In my thirty-plus year career, I have learned that there are two types of employees: those that think they know it all and those who are always open to learning something new. The most successful and invaluable employees definitely fall into the latter category. This desire to be a lifelong learner should apply to your particular area of expertise, but it should also apply to enhancing your emotional intelligence.
Want to be an invaluable asset to your employer? Here are a few simple tips:
- Be Self-aware.
- Understand what inspires others.
- Learn how to speak someone else’s energetic language.
- Step outside of your comfort zone.
Be Self-aware. The first step in becoming self-aware is to recognize that you have preferences as to where you focus your time and your energy. Learn what those preferences are and how they align to the project completion cycle. Some of us prefer the beginnings of projects; we like brainstorming and answering the question, “What if?” Others love engaging coworkers and moving ideas toward action. Still, others are energized by sorting through facts and figures, examining data, and creating detailed plans. And finally, some of us prefer getting things done, accomplishing no matter what is in the way, and getting others to complete tasks. In all likelihood, you prefer to focus on a couple of these areas. I am not talking about what you can and can’t do, but instead about what you prefer to do, what energizes you. Just as important as knowing what gives you energy is also knowing what drains your energy. Name it, understand it, and figure out how to work with it.
Understand what inspires others. Just as you have energetic preferences, so do those around you. Take some time to recognize the phases of any project or process that energize them. As a good friend of mine recently said, “What fills their cup?” Where do they love showing up? What phases of the project or process drain their energy? How do they prefer for you to connect with them? Do they need the big picture first before the details make sense or do they need the details first before the big picture makes sense? Do they prefer for you to connect with them on a personal level before you dive into the work at hand or are they just wanting to move through tasks as quickly as possible? Have you ever thought about what drives others? To be an invaluable asset to your employer or your team, you need to.
Learn to speak someone else’s energetic language. Why do we need to understand how and when others prefer to show up? Because once we have an awareness of their preferences, we can learn to connect with them in their preferred language. Among the things that energize people are: broadening the scope of a project, injecting fun and aligning people, promoting caution and rigor, and challenging and activating themselves and others. Conversely, the things that tend to decrease the energy of others are: completing tasks immediately, staying disciplined and serious, producing while feeling rushed, and tolerating too many options. The things that energize and drain someone will not be the same across the board. Each person will have a subset of the items on the lists. If we can identify the ideal environment that allows our coworkers to do their best work, and we create the conditions for them to be successful and satisfied, everybody wins. How does your coworker learn? Do they learn best when they have time to process and absorb information? Perhaps they learn best through personal stories or anecdotes? Maybe they learn best through logical associations and cause and effects. Or they could learn best when they understand the pragmatic application. If you know this about someone, and you make the effort to give them what they need when you connect with them, you will be amazed by the results. In return, they will feel seen, heard, and valued, which goes a long way in being a productive team member.
Finally, step outside of your comfort zone. This one is important, and even some of the most highly attuned individuals don’t do it. You have innate preferences as to where you focus your time and attention. The flip side of that coin is you also have areas that you move into begrudgingly, or you avoid altogether. No one gets a ‘get out of jail free card’ when it comes to work. If you are in a role that aligns with your energetic preferences, then you have taken a step in the right direction, but there will be times when you need to lean into areas that require you to muster up your lower energies. Once you recognize that you might be skipping an important phase of a project or process, you need to take action to modify your behavior. Successful people are lifelong learners and they approach their roles with a growth mindset. They do not see energetic gaps as failures. Instead, they see them as opportunities to grow. They recognize all energies are required to be successful. They also recognize they need to develop a strategy to address the areas where they have less energy. Successful people also value energetic differences. They give others the time and space to work through their processes, and they recognize that they will be more successful if they take the time to listen to others who may see a problem from a different perspective.