Everyone has a "drama" story at work. What's yours?
In a previous company, I vividly recall a senior executive marching down the hall spewing expletives on his way to wage war with a middle manager. An ongoing issue boiled over, and this VP just lost it.
The commotion left some people very uncomfortable and walking on egg shells.
So let me ask you: when conflicts flare at your workplace, how do you respond?
Disappointment, conflict, fear, humiliation, anger, betrayal -- they're all bound to happen and are part of the politically-charged, corporate landscape. If you're human, you have probably experienced these things--in relation to other humans.
What People With Emotional Intelligence Do
If you're ashamed to admit to yourself that you haven't exactly been the model example for managing your emotions when your buttons re pushed, don't worry. Take a few tips below from people displaying emotional intelligence in the workplace.
1. They respond, not react.
When we react to an event with explosive anger or passive-aggressiveness, we are being impulsive, shortsighted, and usually not giving much thought to what we are doing. It usually happens when we don't get something we want, or react on impulse to an unresolved issue. But by responding, rather than reacting, we use the leadership virtue of patience to our advantage to assess a situation, process, and get perspective. We create space to consider the situation and decide the best approach to handle things.
2. They use the six-second pause.
One of the best tricks to responding with your best-self is to exercise a six second pause and gather your thoughts before you speak. Why six seconds? The chemicals of emotion inside our brains and bodies usually last about six seconds. During a heated exchange, if we can pause for a short moment, the flood of chemicals being produced slows down. When you are frustrated or upset, before you say something harsh, this precious pause helps you to quickly assess the costs and benefits of that, and other, action. Applying this consequential thinking in the moment helps you to make more careful choices.
3. They ask, "Are you OK?"
To completely disarm someone who is flying off the handle, simply ask: "Are you OK?" and "What's going on?" Then, park your own thoughts, listen without judgment, and try to genuinely understand what triggered their emotions. In doing so, you may have just opened up the door for the other person to explain the real issue behind their drama. Now, the two of you can further dialogue to problem solve and come to terms with an agreeable solution.
4. They stick to the facts.
As a followup to the last point, an emotional intelligent person cuts through the drama by telling the facts as they see them and how it affects them. Here's what to do: Once an emotionally-charged moment has been diffused, and with calm demeanor, explain the outcome you're hoping for and ask for other ideas for solutions with an open mind. This typically leads to a constructive discussion that may resolve an ongoing issue to everyone's satisfaction.
5. They take in the whole view of the problem.
People with emotional intelligence look at all sides of the issue and tap into their feelings and those of others to choose a different, and better, outcome. They seek out varied perspectives and solicit opinions of others before acting. They talk to several people cross-functionally, up and even down reporting levels to get clarity, and determine a course of action.To put it simply: They are self-aware.
6. They promote positive emotions and language.
Let's seriously acknowledge a truth here: During a conflict, negative emotions like criticism and blaming is par-for-the-course. Is this true for you? To rise above the suffocating dust that kicks up during conflict, promote positive emotions that support big picture thinking, brainstorming, and creativity. As you introduce positivity into future conversations and focus first on non-negative topics, you can train groups to "lay down their weapons," relax, actively listen, and engage in problem solving respectively.