EQ in the Workplace

Thinking Outloud: Musings and reflections from our adventures in succession and leadership coaching.

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EQ in the Workplace

The odds of finding an evening of improv at a Buddhist monastery is not very likely. Although they are living in the moment, most of the working world is not capable of being in the moment 24/7. So for us Workaday Joes, it becomes clear that we recognize and choose the moments when working to make ourselves fully present. This is what we call Relevant EQ. What is Relevant EQ and how does this help us be more creative together?

Our workplaces are not always filled with people of our choosing, for the most part we are placed in a pool of random individuals as if we were a social experiment. In creative work environments for example where one is expected to bring a creative voice to the table, it is critical to stay in the moment – be present to give way to an ensemble resulting in a fulfilling, productive and a successful outcome.

There are occasions that call for different levels of just being present and then those other times of being mindful or fully present. Here are some ways to look at these moments;
  • Staying present in discussion; (not getting ahead with what you want to say)
  • Making time for reflection;
  • Making time for planning;
  • Making separate time for creation and innovation
We’re not monks, so staying in the moment takes practice and some training. It is choosing to be deliberately mindful. As we concentrate all our energies on the here and now, without judgement, we contribute to each member of our team to unleash their best material. Being in the Now means for each person to listen and not get ahead, not get stuck in your own ideas, be willing to give up your position, stay present and do not judge. In that moment creativity, the brilliant resolve, creates team success.

Every workplace is different, however there are two activities that will require the model of being in the moment. The first activity is the one-on-one meeting, and the other is group or team meetings. Each interaction embraces different dynamics, and yet mindfulness is at the core of both.

In the one-on-one meetings:
  • Focus on the person in front of you. Yes, the actual live person - not on your phone or tablet;
  • Listen intently to what’s being said, and what’s not being said. Actors portray so much of their character’s intensity in what is not said. People communicate with every nuance by a physical signal.
  • Respect your colleague, listening is a form of mutual respect;
  • Remain curious and inquire, rather than jumping to conclusions before the dialogue is concluded;
  • Be willing to share your truth, it may be a shared truth.

In groups:
The dynamic is more challenging with more people, which is why it’s critical to stay one hundred percent engaged, listen carefully and remain respectful. Our Creative Agility workshops provide training in group engagement. We usually begin with an exercise called Mirror 3-Ways, which provides a fun and easy way of learning the basics of Give and Take, or the concept of “Yes, and”. Beginning with one-on-one teams mirroring each other, we then move into groups of three, and gradually expand into one large group, all moving together, with no designated leader. Learning how to give focus to another person, receive & accept the focus, and then giving it away again is a very complex skillset when mixed with the complexities of dialogue. By reducing the activity to a pure physical assignment, it becomes easier to let go of controlling ideas and surrender to the flow of the moment.

The military has a saying that essentially states that we’re as strong as our weakest man or woman. In the case of a team, that brings the onus on the entire team, not on the individual. This is like a theatrical performance when a show just sucks. It is typically the result of the cast not working together as an ensemble. More than likely when a performance does not work, it is when the give and take is out of balance. Give and take boils down to respect, being able to give up control, listen, trust each other, and stay in the moment.

The workplace can be a place where we can be an ensemble, working in a creative flow. And our interactions go more smoothly when we remember to just take a moment to be in the moment.


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