Innovators and R&D folks in particular, are valued most highly for their technical skills. They aren't necessarily known for their emotional intelligence, which includes skills such as listening, empathy, and self-awareness, among others. Yet, this E.Q. (as it's called), can be highly important to one's ability to succeed, especially in matrixed organizations.
This week, we discuss emotional intelligence and how we can deal effectively with hot button pushing. We all know when someone has pressed our hot button. When this happens to me, I know what I need to do: bite my tongue and consider the situation thoughtfully before reacting. However, if I don't catch myself first, I may respond quickly, reflexively and without forethought. It's an ongoing tension.
Recently, a business associate pressed my hot button. He had committed to deliver certain information to me that week. The week ended and he hadn't notified me. I was miffed by this and contacted him. I reminded him about the missed commitment. He apologized and explained the reason ("I decided to catch a bit of vacation. The info will push into next week"). I was somewhat annoyed by this, but accepted his apology. However, by close of business on Wednesday the following week I still hadn't heard from him, so I messaged him and he replied ("Apologies. I must have come down with something over the weekend."). Upon receiving this response, I felt myself start to become angry as I was skeptical about his excuse as explanation for why he had not contacted me.
When dealing with hot button situations like the one I just described, we need to be mindful of what leadership guru Stephen Covey has referred to as "the space between stimulus and response". We should ask ourselves 2 important questions before we respond:
Do I truly understand the other's intent (or have I made an incorrect assumption)?
Will what I say/do in response make the situation better or worse?
In the example above, the other person's behavior frustrated me. However, I still needed the information he could provide. So, it made sense for me to seek to understand his actions and to ensure that he knew my frustration with his repeated lack of communication so he could decide whether or not to act differently go forward.
Net, as an element of our emotional intelligence, it is important to know what sets us off (and why) and to dedicate ourselves to act sensibly versus impulsively to our emotional triggers. By creating space between stimulus and response, we can give ourselves necessary latitude to choose the most sensible courses of action.
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.