Have you ever had the experience of leaving a situation where you felt you had really displayed good leadership skills by actively listening, giving the other person plenty of opportunity to voice their opinion and you believe you made them feel valued, only to find out later on that you apparently did the complete opposite? Sometimes we get wrapped up in situations where you are unaware of the negative impact you had on the other person. And by then it’s too late. We tend to only see our good intentions when faced with these difficult moments. And not the negative impact we actually had on this person.
For example, I have a personal memory of the times when my Mom used to be a little aggressive to say the least, when I would leave my parents’ house after a holiday. She would never let me leave without a bunch of food, household stuff and even the kitchen sink (maybe not the sink but you get what I’m saying). I thought my mother was being over controlling and didn’t think I could take care of myself. I remember getting really angry and thinking, “come on Mom, I’m almost 30 years old and you still think I need your help?” Every single time I left Mom and Dad’s house after a holiday dinner, we would battle about what’s being sent back and it would change the whole dynamics of the holiday that just passed. It didn’t matter how much fun we had, it always turned into a mother and son bickering session. I remember leaving there so frustrated and vowing never to return until she let me go my own terms. I tried several times to call her after I arrived home and settled down to attempted explaining AGAIN from my side of the situation without ever going to her side. It seemed like an endless cycle. It wasn’t until I really understood the concept of going to the other person’s side of the bridge that it clicked. I was able to have a discussion with her and found out that she only had good intentions, a mother helping her child. By no means did she think I wasn’t responsible or mature enough to care for myself. She needed to be needed and I wasn’t hearing that. We’ve had some really good conversations since I’ve started listening from her side of the bridge. We have come to an understanding that meets both of our needs and we finally saw the negative impact. I can finally leave there without renting a U-Haul and my mother still is able to send stuff home with me, it’s just not the kitchen sink anymore.
This is another example of how emotional intelligence isn’t just a “technique” for improving your leadership skills at work. It can actually help improve your personal life. But if you did start practicing these skills daily, imagine how much it would improve you, your leadership skills, and your organization. If you are unaware of the actual issue or underlying message at hand it can strain your working relationships and you and your team will not be operating at your maximum potential. Ask your Mom!