[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind and what makes peak performance tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode, we talk about emotional intelligence. What is emotional intelligence and why does it matter so much? How the science demonstrates that emotional intelligence, matters far more than your IQ and how you can develop and improve your EQ, how to build the muscles of focus, and much more with Dr. Daniel Goleman.
The Science of Success continues to grow with more with more than 800,000 downloads. Listeners in over 100 countries, hitting number one in New and Noteworthy, and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information?” A lot of our listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge you get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to podcast, and more.
Because of that, we created an epic resource just for you. A detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything. You can get it completely free by texting the world “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, it’s a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything. All you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter” to the number 44222 or go to scienceofsuccess.co and put in your email.
In our previous episode, we dove into evolutionary psychology and looked at how biases happen programmed into your mind by millions of years of evolution. We examined why our guest condemns the concept of empathy, how the science demonstrates that empathy has no correlation with doing good in the world, and how empathy can often create disastrous social outcomes, and much more with our guest Dr. Paul Bloom.
It’s a very controversial episode. I highly recommend checking it out. He might challenge some of your beliefs and assumptions about how we make decisions.
[0:02:30.7] MB: Today, we have another awesome guest on the show, Daniel Goleman. Daniel is the co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. He currently codirects the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University. He is the international bestselling author of several books including, Primal Leadership, Focus, and Emotional Intelligence, which has been translated into over 40 languages.
Daniel, welcome to the science of success.
[0:02:57.0] DG: Mat, it’s a pleasure to be with you.
[0:02:59.1] MB: Well thank you so much for being on here. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and your story, share a little bit about your background.
[0:03:07.7] DG: You know, I’m a psychologist. I’ve got a PhD in the field. I became a science journalist and started covering psychology and in 1990 when I was working at the New York Times I saw an article, in a rather obscure journals, so obscure it doesn’t exist. It was called Emotional Intelligence and I thought, that is a dynamite concept because first of all, it sounds like an oxymoron, emotions and intelligence, but it means we can be intelligent about our emotions.
I used that as my ’95 book, Emotional Intelligence, as a framework for talking about what’s going on in the brain and why emotional intelligence matters so much in your professional life, your personal life and I’ve been doing work, as you mentioned, on that ever since.
[0:03:53.0] MB: For listeners who may not kind of be familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence or maybe they’ve heard it and think of it as kind of a buzz word, how would you kind of define the concept of emotional intelligence?
[0:04:04.3] DG: Sure, it has become a kind of popular meme, you know, EQ, that guy has no EQ or he’s pretty high in EQ. People kind of know what it means. It’s actually, the technical definition, there’s four parts of emotional intelligence in my model. The first is self-awareness, knowing what you’re feeling and why you feel it, how it’s affecting your performance, knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing how other people see you, that’s a big one.
Then there is self-management, managing your upsetting emotions so you could focus on what you're doing, your task at hand, having a drive to achieve, and setting goals and working toward those goals. What I’m talking about now or what I call competencies. They’re base on self-management but what we call crucial competencies; abilities that are learned and learnable that we find differentiate outstanding performers from average. Another is having a positive outlook and finally adaptability, being able to change as demands change. Those are all competencies under self-management.
The third part of emotional intelligence is social awareness. Being able to read other people, empathy, knowing what they feel without them telling you. People don’t tell us in words; they tell us a tone of voice, I tell this in body language and so on. Can you pick that up? That’s empathy, it’s really important in any relationship whether it’s your private life or your work life. Another is a different level of competence. It’s organizational awareness. Reading the emotional currents in an organization, knowing who to go to, to get a key decision made, what the network of influence is.
The fourth ability and forth domain of emotional intelligence is managing your relationships. It’s being able to influence people. Another competence here is being a good coach and mentor to people who are coming up the ladder behind you. Being able to manage conflict, leadership that inspires and teamwork. That’s what we actually mean by emotional intelligence.
[0:06:09.4] MB: You know, talking about the differences between IQ and EQ. How do each of this sort of skill sets translate into how successful people are? Is one a larger driver than the other? Which one has the highest…
[0:06:24.0] DG: Yes, that’s a great question Mat. The answer is it depends. When you’re in school during your school years, IQ was what matters. Academic achievement is correlated very highly with IQ but something they’ll never tell you in school, which is once you get into the work sphere, you're on your career, it matters less and less and less the higher you go. The reason is this: if you want to become an MBA, if you want to be an executive, if you want to be a physician, it doesn’t matter. There’s a certain level of cognitive complexity, you’ve got to be able to digest and understand in order to do your job. That’s the IQ side.
Here is where the paradox starts. Once you’re in the field, everyone else who has made in the field is about as smart as you are. So IQ loses its predictive power and who is going to excel, who is going to stand out. This is where emotional intelligence matters. How you handle your own emotions, how you manage yourself, those abilities like getting disturbing emotions under control, staying focused, working towards your goals. That matters much more now or being able to get along with people, work on a team, to lead people.
The EQ abilities differentiate the higher you go in your career and when you look at top management positions, C-level leaders, there’s a methodology called competence modeling. It takes this crucial competencies and others like them and looks at which ones distinguish people in our organization in terms of their actual business performance, organizational performance and it shows that emotional intelligence competencies, this crucial competencies are what matter far more than IQ.
People who are at the top level, you hire people who are programmers, who accountants, who have those IQ skills. What you're doing is managing people and that’s an emotional intelligence ability.
[0:08:22.9] MB: Out of those four different components, which one do you see or what does kind of the research bare out in terms of what do people most often struggle with?
[0:08:32.1] DG: Well, empathy turns out to be a very big challenge for a lot of people. Particularly, interestingly, people who are outstanding individual performers like, you know, say you’re really amazing at writing code. Well, programmers get a lot of mileage by being smart programmers, their IQ abilities. The problem is when they get promoted to be a team leader or an executive of any kind, that’s where you need empathy.
Because, empathy is what greases the relationship, it’s the lubricant. It’s what makes the part, it’s what makes you understand how to put things to this guy so he’ll understand it. Or, you know, I’m losing attention over here or actually being a caring leader turns out to have a lot of power in terms of loyalty, in terms of people giving their best, that’s another aspect of empathy. If you don’t have empathy, it really hurts you as you go higher and higher on the ladder and become a leader of more and more people. In my experience, it’s empathy that is the one crucial competence people struggle with the most.
[0:09:39.2] MB: How do people who struggle with empathy, how can the kind of overcome that or how can they cultivate the ability to be more empathetic?
[0:09:47.5] DG: Well, there’s actually lot of research along these lines. It turns out the three varieties of empathy, and it depends which one you need to strengthen. There’s cognitive empathy, which means I understand how you think, I understand how you see the world, I can take your perspective.
Technically I know your mental models. I know the terms or the concepts in which you divide up your world. This lets me communicate with you very effectively. I know how to put things to you so you’ll understand it. That’s one kind of empathy.
Second kind of empathy is emotional empathy, and this draws on a completely different set of brain circuitry. Emotional empathy is when you have a feeling, I pick it up inside myself and there are dedicated neuronal circuits for a kind of emotional brain to brain radar that do this and this lets you have rapport, this lets you have chemistry with the person. You understand instantly how they feel.
But there is a third kind of empathy that you see in the leaders love to work for, and that’s called empathic concern. Not only do I know how you think and how you feel, I actually care about you. I’m going to have your back, I’m going to give you feedback that’s going to help you — and help us by the way — and in other words, that’s the kind of leader ship that people want but it takes that third kind of empathy.
So if you want to develop that, it turns out their mental exercises you can do that strengthen that very brain circuitry. I think that’s going to become more and more common in HR in the future as coaches and so on try to help people with empathy, you’re going to see more and more of that mental training.
[0:11:25.4] MB: What are some of those exercises could you either sort of describe them or maybe even give an example that somebody listening might be able to perform?
[0:11:31.8] DG: Well, one is repeating to yourself the idea that you actually care about the people in your life. It sounds so simple but it actually has a neural impact. You think of the people that have been kind to you in your life. Well that’s easy, and you hope that they’ll be happy, safe, secure, you know, healthy, have wellbeing. You wish that for yourself, that’s easy.
