Thursday, 30 May 2013

If you see good in someone - Tell Them

Part of emotional intelligence is to understand how an emotion might impact another person. But before you can do this, you have to understand how that same emotion impacts you. This, one could say, is the fundamental basis of emotional intelligence, because an understanding of how emotions work to create real events, real reactions and instigate real change in people, can only be done through a deep internal and introspective understanding of the emotion as it exists within yourself first.

So you can only relate to an emotion and it's impact outside of you, if you first understand it's impact on you.

So let's say you see someone behaving in an unusual way. The first thing you would do from an EI perspective would be to examine what might be different in that persons life. What might have changed that is making them behave, say in an angry, sad, pensive or even overly happy way (it doesn't always have to be a negative change in behaviour :-)

Next, you see clues in their environment which tells you what might have changed in their life to make them behave in an unusual way. For example, they may have recently changed job or moved home, or maybe they're having a relationship problem or maybe they're just extra happy because they've gone into a new and exciting relationship (remember it does not always have to be negative).

Now, your own emotional self is the best 'test environment' to test how change impacts a person's behaviour, because if you consider the changes that you see in the other persons life and then place yourself at the centre of those changes as if they were happening to you, then you can 'test' what YOUR emotional response to those changes would be. It's very similar to putting yourself in another's shoes, except that here you are putting yourself in another's 'emotional shoes'. Once you understand YOUR emotional response, you will be in a better position to understand the other persons 'range' of possible emotional responses, which leads to a better understanding of how to better deal with that person or maybe even improve that person.

From here it's a simple set of logical steps to instigate change in that person, by telling them that you understand what they are experiencing. If that person is experiencing something negative in their lives, then just the fact that someone else took the time to understand their situation without prompting, firstly demonstrates to them how emotionally intelligent you really are and secondly and probably more importantly, makes their burden infinitely easier to bear (knowing that they are not alone with their problem). Of course, it does not always have to be negative, so if the other person is in an overly happy state of mind and behaving as such, by understanding the emotional aspects of that happy state, puts you in a good position to reinforce their positive behaviour and to better share their happiness with them.

So this is all pretty standard stuff, but what happens if it is applied for example in a work situation? Let's say you are a manager and you need to get the best out of your people. What better way than to instigate change and reinforce positive traits and behaviours in your people by reinforcing those traits right from the emotional centres where they are formed?

This takes me onto the point that if you see good in someone, it is absolutely your duty to tell them, even of you can't stand that person, in fact, especially, if you can't stand that person! If you see good, then say it. It makes people valued and it also makes people value you as they see you as an insightful person and a person who can see beyond prejudice or personal opinions, a person who sees a higher vision and cause. Above all, it appeals to their sense of self-worth and they see you as the person who made them feel emotionally better, the person who instigated a change for the better in them right from within themselves. Remember, even a prisoner, a thief, or someone whom society classifies as 'bad' has something good about them. It's just a matter of finding it and being sincere in telling them what good YOU have seen. So if such people have good in them, then surely there is some good in just about everyone?

Returning to the discussion on EI, what about if you are fighting for a good cause? By understanding the deep emotional aspects of what motivates people to believe and work for a good cause, empowers you to move and activate people into actually getting things done rather than just talking about them. A good cause could be anything from an idea or vision that you have to create a new business, for example, or to organise and complete a challenging task, or a belief in some kind of change in society or maybe a desire to change the way people think about something. A deep understanding of how emotions work and how they motivate people is what led great leaders in history to do great things. Thus, without a doubt, people such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Albert Einstein, The Dalai Lama and even those with an ulterior motive such as Adolf Hitler, all clearly possessed great intelligence, but the ability to instigate great changes in society (good and bad) came from their deeper rooted emotional intelligence and knowing how to use it.

Fundamentally, each and every one of us has a basic need. The need is to be fulfilled as a person, it is what makes us complete, what makes us feel that we are worth something to others and to the world at large. How, within ourselves do we achieve such fulfilment? The answer is that we constantly take emotional feedback from others and our responses to the world, our behaviour, our outlook and our perception of who we are and the value that we hold are all based on this feedback. It is exactly this constant flow of emotional feedback which meets our basic need to be fulfilled, because fulfilment ultimately comes from being acknowledged by others for who we are, being understood and having a feeling that we belong and that we are wanted. In my opinion, it is these fundamentally deep needs and the fulfilment of these that forms the entire basis of emotional intelligence. Even a bad person, a person who hurts others, is either not having these needs fulfilled and therefore becomes 'bad' in response to the deficiency in fulfilment of their basic emotional needs or it could be that the person has had too much of the 'wrong' type of emotional feedback which leads them to do things, as they feel fully justified in what they are doing, as a direct result of the emotional feedback they may have received. In either case, the subconscious emotional centre is driving their conscious actions, whether good or bad.  

Now, when we see a strong person who is able to handle life's battles with ease and succeed, we wonder how they became strong. People from underprivileged backgrounds or those who grew up in extremely difficult circumstances, who still seem to succeed in their lives despite their circumstances, may well have been shaped by their environment, becoming hardened to the harshness of the world and thus succeed because they simply overcompensate their shortcomings by pushing harder and working harder. Nevertheless, environment alone cannot completely give all the feedback a person needs to know if they are right or wrong about something and whether or not they are making the right decisions about different events in their lives, yet ultimately, if they are successful, then surely they must have made a net number of the right decisions over time in order to become successful. And this is where emotional intelligence comes in because those decisions, which were the right decisions, will have come from an inner sense of confidence, self worth and surety that they are indeed the right decisions. That confidence and surety, in turn, will have come from the emotional feedback that they will have received from others and therein lies the 'Eureka' moment, when that person absolutely knows they are doing the right thing. In this way, I can absolutely guarantee, that if you were to ask any successful person, the reasons for their success, ultimately it will boil down to the influences from others which fed their emotional centres, which then led them to make the right decisions, which ultimately led to their success. Thus, in order to deeply understand the human world around us, we need to be perceptive and open to giving and receiving this constant flow of emotional feedback and to be able to recognise when it can be of value to us.   

A final point: Ever heard the phrase 'If it isn't broke, don't try to fix it'? Well, for me, the meaning behind this (apart from the obvious) is also 'don't keep looking at life and people you encounter to find only their negative aspects. Instead, look at things to find the positive aspects'. In this way, don't find wrong where there is no wrong and thus don't try to fix wrongs that don't exist. its futile. If you only see negative things, you will always be trying to fix them. If you see the positive, you will learn to appreciate life and others and thus find ways to tell them what you see as positive in them, reinforcing such behaviours and thus instigating the change in your world and in society that YOU ultimately desire!
Be Extraordinary, Because It's Bloody Boring Being Ordinary!

In this post, I refer to 'success'. However how does one define success? - well, this is the subject of  a different blog, keep reading :-)

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