Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Have you heard the Chinese Proverb "Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead"?

Let's face it, most communication has the intent of convincing others, and as such we are deluged with it daily. In this, the Information Age, we never lack for someone trying to sell us something. It's on the radio and TV, on billboards, on the web, and in the print media. Everyone vying for our attention. Therefore we tend to tune it out. We're also plenty used to, from childhood, someone reprimanding us, criticizing, or pointing out our faults. We tune those out as well, as they are painful and unpleasant. When we hear a strident tone of voice, an accelerating pitch, or a negative tone, we quit listening. Some people refer to this tone of voice as "Mother" or "School M'arm." But I wouldn't leave out "principal" or "angry Father."

If you want to be listened to, slow down and talk more softly. Avoid the nonverbal signals that say "lecture coming ... tune out." This might include putting your hands on your hips, bouncing your head, holding out a finger and pointing, banging on the table with your fist, narrowing your eyes, and so forth.

Another thing to avoid is those key phrases that make us all want to run and hide (or hit). These include:

1. Listen here, young man
2. We need to have a talk
3. You asked for this
4. Can I give you some constructive criticism (do you ever believe it's going to be constructive
5. Please come to my office
6. I'm only going to say this once
7. I know you're not going to like this, but ...
8. I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear
9. Okay, I want you to listen, and to listen good
10. How many times have I had to tell you

Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. Learn to get back from yourself and hear yourself. You may find that you wouldn't listen to you either, if you were on the receiving end.

Learning to deal with Constructive Discontent is an EQ competency. When you're upset or unhappy about something, this is the time to slow down and pay attention, not go off half-cocked.

When you're angry about something:
  • Stay calm, focused and emotionally grounded
  • Know your bottom line
  • Pay attention to your own emotional reaction.

    Our emotions give us information, so pay attention to the message, but don't consider it a call to action of any sort. It's best to take some time to THINK, so that you RESPOND, not REACT. Anger is good for telling us what we want. It is not good for getting us what we want.

    When you live and/or work closely with someone else, don't train them to tune you out. Avoid the tones of voice and sorts of words that signal "lecture coming." Yes, yiou must defend yourself if you're under verbal attack, but it's never necessary to use any more force in return than is absolutely necessary. This means keeping your emotions under control.
    To learn more, take the EQ Alive! training and certification program. Fast, affordable, no-residency program which will give you a strong foundation in EQ and teach you how to apply the EQ competencies to real-life situations. This program is excellent for HR personnel, managers, therapists, coaches, ministers, teachers, and all who want to learn about EQ and how to coach it to others. Email me for more information. Start immediately. Individual instruction arranged to fit your busy schedule.
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