Then you wish it for people that you love. People in your family, whatever, your friends, and then for strangers or people at work, you can bring to mind specific people or a general category and finally, for everybody. That’s a classical method of cultivating this kind of concern and care.
It turns out, there’s research coming out of the Max Planck institute in Germany, it’s like their MIT and they find it if people do this consistently like a few minutes a day. It thickens the brain circuitry for this particular kind of empathy and people become more caring, become more concerned. It comes spontaneously; you can’t really fake this stuff, it has to come from inside.
[0:12:45.7] MB: What about cognitive empathy? Are there things we can do to cultivate or improve our ability to understand how people think?
[0:12:52.7] DG: Yes of course. You know, it’s very straight forward. You can have someone who would be open with you, let you know how they think about things but you want to tell them first, “Here’s how I think you see that,” and then check it against how they actually see it and what this does is tune you into another person’s perspective because that’s what you’re doing and then you can start to pick it up for example from the language they use, the terms they used, the attitudes they expressed. All of those are clues to someone’s mental models.
The emotional empathy, Mat, if you’re going to ask about that, that can be strengthened by actually talking to a person about how they feel and the things they feel most strongly about. That’s the kind of conversation you can only have with your spouse, your partner, your best buddy, whoever it is but someone who could be very open with you. It’s really about sharing feelings. It might sound corny but it actually is a methodology that strengthens the relevant brain circuitry.
In mental cognitive empathy, your strengthening of part of the neocortex. In emotional empathy, your strengthening a part of the limbic system, the emotional system. And empathic concern, your strengthening of circuitry we actually share with all mammals, it’s the parental care taking circuitry. It’s the circuitry that is active when you love your kid.
[0:14:20.8] MB: It’s so interesting that this is very much, it sounds on the surface you hear the phrase “emotional intelligence” and think that it’s kind of fluffy. But in reality, this is very much rooted in science and neuroscience and the kind of neurobiology of your brain itself.
[0:14:39.5] DG: Oh absolutely. When I’m talking about self-awareness and self-management, there’s specific brain circuitry involved, and we know what it is. It’s the prefrontal cortex which is the brain’s executive center just behind the forehead and its connections down to the emotional brain, which is between the ears, particularly the amygdala, which is the trigger point for the flight or fight or freeze response.
If you’re someone who gets angry and overwhelmed and, you know, really yells the people and then later wishes you hadn’t, it means that you have poor emotional self-control, which is one of those crucial competencies. The way to strengthen that is to remember to stop and think before you act. Because you need to widen that window that is there always but usually we ignore it when we’re losing it.
If you’re getting hijacked by your amygdala, you’re going to say something, do something that’s going to not be effective. You are going to regret it later. The stronger the circuitry to your prefrontal cortex, the more you can have a gap. Some say that the definition of maturity is widening the gap between impulse and action and that’s what’s going on at the brain level under all of these self-awareness and self-regulation competencies.
The two that involve slightly other circuitry are just goal orientation, striving toward a goal and keeping it in mind and overcoming obstacles, and keep going, that’s one important thing. Another is a positive outlook, no matter what happens, you’re going to see the silver lining and keep going, you’re going to see the bright side. Those are motivational and they involve circuitry in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is where you experience positive emotions.
We know exactly what’s going on the brain underlying the emotional intelligence clusters and competencies. When it comes to relationship management, you’re mostly talking about the emotional centers in the brain and the radar that they have for picking up another person’s brain. But it becomes more and more complex is you’d get into things say like conflict management, which involves a lot of different moves.
[0:16:49.0] MB: I’m very curious, what does the science say about ways to strengthen our prefrontal cortex, especially around the ability to sort of control your amygdala?
[0:17:02.3] DG: You know, one of the things I’ve been involved with for long time is called social emotional learning, which brings the emotional intelligence competencies. I talk about all the crucial competencies. All the domains. Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management in the schools.
One of the things they do in schools actually would help anybody. I’ve seen this in schools I visited, it’s a poster, it’s a stoplight. It says, “When you’re getting upset, remember the stop light. Red light, stop calm down and think before you act.” That’s really the three steps that you need. Stop, don’t do the first thing that your impulses tell you to, calm down and think before you act. Yellow light, think of a range of ways you might respond and green light, pick the best one and try it out.
Well, you don’t have to be a fourth grader to use the stop light. Those steps work at any point in life. So if you wanted to strengthen the circuitry for self-control, you have to practice, the brain and the mind are muscles and their basic repetitions that strengthen circuitry. So here, the circuitry you’re strengthening is the “don’t act on the impulse, pause, think of a better way to act and try it out”. So those are four simple steps. If you do that, every time you find yourself getting upset, you’re going to be strengthening the prefrontal circuitry.
[0:18:33.1] MB: I’d also love to talk about the concept of a positive outlook, kind of within the realm of self-management. For someone who may not have a positive outlook or, you know, is generally kind of negative or down about things, how would you suggest reframing or sort of building a more positive approach to things?
[0:18:54.0] DG: There’s a psychologist at Penn, Martin Seligman who is kind of state of the art in this, he wrote a book called learned optimism and what he did is develop a program for teaching anyone, particularly people who by the way are prone to depression because the thing they lack is this ability to see the bright side of events. They only see that the bad side, the dark side.
So he started with people who were depressed and helped them realize, first of all, you don’t have to believe your thoughts. That’s a very powerful thought itself. What it means is you can look at your own thinking and decide, “Is that a thought that helps me or is it not?” Because people who are pessimistic have a litany in their stream of thought, which is that things are going to be bad. “I can’t do it. That’s always going to be like this.” Kinds of thoughts that make someone pessimistic and eventually depressed.
Seligman says, challenge those thoughts. You know, when you get the thought, “I’m not good enough for this or they don’t like me,” or whatever it may be, take time to argue with that. But this is also a basic move in what’s called cognitive therapy and it’s been found to all kinds of research, they are very powerful on impact. First of all, don’t automatically believe negative thoughts. Second, question and challenge them and third, when you find that positive frame on it, go with that, keep reminding yourself of that.
Sometimes people actually write cue cards that they take out and remind themselves of when they’re starting to have a particular familiar negative train of thought. Those are very good message. The book is Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman.
[0:20:38.5] MB: Thanks for that recommendation and we’ll make sure to include that in the show notes for listeners who want to check that out. Changing gears. I’d love to dig in to the concept of the ventilation fallacy. Could you talk a little bit about that?
[0:20:51.3] DG: The ventilation fallacy is this idea that it’s really good for you to get your anger out when you're mad at people and the research shows, paradoxically, is if you constantly ventilate, you get better and better at ventilating and you strengthen the circuitry for ventilating and you become an impulsive, angry, enraged person. That does not help you. You really want to manage your anger.
You can be selective, you can be very strong and assertive when you need to be but it doesn’t actually help to be angry. If you’re angry, that’s more than is needed and what it does is trigger anger in other people. So you don’t get people to do what you want, you get people who are oppositional and defiant against you because you’ve gotten them angry.
Really, what you want to do is be assertive. Assertive means, “Hey, we need you to do this because when you do that, it messes up in this way. So here’s how you can do that and here’s how it will help you.” That’s a much more effective way of giving feedback than just yelling at somebody and saying, “Oh my god, you’re an idiot or whatever it is.” You probably would say something harsher if you’re really angry, but you get the idea.
[0:22:01.0] MB: So that’s specifically within the context of anger. I’m curious, how does that same approach fall within the context of depression and sadness? Is ventilation a better strategy in that case or what is the most effective strategy to do something?
[0:22:15.3] DG: No, ventilation doesn’t help with any negative emotion because it essentially is rehearsing that emotion. The more you rehearse a behavioral sequence or an emotional sequence, the stronger the underlying brain circuitry becomes. So it becomes more common, more frequent in how to respond to situations. What you want to do is intentionally oppose it and modify it in a positive direction, whether it’s depression, or anger, anxiety whatever it is.
[0:22:43.3] MB: And what are some of the ways that, let’s say somebody is suffering from anxiety, may be able to intentionally oppose those kind of thought patterns?
[0:22:52.3] DG: Well, one of the first steps, which I actually Seligman doesn’t have but I talk about and focus, for example, in my book is mindfulness. Which mindfulness is stepping back and letting you see your thought as a thought. So you might have an anxiety provoking thought, “This thing’s going to come up and I won’t be any good, or I’m going to give a talk and I’m no good at talks.” That is an anxiety provoking thought itself.
