Friday, October 30, 2009

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?

The Greater Good Blog posted this great article: Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?

Here's the conclusion (good news for all of us).

Delphine and her colleagues found that members of the group that received the training showed a significant improvement in their ability to identify their feelings and the feelings of others, as well as to manage and control their emotions. What’s more, these improvements were apparent not only right after the training but also six months later.

So while this study was a small pilot with a somewhat homogenous group of participants, the findings suggest that it is possible to increase emotional intelligence in the short and long term. “Overall, the results are promising,” write the researchers, “as they suggest that, with a proper methodology relying on the latest scientific knowledge about emotion and emotional processing, some facets of EI can be enhanced, but not all.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time Management: My Excuse for a Messy House.

If you were to surprise me with a visit to my home today--I’d be mortified. Laundry sits in the living room, the kitchen is full of dishes and newspapers, the bed isn’t made, and files cover surfaces in every room. Still, if you thought I’d been sleeping or watching TV (while eating bonbons) you’d be wrong. Today has been an awesomely productive day: I wrote several proposals for speaking/training events, and have contacted several clients.

One of the key principles in Time Management is not getting distracted from a chosen priority, especially during peak energy times. Morning is the best time for me to write proposals and today I stayed energetically “in flow.”

It can be tough to avoid distractions: it’s hard on my ego to see the house looking this way. But the rewards are great.

Can you let the non-essentials go while pursuing your goal? If your spouse or office mate comments on your temporary disaster area—just remind him/her that you’re employing good Time Management techniques. Then, when the big jobs are done and energy is lower, you can file and straighten.

My own house will be cleaned tonight--during a Law and Order re-run. © 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Friday, October 16, 2009

What is Your True Calling?

It isn't that you don't know what you're called to do. It's just terrifying to confront one's true calling. Certain thoughts haunt us for our entire lives. Exquisite and excruciating work--our unique calling. What's your "true work?"

I'm revisiting my work in the theatre today, going through old files and notebooks. This work scares me but also calls....

Looking to integrate my theatre training with my work in emotional intelligence.
© 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great Article on Motivation and Employee Morale

Been meaning to post a link to a really great article about motivation and employee morale. Here's a small excerpt.

More Power = Less Feedback
The greater the power people have, the less feedback they receive from others about how their behavior affects those around them. Thus, most CEOs get less honest feedback, less reality-testing, than most supervisors. This makes it even more important for higher level managers to learn how to encourage feedback.

No News Is Not Good News
If employees don’t feel safe enough to speak up about how management’s decisions make it hard for them to do their jobs well, or what management does that makes them believe they’re not valued and respected, it’s easy for management to believe that all is well. If no one says “It really bugs me that you never consulted us about this change” or “I hate it when you talk down to us” the manager, or management as a whole, can mistakenly believe that everything is fine or that missteps went unnoticed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Exploring the small triggers of daily life

One of my triggers is a desire to “fight for my rights” if I sense that I’m not supported in my work. My fight response may manifest subtly as a tenacious search for an “unavailable” library book or the dogged pursuit of information from a tight-lipped colleague. But underneath my smiling mask, I’m angry and even a bit paranoid at my treatment. Why is this book unavailable when I know interlibrary loan has hundreds of copies to share? Previously, the librarian had seemed miffed at my voracious reading habit. Are her curt responses a way to dissuade my extensive borrowing? Or am I imagining this? Just because I’m (somewhat) paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me…..

One of the many benefits of EI is that, knowing my patterns, I can question my assumptions and try to avoid overreacting to real or imagined threats. While I mostly relate with patience and kindness to others, if I’m triggered, my distrust looms large. Suddenly simple conversations become minefields. I expect the worst and then….I get it. Instead of peaceful and pleasant exchanges, I find that others are angry and unreasonable. Why won’t they help me get what I need?

It’s remarkable to realize that even when I try to hide my fear or anger, others sense it and react. Because we are all civilized humans, our squirmishes can be extremely subtle and happen in a microsecond. We may be smiling but through tiny shifts of nonverbals and inflections, we’ll send a message covertly. The true dimensions of our fight happen outside our awareness. Then we can each feel innocent and victimized.

I’ve learned through much inner work that I can trust my intuitions. I’m not crazy. My librarian may indeed be thwarting my desires. But even if she is, my inner reactions say more about my own psyche than the outward situation. Why are my reactions to this so strong? (No one else might see it, but I know I’ve been triggered.) My book requests are important to me. They represent a chance at learning and growth and advancement. I’ve coached myself throughout this past year to not react too strongly when “Rita” seems to avoid my requests. When she wouldn’t answer my emails, I went to her office and had a pleasant visit. Another time, when she seemed upset, I brought cookies. We’ve had great chats and my book crisis seemed solved--my patience rewarded. But then I get another cryptic email and my anger and despair rush forward.

I’ll keep working on my reactions. Rita may be slow to help, or maybe I continue to misread her communications. Whatever the case, these events offer great stories for my training and a hefty opportunity to explore some “hot” wiring in my psyche. And my discomfort? A wise teacher once helped me see that my discomfort is a form of grief –in this case, grief from some past injustice. She told me that if I could simply allow myself to feel this pain, i.e. to grieve, my feelings would dissipate and lose their hold. A simple concept and so hard to do! But she was right. As I feel these difficult emotions, they pass through me and I grow stronger.

I write to remind myself of what I already know. To encourage myself to feel my grief when I want to wring Rita’s neck. It’s a small thing, a library book, but the small moments can teach us the most. Huge events can be too overwhelming. Or we rationalize and say that our extreme reactions are justified because the issue is so big.

What small events push your buttons? Is there grief hiding under your anger?
© 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Style Differences: Are You A Fighter or Flight-er?

Does your company use assessments such as the Myers Briggs tool? Many of my clients use these measurements to build empathy. Through them, employees learn that their different styles of communication are all acceptable and “normal.”

Lately, I’ve realized that differences in our emotional reactions can also be seen as a “style” issue. Some of us naturally want to “fight” if we feel threatened while others withdraw in “flight.” In the workplace, both fight and flight can be very subtle: a look, a few words, or a tone of voice. But if we are honest with ourselves, we can discover the hidden impulse of fight or flight in some of our reactions.

Fighters (my own tendency) can see themselves as passionate and feel that those who withdraw “don’t care.” Flee-ers want to keep the atmosphere pleasant and may see Fighters as destructive and out of control. Today I’m feeling more empathy for a co-worker who withdraws. I had thought he “didn’t care.” What a relief to realize that we show our care in different ways.

The daily work of EI never ends….

What is your experience of fight or flight at work?
© 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I do--In a Nutshell

Some folks have been asking me to describe EI and my training. Here's a brief description, from a conference brochure.

Using current brain research, emotional intelligence provides insights into how emotions function and how we can manage our reactions intelligently. Whether we are exploring the challenges of workplace anger, learning to be assertive, communicating effectively, or the effects of our nonverbal behavior—EI provides practical tools for changing unsatisfactory patterns. Using exercises, video clips, discussion and games, you will learn the value of our emotions and how to use them effectively. © 2009 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Making the Case for Training

Here's an interesting article about the benefits of training for the bottom line.

An excerpt: "Research firm Bersin & Associates has found that organizations that consistently spend within 10 percent of the industry average on training per employee are, on average, 12 percent more profitable over a four-year period than those that spend below these levels.

Although the authors had 2007 training data on a very small number of banks, they say it appears training expenditures were a very strong predictor of stock prices even during last year’s market turbulence.

The paper concludes that training may have its intended effect of better corporate performance. Budgets for employee development also may indicate whether a firm is focused on the long term, Bassi and McMurrer argue. And training expenditures may act as a “window” into a firm’s future financial health, they say. "

For the complete article click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Some Recent Tweets

Had a great afternoon workshop in emotional intelligence. Largest hurdle for the group: accepting their emotions. Still such a struggle.

Accepting emotions is vital. If we don't, we can miss important cues (internal and external).

My EI participants acknowledged that surpressing their emotions usually makes the situation (and their health) worse. from web