Patrick: Hey everybody. I’m Pat V, and you’re listening to the Rise Above Your Best Podcast. Where, as you know, I’m not only obsessed with the success of others, and understanding their own habits, and how they’ve reached the heights that they’ve reached. But, also in exploring, and understanding the research that is abundant, that demonstrates that great success is available to all of us. And, it all starts when we believe in the power of rising above our best.
Patrick: This episode is a little different. Thursdays are usually about interviewing somebody else, and what I decided to do was hold off on some of those. The feedback on the last episode around emotional intelligence, and the belief that it can be learned, and the research that demonstrates it can be learned. I wanted to follow up on that, and really just do a series of these now, almost to close the loop on EI. There really are several different modules that I teach in regards to developing emotionally intelligent behaviors, so the second one I thought that I’d discuss in today’s episode is around self awareness of others, right?
Patrick: First, we need to understand ourselves. Our own awareness, what makes us tick, and connecting those dots again that we spoke about in the last episode, 14. That, we touched on how our emotions really impact our decisions, our behaviors, and our performance. Well, this is going to look at this from the standpoint of once I’ve done a better job of understanding my own, it’s how do I apply that same understanding to other people? How can I read them in different ways? It’s certainly doable. Again, it’s just like self awareness of self, it only happens through practice. Why don’t we get started?
Patrick: All right, so as we mentioned, the last episode we talked about self awareness. I presented you with those two studies, showing that it’s learnable. We can do this, but it takes practice. Now, once we’ve done that, the next area that we need to focus on is, how do we read other people? How are we aware of their emotions, so that we’re better able to interact with them? And, what does it mean, really? Well first, what does the skill involve? It involves being able to recognize others feelings, and also demonstrate an understanding of those feelings. Then you might be asking yourself, “Well what’s the benefit of that?”
Patrick: Well, in terms of the work that I do, again, around from a business standpoint. There’s a strong business case for why you want to be socially aware, or emotionally aware of other people. One, is it really builds, I would say high quality working relationships with them. It allows you to understand what motivates them in regards to their decisions, their behaviors, how they perform. And, also when you’re able to read that, you’re more effective at positively influencing those people that you work with. In an ethical way, this isn’t about trying to manipulate people, or understand how they operate, and a way to take advantage of them. It’s really just trying to be more effective in how we communicate with people, and that’s really about awareness of others. How can you read other people?
Patrick: I think I mentioned in the last episode that I had one of the first accounts that I went into was one that I had worked for in the sales department, as a rep and involved in some training. The Director of Sales basically said, “Don’t talk about EI, it’s a little too fluffy for them.” This was about a decade ago, and really EI is all about effectively influencing other people. Because, when I’m able to read the situation that I’m in, the other components of emotional intelligence are able to sort of pick up, and take over in terms of how to move that conversation, or that situation, or resolve that conflict.
Patrick: As I mentioned, this is a strategy that really is very important in a work setting. It’s equally as important at home, or in the community, wherever you are. But, a lot of the work that I do starts in a workplace, so it builds out from there. In a workplace, approximately 70% of our time is spent in communication, and approximately 45% of that time is spent listening to others. At least hopefully it is, that we’re not the ones doing all the talking all the time.
Patrick: The ability to be able to demonstrate understanding of others emotions at work really contributes in a number of ways. One is, establishing sort of this initial connection with working colleagues. Especially if it’s a new place that you’re going to work. If you come in with a strong skillset around emotionally intelligent behaviors, you’re able to really insert yourself into that community, or that culture much easier because you’re just more aware at how you read it, and how you interact.
Patrick: If it’s customers, if it’s people outside that we’re dealing with, it allows us the ability to sort of gain more rapport with them in a productive way. If it’s conflict, it allows us, again, to take a solid read of the situation that we’re in, and how do we move forward, how do we interact in a way that we’re able to pause and not just react? We’re really responding at that point. All of this, really what it does is it provides a deepening of this sort of interpersonal relationship that we have with those people we work with. On so many levels it works.
Patrick: It’s not always easy though. I don’t make light of how difficult this can be at times. I know certainly there are times where I’ve probably not been the easiest person to work with, and it’s probably taken a person that’s got a very high level of emotional intelligence to be able to navigate, or manage me in my situations. How do we start to develop this? Well, if we’re enhancing emotional awareness of others, it probably would be pretty helpful if we sort of were able to understand the importance of effective listening, and the impact that, that has in terms of paying attention. Because, we’re looking for two things. One is content, the word somebody uses. But, also the process. Why is the person saying the words at that time? What does it mean? What’s the underpinning component of that?
Patrick: The first is this idea of recognizing. That’s number one, recognizing. That’s effectively noticing the verbal, and non verbal sort of emotion cues of others. As an example, hearing others verbalize emotive words. So, “I feel happy, I feel sad.” And, their tone of voice. Recognizing as well, facial expressions, body language. There’s an excellent book that I use pretty regularly now. It’s by a gentleman named Joe Navarro, and this will be in the show notes. The name of his book is, “What Everybody is Saying.” What’s great about this, is in this book, if you get it online, as well as if you buy it on Amazon, or at a bookstore if you can find one, is it has a PDF in there that sort of shows the body language, and the positions of people, and potentially what that might say about how they’re interacting.
Patrick: I won’t steal all of it, but there really are some very interesting things to look at in terms of, how do you read other people, you know? Maybe you’re at a party, and you’re trying to insert yourself into a conversation. We can probably all think of those people that we’ve been around, that inserted themselves into a conversation awkwardly, and it probably showed on us. Maybe the words didn’t show, but our body language, how we were looking at them might have keyed them off if they were aware to it. Certainly myself, I’ve felt that before when I’ve walked into a situation where it’s sort of like, “You know what? I don’t really feel like I’m welcome in this. I’ve come into a conversation that maybe is private, or whatever. It’s time for me to sort of extract myself as quickly as I inserted myself into it.”
Patrick: Hopefully I’m that self aware in that situation. I guess I should probably go back and maybe look at some of the situations I’ve been in. Maybe some people would say that I wasn’t very aware of the situation. But, enough on that. I will say on his book, one of the things that I found interesting was what they call tells. One thing that is, or can be most effective in terms of being able to read other people, are their feet. As an example of that, if you’re talking to somebody and their feet are not pointed toward you, they’re away from you. It could indicate, not necessarily, but it could indicate that this person’s really not interested in that conversation with you, they’re looking to get somewhere else.
Patrick: As opposed to if their feet are sort of pointed directly in your direction, then this is a person that’s probably more engaged in the conversation, and really being part of the conversation that you’re in. Again, does it work all the time? No, but it’s an interesting way to start building this skillset of being able to read other people’s body language. Again, that’s one that I would highly recommend reading, or listening to as an audio, which is what I’ve done.
Patrick: When we talk again about this idea of words, one of the examples that I use in a group is to say, “I can say the same sentence, but depending on where I stress the word, it can have completely different meanings.” I’ll give you can example of, if I were to say, “I didn’t take the book.” That’s fine. But, then if I were to say, “I didn’t take the book.” Well, what does that mean? It means probably somebody else did. I didn’t take it, but somebody else did.
Patrick: Or, if I then say, “I didn’t take the book,” the reality is, is what I’m probably saying is, I may have borrowed it but I didn’t take the book. Then lastly, “I didn’t take the book.” Well, yeah I didn’t take the book. But, by the tone of that, I probably took something else. Maybe it was the computer, or something else was taken. It’s the exact same sentence, but depending on where I stressed the word, it changed the meaning of that sentence. Being able to pick up on that in conversations can be really valuable.
Patrick: After we sort of recognize the conversation that we’re in, really it’s about then demonstrating understanding. So, effectively interpreting other peoples cues, and appreciating that meaning. Sort of the subtext, or the broader context of what they’re saying. This also involves at this point, this idea of you want to pick up on incongruence. I sense that they’re saying one thing, but really they mean something else. I’m not upset, but you can clearly tell by the look on their face, they’re pretty upset.
Patrick: The last part of this really is demonstrating to other people that you do understand, sort of effectively acknowledging, or validating, or even clarifying the emotions that you’re seeing in somebody else. This could involve telling people you’ve heard the emotional content. In other words, you heard sort of the verbal dialogue that they’ve said. The others might be, telling them that you’ve heard sort of the emotional process. What I mean by that is, in the broader text, sort of the emotion that they’re bringing to this. The frustration that they may have in this.
Patrick: As we continue to refine this process of effective listening, one of the ways that we can do it is think of it in terms of levels. The first level is around attending. It’s this idea of posture, my body language, my eye contact with the person, providing them an opportunity to speak and not just, again, being the one that wants to speak all the time. As an example, I’m not going to build much of a rapport with somebody if when they’re having a conversation, or speaking with me, I’m constantly looking out at the door to see who else is coming in. Or, as people come in the door, I’m constantly looking to see who that person is. Because, what does it say to the person? You’re really not interested in talking to me.
Patrick: The next one involves following, and this really is the active part of maybe asking questions. For example, as they’re talking, well what’s your experience been of that? It might involve using encouraging words, where you’re almost encouraging them to go on, right? “Oh yeah, really? Mm-hmm (affirmative).” Or, it’s head nods, “Please continue.” Along that line, but it’s their encouraging words.
Patrick: Another more straight forward might be asking questions that directly relate to a person’s emotions. “What’s on your mind right now? How are you feeling? What are your thoughts on this?” Another might involve simply silence, or demonstrating that you’re really listening to the other person.
Patrick: Now, on a phone, that could get frustrating for somebody, right? Because, well all of a sudden they’re like, “Are you still there?” It might involve saying that to the person. “You know what? I’m silent right now, but I’m really trying to listen to what you’re saying, to really understand it.” Then the last part of this, after attending, and then following, is around reflecting. It’s really about sort of basic empathy, or demonstrating that. You know, where you might say, “You know, I think you feel upset because of what happened. Is that correct?” Or maybe it’s if I was listening to this story, “If I were you I think I’d probably be upset right now. Is that what you’re feeling?” Where, I’m also reflecting their feelings right now. I might be saying, “That must have been exciting.”
Patrick: When we do this, when we basically tell somebody how we think they’re feeling. What it allows them the opportunity to do is either validate, “Yeah, that’s how I am feeling.” Or, it allows them to say, “No, that’s not how I’m feeling.” Either one is beneficial, because it allows us, again, in terms of strengthening that muscle of awareness of others, I get to get a better ready on that person. That, oh, you know what? I always think when their facial expressions like that, that they’re upset. But, it really isn’t. It means something else. I’ve only learned that because I’ve asked them, “You seem like you’re upset right now.” “No, I’m this.” If I wasn’t doing that, this active level of listening, that would never happen.
Patrick: Again, this is part of that muscle. That’s the building of it. A way to tie this into our last lesson in episode 14, would be to maybe think of a few people or colleagues at work. You remember, we did the piece on values. Think of something that is probably a high value to them. As an example, we may just use again, respect. Now, think of times when you know that respect was an issue, either positive, or negatively in terms of how it was demonstrated, or perceived with that person. What type of words did they use, what’s the tone of their voice, what’s their body language like when they’re in those situations where either they feel like that has been compromised, or that has been satisfied? Again, you’ll start to get tells, or reads on how you can be aware of other people’s emotions.
Patrick: The more you’re able to do this, the more you can use it outside of that. Well, you’ll start to pick up cues on other people around you in terms of knowing the situation that you’re in, being more aware of your surroundings in some way. It really does provide so much benefit to not only yourself, but also to those people around you because it makes our conversation much more efficient when we’re dealing with them. I hope you can go out there and give this a try. Start to build that muscle.
Patrick: Our next episode will be around emotional expression. How do we, once we’re aware of our emotions, how are we the most effective in terms of displaying that? Which, can be a real challenge. I hope you’ll have an opportunity to listen to that lesson, in regards to managing emotional expression.
Patrick: I hope you found this episode on awareness of others to be helpful in terms of some tips that you might use, in terms of listening, and reading other people. It will help you to be more effective in your next communication with somebody. If you found this helpful, I hope certainly you’ll have an opportunity to subscribe to this podcast, or you can forward it on to somebody else you think might find value in this. And, that you’ll give it a rating, ’cause that certainly helps the message of Rise Above Your Best get out there to more people. I really appreciate it. It’s so much fun to be able to do this, and share these, and hear the stories of how it’s working, and the impact that it’s making. That’s the fuel that keeps me going. Until our next episode, I hope you have an opportunity to go out there and rise above your best.
Thanks For Listening!
To share your thoughts:
To help out the show: