In the age of rapid technological advancements and automation driven by AI, emotional intelligence, or EQ, is an indispensable asset for leaders. While AI excels at processing data, recognizing patterns and automating tasks, it needs to improve in empathy, nuanced contextual understanding, adaptability in emotional situations and ethical decision-making guided by human emotion and values. (Ever try to talk to Siri when you’re frustrated? Her suggestions don’t tend to inspire.) Emotional intelligence affords leaders an invaluable edge in the AI era.
Below are communication dont’s and do’s to help leaders cultivate better emotional intelligence and achieve success.
Don’t start your feedback with shaming “why” questions.
- “Why did you do that?”
- “Why can’t you fix that?”
- “Why aren’t you working harder?”
Shame doesn’t foster loyalty; indeed, it can be paralyzing.
The blow off
Don’t offer quick reassurances.
- “Don’t worry about that.”
- “It’s not a big deal.”
- “It’ll be fine.”
- “The glass is half full.”
- “You poor thing; I know exactly how you feel.”
The last example is the worst. Suggesting you understand someone’s perspective, especially someone with less power and privilege than you, can damage your leadership role.
Don’t jump in and start offering advice right away.
- “You need to …”
- “Well, if you would just …”
- “You should …”
Have you ever been told, “Just go do X. That will fix it!”? If you have, you may recall it didn’t inspire you to do X; it probably made you feel defensive.
These tips to foster loyalty and encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas.
Use brief, positive prompts to keep the conversation going and show you are listening. For example, “umm-hmm,” “Oh?” “Then?” “And?” It sounds simple, but so many don’t do it.
Rephrase what you heard to ensure it’s understood and to show you are listening. Do not, however, parrot what the person said precisely. Instead, summarize what you think the person said. This helps combine the facts and pieces of a problem to check for understanding and allows your employees to hear what you think they are saying. For example, “Let’s see if I’m clear about this …” “It sounds to me as if …” This empowers the person you’re talking to because they feel heard and helps them clarify if you need to listen to the story correctly from their perspective.
Putting feelings into words, or emotional labeling, often helps a person understand their feelings, which can increase objectivity. To help the person begin, use “door openers.” For example, “From what I’m hearing, it feels like you’re feeling frustrated/worried/anxious …” Then, ask if you’re on the right track. Do not, however, assume that you are. The point is to check in, not to tell someone how they feel.
Ask questions to draw the person out and get more profound and meaningful information. For example, “What do you think would happen if you … ?” or “Have you thought about how you might have created a different outcome?” Let the person draw conclusions; that’s always more powerful than spoon-feeding answers.
When it’s time to give feedback, here are some redirecting/conversation techniques that will empower you to advise without causing the person with whom you’re speaking to get defensive.
- “Let’s talk about solutions.”
- “May I suggest something?”
- “Have you thought of trying _____?”
- “I have thoughts on how I can help if you’d like some support.”
- “I’m wondering if …”
This final point is more of a global one, but commit to learning about body language, voice and verbal cues. The first section of my book, “A Woman’s Guide To Claiming Space,” is dedicated to this subject, and there are plenty of videos online that can help you learn to identify microbehaviors and forge connections using only your body. If you want to excel and have fun doing it, take an acting class in the Meisner technique. It will turbo-boost your emotional intelligence in ways you never thought possible.
By embracing these tips and incorporating them into your daily leadership practices, you will enhance your effectiveness and inspire and empower your team to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the AI era. Emotional intelligence is the key that unlocks success and resilience. Leaders prioritizing it will better position themselves to succeed and lead in our rapidly changing world.
After enduring traumatic kidnappings as a child and surviving a life-altering bicycle accident as an adult, Eliza VanCort has become a #1 bestselling author, renowned speaker, top podcaster and sought-after consultant. Eliza transforms her audience’s lives using her academic expertise and decades as an acting instructor. She hosts the “Claim Your Space” podcast and her book, A Woman’s Guide to Claiming Space: Stand Tall. Raise Your Voice. Be Heard was named to Maria Shriver’s book of the week.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.