Gauge job candidates by their mastery of basic skills, like writing, working in teams, and interpersonal communication, says Carlos Santiago, CEO of Hispanic College Fund Inc. Prospective employees with these elements can learn virtually any job, but a deficiency in any of these areas is difficult to correct and can be frustrating for the organization. Indeed, Santiago says, “No matter how sophisticated their skill base, they won’t be the type of employee you need.”
Coach George Karl talks of applying the merits of the power of positive energy coupled with understanding of when and how to critique a team member. Karl asserts that this skill can help build professionalism and camaraderie. The approach can also prevent “ego arguments” that create unproductive divisiveness.
According to Karl, leaders should also develop concise communication skills and teach people how to discuss and understand diverse viewpoints. Ultimately, these skills can create a positive environment that facilitates intelligent decision-making.
Have you ever wondered why some individuals always seem to keep their cool in the midst of a heated meeting? Why can Manager A deliver critical feedback with kindness and calmness and Manager B fumble through a similar conversation? The answer is emotional intelligence (EI), a skill associated with competent leadership and excellent communication.
Fundamentally, EI is a personal resource that is put into action in daily workplace encounters by all of us. Daniel Goleman discusses the domains of personal and social competence for self-management and relationship management. Frankly, without well-developed EI, one is likely to have many frustrations.
Because the workplace involves varying interpersonal activity, we may find ourselves consciously assessing how to respond in a given situation. Do I listen to someone drone on about why they cannot complete an assignment or do I interrupt with “care” and redirect the conversation toward a solution?
On a daily basis I have my “buttons pushed,” but I learned a long time ago that responding versus reacting is the course to follow. This is an example of self-awareness and self-management, two of Goleman’s EI competencies. In other words, I have to recognize why my emotions are rising. What did someone say or do that hit a chord? Second, in these circumstances, my awareness allows me to remain calm, pause, ask for clarification, walk away and so forth.
As a psychologist, I learned to be a good listener. In therapy, good listening is essential but in many other work situations simply listening is insufficient. As a dean, I have to give constructive feedback, ask for information and make recommendations in a clear and succinct manner. Even though I believe I am communicating with clarity, I also have to remember about the power differential with others. This means, I must be aware of how others project on to me attributes of dominance and control just because of my role. With EI, we engage in role-taking strategies so that we can see more than our singular perspective — “communication is not what you say but what others understand.”
How well is your EI working? Share an example of when your EI was a resource at work.