By Paula Quinsee, Relationship expert, speaker and author
I hear many people and companies say that soft skills training is a warm and fuzzy exercise. I believe in most cases this is a lack of knowledge or egos getting in the way of acknowledging the key role and benefits that these skills play in both individual and organizational growth.
There is enough research available to prove the benefits of increased emotional intelligence for both individuals and organizations. Personal development is essential for organizational transformation, if you want your employees to be engaged, creative and innovative in order to increase your bottom line.
“The rules of work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also how well we handle ourselves and others.” – Daniel Goleman
Most people are unaware of the impact they are having on others, let alone how they are allowing situations and others to influence them. They usually only realize this when a situation has spiraled out of control and emotions are running high. I’ve been there myself, experienced the impact thereof and having worked through the process I know the benefits of personal mastery.
Some of the most interesting lessons I've learnt about relationships in the corporate world were when I worked at organizations such as Standard Bank, Nedbank and KFC for over 16yrs. It was here that I was exposed to different leadership and management styles and environments, where employees thrived and where they didn’t, and what this did to the organization and everyone in it. If an organization has a high staff turnover in a department, then the management style or a particular individual is disrupting the team dynamics. If an organization has a high staff turnover as a whole, then the corporate culture and leadership needs to be assessed.
Our entire world revolves around relationships from the minute we are conceived to the day we die. Healthy, functional relationships are important to our development and survival. Relationships give us our biggest growth edge based on what we are putting out there and what we are attracting back into our lives, so we constantly need to be aware of where we are at in our heads (our thoughts, attitude) and where we are at in our bodies (our emotional triggers and drivers).
When we are in a good space and have a healthy connection in our relationships, we feel good about ourselves, are more flexible - we can adapt to change better, communicate better and are willing to find solutions that benefit everyone. When we are disconnected in our relationship, a power struggle begins playing out with each person trying to get their needs met and this can lead to toxic behaviour and ultimately the breakdown of the relationship.
We don’t realize it but there is very little difference between work and personal relationships – the basic principles are the same.
The foundation for our emotional intelligence is formed in our childhood – this is where we are taught to communicate, manage conflict, express ourselves, trust, show affection and be vulnerable, which is reinforced throughout our development years into adulthood. Corporate relationships are very similar to our personal relationships. Just as children mimic their parents behavior, so too do employees mimic the leadership behavior in the organization. Parents set the tone by which the family functions and thrives whilst leaders set the tone for the corporate culture, values, vision and mission. So yes, the basic principles are the same, they key difference being that our personal relationships are more emotionally charged as they are driven by romantic love, whilst in the workplace we are driven by the love we feel for the organization we work for, our fellow colleagues and being valued for the contribution we are making (e.g. rewards and recognition).
Some of the key tools I use when I work with individuals and organizations consists of understanding what a healthy relationship looks like - self-awareness levels, emotional intelligence insights, communication and listening skills, relationship dynamics, emotional triggers and drivers, conflict management tools, leadership and mentorship traits, problem solving, and goal setting behaviours, to mention a few.
As author of Embracing Conflict, I believe we should embrace conflict, as conflict is growth trying to happen. Yet we resist it because it feels uncomfortable and emotionally vulnerable, so we avoid it. If we are able to take the emotion out of the situation and look at the feedback we are getting, we can learn so much from it and use these insights to grow and develop ourselves to ultimately become a better person, partner and leader. 90% of problems in relationships (personal and work) is due to the lack of communication – what is not being said or what is not being heard. Often this is because we are afraid to be honest with what we’re thinking, feeling, needing or wanting and because we usually listen to respond.
Whether we like it or not we take home to work and work to home, there is no separating the two, they are very much integrated and impact our performance in both areas of our lives. If we are having a tough time at home (e.g. going through a divorce) we will not be able to focus and give of our best, and if we are under pressure at work, it will affect our family and loved ones. We will also use similar behaviors in both areas of our lives (e.g. conflict management), if we avoid conflict in our personal lives we will probably do the same in our work relationships.
In fact business partnerships are like a marriage. In both instances there is a mutual interest to achieve a mutual, beneficial outcome for all parties concerned. It is important when entering a partnership (business or marriage) that there are very clear boundaries as to what is expected from each person, what the relationship deal breakers are and the vision everyone is working towards. Look to instill values that everyone operates by such as treating each other with respect, being honest about what’s working and what’s not working, manage conflict in a mature manner and finding solutions and outcomes that is win-win for all involved remembering that communication is key every day in everything you do.
Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of the self-help guide Embracing Conflict. Paula is also a consultant to the TV show, Married at First Sight SA. She works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both personal and professional arenas by focusing on personal growth and development. Go to www.paulaquinsee.com for more information.
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