Communication is rich and effective when people are assured you have their best interests at heart.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of The United States
Communication that is wrapped up in the qualities of caring and curiosity is the best kind of EQ communication. Caring means that I suspend my need to be first, loudest, and most important and instead include or yield to you. Curiosity means that I genuinely want to know what is on your mind and why you think the way you do or make the choices that you do. This is not to evaluate or find fault but to connect and build relationships.
These qualities create the highest levels of trust. At the heart of curiosity is your ability to listen.
Listen with Curiosity!
The singular people-connecting skill that any leader must master is the skill of listening but not just any kind of listening. Leaders must listen with their whole being. There is so much riding on the skill of listening – from your employees feeling heard and validated to obtaining key information to drive the business objectives. It is the key skill of emotionally intelligent leadership.
It pays to listen, and it pays to listen well.
If you are like most, you think you are a good listener. You are probably not as good as you think you are.
All kinds of human things get in the way of listening in a whole-hearted way. They could be perceptions of time, your need to reply, a desire to fix the situation, disinterest, or any other array of conditions that thwart your willingness and even your ability to listen fully.
Whole-hearted listening up-levels the conversation. Whole-hearted listening is a body, mind, and heart thing. It humanizes you and the relationship. You are, after all, a Humanized Leader.
What if the information that is required for the relationship or a solution is wedged in the cracks of the conversation? Pay attention to tone of voice, pauses, inflection.
Be in the Present
You can’t be two places at the same time. Be here, now. This is respect. Your communication partner will be more open and feel more trust when they know you are here.
Understand Your Emotions
How are you feeling? Are you triggered? Do you feel like you must resolve the issue? Do you want to make the other person feel something? If any of this is true, take a quick scan to understand why and then shift into neutral swiftly.
Validation is not an agreement. Validation is a reflection of the emotion you are feeling from another person. If someone is communicating angrily, you can reflect that emotion, “It sounds like you are angry”. Do this without judgement. The simple act of validation will engender further trust.
Curiosity, a very high level skill in the emotional intelligence toolkit, just makes things easier. You can see the other person for whom they really are, listen without presumption and communicate fully and deeply.
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired – an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.