Category emotional Intelligence


This morning, my partner and I went out for breakfast. At the next table was a man in business attire having coffee with a woman. I was trying to read, but the man’s voice was so loud that I kept getting pulled into his monologue. He was talking about his daughter, a graphic designer living in a small loft in New York City, sleeping on an air mattress, just starting her career, and so on. After 7 or 8 minutes of uninterrupted airtime, he asked the woman if she has any kids.

I couldn’t hear her response. I just knew it was short, for he was soon talking


When Bob took over as head of a large business unit in his organization, he inherited a chief operations officer, Mary Jo. Initially, he was reluctant to keep her. The unit had financial problems, poor morale, a toxic culture, and a lot of people blaming Mary Jo for the problems, so he was watchful. But he realized quickly that she was very good at her job, and decided to hold off taking any action.

Fast forward a couple of years. Bob is moving his unit forward. He’s a systems

What we call feedback rarely is

In order for people to grow, adapt, and perform at their best, they need information about their own performance. One source of information—feedback—has earned a bad reputation. The word first came into the language to describe the self-correcting information built into mechanical systems and electronic circuits. Information was fed back into a system as a means of regulating system performance.

Thermostats, for instance, feed back information in order to maintain a set


As a follow-up to the “Quiet” post, this is an acronym I heard years ago. A client reminded me  of it recently. “When I learned the WAIT acronym,” he said, “that was a learning moment burned into my head!”

WAIT stands for Why Am I Talking?



Mad bad sad

We live in the “Just do it!” society. Emotions aren’t something we’ve been taught to attend to and talk about. When I was in grad school, emotions were categorized in simple terms, as primary [anger, fear, anxiety] or secondary [guilt, shame]. In the late 20th C, positive psychologists ushered in a broader lexicon: wonder, awe, serenity, amusement, gratitude.

Today I came across something I wish I’d considered years ago. It’s from novelist Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex. It sure works for me. What about for you?

Thank you, Eleanor

I came across a quote of Eleanor Roosevelt’s today: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

It spoke to the part of me that has always been afraid. A little research yielded a lot of discovery. This was a remarkably wise woman. If you’re hungry for food for thought, chew on one of these for a while.

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”

Back to body basics

Most of us, including my executive coaching clients, typically live in our minds. We try to think our way to creative answers for vexing and complex challenges. But we get our best ideas when we’re doing something physical: taking a shower, walking the dog, working out.

Now science is verifying that the best way to open the door on our creative juices is to drop into the world below our chins. The body can actually expand our creative thinking. Wray Herbert’s recent report on the connections between our physical and cognitive experiences describes how.

Control your attention redux …

Last Friday, one of my clients had a meeting with several of her direct reports that left her feeling “absolutely giddy” afterwards. Her words were music to my ears. She’d been feeling overwhelmed and out of control for months. And here she was, excited and confident and energized.

What made the difference?

I have lots of stories about that. Here’s the one I like best: she got control by giving up control.

Does she or doesn’t she?

Here’s a nifty little test of empathy, thanks to  Northwestern social psychologist Adam Galinsky and friends. Ask your boss [or anyone, for that matter] to draw the letter E on her forehead. Before you read more, do it yourself. [Index fingers work as well as pens.]

Now … which way did you draw the E: so it’s legible to you and backward to others, or legible to others and backward to you?

According to Galinsky and crew, people who draw the E so it’s legible to others

A little exercise that pays big returns

I’m always looking for practical ways to improve relationships, and I came across a powerful one recently in a new book by Marty Seligman, the grand old man of psychology and one of the masterminds behind the burgeoning field of positive psychology.

A decade ago, Seligman wrote a book called Authentic Happiness. Despite its unfortunate title, it was a great treatise on what he considered the key elements of happiness: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning.

In April, he published Flourish. It pushes beyond happiness into  new territory: the science of well-being. And it has five key elements: