Try a Perception Gap Analysis to Improve Your EQ

There is usually a gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us. In the workplace, this gap can be a source of development opportunities which can improve your emotional intelligence (EQ), if you are willing to be open to feedback, be vulnerable, and be truthful with yourself.

Articulating Your Understanding of Yourself

A good place to start is with looking inward and writing down your values, goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

Ask yourself introspective questions about your goals and values. Here are a few examples with probing questions. Probing questions can help you gain clarification and information to see the whole picture:

  • Do you want to be a leader? Why? What traits and characteristics do you feel a leader should possess? Who are leaders you look up to and why?
  • Do you want to be a more connected team member? What makes someone a better team member? How do you know when you are connecting with someone?
  • Do you want to be a better listener? What does that look like? How can you tell when someone is really listening?

To gain a deeper understanding of what matters to you, write down your answers. Make a list of your values. Then revisit them asking why at each step. Write down those answers as well. This will help you map out your journey, and identify areas for development.

You can also take a variety of personality tests which can help you find the right words to articulate what you already know about yourself but don’t quite know how to put words to. This article from Onward provides a few options, most of which are free.

Getting Others’ Perceptions of You

Opening yourself up to feedback requires vulnerability. You’re going to hear things you don’t necessarily like or that you weren’t expecting. But, if you’re open and willing to hear the feedback, you will be able to learn, grow, and develop your EQ.

Working with a coach is one way to help you take a look at how your self-perceptions may be at odds with others’ perceptions of you, and help you find a path towards developing your EQ. You can also work with a trusted colleague or manager – someone whose opinions you trust – to continue to evaluate how you are doing on a regular basis.

Another great tool is a 360 feedback assessment, a process through which you gather feedback from direct reports, peers and colleagues, and supervisors, as well as a self-evaluation. This can be a formal or informal process through which you gather information related to the areas you are seeking to improve.

Assessing the Perception Gap

Using the information you gather on yourself, and from those around you, you can begin to identify areas where you want to improve, prioritize the areas you want to focus on, and how you will go about improving them.

A great example of how this could look is provided in Daniel Goleman and Michele Navarez’s article Boost Your Emotional Intelligence with These 3 Questions:

For example, let’s say you get feedback that you are not a great listener — but you think you are. Instead of taking this assessment as an attack, or simply dismissing it, step back and consider your goals: Perhaps you’ve said that you want to better connect, understand, and communicate with impact. How could listening well help you to do those things? Seeing the feedback in this light can help you position it as an opportunity for developing toward your goals, rather than a threat.

Ask yourself, what you are going to do to achieve this goal? If we use developing your listening skills as an example, what does that look like? It could include a variety of learning modalities including:

  • Coaching
  • Online courses
  • Awareness and practice
  • Reading articles, books, etc.

Then ask, how do you know you are achieving your goal? You can reiterate some of the steps above – feedback, personal assessment, another 360 feedback assessment.

You will find that on this journey, your EQ skills will continue to grow and develop. You will gain a deeper understanding of yourself, build your awareness of others, and be able to more readily manage yourself and your relationships.

 

Photo by Garidy Sanders on Unsplash
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Focus on Internal Customers To Build Relationships

I was watching Marie Forleo‘s latest Marie TV episode, “Four Customer Service Secrets to Help Your Business Take Off“, and not only does she provide a great story of a recent experience when she received great customer service, it struck me that these lessons should also be applied to how we deal with our internal customers: our coworkers, employees, managers, and team members – basically everyone we work with

The four customer service secrets were:

  1. Create an A+ experience immediately.
  2. Use your customer’s language.
  3. Details matter so go the extra mile.
  4. Have your customer’s back.

As Marie stated, “all of these lessons illustrate values of respect, caring, and creativity.” No matter what we do, we’re in the business of customer service. Though most of what we learn about customer service speaks to external customers, we need to remember to focus on our internal customers too.

Consider how you can apply these lessons to your internal customer service skills:

Create an A+ experience immediately.

We hear about managers who claim to have an “open door policy”, meaning they’re always available to their employees. Unfortunately, when they don’t walk the talk, what they’re really doing is fostering an environment that doesn’t reward sharing, discussion, or feedback. As Andy Stanley so aptly put it, “leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”

Focus on the little things to build trust and foster an environment where people feel free to approach each other, and share ideas. Listen, actively. Give time and space to share ideas without repercussion.

Use your customer’s language.

Understanding that other people don’t work like we do is a key component of Emotional Intelligence. Are you working with someone who is more analytical? Use facts and data. Are you working with someone who is more social? Use stories and be more animated. Understanding who you’re working with can help you bridge the gap in communication.

Details matter so go the extra mile.

When you’re working with employees, do you notice what is on their desk? Do they have pictures of family, or do they have a whiteboard with ideas? Do they have inspirational posters or trackers on the wall? Noticing the little things can help you understand the other person, and create connections. Asking about these things can also help build relationships.

Have your customer’s back.

We can’t throw each other under the bus. This means showing up. It means owning our mistakes and learning from them. It means celebrating achievements and giving credit where it is due. As Brené Brown wrote in Dare to Lead,

“daring leadership strategies that promote…belonging include recognizing achievement; validating contribution; developing a system that includes power with, power to, and power within; and knowing your value.”

We’ve learned that the Golden Rule is to treat others as you want to be treated. But in customer service, it isn’t about us. It’s about the customer. When it comes to the customer, the Platinum Rule is more applicable: treat others the way THEY want to be treated.

Considering this, think about the type of customer experience you want to receive, and turn that around. What kind of customer experience do you want to provide?  How do you want your coworkers, employees, managers, and team members to interact with you? It starts with your interactions with them.

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash