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How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

Aug 29, 2021

In a world that is more connected than ever, in a digital sense, it seems that we are becoming more and more disconnected socially.  Anxiety and depression have sky-rocketed worldwide, even before the covid pandemic, with a reported 284 million people experiencing anxiety according the following study.
 
One of the strongest human needs that each of us strongly desires is connection. Love and connection are not "wants", they are absolute "needs".  We desire a deep, authentic connection with other humans around us and when we are isolated we start to experience negative and disempowering emotions.
 
 
In a world that is addicted to digital technology and social media, the ability to connect with other humans is quickly becoming a superpower. Surface-level interactions are now commonplace - with some people opting to check their phone whilst in the middle of a face to face conversation with another person, most frequently loved ones and family members.
 
I've personally known a few people who have fully withdrawn from the world, and almost removed all social connection because of their addiction to the internet, gaming and social media. "Problematic computer use is a growing social issue which is being debated worldwide. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) ruins lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems." 
 
Emotional Intelligence is proven to enhance relationships, improve social interactions and increase the chances of climbing the professional pay ladder. And developing your EQ is not something you can "do" online - you might be able to read about how to improve it, but you actually have to get out there and practice it.
 
One of the greatest ways to deepen your EQ is to improve your listening skills and in this weeks podcast I share some listening skills that you can add into your day to day interactions. These skills are the same skills that the greatest leaders have utilised for years including the late Nelson Mandela. 
 
 
So, I want you to think about your listening abilities. And whether you truly listen, whether you listen to understand whether you listen to judge, whether you listen for leverage, whether you listen to advise, and really think about the power of listening.
 
Let's dive in and improve your emotional skills.
 

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Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin. For weekly motivation please subscribe to the Apple Podcast, Spotify or YouTube Channel.

 

Not to be missed...

Receive weekly tips from James on how to Live Your Life on Purpose. James interviews some of the leading performers in business, sport and life. Learn from the worlds greatest, each and every week for FREE. Click here to sign up!

Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin. For weekly motivation please subscribe to the Apple Podcast, Spotify or YouTube Channel.

 

SPEAKER

James Laughlin, Multiple Time World Champion, Leadership Coach from Christchurch, New Zealand

 

James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to Life on Purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now a success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show!     

 

Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about the purpose club. I started the purpose club quite some time ago, so that I could coach people of all backgrounds. Not everybody has access to coaching. And certainly, it can be at all people's price range. So, I wanted to create a community where I coach my members each month and it's incredibly affordable. And I do a deep dive monthly live session and deliver my best techniques, strategies, and habits. And I impart great lessons on leadership, motivation, mindset, abundance, habit installation, and you're creating a lasting legacy. There's free replays in there from all the previous live casts, there's high impact worksheets for you to take home and actually work through throughout the month, you'll receive weekly planning emails with actual planners to fill out your week, you'll get a weekly self-evaluation email, where you can evaluate yourself on all different levels, relationship, life, business, wealth, career, everything that you want, you'll get weekly journal prompts to really get your mind tuned into that higher level thinking. And also on a monthly basis, you'll get planning worksheets and reflections for your month. So, if you would like to learn about it, please get in touch with me or someone in my team, you know, jump on Instagram James Laughlin official, drop me a DM or you can email me [email protected] or just go to the website jjlaughlin.com and check it out. Enjoy the show and I hope to see some of you guys over in the purpose club.   

 

Welcome back to the show! For those who are just new to the life on purpose podcast, please enjoy the show. And if you could take a moment to leave me a rating and review. If you're on Apple, or whatever platform you're listening to this on, I'd really appreciate it. So, let's talk about how to improve your EQ. And when we think about EQ, we think about how you relate to others, how others relate to you. Rapport, empathy, compassion, understanding all those words come to mind. And I want to talk about one particular aspect of actually how to develop better EQ. And it's a really simple one. And most of us have been gifted with two years that work really well. And that's a real gift. That's a true gift. 

So, I want you to think about your listening abilities. And whether you truly listen, whether you listen to understand whether you listen to judge, whether you listen for leverage, whether you listen to advice, and really think about the power of listening. And when we think about it, you know, the greatest leaders of all time, one great skill they had was their ability to listen. Nelson Mandela is an amazing leader that I've talked about a lot over the years, I've done quite a bit of study around him and spoke with some of his family members and interviewed them just about how he carried himself and how he developed such an incredible amount of EQ, you know, he was renowned the world over for being able to relate to people for being able to connect and help and support and help others see things, like their blind spots that let them see things they never would have seen if it wasn't for him being able to help them do that. So, how did he develop those skills? Well, those skills are innate to all of us. We all have the ability to listen, but we don't all listen in the same manner. So what I want you to think about is he and his family came from a line of Chiefs in their tribe and often say a village meeting, a chief would have to sit and listen to everybody in the village share their two cents, talk about issues that they want to be addressed, give some feedback, negative or positive, and the chief did not address the village till the end of everyone speaking so that could have been hours, Chief would simply listen. And at the end, when that chief did speak, there was such power and manner because he had listened fully and intently and hadn't tried to argue or no rebuttal. True listening. And there's power in that. Nelson Mandela really exemplified that in the Western world of politics, where he was renowned for being a really astute listener.  

 

Now, recently, I've experienced this myself. So, this past year, I hosted the leaders mastermind, where a bunch of different leaders from different backgrounds came and joined me for about four or five months. And we got together regularly. And one of those leaders that join me was Sam Whitelock. He's a professional rugby player in New Zealand, one of the best on the planet, I would say. And each time he showed up, he really showed up to listen first, and speak last. And that's what he did, he would always listen the most. And he'd be the last to speak. But when he did speak, me, and everyone included, really listened, because we knew that he had taken everything that everybody had said in and processed, and applied his view of the world, to the situation. And that was really valuable. And it's a skill, obviously, as a leader that he has developed over the years. So how do you do that, right? That's why you're tuning in today. How do you do that in your life, to be a better partner, to be a better parent, to be a better business owner, to be a better teacher to be better whatever you want, when it involves other people? Listening is so important. So first of all, you know, ask yourself, how do you normally listen? So, when that person that's close to you, that you spent a lot of time with, you know, when they're speaking, how do you actually listen to them? Is it you listen to that you can answer back and tell them what's on your mind? Or what your thoughts are about what they're speaking about? Or do you listen with curiosity? Do you listen with a sense of understanding, and you're just letting it flow? There's no judgment. Because often, when we're listening, we're judging. We are really thinking about what they're saying and weighing it up against our view of the world. Right? So that in itself is not truly listening at a deep level that's just waiting, your turn to speak. And how many of us are guilty of that? Right? For sure. I've caught myself jumping in to finish off people sentences, or Hey, that's cool. But hey, this is my story. And actually, there was a lady recently that I noticed was doing it quite a bit, I think, wow, that's really frustrating to be around, right? So, when you see other people exemplifying these traits that you don't like to see in yourself, often it can really magnify them to the point where you're like, oh, yeah, I do that. Right? 

So, let's think about why it's important to do it. Because a lot of us want to jump straight to the Hey, just tell me how to do it. But unless you have an actual deep reason why you want to do it, there's no point. So, here's why I think it's really important to develop better listening skills to improve your EQ, and your relationships, and your level of joy in life. Well, first one is, you're going to develop more influence, right? And influence is not persuasion, you aren't, you know, persuading someone to go and do this or do that, because you want them to do it. Influence is leading from the front, it's walking the walk. And when you listen, you really get that person's ear, you really get their buy in, when you're a good listener, people want to be around you, people feel safe, you create this incredible space, where people feel safe. So, developing influence starts with listening. Next, you're going to have more compassion, right? The better the listener you become, the more compassionate you’re going to be. Really thinking about the other person's feelings really going the extra mile to be there, when they really need you to be there. You'll have more awareness, right? You're going to be able to understand the world, outside of your own head, by listening to people around you, your friends, your family, your colleagues, you know, your politicians, your athletes, all these different people, you're unable to listen to them, without judgment, without the need to come back with an answer or a response of any kind. Your awareness of the world will be so much more holistic.  

 

And there'll be better outcomes, you know, as you listen better. There's going to be better outcomes, better relationships, less arguments, you know, less combative engagements, more harmonious interactions. Listening is a superpower and one that if you develop it's going to really level up the quality of the relationships that you have with yourself, with the people around you, with your clients, if you run a business, it's just a really great skill to develop. Now, how are we going to do that? Right? Here's the fun part, you're going to get to actually go and try this today. And we could try this right after the podcast. First things first, I always think that there's power in the pause, right, that one down somewhere, or scratch it in the brain tattoo there. There's power in the pause. This took me a long time to discover. And it's still something I consciously work out. When someone says something, hey, so I was thinking about this, and I'm going to do this automatically, you want to go back with I don't think so. Or, hey, this is what I think or know someone's tried that and here's what happened. You don't let there be space. Why? Well, it's awkward. If I was to do this, (Paused) you probably thought the podcast ended there right? Something's up. I just paused right. And it's awkward for a lot of people say, oh, I don't like that. I like the rhythm to keep going. But there's power in the pause. Because in that space between stimulus, and response, that's where you can actually engage your EQ. You can read the room, you can read the person's emotions, take the time. And maybe in that space, they may add some more, they might fill the space with more content, with more context. So, by creating space, you're giving people an opportunity to open up the dialogue to dig deeper. And also lets them know that you are listening. Because when you pause after they speak, they know automatically, that you're not just jumping in to have your side of the story. You're truly listening, and you're giving them more space to speak. So, try that in your next conversation. Try that once a day for the next five days, just consciously when you're listening to someone say I'm going to pause at the end of this. And even if you're forcing it to start with, who cares? You're consciously shifting things in the way that you listen. In that pause during that pause, you don't just need to, you know, count to 10 what you can do is go, Okay, what did I just hear there? What value can I add? Or what support can I show? Right? Those are great questions to ask, what did I hear? What value can I add? What support can I show? Right? If you do that, it means that you're going to be listening to understand the other person's situation, you're going to be listening to add value and love and compassion. You're not listening to think where can I throw my two cents? And where can I show my significance of knowing the answer to this challenge. 

