Soft Skills

Food for Thought – Emotional Intelligence

Food for Thought – Emotional Intelligence

The rabbit holes

The boss sends you an email. I want to see you in the office at 3pm. Do you imagine there is something wonderful about to happen? Is there a hint of caution? The messages we receive can evoke such powerful responses. A statement or an incident and then Bang! Without a map of emotional intelligence we are lost down a mind-field of rabbit holes of confusion and self-doubt.

When I google ‘thoughts’ the resulting search reveals that each of us has 45,000 a day, with 80% being negative. That’s an avalanche of mindless thoughts rife with image baits and emotional snares. The link between action – thought – reaction is a web of reflexes. Conditional responses that have been learned.

The centre of the universe

Reflex answers – is that why it’s easier to respond with negative opinions? If I am on the motorway and a Porsche cuts me off do I have the right to say they did that on purpose? Would that force retaliation? Consider this – I pull the car over only to find the driver upset because they had a distressing phone call and did not see me in the rear vision mirror. Would I still be angry or would I react differently?

How many times do we position ourselves as the catalyst to everything? The traffic jam when I was in a rush to get to work. The queue for tickets because they know I have no time to wait. The guy on the train station whose train is delayed by 30 minutes and turning to me says ‘well of course it is, they knew I had a deadline’. Does our reaction start from an unconscious belief that we are the centre of the universe? Are we that important?

Introducing – the Critic

The trap of so-called conventional wisdom, our default position a repertoire of ‘criticism’. If I present a new idea to 10 people why will 9 tell me why it won’t work? Is status in modern society becoming a master of critical opinion in your field of expertise? From Sport, Entertainment, Business and Politics, the title of Critic is a genuine profession. Maybe the way we influence others needs to be reconsidered?

Is it mis-communication?

Don’t believe me? Try this simple test. See if you can give a compliment without a suspicious look being thrown back. The simple reply should be an obvious ‘thank you’, instead of a ‘Yeah right, what do you want’ which makes you feel weak, needy…  And if I point out a weakness (obvious or not) does that imply a sense of superiority? Am I suggesting that to point out the flaw I am the only one clever enough to see it? And if I state the error or mistake then how will others react to me?

When I was younger and attempting to learn guitar my dad would constantly remind me of how bad I sounded. Years later when I played a CD of my music he was rather impressed. I asked him why he never encouraged me? He looked shocked – but I did. I challenged you to do better every time you played. For a kid this can be confusing.

Let’s try this – together

We send messages between each other in a perpetual rain of innuendo and suggestion. Let’s get rid of the guesswork and aim for better messages. The email – John, good news, would like to meet you in the office at 3pm to discuss the Richter Account. The Porsche – hey is everything okay, you nearly hit me? Good old dad – Son, keep practising you can only get better. Communication skills are not about how much power I can claim from you, it’s how much power I can release in you. How about we try this together, after all we share the same small planet. And none of us are getting out alive.

Soft Skills

Confidence without a Parachute. Choice or practice?

Confidence without a Parachute


Is confidence and equation?

Now that’s an interesting question. Would you leap with only a face-full of goggles from a draughty plane at 10,000 feet, sprawled like spider-man as you plummet 120 mph towards the most beautiful view of the planet? If I said you would be fine, could you jump?

Most might scream ‘but I don’t have the confidence’. So I ask you what is confidence? Google defines it as ‘the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.’

So why is it when faced with the unknown, some people embody the certainty that all will be fine, while the rest of us cower behind an imagination rife with our tragic mortality? Does trust + faith = confidence?

Is confidence something learnt or chosen?

Confidence without a Parachute. Choice or practice?When you first left home, did you picture success with unlimited resources, or was doubt your anxious companion holding you back? Was leaving a place of security and comfort a leap which you now might say defined you, that first big step? Was it a brisk stroll to the bus stop, filled with resolve and excitement? Was your decision a firm stand that ‘it’s my time’?

From the moment our parents encouraged us to take those first steps, the way we were nurtured to come forward has been our induction into the idea of miracles. From the encouragement of others, we achieved things we didn’t believe we could. How we are encouraged helps us define and understand confidence. It is not about walking into a room thinking you are better than anyone else. It is the way you walk into a room and have no need to compare yourself against others. High achieving Professionals would agree with this.

Is achievement the driving force?

As we achieve small wins, our self-esteem grows and strengthens, becoming more immune emotionally to adversity. To keep building confidence we aim for consistent wins, and we encourage others to enjoy their moments of success. Is that why some find mistakes easier to accept, even something to laugh-off in a wonderful moment of humility?

Not taking ourselves too seriously is a step in the right direction, that we are all perfectly-imperfect is an acknowledgement that falling-down, every-now-and-then is an essential part of the learning curve. The downside is that with too many falls allow the fear of failure to become greater than the power of achievement. To achieve I first must have an image of the winning outcome, the way success will make me feel? We need to experience winning, however small, to continually learn from.

It is therefore practise which serves us best. It is far more honest to say – I need to practise rather than, I have no confidence? And with practise how good could we be? And with encouragement how much greater does the effort to achieve become? When everyone is watching you what will you choose to believe? Is it a lack of practice or a lack of confidence that stops you from jumping?