Or you may have a depression provoking thought like, “I’m just no good. I’ll never be any good.” Or you may have an anger provoking thought like, “This guy is an idiot and all I can do is yell at him.” Whatever it may be, you want to step back from those thoughts so that you can assess them. “Is this helpful? Do I want to go down this route?” So I think that is across the border for stop and I think that the way you’d handle any of those varieties of negativity is essentially the same as I outlined with the Seligman approach.
[0:23:56.8] MB: You’ve also talked about how distraction or distracting ourselves and shifting our focus can be a useful strategy. Could you talk a little bit about that?
[0:24:07.3] DG: One of the ways to manage anxiety is to focus on something else. In other words, get your mind off that anxious train of thought and it could be something funny. Or it could be just meditating on your breath, focusing on your breath. Whatever will help you. It’s different from person to person, but if you find that thing, that’s a very effective way to calm anxiety.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be in a state where you’re supposed to be focusing on one thing and your mind is wondering off. That’s a different situation. So it’s not a distraction, it’s always a plus but in certain situations it can be an antidote.
[0:24:50.2] MB: I think that’s a good segue into digging a little bit to the concept of focus, which is also the title of one of your previous books. Tell me how do you define the concept of focus and why is it so critical?
[0:25:03.7] DG: By focus I mean attention and attention is the doorway through which everything else happens. Memory, high performance, performance of any kind. In sports, for example, people who test poorly on concentration, which is a key barometer, attention, do very poorly in the next season. People who at work can’t pay attention do poorly in whatever it is they’re supposed to do.
So focus is the key, it’s the hidden ingredient in success and I’ve got some audios that help people that are instructions in different kinds of focus, different ways to improve your focus and if that’s been a problem for anyone, I’d recommend doing that, whether it’s mine or someone else’s. But you have to understand attention, as I said, the mind is a muscle and attention and bringing your mind back to what you’re supposed to be focusing on is the basic repetitions.
So it’s the equivalent of going to a gym and doing a lot of reps with a weight, every time you try to focus on one thing and your mind wonders off and you bring it back, your actually to strength and the underlying brain circuitry for concentration and focus and the more focused people are in any domain of performance, the better they’ll be.
[0:26:23.6] MB: You’ve talked about the difference between rumination and reflection and how that relates to the concept of focus. I’d love to hear you explain that dichotomy.
[0:26:33.2] DG: Rumination is when you have trains of thought that make you more worried. You think about this big challenge coming up at work and all you could think about is how you’re going to screw it up. That’s an anxiety provoking train of thought. However, reflection means you’re thinking about this challenge coming up and you’re coming up with some solutions, some things you can do, some steps you can take. That’s very positive kind of mental work. So rumination gets you nowhere, it just increases your anxiety maybe your depression. But reflection helps you find solutions.
[0:27:10.3] MB: So it’s the focus on finding solutions itself that really turns reflection into a much more productive thought pattern.
[0:27:19.0] DG: Yes, I would say that it’s a positive kind of focus and rumination is a negative kind of focus.
[0:27:24.6] MB: What about the importance of rest as part of an ability to cultivate attention and focus?
[0:27:32.8] DG: Well if you’re finding that your attention is lagging and your mind is wondering, it may mean that you are not getting enough sleep or enough rest. There are people and research that really supports idea for example of a power nap restores the brain and it reboots you for the rest of the day and also, people swear by seven or eight hours of sleep at night and she can manage it into your schedule but if you can’t get that much sleep and you find that you are losing it during the day, then a nap is actually a very quick magical way to restore your mind.
[0:28:08.3] MB: And believe you touched on in the book, the concept of attention restoration theory. Could you explain that a little bit?
[0:28:14.7] DG: Well attention restoration theory basically says that the brain, which runs on glucose, a kind of sugar can run out of it before over exerting the brain. There’s a lot of work situations that will do this and the sign of that is that you just can’t keep your focus. Your mind wonders, you just can’t process things as well and that’s when restoration theory says you should take a walk, a walk in the park, walk in nature even better. But drop what you’re doing and just let yourself have some relaxed time. Get out of the situation and then come back to it and be refreshed, to gives your mind time to restore.
