Since starting her consultancy practice in 1980, Eileen McDargh has become known as a master facilitator, an award- winning author, and an internationally recognized keynoter and executive coach. She’s the author of seven books, including her latest, Your Resiliency GPS, A Guide for Growing Through Life & Work. Her book, Gifts from the Mountain, won the Ben Franklin Gold Award from which she produced an award-winning training film. Eileen writes articles for a curated web site as part of their “League of Extraordinary Thinkers.” In 2018 Gurus International, a British-based provider of resources for leadership, communication and sales training, also ranked her 3th of the World’s Top 30 COMMUNICATION Gurus following a global survey of 22,000 business professionals. Eileen is a certified speaking professional (CSP) and elected into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame. She’s also listed as a recommended expert through the Sloan Work and Family Research Network. Her most recent endeavor is a movement to improve public discourse. To this end, she and two colleagues have created a global outreach called True Leader Creed & Code of Conduct. You can read about it here: www.trueleadercreed.com
The Institute for the Future teamed up with the University of Phoenix Research Institute to pinpoint critical skills essential to thrive in 2020. Here are the top two: Sense-Making and Social Intelligence.
Sense-making requires one to withhold judgment and ask critical questions in order to more deeply understand the meaning of what is expressed. In the common expression from my years as a communications expert, it’s what we called Active Listening.
Our 24-7, get-it-done-now world seems to have forgotten that it takes time and patience to listen deeply—particularly to the “other”. At a time when words are carelessly spouted and divisions are deep, tolerance and an ability to seek first to understand has never been more necessary and more difficult.
Consider these steps to develop sense-making:
- Ask clarifying questions to see if you understand what the other person said.
- Ask “what” questions rather than “why”.
- If there is a difference of opinion, merely state “It appears we have a difference of opinion.” Let it go. Sometimes, that is the best.
- Paraphrase what you hear. Then be quiet. The other person will either add or correct.
- Look for places of agreement. What do you both have in common?
The second critical skill, social intelligence, has nothing to do with social media. Rather it is developing an ability to connect to people in a way that allows them to feel heard, understood and served. Connecting with mind and heart has never been more important.
Consider this: We recently returned from a trip aboard a ship where there was one passenger whom people quickly tried to stay away from. Why? She had no social intelligence. She’d plop into people’s conversations and start complaining about her husband, bragging about her money, her trips, and handing out unwanted advice about whatever she had noticed. People moved to other parts of the ship when she’d enter a common area. It was actually quite sad.
So how does one develop social intelligence? Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to how others respond to you. Honest self-reflection might be difficult but also very instructive.
- Ask someone you trust and whom you know will be straight-forward to observe your interactions. Ask if there are things you do that distance you from others. We all have blind spots.
- Nothing begins to create a connection like a sincere smile. It’s why email can stand for escalation and error—we can’t see the person we are emailing! Words are flat and only have meaning to the person reading them. I became aware, on my last trip, that simply looking into someone’s eyes and smiling created a brief human connection. The next time I encountered that individual, the smiles and conversation became extended.
For a full listing of all ten critically needed skills, read The Future of Workplace Skills 2020.
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