 

 Most people don't want us to fix them, because they're not broken. Most people want us to listen though. And by pausing, you're giving opportunity to come back in a response in a thoughtful way that serves the person that's speaking, right. And also gives them an opportunity to step in and add more content or context. So, power in the pause. That's the first way. The second way is through curiosity. So, one of my favorites ever interviews was Larry king, right? Larry was amazing at interviewing, jump on YouTube and check out the Master of Work. And he would always come at it from a real point of curiosity. Charles Darwin was another very curious person constantly asked questions. But Larry king would talk about, hey, I don't care if they're, you know, President of the United States or a street sweeper. But hey, what's it like the sweep the streets of New York at 4am? When it's quiet? And hey, what's it like to be sitting in the Oval Office with that big button that you can push that could end it all? He would always ask questions that were curious. And that way, he would always have an audience, he would always have people wanting to be around him. And the key here, this is the one key is the word. What? When you start to ask what based questions, you start to get a much different response, you get a deeper conversation. That's not surface level. Those are open ended questions rather than closed questions. Did you have a good day? Yes or no closed question. Would you like to go for dinner? No. Yes or no closed question versus what was the greatest moment of your day? They can't say yes or no to that. They've got to elaborate. Or what would you most like for dinner tonight? They've got to elaborate on that, right. 

 

So, when you think about interacting after you've done, you're listening, and you've paused. When you come back, why not try asking a curious question a leading question? A what question. What questions are beautiful. You know, rather than, are you excited for today? When you're talking to your loved one in the morning? Which could be yes or no or eh. Start with what are you most excited for today? Totally different question. It's a conversation that's happening. It's a dialogue, rather than a monologue or a very short response. So, when you're developing EQ, develop it with listening in mind, that's the core, the foundation of developing better emotional intelligence is being able to listen. And when you talk to teachers, and they learn, they talk about students, they go there, they need to work on their listening skills. For example, Finn, my boy, just started, school is a new entrant year zero, they call it here in New Zealand, he's five years of age. And when for like, the 10, week meeting to see how he's tracking, and he's doing brilliantly in all these areas, and the teacher says, you know, he's doing great, the one thing he could continue to work on there and improve his, you know, his listening skills. I said, Yeah, absolutely. But I'm thinking, couldn't, we all? Don't, we all need to continually work on that? I mean, if you're the master listener, when you finish high school, while you're one in a billion, I think it's a skill of mastery. And I don't believe you can ever become the master of anything, but you can live out mastery, and mastery is the pursuit of excellence. It's the pursuit of becoming the master at that thing, whatever it may be, in this case, it's listening. But in that journey towards it, that's where you develop better EQ skills. That's where you learn to have richer relationships. That's where you see it, reflect in the quality of your relationships, the size of your bank balance, enjoyment that you have in the interactions with others and yourself. So never underestimate the power of simply listening with a curious ear, creating some space, using what best questions and think back to someone who you admire, that was a great leader. For me, that's Nelson Mandela. 

You know, he was a great leader, a great listener, for me in modern day that Sam Whitelock, professional rugby player in I've seen him, sit alongside me and show these traits, that's powerful. So, you will have as well, in your midst, someone who's a great listener may not be your spouse. Often it's not. But there'll be someone, just think in the last six months who that someone is, and go through and ask yourself, what is it that they do that makes them a great listener? So, my challenge to you is to get out there and give it a go. Give it a try. It's not something you're going to perfect. It's something that needs ongoing work, but the rewards are monumental. And a something we must consistently go on. Whenever you find yourself responding to someone instantly. And going yeah, but or I've done that, or here's what I done. Yeah, that's not a great listening skill. That's a Hey, I've got the ram syndrome, world revolves around me. You don't want that. Focus on listening, focus on the person that's talking, ask great questions, pause before you do so and add value to that conversation. So, for you folks who are new here, you may not know about the purpose clubs, so the purpose clubs, my private membership, where I coach on a monthly basis. So, if you want to come, check it out, please head over to my website. That's jjlaughlin.com/thepurposeclub. I look forward to welcome you guys over there. And here's to an amazing week ahead, wherever you are, guys, get out there and live life on purpose. 

 

Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love, love, love If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks and folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.