you will find enough truth to work wonders with.

The next post in this series will look at the second EI pillar which is the regulation of self.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Emotional Intelligence in the real world

Self-regulation and its importance to you

Understanding others and how to do it

Relationship: The art and practice

Emotional Intelligence in the real world

high emotional intelligence or EI equals real moneyWhat is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence or EI is a term used commonly in the business and professional world. If you are a manager or leader you will be expected to possess an elevated level of emotional intelligence. You should be constantly looking to improve it still further. You are expected to identify and nurture it in your staff and teams. The measure of your emotional intelligence level is known as your Emotional Quotient or EQ. This measure of EQ is now considered more important than the traditional measurement of intelligence or IQ.

Here’s the problem. Many of the professional people I encounter in my coaching and training work have a poor understanding of their own emotional intelligence levels. They also have a poor understanding of what is meant by Emotional Intelligence as a concept. This is a real concern.

This is a whistle-stop tour of the four elements and is designed to provide some awareness. Take emotional intelligence very seriously. Nurture it and develop it in yourself and others.

Why does Emotional Intelligence matter to you anyway?

Managers and leaders who handle people poorly or who have little understanding about other people, that is those with a low level of emotional intelligence, tend to create high stress levels, high staff turnover rates, low productivity and low quality of output.  They can even create elevated levels in sickness and HR legal problems. At work this costs you or your business real money. They generally, but unfortunately not always, do poorly themselves.

Good managers and leaders do the exact opposite. Managers and leaders with high emotional intelligence make you or your business real money. They are generally more successful in their own right as well.

On a personal level a high level of emotional intelligence enables us to negotiate life with more ease and success. We understand ourselves well, we can curb our excesses and we can play to our strengths. We can build solid relationships and people both like us and want to be with us. Life is generally better with high emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence in a nutshell

the four pillars of emotional intelligence

Simply stated, and as shown in the diagram, there are four main components or pillars:

  • Awareness of self
  • Regulation of self
  • Understanding of others
  • Managing relationships with others

That’s it, plain and simple. These four elements cover pretty much everything you do in your life and work regarding interpersonal interactions and self-development. All well and good but what can you do in the real world now you know this? What does this mean for you?

There is a lot of complex theory, ideas and downright nonsense flying about regarding emotional intelligence, so I will make it as plain and straightforward as I can and keep it on a practical level.

Awareness of self

This is the first pillar of emotional intelligence and it is the key to it all. You are the centre of your universe. If you can’t, don’t or won’t dig deep and fully acknowledge and accept your true, warts and all, self then the rest of your life will be inauthentic at best. Even if you learn to get on well with others, your lack of knowledge or ownership of your own core being will leave you with a sense of incompleteness and imbalance. In my experience others can sense this fundamental lack in you and they will treat you differently as a result.

This search for true self-awareness takes courage, commitment and massive honesty. I’m not suggesting you go and sit cross-legged on top of a mountain for years on end. I am suggesting you begin to identify your true strengths and weaknesses, your true values and beliefs and your true desires and fears. Work with a coach, friend or trusted advisor if you need to. Seek honest feedback and accept it with gratitude. Do whatever you need to do to learn more about the true you.

Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it even possible? Well, I’m still searching for my true self, so I can’t answer that one for you I’m afraid. In truth, you may never find the absolute true you but if you try hard enough you will find enough truth to work wonders with.

Regulation of self

The second pillar of emotional intelligence is the regulation of self. Once you begin to discover and uncover this true version of yourself, you will then begin to realise certain behaviours, thoughts and emotions which are somewhat less than helpful to both you and others. You may discover beneficial traits and thought processes which you may not have realised you had. To improve your emotional intelligence, you now need to work on regulating or controlling the unhelpful attributes and ideally boosting your more helpful attributes.

Once again, easier said than done. Do you have a lack of focus or attention? How about procrastination? What about really needing to lose weight or get fitter? Are you a perfectionist? Maybe a little too passive-aggressive perhaps? Are you lonely? Perhaps you lose your temper easily? Do you need more assertiveness? What about your fear of conflict? How are you going to address these and any other issues you might have?

What really stops you doing what you know needs to be done? Is it time? Is it money? Or is really laziness? Perhaps it is all three or even none of the above. Only once you become aware of your deep true self, which we looked at in the previous section, can you work on the true core issues?

Understanding of others

The third emotional intelligence pillar is an understanding of others. When you get right down to it, other people can be confusing and strange. It can be hard enough to try and figure out what makes us tick but once other people get involved in any part of our lives and work, it can get very messy and complicated. Life would be technically easier without other people, but it would be a lonely and essentially pointless existence. We need other people and generally we like other people, so it makes sense to understand them.

The big problem is that everyone is as unique in their way as you are in yours.

