Emotional Intelligence

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anything

Below The Surface

I discovered this very simple model of conversations a couple of months ago, and it’s proved useful in debugging some tricky interactions that have come up in coaching, so I thought I’d share it more widely.  It’s a simplified version of a model described in Fred Kofman’s Conscious Business (and h/t Gordon for pointing it out).

When we’re talking about anything, there is an “It” – the ostensible subject of the conversation:   the bug that needs fixing, or the code that needs writing, or the decision that needs making.  The “It” is usually fairly objective and pretty well described.  That’s what we think we’re talking about:

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Open vs Closed Conversations: The Magical Power of Asking “What?”

Two views of the same, very simple, conversation:

Conversation One

Team lead: we missed the deadline on Monday night.

Boss: why? 

Team lead (defensive): we had some issues with the offshore team

Boss: are they fixed now?

Team lead (defensive): almost

Boss: almost?  why aren’t they fixed today?

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The Facebook Unconscious Bias Course is Outstanding And You Should Watch It. Here’s Why.

A week or so ago, Facebook put their unconscious bias course online (announcement blog post here).

The course is terrific.  Here are a few reasons why (and, no, I’ve never worked at Facebook, or have any particular view about the FB culture):

  • “One important thing… is that we all have bias.  It’s just part of the human condition”.  Lori Goler in the introduction.

This is a tremendously important, and fairly courageous, statement.  It cuts the foundation out from one of the biggest reasons humans get themselves into trouble: the notion that “I am right”.

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Emotional Bias: Your Brain Is Not In Control (And What To Do About It)

A (Short) Story

A long time ago, I had a meeting with my boss and the chief architect of the project we were working on.  I was the project manager, and the subject of the meeting was how to finalize some decisions that had been up in the air for a while (too long, in my opinion, of course).

The meeting did not go well.  I was furious with my colleague and showed it (and said it).  Decisions weren’t made.  The architect stormed out.

As I got up to leave, my boss said: “I knew you were going to do that.  I could tell, the moment you sat down”.

At the time, I was shocked.  What had he seen?   Was I that obvious?   I thought I had gone into the meeting with the simple notion that we should make some decisions quickly.   Apparently, things were a bit more complicated.

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