I’ve had the privilege of working a lot recently with both emerging and seasoned physician leaders … And thoroughly enjoying my coaching clients! I so appreciate the fact that physicians are smart, quick to catch on and often driven when stepping into a leadership role. Our conversations tend to be rich and wide-ranging.
Despite the diversity of personalities and leadership styles I’m encountering (I typically have my clients complete their DiSC profile assessment), I notice that there are several recurring themes that emerge in our work.
This week, I’ve had at least 4 or 5 conversations that could be best summed up as exploring aspects of Emotional Intelligence.
Just what do I mean by this?
Emotional Intelligence is a key differentiator between average and excellent leaders, and refers to our capacity for knowing what’s going on inside ourselves, modulating and managing our emotional responses, attempting to consider and even understand the worldview and experiences of others and therefore interacting in productive and effective ways with others.
I’ve noticed one “reaction place” where clients regularly get stuck (confession time — as do I!) That is a place constructed out of the habits of assumptions and judgment, ingrained since childhood. In most of us!
As soon as we find ourselves in an intense discussion, we have these internal conversation soundbites that go something like this:
“This person is an idiot. Can’t he see that…?”
“I get so frustrated when she does that. Why doesn’t she…?”
“What a dumb idea!”
“No, no… It can’t be done that way!Why can’t you see that this way’s much better?”
“This is crazy … there’s no way this will work”.
When conflict rears its seemingly ugly head, we repeatedly default either to the assumption that one of us must be right and the other must be wrong, or to a judgment. This is bad, he is wrong, she doesn’t get it.
And the opportunity to respond emotionally intelligently is lost.
The good news is that, over the years, I’ve discovered a magic trick that works almost 100% of the time. It consists of the following 2 steps:
- Suspend judgment. Actively stop yourself from labeling any person or any situation negatively. Catch yourself in the moment and stop judging — doing this displays a combination of the self-awareness and self-management piece of emotional intelligence.
- Get curious. Say something like this to yourself, “Gee, that’s interesting/fascinating! I wonder why … he thinks that way/she’s reacting that way/this seems so difficult/we don’t seem to be on the same page …”
And then go ahead and say it out aloud. Use your genuine curiosity and, to whatever extent possible, suspended judgment to explore what’s going on.
I can confirm the magic of this approach – it really works! Try it for a week and see what happens. Let me know how it goes!