[0:28:57.9] MB: And is that inter related to the concept of will power and the notion of ego depletion?
[0:29:05.2] DG: Well ego depletion and will power operate on the same principles that the circuitry underlying the ability to keep going, keep going, force of will, also can run out of steam, run out of gas. There again, it’s good to take a break, restore yourself and come back.
[0:29:26.1] MB: I’d love to take the concept of emotional intelligence, the ideas of focus that we’ve been talking about and segue it into discussing one of your recent books, which is called Primal Leadership. I love to understand what does that term mean and why did you decide to call it Primal Leadership?
[0:29:43.9] DG: Well we had a big argument about that as you can imagine because primal is a kind of provocative word but what we’re trying to get at is the fact that there is the emotional level to leadership — this is the primal level — that if you leave it out you’re not going to be effective as a leader. This is why, as I said, emotional intelligence matters more and more, the more leadership positions you take on and the higher you go in an organization, the more people you’re leading.
You need to feel the pulse of the people, you need to know how to talk to them, you need to know how to inspire them, how to motivate, how to keep them on course, how to give them positive feedback that will be effective to help to get them to want to give their best, and that’s the emotional challenge. It’s not a cognitive challenge.
[0:30:32.9] MB: I think that’s a great point, which is that it’s not a cognitive challenge, it’s an emotional challenge. Such a great way to phrase that and it really crystalizes the fact that, as we discussed earlier in the conversation, brain power can only solve so many of these problems. What you really need to cultivate is the ability to understand people, empathize with them and learn how to influence them if you want to be successful as a leader and within really any organization.
[0:31:01.1] DG: Exactly, very well put Matt, and I would add that the ability to do that, that we learn in life. We don’t learn it in school. We learn it on teams, you learn it playing with kids, you learn it in relationships, you learn it in the work place. It’s an alternate curriculum. It’s not the academic curriculum, you will never learn it in MBA program, but it’s what’s going to make or break a career as you get into a leadership position or just a member of the team.
That’s why I feel the crucial competencies are so important because you can have strengths in some and limits in others and it’s important to know where your limit are so you can build on those. You may be really good at managing yourself. You may not be so good at empathy or influence or inspiring people. But as you get into a position where you are leading a team or whatever it may be, those become more and more important and you need emotional intelligence to improve those.
[0:32:03.9] MB: You touched on the concept of the crucial competencies. What are those and how would you define them?
[0:32:09.8] DG: Well after I wrote the book Emotional Intelligence, I wrote a book called Working with Emotional Intelligence and I realize that my own graduate school work had been in what’s called competence modelling. This was developed by one of the big developers was David McClelland, my main professor at Harvard and the competence is a learned and learnable ability that makes you outstanding in your work.
So the competencies, some of them I mentioned; the drive to achieve or having a positive outlook or adaptability, being good at influencing people or coach and mentor conflict management, inspiring people, teamwork, these are learned abilities. There was a study done at one of the Big Pharma companies, Johnson & Johnson where they had someone who’s just outstanding star team leader and they asked her, “Well when did you become good at this?”
And then she said, “Well I realized that this was important. I had some talent when I was in middle school.” She had moved to a new town, she didn’t know other kids, she thought she could meet friends by joining the field hockey club. She wasn’t so good at field hockey but she was really good at teaching new kids how to play the game.
They made her the assistant coach and she had one position after another like that up to being head of teams at a huge company, and that was the ability she learned and she learned it in life and it’s true of each one of these competencies and no one is good at all of them. But you need to be good at six or more to be an outstanding leader or to be outstanding in any field.
[0:33:50.0] MB: I think it’s such a critical point as well that these are not innate skills that you’re either born with or not. These are all learned abilities that the research and the data demonstrates you can learn and there are specific methodologies and strategies that you can implement in order to learn these and train yourself to become effective at this whole slew of very important competencies.
[0:34:12.8] DG: Well, Matt, I think that’s the key point and I find that so encouraging that it’s not that you’re either born with it or you’re not. It’s really did you learn it yet? If not, you still can. You can learn it and strengthen it at any point in life.
[0:34:29.5] MB: And you’ve got a new project that you have been working on that involves these crucial competencies, correct?
[0:34:35.4] DG: Yes, it’s the Crucial Competency Project with More Than Sound and what we’re doing is focusing on the competencies one by one and explaining them in more depth. We’re talking, for example, coaches, who are field executives cultivate one or another. Actually each of the 12, we’re going to run through them. We’re also coming out with a program for how you can strengthen each one.
Because, for example, in the workplace people are sometimes told, “Well you know, you need to work on empathy.” Or, “You need to work on emotional self-management.” Or positive outlook, whatever it is they don’t tell you necessarily how to do that. So we are trying to give folks the specifics, the mechanics, how can you improve this in yourself on your own?
[0:35:27.8] MB: And we’ll make sure to include in the show notes a link to that resource for listeners who want to check that out and are curious about how to cultivate and learn about those different competencies.
[0:35:38.5] DG: I think that’s really great and by the way, it’s not just yourself. You may have workmates, you may have friends, you may be a leader who knows someone needs that so it’s something you also could recommend to other people.
[0:35:53.1] MB: That’s a great point. I’m curious, one of the other topics that you touched on is how to give other people feedback or constructive criticism. I know that can often be a very touchy subject and I am curious how do you recommend dealing with that issue?
[0:36:07.8] DG: Well there are two basic approaches to feedback. One is critical, which tends to dismiss the person as being like this forever, which is very demoralizing. In fact, we have FMRI studies that show people who get that kind of research, it activates their circuitry for negative feeling, for upset. In other words, you put someone in a bad mood, you don’t help them. So you don’t want to do that. You really want to have a friendly approach, a positive approach.
“I’m going to help you get better at this,” and the first thing you need to do is say, “You know you’re so good at such and such and I noticed that when you did this.” and you want to be very specific, “It didn’t work out so let’s think about how you can get better at that.” In other words you are not attacking the person. The critical negative approach makes the person feel that they’re just no good at this and it triggers the negative circuitry.
What you want to do is trigger a very positive outlook so the person feels energized and that they can learn how to do this better and maybe you’re in a position to help them learn and suggest some ways but in other words, you are not ruling them out. You are saying, “Hey you’re a valuable person on this team and we want you to get better at this. Here’s some ways you can do it.” I think that approach is much more motivating and in fact, the brain measure shows it does activate positive circuitry.
[0:37:38.5] MB: So for listeners who want to take some of these ideas, maybe take a very simple first step in developing or cultivating their emotional intelligence, what’s one simple piece of homework you would give them as a first step?
[0:37:52.6] DG: Well I would say that the first step is to manage your own negative emotions and that may be negative thinking, it may be impulsive anger. Whatever it is, widen that gap between impulse and action. If it’s at the mental level, step back from your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is this useful?” I think that’s fundamental. Those are acts of self-awareness.
Self-awareness turns out to be the base foundational competency in all the crucial competencies. People who are high in self-awareness tend to be high in 10 or so emotional intelligence competencies. People who are low on it tend to have very few competencies. This is the basic homework.
[0:38:44.7] MB: I don’t think you can say enough about how important self-awareness is and it’s so funny to see, you know, you can see people who have struggled for years and then as soon as they start to cultivate self-awareness and kind of get out in their own way in many ways, you can see rapid transformations in the way that people behave in their lives.
[0:39:03.7] DG: Exactly. Matt, think about the opposite way. People who have low self-awareness, don’t realize they need to do any work.
[0:39:10.8] MB: Exactly. They don’t realize they’re making mistakes. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle in many ways. It can be very…
[0:39:16.8] DG: Exactly. You got it.
[0:39:18.4] MB: Well, where can people find you and your books and the Crucial Competency Project online, for listeners who want to access that?
[0:39:27.3] DG: Yeah, the best place to go is morethansound.net. It’s all there.
[0:39:33.3] MB: Perfect. We will make sure to include that in the show notes for everybody to be able to check out. Well Daniel, this has been a fascinating conversation. I wanted to thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of your wisdom about emotional intelligence. It’s been great to…
[0:39:47.3] DG: Mat, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you so much.
[0:39:49.5] MB: All right, well thank you very much.
[0:39:51.1] DG: Take care.
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