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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting. With me is my co-host and dear friend JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm.
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Our topic today is emotional intelligence, or EQ. I’m excited about this topic because I believe emotional intelligence is an area where we all need to continue to skill build every day of our life if we stand a chance of creating and maintaining JoyPowered® workspaces. So what is EQ? The best description I’ve ever heard of this is the degree to which you recognize and manage your own emotions and understand others’ emotions and can relate to them.
Yeah, and Susan, I think one of the key words you said in there is that we can continue to skill build, it’s not a personality assessment, or how we manage our emotions is something that we can learn and develop and we can be better at. It’s not an excuse to just say, “I’m not good at that.” Right? It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and be better.
That’s great point. I know people will say, you know, I’m really good at EQ. And then I often wonder, how good are you if you’re going around telling people you’re good at it? But then again, there are a lot of people who feel like they’re not good at it. And you know what, I hope this episode today helps people, no matter where you are on that continuum of being good or not good at it. Let’s get better at it, because it’s how we really, I think, can win the day in rapport building, relationship building, and everything that’s probably important in the world of work.
Guest today is Linda Comerford, someone we’ve had on a previous podcast entitled “Business Communications.” That particular episode is one of our most popular ones that we received a lot of good listener feedback on. Linda, we’re so glad that you’re back. Linda Comerford founded Comerford Consulting in 1989 and since then has been providing lively workshops specializing in communication skills, including writing, written grammar, presentation skills, oral grammar, and customer service. Over the last few years, Linda’s practice has grown to include emotional intelligence, as her clients began asking her to teach their employees to communicate with kindness and caring.
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Yes. Welcome back.
Linda, you’ve spent decades providing training on communication skills, including writing, grammar, presentations, and customer service. What motivated you to become a trainer and coach on emotional intelligence?
Well, that’s a story that I will give you an abbreviated version of. I have a client who came to me and said, Linda, do you do emotional intelligence training? And I said, no, but I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I saw Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil mention it years, decades ago, and I said, I’d be glad to investigate it for you. They said great, and I thought I was launched. Reached out of course, as we all do, to colleagues and said, what do you recommend? And they recommended this book that was supposed to be the end all and be all of emotional intelligence, four quadrants, etc. So I bought it… and understand the training they wanted me to do was for a group that was known to be a little bit finicky to manage. So I read the book and I was all set. And I went to my test person, my engineer husband, and said, Tim, here’s what I’m going to do for this class. Isn’t it marvelous? And I started. Five minutes into my introduction and my unemotional, very laid back husband said, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Five stops. I’ve never heard him say that before. And I said, what? He said, that’s terrible. He said, if I were in your class, and you started like that, I get up and I’d walk out of the room. I’d feel like, you kidding me? Yeah.
Yeah, it was, and I needed it from him, because he’s gonna love me anyway. Those people in the class would’ve just, you know, walked out. So there I was, back to the drawing board. So again, I reached out to other people and found this amazing version developed by a company called Multi-Health Systems, and it’s called EQ-i 2.0. And the beautiful part of that is, it contains not just four aspects of emotional intelligence, but 15. And of those 15, yeah, the one I was most excited about, the two I was most excited about, it includes tips on decision making and problem solving. Where do you find that in emotional intelligence? And stress management? Not that any of us need help in stress management… but then I jumped on board, got certified, created a course, and the rest is history. I’ve been doing it non-stop ever since. It’s life changing.
Fantastic. And Linda, many people have misconceptions about emotional intelligence. Can you explain what it is and what it isn’t?
Yes, JoDee. And that ties in perfectly with with the punitive impression that my husband got of the other version that’s out there. And as a matter of fact, when I started telling friends I was getting certified in emotional intelligence, they physically backed away from me and said, I’m fine! Don’t, you know, I turned into Dr. Phyllis, they were scared of me, you’re going to psychoanalyze me. No, it doesn’t… Yeah, it doesn’t involve psychoanalysis, nor do we talk about about things that make us cry and then put our arms around our shoulders, go around the campfire and sing Kumbaya at the end of a workshop. It’s not like that at all. What I love about this program, you take an assessment, that’s, that’s an option to this program. And you find out not how good or bad you are, let’s say at problem solving, or stress management, or interpersonal communications, or self regard, or self understanding. It has nothing to do with how good or bad you are at it, how right or wrong you do it. It’s simply an assessment of how frequently you choose to use those 15 skills. Now, most people in my classes, they get a low score saying they haven’t been using a particular skill a lot. Their goal is to increase their use of that skill. But that’s not always the way it works. Let’s say you scored super high on assertiveness. Well, you know, that could move you up into being seen as actually aggressive, so you may want to dial your super high assertiveness score down into the middle range. So there are different ways you can raise, lower, and the key to this is balance your 15 skills. It makes you feel better about yourself, it makes you interact better with other people, and life’s just more joyful and JoyPowered® all around, JoDee.
Hey, I love that. So Linda, I’d love to hear how the program works maybe in a little more detail, I understand from you that it has three aspects to it. Can you tell us more about those aspects?
There are three aspects to it. One of those aspects includes training workshops. Second aspect includes that assessment that I told you about, where you take the assessment, and then you get together with me and I explain what your results mean. Remember, not good or bad, right or wrong, just how you use the skills. And the trifecta of success is when you combine the assessment with a group training, and then you also go do some one-on-one coaching for me. Even just an hour can work miracles, because what we’re doing with the training, assessments, and the coaching is we’re looking at the 15 skills of emotional intelligence, which are broken up into five composites. Those composites include, first of all, self perception, how much you know about yourself. That’s fundamental. Then you go into self expression. Self expression is how you come across to others. A lot of times we’re not even aware of that. Then we get into interpersonal relationships. That’s how we interact with others. Understand the difference: self expression is how we come across to others, interpersonal interacting with others. Then we get into decision making and problem solving, which is pretty much self-explanatory, except emotions are factored into it. And finally, my favorite one is stress management and how we deal with the stresses that come along day after day. So in a workshop, for example, I would explain the five composites and then we’d pick – under each composite there are three skills hence, three times five is 15. I’m not an accountant, but I can do that. There are, as I said, 15 skills, three in each composite, and we take a snapshot of one skill out of each of the five composites. And then people are launched either to go further with more training, take the assessment, do coaching… the possibilities, the combinations of the way this can work for you are endless. That’s what I love about it. It’s so flexible.
Linda, you mentioned earlier that this has been life changing for you. Can you share some examples of how this program has made a difference in either your life, or maybe some of your clients, or other people you know?
Well, I have anecdotal evidence from clients that… right, you know, a lot of it is confidential. So I guess I may as well just let you know how this affected me, because it affected me so deeply that it really reaffirmed that not only was I learning how to get trained in this for that one client, which has since thankfully multiplied into lots of other clients, but it also helped me when I got certified. And this, I might add, is the first time I’ve ever had to get certified to teach a program in my career. I’ve always done my own writing and grammar and presentation skills programs, put those together myself. I had to take the assessment. So I took it, and then my coach said to me, first thing, before we went over the results… and the results, I might digress just a moment, are kind of startling. When you take the assessment, the lowest score you can get is a 70, the highest score you can get is 130. And I deal with a lot of people who will call me after they taken the assessments, say, whoa, whoa, I feel like a failure. Something’s wrong with this assessment. I say, what’s wrong? And they’ll say, you don’t understand. I’ve got a master’s degree, straight A’s in every class I ever took. I should have gotten 130 on everything, and I didn’t. What’s wrong with me? Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. If you were 130, meaning you used all 15 of these skills 100% of the time, every day, you would be Dr. Phil or Dr. Phyllis. You couldn’t function. It has to be, it has to be used in a balance. So the first thing my coach asked me after we were, I took the assessment, she said, was there something going on that was on your mind that may have affected your answers to the assessment? And I had just spent some time with a relative of mine, with whom for years, I’ve been having conflict. And I said, well, actually, yes, there is something going on, and I told her about that relationship. And she said, okay, tell me more about it. So I got into it, and it didn’t take us long to realize, as I said, the self perception composite is key to the foundational skills, all the ones that follow. Those three skills are self regard, how you view yourself, self awareness, what you know about yourself, and then self actualization, your goals. So it didn’t take me long to realize my self regard had been affected by this person for years in ways that I wasn’t even aware of. I gave my power – any of us can have a high self regard. I gave my power away to that person. I had been doing it for years. Just when I’d interact with that person, and that person would snap at me, I don’t deal well with confrontations, I would just wilt. And I am assertive, but I realized I didn’t have – and that’s one of the 15 skills – I didn’t have enough assertiveness, because of the overpowering nature of this individual, to come back at him. So I would just retreat. That would make me feel bad about myself. And oh, ladies, I wrote at least a Gone with the Wind length screenplay in my head of what I should have said, versus… It was just awful, and it had been affecting me for so long. When I realized… I hear that, that, that sigh of relief that you just did is exactly how I felt. And I’ve learned, guess what ladies? Never again will I give my power – and any gentlemen who might be listening as well – I’ll never give my power away to anybody again. So my self regard is now at a healthy level. And that affects, as you can imagine, not just my relationship with that person whom, if you want the end of the…
I did finally have a chance to speak with that person and say, okay, look, I know you’re not a big… my big strategy is, let’s talk it out if we have issues. This person never wanted to do that. I said, you know, I know you’re not a big fan of that, but the time has come, this has gone on too long. I would like to talk about our relationship. Are you okay with that? And that person said, yes. Well, that wasn’t big door opening, go ahead, Linda. But I opened that door and walked through anyway. We had a fabulous conversation. I subdued my my typical personality. I was very calm. I didn’t even know myself. Cool, calm, and collected as I spoke with them. We went back and forth about the relationship, and I’m not kidding you, at the end… this is this is a family member. At the end of that conversation, I could feel both of us reaching a hand up to seal it with a handshake, and I thought, this is ridiculous. It’s not a business meeting. But it felt like, like that kind of thing. And we’ve been really good ever since. Is he different? Maybe a little bit. But more I’m different in my reactions, because you cannot control the things that happen in your life. And I’m sure every one of you out there listening can have tons of stories, especially with what’s been going on recently, about how true that is. You can’t control what happens to you. But by golly, you always have the power to control your reaction to it and plan a strategy that helps you going forward with those situations.
Great example. Thanks for sharing that, Linda.
You’re welcome. You are welcome. Okay, ladies, so I’ve been talking about 15 skills, and the way those skills are presented is in this really beautifully colorful wheel with the five composites in the 15 skills, which you both have in front of you. Would you like to pick one of the skills that’s most interesting to you, Susan and JoDee, and I’ll just give you a few little tips about it?
Linda, I gotta tell you, I want to learn more about emotional expression.
Susan, I’m glad you asked about emotional self expression, because that is key to how we come across to others. And I believe some people in your audience might be aware of a study on this exact subject done by a gentleman named Dr. Moravian, where he studied what percentage of the impact of your interpersonal communication comes from the way you use your body, your body language, your tone of voice, and then the words you actually choose to use. And the statistics are fascinating. 55% comes from what you do with your body, 38% comes from your tone of voice, that leaves only 7% of the impact of your communication coming from the words you choose to use. And we struggle so hard to find just those right words, and we don’t even realize that 93% comes from the package of what we do with our bodies and our tones of our voice rather than our words. And you might be interested in how those numbers change when we’re communicating just over the phone. A lot of people now are communicating through platforms, like, like Zoom or WebEx or something like that. And here’s how the statistics change in those things, situations. In those situations, 4% of your impact comes from your body language. And you may be saying, well, if I can’t see you, what kind of body language is that? Well, we can hear you typing on a keyboard, for example, when you’re supposed to be listening, or chewing gum, you know, or whatever goes on in the background. 4% of that. 10% comes from the words you choose to use. So it’s a little bit higher than in person communication, but do the math, that leaves 86% of the impact of your communication, how you come across to others, coming from your tone of voice over the phone, or when you’re doing a virtual meeting, let’s say, and you can actually see the person you’re interacting with.
Yeah. How about that? So I think those statistics are, are just fascinating regarding the emotional interpersonal communication. So when you add in those stark numbers, and you combine the fact that we are emotional human beings, and our emotions can still affect what we do with our body, our tone of voice, and our words, a lot of times we aren’t even aware of how we come across to others. Sometime, just record your voice when you’re talking. And I know, like, just one quick example and then I’ll ask JoDee about her skill. My husband, as I said, is a rather low key engineer. I’m a, you know, I’m from New York City, and I get all excited and you know, etc. I’m loud and boisterous and all that. So when Tim would come home from work and have an issue, he’d, you know, I’d say, what’s wrong? Do you have a problem? He’d share it, and I’d get all mad at the person who, who wasn’t kind to him that day, or who gave him a hard time or whatever, and I’d start really ranting and raving about it. He said, now you’re yelling at me, too! I’m not yelling at you, I’m supporting you! I don’t feel supported, you’re yelling at me. I had no idea how I was coming across to others. So that’s, that’s the kind of thing that I suggest that when the emotions get involved, especially being more aware of that emotional self expression, and the ways you choose to come across to others.
You’re welcome. I love talking fascinating stuff. JoDee?
Well, Linda, the one that I was intrigued about is empathy, and I’m intrigued with that because I know on my Clifton StrengthsFinder list of 34 themes that empathy is very low for me, that it’s not a natural strength of mine. But I do feel like I’ve learned some skills around it that maybe I wouldn’t be zero on the EQ assessment.
Remember, the lowest score is 70. So you got at least a 70. Empathy is a skill, JoDee, it’s not a matter of if you have it or not. It’s how often you choose to use it. Again, as I said earlier, you have full control over that. And I will tell everybody, this was surprising to me when I got certified, out of the 15 skills, and you can get into the 34 strengths as well. What researchers have found to be the number one indicator of success in the business world, and it might even go into our personal lives as well, is your ability to be empathetic. And I meet a lot of people who say, empathy, I don’t have the time. I don’t have the energy. I don’t agree with you, I don’t understand these people who are all upset and wrapped around the axle. And I’m supposed to get all sympathetic and put my arm around them and you know, feel and wrapped up and involved in their, in their problems, their soap opera, I have no interest in doing that. Well, first of all, you don’t have to agree with someone to be empathetic with them. You just try to give them the opportunity to share where they’re coming from. And you could think, that would be the most ridiculous reaction you could imagine anybody having toward a situation like that, and you control your body language, so you don’t show it in your facial expressions. You’re thinking, you idiot. But just some way that so you can get on the same page and share that you just understand, don’t have to agree with, you just understand where that other person is coming from. That gives you a common ground to then move on. And let me tell you about a class I was teaching with all engineers, and we went around the room and they had all taken the assessment. And I do an exercise where I have them, out of their 15 skills, share their highest high, what three skills they tend to use the most. And they’re all, yay, look at me, aren’t I wonderful? And we applaud those, even though at some point, as I said, they could be too high, and they have to bring them down. But at that point, we’re all celebratory, then we get into their lowest lows. And as you can imagine, a lot of these engineers scored about a 70, the lowest they could, in empathy. And at that point, they were like, and you know what, Linda, don’t try to fix me, I am fine with that. I am very happy the way I am with this. I’m a manager, I’m running my teams, I’m successful, I got promoted, this life is good. And I said, okay, I’m not here to fix you, but I just want you to consider one thing. You’re happy with your lack of empathy. But think about the members of your team. How do you think they’re relating to your lack of empathy? Or might even bring this to the homefront with the, you know – they were all married at that point – you know, with your wives. And then I just left it there and we moved on, got through the, through the training. And then I had one-on-one coaching with them a couple weeks later and I had, I’d say about five of them are what I would call the toughest nuts to crack with empathy. So I said, I was asking, how you doing? And they said, okay, all five of them said, first thing I want to tell you, remember how I came across when we talked about empathy? And I said, oh, yeah, I remember you weren’t very empathetic to the topic. And they said, right, right, right. And they said, we changed. All five of us. We decide… we started at home with our wives. We just started reacting to them, just trying to see where they were coming from. Even though the men are from Mars, women are from Venus. They said it was a struggle, but they said, you know, we’re happier at home now. Our marriage is better. And we’re applying it to the people at work, and they said, you know, some of our… the people we manage require more empathy than others, so we’re able to, to calibrate that and almost, like, engineer our empathy with people, and it’s working. Biggest success story I can share. So JoDee, if those five hardwired guys could do it, you’re way ahead of the game.
That’s fantastic, really fantastic.
And I’m sure their wives and their colleagues and their employees appreciate it.
Yeah. And those are just two examples of what goes on in my classes. So as you introduced me, Susan, I’ve taught writing, I’ve taught grammar, I’ve taught these subjects that aren’t life changing to me. They’re skills that people can benefit from, but they’re out there. Emotional intelligence is inside. And I love knowing the feedback that I can help so many people. Every class I do, I almost feel like a fraud, too, doing them, because I get something that helps my emotional intelligence out of every class. I do. So that’s it about emotional intelligence.
That’s awesome. Linda, how can our listeners contact you if they have more questions or if they’re interested in engaging you?
They can reach me at Comerford Consulting through, my phone number is 317.696.4444, or they can email me at Linda at comerfordconsulting.com, and that is C-O, M as in Mary, E-R, F-O-R-D like the car, dot com. So that’s how you can reach me. I’d love to talk with you if you have any questions about it and just, as you can tell, it’s a fascinating topic overall.
Well, thank you so much for joining us!
It was very fun. Thank you so much.
It’s been fun for me and my pleasure. Thank you for having me. Have a great rest of your day.
