We know that strong and successful relationships are essential and central to our flourishing, in our work, for our careers and in every aspect of our lives. But making and sustaining great relationships at work is complex and often problematic. This week we put the spotlight on a clutch of stories from this week’s Happiness At Work edition #105 that give us new thinking and practical ideas for making great relationships at work.
In this post you will find stories about Emotional and Social Intelligence – what this means and how to become more expert in these core capabilities for making successful relationships. There are ideas about how to make the power balance work better, for example in negotiations and between men and women. There is an infographic that shows just what people need to feel truly engaged at work. There are practical techniques for building relationships, for listening better, for making coaching conversations work. And the post concludes with a talk by Daniel Goleman, the original thinker on Emotional Intelligence, who gives us some of his latest wisdom about making thriving relationships in the atmospheric conditions of our 21st century lives.
And before all of this, here is Steve McCurry’s latest photo collection, celebrating relationships in his usual magical intimate way…
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.If one falls down, his friend can help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4)The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand,
not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship.
It is the spiritual inspiration
that comes to one when you discover that someone else
believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
New research discovers the brain regions that help to optimize social functioning are also important for general intelligence and emotional intelligence.
This finding suggests general intelligence emerges from the emotional and social context of one’s life…
“The brain networks found to be important to social adeptness were not identical to those that contribute to general intelligence or emotional intelligence, but there was significant overlap,” Barbey said.
“The evidence suggests that there’s an integrated information-processing architecture in the brain, that social problem solving depends upon mechanisms that are engaged for general intelligence and emotional intelligence,” he said.
“This is consistent with the idea that intelligence depends to a large extent on social and emotional abilities, and we should think about intelligence in an integrated fashion rather than making a clear distinction between cognition and emotion and social processing.
“This makes sense because our lives are fundamentally social — we direct most of our efforts to understanding others and resolving social conflict. And our study suggests that the architecture of intelligence in the brain may be fundamentally social, too.”
adapted from the original post written by Farnoosh Brock
How much do relationships matter to you? We are talking all types of relationships, personal and business relationships.
Do you see your relationships directly affecting your life’s success or happiness or do you see them as a separate entity on their own, as a perk (or pest!) of life without serving a larger purpose?
Don’t worry. There is no right or wrong answer, and certainly no grading here. But there is a better way to live your life if you want to emulate successful people and what they always do in relationships…
A single pattern kept emerging after studying dozens and dozens of successful people: the importance of their relationships – both personal and business – in their success.
The higher the success level of the person, the higher the importance of each relationship in his or her life, and the more time and energy went into their relationships.
Why are relationships so important to success?
Successful people are not big into wasting their time or squandering their wealth. They are smart, intelligent, and vigilant people who want to create even more success and happiness in their lives.
It turns out that among things successful people do, building relationships ranks high as a top use of their time and energy.
Now these are not just any relationships, but relationships that promote their state of wealth and health, success and happiness, self-development and personal growth, to name a few incentives.
Successful people want to create more success and thus, they hang out with people who push them to higher levels.
7 things successful people do to build lasting relationships
1. Clarify the objective of the relationship early on
This may sound business-like and serious, but in fact, it is such a relief to be able to build a relationship where you know the overall incentive behind it. Maybe you want to learn from each other. Maybe you hope to do business together someday. Maybe you want to be challenged or motivated. Maybe you want to learn each other’s success lessons.
Successful people are not shy to state the objective of the relationships and that they plan to make it lasting and neither should we!
2. Communicate openly and clearly and listen intently
Listening and communicating well are the top traits of all successful people in general, but these elements come to play when you watch them in their relationships. They listen intently. They are present when they are with the other person. They are not too busy to listen and too quick to move on to the next thing.
Successful people also communicate openly, even if it means they need to ask for something or say no about something.
Open communication and alert intentional listening are the foundations of lasting relationships.
3. Never wait until they need something to build a relationship
Successful people don’t “save” their relationship building energy — because they know that the energy does not run out. Just like creativity, it grows and extends from use, and they use it well in building lots of relationships. They build these relationships in advance of ever needing them. So their motive is never coloured by their own selfish desires to get “something out of the relationship” but rather, they go into each relationship with mutual benefits to both parties, and build lots of relationships…
4. Give generously at the start of a relationship. Give more throughout
Successful people don’t keep tabs on what’s in it for them and what favors they can collect on later, and this is especially true at the beginning of a relationship. Giving and giving a lot is the theme they use if they are building a lasting relationship.
Giving means offering, as little or as much as you can, of your time, knowledge, expertise, energy, power or position in life, and watching it come back to you ten fold. Giving can be rewarding in itself…
5. Speak up if something is not going well
When something is not going well in their relationships, successful people just speak up. They do it with integrity, with compassion and with kindness, but they still speak up and they do this early on so that the problems don’t fester. They do this not to make a fuss or complain, but to make the relationship better, stronger, and more mutually beneficial.
This is one of the more challenging things to do in a relationship so start on a smaller scale. This also tests your communication and listening skills, which is the second tip above. If you can learn to do this well, you will have more rewarding lasting relationships throughout your life and career.
6. Fiercely support and protect their relationships
Successful people always speak highly of the people in their relationships, they watch out for them, they guard their reputation, and they represent them to others as they’d want to be represented themselves. They are simply protective and supportive as a big brother or sister would be to a younger sibling, and in turn, they get the same treatment from the people in those relationships. Everyone wins!
7. Work hard to mend, repair and strengthen a damaged relationship
Sometimes things happen, even to successful relationships. A miscommunication gets out. A ball gets dropped. A promise gets broken. And the relationship suffers a little. Successful people are quick to bring focus and attention and care to a damaged relationship. They are not too proud to apologize and to offer to mend their ways. They are not too proud to work hard at regaining trust and rebuilding strength. They know that relationships are a long-term investment and an enabler for their aspirations and desires. They work hard at making things work again in their relationships, and hence make it even stronger than before.
So next time something goes awry in your relationship, think of it as an opportunity to get even closer and build even a stronger more authentic relationship.
How to put the lessons from successful people into practice now
The instant joys of connecting with another human being aside, relationships empower you to achieve the unthinkable and the unimaginable. They push you higher and closer into the person you were meant to be, and when you are in the right relationship, others may have an even higher vision of life for you than you have for yourself. That level of faith and belief in your abilities can be huge help in achieving your dreams.
Focus on any of these 7 things successful people do to build lasting relationships, and implement only one at a time. Focus on your current relationships and apply these concepts in a measured way, and see if you notice a difference in the quality of your own relationships.
Recognizing employees is one of the most overlooked facets of managements that even great leaders sometimes forget about.
Without a good employee recognition strategy, people will feel unappreciated and build up stress.
Here are some incredible statistics about employee recognition…
When most of us really don’t like the traditional performance review, why do we stick with the old system? It is time to reimagine the performance review.
Not only does the traditional performance review seem to be a limited method for conveying a whole year’s worth of feedback, it is not always accurate. Managers are sometimes afraid to give honest feedback and avoid scoring people low because they fear having a difficult conversation with an employee about their poor performance. Some managers may be harsher than others. If your company bases raises on performance review scores, this could disadvantage employees who work for such a manager. It is nearly impossible to make sure all managers are using the same standards for scoring employees.
When a poor performer gets a good review, it makes discipline and termination a challenge. The employee may say, “I don’t understand. All my reviews have been good.”
Managers may also feel rushed to get a stack of reviews done in a short period of time; therefore, they do not always put the energy into writing an accurate review. A single review may take an hour or two to write, and most managers have a lot of demands on their time that make a list of reviews a huge burden.
Taking a Different Approach to Performance Reviews
A good manager should be providing feedback on a regular basis. Let employees know when they are doing a good job immediately. If an employee successfully completes a project in January, do not wait until a performance review in October to document that success. Keep a feedback log and make a quick note whenever an employee does well or if you have to coach the employee on performance issues. Make performance documentation an ongoing process rather than a once-per-year thing.
When an employee continues to have performance issues, address them through corrective action, which includes coaching, warnings and possible termination. Issuing warnings for continued problems and serious violations will give you the documentation you need if you have to make the decision about whether or not to terminate someone. It can still be hard to discuss performance problems, but addressing one problem at a time through corrective action can be easier than trying to deliver a review that details every performance issue in the span of a year.
Giving ongoing feedback takes away the stress managers feel about writing a stack of reviews, and it also alleviates the anxiety employees feel about receiving reviews. Ongoing feedback also acknowledges that our work performance is constantly evolving.
Listening is a life skill that impacts our ability to communicate, build relationships and get things done. It helps us learn, and doing it well can save us immense amounts of time, effort and frustration.
While in some ways we think about listening as an act of not talking, actually, to be a highly effective listener we do need to talk and engage – and one of the best ways to engage as a listener is by asking questions.
Here is a “starter pack” of questions you can use to be a better listener. Seven of these questions you can ask others, and three are questions for you to keep in mind, but not ask out loud.
The Out Loud Questions
Not all of these will apply in every situation, so modify and use the appropriate ones for a given conversation.
- “How do you feel about that?” This question encourages the other person to go deeper and share more about their point of view.
- “Can you tell me more about that?” While this question could be answered with a yes or no, in practice it is one of the most useful listening questions as it encourages the other person to continue and will work in nearly any situation.
- “I hear you saying . . . X . . . do I have that correct?” This is a version of paraphrasing the other person to check for understanding, and then ask for confirmation. There are many ways to ask this – find one that works for you because it is critical to your ability to both understand and help the other person know that you understand.
- “What would make it better?” This allows the other person to share their viewpoint and take the next step in the conversation.
- “How can I help?” Maybe you can, and maybe you can’t help. But asking and probing to see their perspective shows that you are willing to help! Hint – don’t ask if you aren’t willing to actually help in some way!
- “What’s next?” This question moves us forward. It might signal to the other person that you are bored with the current topic, so be careful of the tone and placement of this question,. It can also signal that you are ready to help with solution.
- What is the most important thing to remember?” If you really want to understand the other person, help them summarize for you. This question offers that chance and signals that you DO want to remember.
The Internal Questions
These are not meant as questions to ask of the other person, but of yourself. Thinking about these questions will help you stay engaged in the conversation and avoid a wandering mind. They also keep you focused on what is ultimately most important – your relationship with the other person.
- Do I really understand what they are saying? If the answer is yes, great. If not, it is time to ask some of the questions above.
- What are their non-verbal behaviors telling me? People communicate with more than their words – are you hearing with your eyes as well as your ears? Are you getting the full message?
- How can I best show my support for them right now? This is a powerful question to ask, and even more valuable when you take action on your answer.
Try these to start using questions more effectively when you listen. As you do, you will develop and find others to use, including alternative and personalized versions, that will expand your starter pack.
Listening is about more than just hearing and understanding the messages being communicated by others. You send back a much bigger and ultimately more important message to others when you truly listen – you communicate that you support and care about the other person. These questions will help you remain mindful of this bigger purpose and help you listen more effectively whenever you use them.
The question: How should effective leaders who coach be?
Coaching is a process. Leaders should use coaching to serve as a growth guide and trusted advisor to each other. Looking at the list we developed, you can see how coaching requires a lot of mutual accountability and trust. These things are developed through patience and continual practice. Leaders must understand that you will not execute coaching someone perfectly the first, or any time, for that matter. It isn’t that you execute the coaching perfectly every time, but you do demonstrate the qualities to the best of your ability as a leader who coaches.
Learn to be open. I think this may be one of the hardest attributes leaders who coach have to remember. So often, we hedge our thoughts and feelings, especially if we have a deep need to be liked or accepted. Leaders who coach must learn it is not often about you, but about the person you are trying to help. At the same time, if you are a leader who is coaching an employee within your supervision or organization, keeping mutual benefits in mind and in goals is powerful. The more you can learn to be straightforward and candid with a high degree of empathy and a large dose of care, the more effective you will be as a leader who coaches.
Leadership behaviors to practice while coaching:
Observe: watch and be highly aware of what your colleague is doing
Exchange: be mindful, discuss and exchange thoughts about the topics
Question: be interested and curious about the other person
Generous: offer your best ideas on improvement and process
Belief: have a high degree of belief in the other person and challenge them to develop some solutions and approaches
by Jane C. Hu
This research shows up the complexity and real difficulty that women face making professional relationships with the same authority, credibility and influence that men can usually expect to have.
Researchers at the University of California–Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania asked MBA students to participate in role-plays of face-to-face negotiations. The faux negotiation took the form of a real estate deal, where one student played the role of the buyer’s agent and the other the seller’s agent.
“We found that in the role-play, people were significantly more likely to blatantly lie to women,” says Laura Kray, the lead author of the study. “To women, for instance, the buyer’s agents would say, ‘They will be luxury condos,’ but to men, they would say, ‘I can’t tell you.’ ” After the negotiation, students were asked to disclose whether they lied. Both men and women reported lying to women more often. Twenty-four percent of men said they lied to a female partner, while only 3 percent of men said they lied to a male partner. Women also lied to other women (17 percent), but they lied to men as well (11 percent). Perhaps even more telling: People were more likely to let men in on secrets. “Men were more likely to be given preferential treatment,” says Kray. In several instances, buyer’s agents revealed their client’s true intentions to men saying, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but … ” This sort of privileged information was never offered to women.
Kray and her colleagues also asked students to rate the hypothetical buyers’ characteristics and found that participants perceived women as less competent than men (or a hypothetical person whose gender was not revealed). “When people perceive someone as low in competence and easily misled, they assume the person will not scrutinize lies, and that you can get away with [lying],” says Kray. Participants were asked to report how likely they thought other people would be to take advantage of a male or female buyer, and the participants correctly reported that people would lower their ethical standards when dealing with women. “People are aware of stereotypes, and use them to their advantage when they’re motivated to do so,” Kray says.
Kray suggests that it may help women in negotiations to signal their competence and confidence. She recommends showing up prepared, asking questions, and scrutinizing terms throughout the process. Her advice fits in with feminist campaigns that aim to empower women to take control of their careers: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recommendsleaning in to opportunities for success; media veterans Katty Kay and Claire Shipman instruct women to get ahead by being more confident.
But for all our leaning in and confidence-building, women’s attempts to reach the top can be stalled by factors we can’t control, like the gendered evaluations Kray and her colleagues uncovered in their study. Another study published last week echoes this finding: While white men are lauded for promoting diversity, women who do the same receive lower performance ratings and are perceived as less warm. Ultimately, encouraging women to act like men is a losing battle; the assertive moves that make men appear competent in the workplace backfire for women, who are perceived as cold and bossy instead.
The problem doesn’t lie in women’s actual skills—it lies in stereotypes about what we’re capable of. And until we chip away at those, telling women to try harder won’t get us fair treatment.
A variation in the cognitive abilities of the two sexes may be more about social development than gender stereotypes
The latest research suggests that living standards and access to education probably bear more responsibility for cognitive disparity between men and women than genes, nursery colours or the ability to catch a ball.
Previous studies have shown that male and female brains are wired differently. Last year Ragini Verma of the University of Pennsylvania used sophisticated imaging techniques to show variations between men and women in dominant connections in the cerebrum, the part of the brain that does the thinking. Dr Verma speculated this could help explain why women tend to have better memories, social adeptness and an improved ability to multitask.
Now Daniela Weber of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, and her colleagues, suggest why such changes come about and, importantly, how the differences can change. The group’s analysis, reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the cognitive performance of women—much more so than men—benefits from factors such as greater employment opportunities, increased economic prosperity and better health.
This study indicates that cognitive differences between men and women are not solely inherited. It suggests that, to a degree hitherto unacknowledged, they are learned from the roles a society expects males and females to perform, and that those differences can change as society changes. Modern times require modern thinking.
Whether women actually are more empathetic than men is debatable. It may be that society has expected such capacity from the principal child-carers for so long that it has become ingrained. The same goes for numeracy. Is science dominated by men because they are better at it, or because it was a career choice not widely open to women before the late 20th century?
This video is the talk Daniel Goleman, one of the first experts in Emotional Intelligence (EQ), gave in London, hosted by Action For Happiness last October 2013. It is full of interesting research findings and insights about how we can make our relationships stronger and better.
Here are the notes I took from this talk on the night as a summary of some of the key ideas contained in this talk…
Most of the news we get is for the brain’s amygdala – firing up our sense of threat
If you feel pressured you just don’t notice a lot – and we are living now as if in a constant stage of being under siege
A Harvard experiment found that our minds are most unfocused when we are commuting, at a computer, at work
Social emotional learning has now been going on in schools for over a decade. Studies have found that this learning brings anti-social behaviour down by 10% and pro-social behaviour up by 10%. And academic success up by more than 10%.
Another study found that Leaders in the top ten per cent of effectiveness compared to least effective ten% had 80-90% of competences that are Emotional Intelligence (EQ)-centred.
EQ is a model for Wellbeing including four essentials
Good work combines from doing what we’re excellent at, passionate about and matches our ethics
When we are in ‘flow’ our attention gets super-focused. This is optimal performance and it feels good
b) Self-Management – being in command of our emotions – cognitive control
Studies like the ‘marshmallow test’ find that kids who can’t manage their impulses are constantly distracted
A NZ study that looked at kids, and then revisited them again in their thirties found that cognitive control is a better predictor of success than IQ or wealth. And kids who didn’t have it ‘naturally’ at the start but learned it ended up doing just as well. Self-management can be taught and learned
Our more recent fore-brain is designed to be linked to our other older brains
Our brain is peppered with mirror neurons – a brain-to-brain link – that operates in our entire biology, and that keeps us on the same page as another person. When someone is in pain we have an instant sense of this ourselves
There are three ingredients to rapport:
- full mutual Attention
- non-verbal Synchronicity
- Flow – it feels good to connect fully
This is operating in every human interaction
d) Social Skill – good strong relationships and interactions
Our happiness increases in relation to the amount we care about others’ happiness
A new and troubling Berkley study is finding hat people pay less attention to people of lower status. And Freud talked about ‘the narcissism of minor differences’ that can start a spiral of inter-group hostility
But The Flynn Effect showed that it’s not the family you’re born into that has to predict who you become. We are always adapting and learning and evolving in response to the opportunities and circumstances we find ourselves in.
And every time they come up with a new IQ test they have to make the questions harder, because each successive generation gets smarter.
We should teach children these skills. Doing this systematically would increase our GNP.
Mindfulness is one of the best ways to increase focus, attention and emotional intelligence.
Mindfulness increases cognitive control by working on the muscle of attention. Every time you notice your mind wandering off and bring it back you are working this muscle.
A Mindfulness exercise for children (that can easily be adapted for us older people)
‘Breathing Buddies’ involves putting a toy animal on a child’s tummy. They breathe in 1-2-3 and out 1-2-3.
Mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn found that if people did their mindfulness exercises for 28 days they achieved lasting and substantial improvements in their physical, mental and emotional fitness and wellbeing.
Neuroscience has revealed that when we are upset, anxious or angry our Right prefrontal cortex is active. When we are calm and happy, this region is quiet, and the Left area is active. High activity in our far Left Brain is indicative of resilience; far to the Right Brain is indicative of depression.
Mindfulness also mobilises the flu shot antibodies – as well as switching up our immune system.
Guided Mindfulness audios by Goleman available at morethansound.net
The Dalai Lama recently offered 3 questions for decision making. Will it benefit…
- .just me or others?
- just my group or everyone?
- just for the present or for the future?
Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, the man that scientists call “the happiest man alive”, was involved in a study on his impact on the (2nd) most abrasive professor in a university.
They came together to debate. The professor begins in a highly agitated state. Ricard stays calm. The professor becomes calm, and eventually doesn’t even want the encounter to end.
People are transformed by positive encounters.
And we can all cause ripples of happier encounters.
But there is a bias toward unhappiness. If we understand more about how people can get along we might be able to promote that better
Our attention looks both in and out.
Internal (self) awareness is focus on self.
Empathy is focus on the other person.
We need to able to be equally and simultaneously good at both.
Passing on emotions is affected by three things:
- Power – for example if the leader is in a negative or positive mood the rest of the team catch it and their performance goes down or up
- Stableness – like Ricard showed the professor.
Can you be happy for no reason?
Can you cultivate a feeling of happiness independent of external circumstances?
There is a danger of mistaking espoused happiness for enacted happiness
We need to be authentically happy
Daniel Goleman’s wife’s books: Tara Bennett Goleman (mindfulness and cognitive therapy expert)
Technology and Focus
The new social norm is to ignore the person you’re with and look at a screen.
We have to get better at focusing. We have to learn cognitive control. Technology is insidiously stealing more and more of our attention. Mind wandering tends to concentrate on problems. The extent to which we can turn it off and focus on better things, the better off we will be.
But the research on technology is showing good and bad things: for example, games increase vigilance but also a negative intention bias. New games are now being designed to improve attention.
Social comparison is quite automatic in the brain. When you’re feeling compassion – loving kindness – your positivity fires up.
To overcome negative comparison:
- Compare down
- Concentrate on the Positive
- And be Compassionate
How do you study unhappiness without becoming miserable?
Mindfulness should go hand in hand with compassion and noticing and caring about what is happening in the world and if we can do something about it.
Our biggest source of unhappiness is most usually our own mind