My 14-year-old son can’t get enough of Snapchat. Through my complete frustration at what this is doing to his developing emotional intelligence, it came to me that if we each had a 24-hour story of how we looked to the world, we might want to Snap out of it and change how we communicate.
Each time I get up in front of an audience to speak or train, I read a host of messages from the participants. Most of the audience members are busy making a first impression of me; i.e., Does she know our business? Is she a corporate puppet? Is she just old and going to talk at us? How much education? And the list goes on. From here, they take a position for our time together.
Some rule me out and sit with a frown and a slumped posture for the duration. Others have mixed reviews and are willing to listen a little and save the final judgement for later. And finally, there are the employees (if a business) or members (if an organization) that get it. These are the ones that look me in the eye, share an appropriate smile now and then, participate with energy, and take notes mentally to capture the nuggets and thoughts that they may apply to their work and life. This does not mean that they think I hit a home run and will change their lives forever; it means that they have a high level of emotional intelligence and understand how to effectively communicate with others.
I try to the best of my ability to make sure I give those with frowns, slumped shoulders, and negative expressions, the benefit of the doubt. We all have days when we don’t feel good and aren’t able to manage all that life is throwing our way. I get that. For the most part, though, I could make a list for my clients of who should and should not move up in the organization after I observe their employees and members for fifteen minutes.
Nobody wants to promote individuals who do not put their best Story forward each time they interact with others. Businesses and Organizations need to recognize the level of emotional intelligence in their employees. Are they self-aware and able to manage their emotions? And do they have empathy for others and are they able to build relationships?
These are skills that need to start at the top and permeate the culture. Next time you have your team in an auditorium, hotel conference room, or corporate classroom, look up from your phone and take note of the emotional intelligence and the Story they tell to everyone they meet.