Okay, we’re gonna go on, then, to the listener question.
This question came in during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, yet is helpful anytime you face a similar need. The listener asks, “How do you rescind offers during COVID-19? It is happening quite a bit in my industry.”
Ah, that’s painful, isn’t it, after you’ve gone to all that effort to find the right person for the job, and then for whatever reason, usually it’s not that candidate’s fault, but you as a business have to say we are not able to bring you on board, so you need to rescind the offer. Well, most states have employment at will statutes that really do enable you to terminate at will, you know, for no reason, an employee’s employment with you. And you certainly can broaden that thinking to include offers, actually court cases have occurred that demonstrate you can rescind that offer under employment at will. But honestly, JoDee, I would pause before jumping to rescind an offer, because I think you got to think about your employment brand for the long term. And granted, you’ve got an immediate need, but think about has this person already given notice to their current employer, so are they out of work, or are they going to have to go back to their employer and say, just kidding, I really am not going to leave, I want to stay. Their employer could very well say, I’m sorry, you made your decision, we’re going to honor it.
What are some other things you might want to consider, JoDee?
I’m wondering if the candidate has incurred any expenses in order to be ready for your job? Have they relocated, given up a company car, anything where compensation for damages incurred might be sought? So maybe thinking about reimbursing them or making up for that, if you can.
I think that makes good sense. Otherwise, they might have a cause for action, right, that you… they had financial damage, because of your offering them a job and then pulling it back. I think a third thing to think about, you know, was there any advance knowledge that the company had at the time of the offer that eventually led to the decision to rescind the offer? I can think of a time in my own employment history where I was working in HR, and we had been looking for a particular executive assistant position for the longest time, because this executive, in my opinion, was a little difficult to please. So anyway, we found what we thought was a perfect candidate. This executive thought she was a perfect candidate. And I gotta tell you, as we were getting closer and closer to her start date, things were happening in our organization and people were being reorganized. Turns out the organization decided that this executive was no longer going to be there the Friday before his executive assistant was to start. It was awful. I met with her first thing in that Monday morning to welcome her to the company and then to tell her that the job didn’t exist. It was just, it was horrible. We did end up finding her another job, I ended up becoming very good friends with her. She worked at the organization for a number of years. She’s no longer there. But anyway, was, was a happy ending, but it was really difficult. But we did see it coming, but not with enough advance knowledge.
Right. And another thing is, is the offer being rescinded to a person in a protected class, and are there other offers not being rescinded to individuals who are not in a protected class? So really think hard about whether there’s some discrimination going on there.
Yeah, that’s right. There could be some implicit bias going on, and you as the HR professional needs to speak up if you see that. You know, if you believe the only viable option is to rescind an offer, run it past your legal counsel, and then do it humanely, as humanely as you can. I would offer to stay in touch if that person is willing and look to bring them on board when circumstances change.
Yeah, good advice.
Alright. Well, it’s time for in the news. Lynn Cavanaugh wrote an article at HRmorning.com on May 12, 2020, entitled, “DOL’s New Regular Rate of Pay Rule and How it Impacts Benefits in 2020.” I thought it was important to talk about this article, and not because there’s anything in here that is Earth shaking, but the great news is I think it confirms how many of us in the world of HR and business leaders have been interpreting when overtime is required, when it’s not, what is the regular rate of pay. So Lynn notes that the Department of Labor changed the RROP, or regular rate of pay, rules, effective January 15, 2020, for the first time in 50 years. They did it to recognize the changes that have been occurring over those last 50 years in employee perks and rewards. RROP is important, as that is the amount used when overtime is calculated for non-exempt staff. RROP consists of pay plus incentives and bonuses that are earned that are non-discretionary. The new rule clearly states the following are not considered pay, and I love this, because now it’s the law of the land and we don’t have to worry about should we include it, should we not? Here’s what they are. JoDee, why don’t you start us out?
The cost of certain parking benefits, wellness programs, gym access, certain tuition benefits including student loan programs, and adoption assistance.
Also not included in regular rate of pay would be payments for unused paid leave, including paid sick leave or PTO.
Also reimbursed expenses, including cell phone plans, credentialing exam fees, and organization membership dues.
And finally, certain sign on bonuses and longevity bonuses, as well as discretionary bonuses. So up until now, some employers may have been, have been reluctant to offer some of these perks for fear they would be challenged, that they could potentially be considered part of RROP, but no longer. I hope it means some new benefits are going to be coming to some people.
Yeah. Thanks for joining us and make it a JoyPowered® day.
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