The good news is, although each one of us is truly unique, we can also be usefully categorised and bundled in quite general ways. These broad-brush definitions and classifications are not truly accurate, but they are incredibly useful ways to inform our own thoughts about and behaviour toward the other people we interact with. They could be said to be intentional and well-meant stereotypes. With a little study and practice you can become very adept at recognising these broad categories. At this point you can then adapt your communication and behaviour to get the best from any encounter with them.

Even if you don’t like other people very much, learning to understand what makes them who they are can greatly elevate you as a communicator and leader.

Managing relationships with others

Managing relationships with others is the fourth pillar of emotional intelligence.

“No person is an island, entire of itself; every person is a piece of the continent.” John Donne said this, although I have changed the quote a little for reasons of gender correctness – the 16th and 17th century world of John Donne was markedly different too our enlightened utopia.

The truth of his statement is unaltered. You need to build solid and effective relationships with other people in all areas of our lives and work. All of us need to develop strong personal and professional networks. We also need to be able to operate effectively as key elements in the networks of others.

When the first three pillars of emotional intelligence are firmly in place we can then begin to create and successfully manage such relationships and networks.

Our friendships, family connections and working relationships can define us. Modern life is nigh on impossible without them. Even if it were possible to live entirely alone and isolated, for myself at least, it would be a miserable and pointless life.

Begin at the beginning

The order the emotional intelligence elements are in place is the order in which to develop them for best results. Firstly, make sure that every element is in place then try and balance them in terms of level. If you are poor at managing relationships for example and relatively happy with the other key elements, then start by developing your ability to manage relationships. Completeness and uniformity of ability is the first step.

Developing emotional intelligence phase 1

Secondly, once the elements are in place and broadly level, you can begin to consider bringing the level of all four up to as high a level as you can without overdoing any one area.

Developing emotional intelligence phase 2

There will always be a tendency to lead and lag on elements in any such endeavour but don’t stick to your favourites or strong areas at the expense of others. Using the relationship element again, if you hate talking to new people or even talking to friends and colleagues, don’t simply allow yourself to become a very self-aware observer of others. Seek tuition, coaching or support and force (or regulate) yourself to get out there and do it anyway.

This is a basic introduction. It is a practical overview at best. There is always more to learn and absorb. Like life itself, developing emotional intelligence is a journey of discovery.

Next steps

I’m going to be blunt here. Leaders are readers so educate yourself and become informed. Learn all you need to know about emotional intelligence and its implications. This applies to all your life. Don’t wait to be spoon fed. Too many people do that so stand out from your crowd and get the knowledge. If printed books are not your thing then get audio book versions. If video is your thing then seek out the information on www.TED.com or YouTube. Go on a course or hire a coach. Whatever you do make sure you get the information you need.  You owe it to yourself and your staff to be the very best leader and manager you can be.

I recommend you start with the work of Daniel Goleman who popularised the rise of EI with his book Emotional Intelligence then seek out the myriad of associated online resources.

Once you have the theoretical knowledge, start to experiment and grow. Begin to apply the knowledge practically in the real world. Make mistakes then reflect, learn and move on. Try new things out. Seek coaching and training and try them out again. Seek feedback. Increase your own emotional intelligence and help others do the same. The effort is worth it.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have, please subscribe to either the blog or my newsletter to ensure you hear about subsequent articles and other useful and informative material.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out:

Self-awareness and how to develop it

Self-regulation and its importance to you

Understanding others and how to do it

Relationship: The art and practice

Perspective shifts take you deeper

Sometimes, taking a different viewpoint or perspective can change your life.

I watched another short but fascinating video on the BBC News channel this morning.

Titled, “How I found out I was black,” it concerns Brazilian priest Brother David who had always believed he was white until a classroom game changed his perspective and indeed his whole direction in life.

It is well worth a watch and I’ve put the video link at the end for you.

Now, I am not about to begin analysing the wonderful and complex Brazilian multi-cultural melting pot. It is an incredibly diverse and vibrant part of the world and long may it continue.

What is interesting to me is the transformational aspect created when taking an unfamiliar perspective.

Brother David’s story

In this case the perspective shift was somewhat thrust upon Bro David. He had previously thought of himself as white and the whole experience appears to have been quite something for him. There will likely have been a complex whirl of emotions going on during the transformation, which started as a game conceived by some fellow students, and it subsequently led him to become an ardent supporter and champion of black rights and educational opportunity. Good for him I say.

Understanding others

One of the 4 key pillars of emotional intelligence is: understanding others.

It is an area many people dabble in and they can form a good understanding of the opinions, beliefs, values and feelings of other people but this is often only a superficial understanding. They then base decisions, relationships, negotiations, etc… on this superficial understanding. It’s a bit like reading a non-swimmer reading a book on swimming then jumping in at the deep end and expecting to front crawl like a champion.

Have you ever felt hard done by when judged by another? “They don’t even know the real me,” you say.

The real rewards are to be found at a much deeper level. There is an old saying about, “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” before you make any judgements or decisions about that person. We can never truly know the whole story of course, unless we somehow become that person. We, however, can get a better picture than most by examining them from a distinct perspective; their perspective in fact.

Most people, myself included, are most comfortable viewing and experiencing the world from our perspective. It is generally termed the 1st person perspective.

The view of the other person concerned is known as the 2nd person perspective.

Give perspective shifting a try

Why not experiment a bit and stretch yourself by analysing situations, interactions and events from an unfamiliar perspective? What do you think the world looks like or sounds like from the 2nd person viewpoint? How do they feel? In what ways might their personal history impact their experience of the world? How might you appear to them? How might you sound to them? What might your words and gestures mean to them? How might they see the current situation from their perspective?

You will not necessarily be correct in your interpretations. In fact, you will most likely be wrong most of the time as we humans are not very good at mind-reading. What you will get a good handle on is the fact that people and situations are always far more complex and nuanced than we first believe. This knowledge will make you far more careful about judging other people and far more diligent in seeking to understand them more clearly and deeply through dialogue and shared experience.

Try this out with as many different people as you can. People you think you know well and people who are relative strangers to you.

It will not be easy at first, but give it some time and practice and you might find your interactions, and even relationships, with people improves markedly. You may well never think about yourself and your interactions with the world in a superficial way again.

Here is the BBC video link. Enjoy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-latin-america-42581913/how-i-found-out-i-was-black

 

Logan Paul Needs EI

Girl using mobile phone for texting or SM with and angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other meant to illustrate the importance of EI or emotional intelligence

EI or Emotional Intelligence is critical in the modern world. One ill-judged comment really can bring your whole world crashing down around you. It certainly did for Logan Paul.

I just read an interesting article on the BBC news channel today which highlights the importance of EI. It recounts the drama unfolding on the internet regarding the ill-conceived comments made by one Logan Paul, a quote “American You Tube star,” and the ensuing online backlash.

I confess I have not watched the video myself – life is too short and I’m too busy – so I am not making any judgements or criticisms of any kind about the actual content or the associated discussions. It is easy to throw accusations and blame around and I’m not above dropping the odd rick now and again myself.

What is fascinating to me here is the lack of EI displayed by Logan Paul when posting this video. What was he thinking? He, and apparently the people who advise him, failed to consider the potential upset the video may have caused others when he sent it to 15 million subscribers. I suspect he is not alone in his misery. I have dropped myself in the proverbial many times throughout my life via poorly judged comments and statements. We all do it from time to time. I am better able to learn from my mistakes nowadays.

What can you and I, and Logan Paul if he ever reads this, do to reduce the likelihood of making such mistakes in the future?

In its barest essence, EI comprises four parts:

  • Understanding of self
  • Regulation of self
  • Understanding of others
  • Managing relationships with others

After much research and experiential wound licking. I always recommend running a pre-flight check of any message before you deliver it.

Let’s apply a potential thought experiment to the Logan Paul scenario (hypothetical of course but it illustrates the process).

Understanding of self – Logan likely understands himself well enough. He knows what he likes and gathers like-minded people around him. This displayed self-knowledge and willingness to share with the world is likely to have contributed to him having 15 million followers in the first place. So far so good. Tick number one for the understanding of self.

Regulation of self – the wheels are wobbling a bit here. Logan needs to put out material for his channel which his audience will enjoy. He has clearly been doing a reasonable job so far. The problem for Logan this time is he has failed to separate what he feels is suitable from what his audience thinks is suitable. What he thinks is personal of course but not all of what he thinks is suitable for sharing. This box should have a tentative cross in it or at the very least a question mark. If he felt world would genuinely benefit from this message he could have tested the waters with some trusted people outside of his crew to get a go or no-go decision.

Understanding of others – this is where the rot should have stopped and would have done if he had run such a pre-flight check. Logan must have felt he had a solid handle on how his followers think. This was clearly not the case. He stomped all over untested ground and fell into the quicksand of outrage. There are certain broadcasters who specialise in dark or risky material. People know this and either love them or loathe them. It appears here, however, that Logan sprung this ego-driven nugget of self-satisfying material on an unsuspecting audience. They likely feel let down and misunderstood as much as simply outraged by the content. Test your material gently and get to know your audience limits before dropping bombshells. There should be a cross in this box and a no broadcast decision to follow.

Managing relationships with others – now an ongoing saga. Due to his lack of audience understanding, poor old Logan has mishandled his relationship with them. I believe he has apologised but for Logan getting through this will be a big test of his character and mental toughness. This avoidable phase is now a work in progress and it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. Perhaps I’ll put out a part two.

Why not consider running your own EI pre-flight check for all your messages? With practice and diligence, it can become a positive habit and, when it becomes a habit, you’ll find it happens almost instantly for you.

Don’t do a Logan Paul. Your pre-flight EI check could save you a world of hurt.

Here is the BBC video link if you’d care to watch:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-42538495