Emotional Literacy

Last week when I spoke at the TTI Conference I was in the company of hundreds of folks who wake up every morning trying to figure out ways to help their clients, specifically in the professional development space. These folks are some of the best executive coaches, consultants, and trainers in the world, armed with some of the best intellectual capital in the world. I offered them a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.

The first is that of all of the assets an organization lists on its balance sheet, many of them depreciate over time and very few actually appreciate in value. One that does appreciate is the human capital. For example, if you hired someone today, it is quite reasonable to expect that in a year, this person should be able to do their job better, faster, and more effectively.  It is expected that this person will learn certain things that will allow him or her to perform better. Now most managers and organizations do a good job of establishing some annual goals for employees, but not so much on what that person needs to learn so that his or her value to the organization actually increases.

What exactly are those certain things that someone can learn to keep getting better at how to do what they already do? This important question seems to get lost all too often by both the manager and the employee. The result is often a circumstantial journey – a journey where one is constantly reacting to the demands of the day. If a circumstance happens to present itself during the proverbial day where one could learn, then one gets lucky. Now if one were to think of what those certain things are, they are rarely technical in nature, irrespective of the job at hand. They often have to do with how many people we get to know, how well we know them, how well we become at collaborating with the right people at the right time, and how well we learn to navigate through the inherent workplace culture and its often implicit norms. All these are a significant part of the  certain things I have been talking about and all of these require a very high degree of emotional intelligence.

The other topic I shared at the conference was that from a minute-to-minute perspective, hour-to-hour and day-to-day perspective, there is very little about us or others that actually changes. Our knowledge, skills, height, strength, etc do not change. The only thing that really changes is our emotions, which are a result of the changing experiences we constantly have. If you agree with this, then having a high degree of emotional literacy within an organization, a team and between two people working together is paramount. Because our emotional construct is in a constant flux, being able to communicate effective during different states becomes invaluable. The problem is that there simply is no “emotional language” in the workplace.  If you compare this to behaviors, there are several languages the workplace has already adopted – the Myers Briggs or DISC, for example.  It is high time that the workplace and adults begin to enhance their emotional literacy starting simply by having a framework or model.


One response to “Emotional Literacy

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Emotional Literacy | Professional Development -- Topsy.com

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