Wendy Hanson 0:24
During challenging times, it is important for us to be aware of our emotions, and how they impact others. my conversation with Robin hills was very useful in looking at some of these areas. Also, the whole area of emotional intelligence resilience, and finding that the most analytical, intelligent and skeptical individuals are the best audiences for emotional intelligence improvement, because it's about acquiring hard skills. I think you will get a lot out of this podcast. It's so great today to have Robin hills with me. He's a business psychologist and emotional intelligence trainer from the UK. And our perspectives today on resilience and emotional intelligence, I think will be really helpful for you all as we move forward. Let me tell you a little about Robin before I bring him on. Robin is the director of E i for change, a company specializing in educational training, coaching, and personal development focused around emotional intelligence, positive psychology and neuroscience. He has taught over 100,000 people in 175 plus countries on how to build resilience, increased self awareness and understanding of others. His educational programs on resilience and emotional intelligence, cover the most comprehensive and detailed education of any emotional intelligence organization, and today are used in educational establishments in South Africa and India. He's also the author of two books. And through his work, he's developed the experiential coaching methodology, images of resilience to support cathartic conversations around resilience. I think his books are very interesting, because it really brings a pragmatic approach for leaders, how do we deal with this? So welcome, Robin, nice to have you on.
Robin Hills 2:25
Nice to be on. Thank you, Wendy.
Wendy Hanson 2:28
Let's get grounded so that we're all talking about the same thing. What is emotional intelligence? Because it's thrown around so much, and it's been talked about for years. But tell me your perspective on it.
Robin Hills 2:40
Emotional intelligence, very, very simply, is the way in which you combine your thinking, with your feelings, in order to make good authentic decisions and build up quality relationships with people.
Wendy Hanson 2:56
Is there a balance between thinking and emotions? Are we supposed to be balanced in that way? Or how do you look at that?
Robin Hills 3:03
I wouldn't look at it as a balance. The fact is that as humans, we experience emotions as well as our thinking. And we experience an emotion long before the thought process around that emotion kicks in. So the important thing is to understand that the emotions that we experience, contain some vital bits of information. And emotional intelligence is our ability to be able to apply our intelligence to our emotions. And to answer the fundamental question, why am I experiencing this emotion? And what am I going to do with it in order to engage with the environment in a more appropriate way?
Wendy Hanson 3:51
Yes. Okay. That makes good sense. And I'm very curious about the cultural aspects of this, because you've been teaching this all around the world, 175 countries. You know, this is probably a very big question, but just generally speaking, how do you see this show up differently in different cultures?
Robin Hills 4:10
Well, when I'm working within different cultures, I go back to the absolute basics of the fact that I'm dealing with human beings. So whether I'm working in Saudi Arabia, Central Africa, or in the States, that's when I'm away from the United Kingdom. I just bear in mind that the people I'm engaging with our people first, and the cultural aspects of the way in which they live their lives is something that's built up through their environment, through their culture through the circumstances that they live with it. And the best way for me to work with that is not to have any judgments around their culture. Whether I agree with it or whether I don't agree With it is it's not relevant it is their culture, and just to immerse myself in it, and learn and try and understand, to empathize, to get a flavor of it. In certain regimes, I'm not going to change the political climate just through one workshop. But what I can do is I can help people to engage better with each other, and improve the way in which they work with other people. And through that, it will change mindsets. And that's the only way I can really work. I'm not a political animal. And I don't want to be I don't intend to be. So all I want to do is to help people to get the most out of their lives.
Wendy Hanson 5:49
I love that as a bottom line, this is what I do, you know, help people get the most out of their lives. And if we can communicate better and understand each other better. We're just going to be in so much better off as we go forward. That's great. Now we know that emotional intelligence is really important for leaders and managers. It's just incredibly important, and we'll talk about that. But I also in my research, I found a quote that that I found fascinating. It's from Caruso, who's co-author of a book, A Leader's Guide to Solving Challenges with Emotional Intelligence, he says, we find that the most analytical, intelligent and skeptical individuals are the best audiences for emotional intelligence, E.I. improvement, because it's all about acquiring hard skills. And I wanted you to speak to that with all your research. How do you know what's your take on that one?
Robin Hills 6:50
David Caruso is one of the pioneers of Emotional Intelligence sees Yale University. And I met David about five or six years ago in Mumbai, we were both presenting at an international Emotional Intelligence conference. And I did ask him about this idea of Emotional Intelligence and whether it's a hard skill or whether it's a soft skill. And Emotional Intelligence is always regarded as a soft skill. It's one of these people skills and, and a lot of leaders or management or managers see soft skills as big, soft pink, pink and fluffy. "Oh, emotions, so we don't do emotions in our organization." "We'll leave emotions to Barry Manilow." And I've heard all of these comments. But soft skills are the hardest skills to train in. If you're going on a technical training course, you learn processes, you learn data, you learn about facts, you learn about information, and you learn about how to apply them back in the workplace. With emotional intelligence, it's a lifelong journey. And all you can do is to take some of the insights that you have about yourself and think, right, how can I utilize this, this is very hard, because he actually means that you've got to do something, you've got to change yourself. It's not a case of changing your thinking. It's a case of changing the way in which you work with other people. That's difficult.
Wendy Hanson 8:32
There are some folks that are now calling soft skills, power skills, because we realize that, you know, those are the ones that we used to say, "Oh, yeah, put those over to the side. If I'm analytical, strategic, that's all I need." But we need these other emotional skills that are going to help us along the way.
Robin Hills 8:51
Can I add to that Wendy, what I would like to say is that a lot of leaders and managers are now realizing that there is a big, big threat out there over the next 20 to 30 years, that has already started and I'm not talking about the pandemic. I'm talking about artificial intelligence. And a lot of analytical technical capabilities will be taken over by artificial intelligence. It's the dawn of the robots. And it doesn't matter what industry you're in, whether it's in finance, whether it's in health care, it really doesn't matter. The robots will take over some of the basic jobs. They can do the analysis far quicker, far more effectively and far more quickly than a human can. In order to keep yourself safe over the next 20 to 30 years. You've got to look at emotional intelligence. way forward, the one thing that robots will never be able to do, is to empathize with another human being. Yes, they can give a very good interpretation of it, they can never do it, because it involves brain physiology and brain morphology changing between two people as they engaged together.
Wendy Hanson 10:25
That's right, I really appreciate that perspective, you know, that that's really why we need to develop this skill, because there are other things that, you know, will be replaced over time, but never our ability to be with other people to empathize truly with other people. And why is it? Why are emotions like this, involved in the, you know, the whole climate of an organization, you know, the, how an organization breathes, and feels as a as a as a living organism? How do emotions show up there?
Robin Hills 10:58
Well, emotional, the emotional climate is responsible for between 20 to 30% of performance, that's almost a third, and people will take their drive will take their performance cues from the leader. In times of uncertainty, the team is going to take their emotional cue from the leader. So it's important to recognize that, as an emotionally intelligent leader, you have a very strong influence on the emotional climate within an organization. And there are many, many, many senior executives that I work with, who say that they want their people to be happy. And they want a happy climate and a happy environment at work. Yet, more often than not, those leaders are continually angry and showing anger because people are not doing what they want them to do. And they're not performing in the way in which they want them to perform. Well, how does that drive a happy atmosphere? If somebody is angry with me, I'm not going to be deliriously happy. Just simply because I've annoyed the Senior Chief Executive, it doesn't work that way. So a senior leader really need to ask themselves the fundamental question, why am I so angry? How can I manage that anger in order to improve performance, and in order to engage people at a deeper level, and make them happy?
Wendy Hanson 12:43
I would think you could fill in that blank of anger with a lot of other emotions. Because what I've seen over the years is whatever happens at the top is a mirror image, as you're pointing to, of what happens in the organization. So if the leader is even just stressed, or they want to move things forward quicker, you can't get to those other places that way, they need to, they need to know that that impact on all their people, which have very different ways of looking at them. And then, as in your example of anger, you know, what I've seen in coaching people is, then those people go to their people, and they get pushy and angry, and move, because that's, that's how it all rolls downhill.
Robin Hills 13:27
That's the emotional climate, right? depends upon what research paper you read, some of the papers are saying that there are 3000 emotions. And some of the papers are saying there are upwards of 27,000 emotions. So whether it's 3000, or 27,000, it doesn't matter. There are a lot of emotions. And what I tend to do is just to encourage people to look at the seven basic human emotions, and really work from there because these emotions will blend together. And they'll give a complete palette of emotions. And just for the sake of completeness, the seven emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, anger, and contempt.
Wendy Hanson 14:19
It's certainly easier to watch those than it is to find the other 3000 or 2700, you know, whatever that is 27,000 let's focus on those. And in an organization, Oh, go ahead.
Robin Hills 14:32
I was going to say there are some emotions that we just do not have the right words for children for outdoor in German, which is getting enjoyment from somebody else's missile, it just doesn't have an English equivalent. And there are other examples. I you know, I won't bring them to your attention now, but that there are just emotions that we just don't have labels for Yeah, the tahitians, for example, don't have a word for sadness. Does that mean to say that they don't experience sadness? This is a very interesting area for more research.
Wendy Hanson 15:15
Yeah, that fits into our earlier discussion around culture and around the world and how things are quite different. And what I liked about your book, Robin is it was very pragmatic. So it's a good time to talk about, you know, how can leaders and managers work with emotions more effectively? What are some of the things that you know, people can walk away after hearing us today and say, Ah, I can do something about this.
Robin Hills 15:43
I've got a couple of very, very simple little tips, they don't cost anything. Yet, many, many leaders and managers find them incredibly difficult to the, almost to the point of pain. The first one, two simple words, please, and thank you. These are things that can be built into conversations very, very, very easily. And so many people tell me that they just don't get that from their senior leaders. Now, it doesn't mean to say that they're needy, it just means to say that they want to be recognized and to have their performance appreciated. Please, doesn't cost anything, thank you doesn't cost anything. And a company with a smile doesn't call steady thing. And then the the other tip that I would give people, and you've mentioned it earlier, when they learn coaching, and some very, very simple techniques here. How are you? What are your thoughts? We've been talking about performance, we've been talking about climate, we've been talking about your needs to improve your important performance. What are your thoughts? What can I do to help? And also things like? How are you feeling? What are you feeling? What's going on for you outside of work?
Wendy Hanson 17:18
We talk about that a lot of BetterManager. Because sometimes managers think, oh, if I know too much about somebody personally, it feels very intrusive. And we say, you really, you really need to understand somebody's total environment, at least at a certain level, so that you can support them if you know that they have a an ailing parent or you know that they have a child at home with an issue. There are things that will change in their work that if you don't know that background, you'll you'll just be surprised. And I love the the please and thank you. I've heard from some leaders that they don't require, please and thank you, as people, as individuals, you know, doesn't doesn't really impact them. So they feel that they don't have to give it to others. It doesn't come naturally. What's your sense of that?
Robin Hills 18:10
I would, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But it's not about you as a leader, Mr. Manager, or Mrs. Managers about the people that you're working with, it's about the people that you are engaging, what is it that they need, it's not about you grow up, this is about other people. And what I would also like to say is that I've learned this over the last few years, there is a particular Indian language that doesn't have a police and a thank you. Now, whether it's Gujarati or rudo, I'm sorry, my ignorance doesn't allow me to distinguish as to which one it is, or it may be another Indian language. But I find that a lot of doctors come to the United Kingdom. And they just do not understand the fact that from the moment before we could talk, we were encouraged to say, Please, and thank you, even before we could walk, and it's ingrained into us as human beings, English speaking human beings as being a fundamental part of our culture. So if you are engaging within our culture, if you live in the United Kingdom, if you live in the States, bear in mind that that might not be a part of your culture, that might not be part of your upbringing. But in order not to appear rude to the abusive, put in the word please. You might not understand its meaning. But if that's what other people are wanting, give it to them. It doesn't take anything away from you as a leader. It actually makes you a much better leader, surprisingly.
Wendy Hanson 19:57
I also noticed that in email, I really realize it myself, and I'm a big user of things about gratitude. But when you write an email, and you're trying to do something quickly, you've just asked for something. So you always should go back in. And put, please, and thank you in those things, too, not only when you're speaking, but in your emails, take a step back and rewrite something, again,
Robin Hills 20:22
an email is it's a really, really fascinating media, when we're looking at it from an emotional intelligence perspective. Because we've got to bear in mind, we do not understand the emotional context in which the mail was written. And the way in which we interpret and read the mail is around our emotional context, at the time of reading that email, is how we think and feel about the individual that's sending that message, how we're interpreting the black and white or blue and white words on the screen. And we just got to take a step back. And if there is an email that causes us to have an intense emotion that we don't like, we should walk away from that email and go into something else, have a cup of coffee, go for a walk, watch a television program, listen to a piece of music, whatever it is that you need to do, and then come back to it in a different frame of mind before you respond to it.
Wendy Hanson 21:28
So that's great advice. Yes. Step away from the edge. Yes, before you end up engaging in something that is not going to be fruitful and think about a better way.
Robin Hills 21:39
Yeah, I can't remember the quote, but it's something like, within a few seconds, you can destroy something that would take you months years to rebuild. That is not the quote, but the right. Yes, yes. And so is that, yes.
Wendy Hanson 21:57
So we've been talking about, you know, the real importance of emotional intelligence at work, and especially with leaders. In your book Robin, you talk about the difference between coping with things and resilience, which I think is that's all down the chain from thinking about emotional intelligence. There's a lot of talk about resilience right now because of what we've gone through in 2020. But tell me, what do you see as the difference between coping and being resilient?
Robin Hills 22:27
While coping very basically is putting up with stuff. It's Are you able to cope with the day to day requirements that you need to be cognizant of be aware of and to work with to get you through the day feeling that you've made a valuable contribution to what it is that you do? resilience is much, much more than that resilience is really having a grit determination, a mental toughness, that really infuses everything that you do within your life. And the word resilience causes me a lot of problems, because it's so readily bandied about when people are dealing with difficult situations. I often say to myself, when I heard when I hear people talking about being resilient, well, what's your alternative? You're just having to deal with the situation and work through it, whether you like it or not. So the the issue really is around the word resilience. resilience, for me, is about having a focus on a particular outcome that you are working towards, is having an underlying belief or an underlying value, that life is meaningful, and you're adding to some bigger contribution to some bigger picture. And it's having the flexibility and adaptability to react and change as the circumstances unfold before you. That's what makes you resilient. know whether you're able to cope and put up with stuff.
Wendy Hanson 24:22
I know the coping word. You know, if you ask somebody how they're doing, and they say, I'm coping, you know, you can kind of feel the energy in that the low energy and that I was looking up resilience online. And I love this definition, that the idea of resilience originates from material science where it describes the property of a material to resume its shape after distortion or stress. And I thought that really stuck in my mind is yes, that is really what resilience is that I can come back from something quicker and if I'm coping could stay at the coping level for a long time and just not make progress. So what are some of the things that that we can do to become more resilient? What are what are those things look like you've had some great things that emotions that facilitate you getting organized our esteem, pride, enthusiasm. You know, that's part of what I enjoyed about the book is that there were really things that you could do. So what are some of those things that show up for you that people can do about becoming more resilient and more emotionally capable?
Robin Hills 25:32
Yeah. Well, I think, if I can take a step back and build upon your definition, which I think is a wonderful definition, yet, it's problematic, because we are looking at resilience, and comparing it with a spring or a piece of elastic, that we were putting weights on back in our science classes in our teens. And we were measuring Young's modulus just to see stretch over strain. And it works to a certain extent when we're looking at human behavior. But that's not the whole story, the metaphor of resilience starts to break down, when you look at too much resilience. Or when you look at, as you say, learning through that experience and growing and developing through that experience. So the important part of resilience is to recognize that resilience is there to help and to make you better to make you grow, to develop and to support you, because you're a better person, because of the adversity you've been through, rather than despite it. So if I can leave people with that one thought, and that one takeaway, you actually become more resilient as you're going through adversity, run despite adversity. And then to go back to your question, what are some of the things that people can do? Well, people can be a lot more proactive. The situation that we find ourselves in at the moment is not ideal. And for many people, it's going to get worse before it gets better. So what is it that I can proactively do to ensure that I make the best of the situation that I find myself in, I don't like it any more than you do. But what I can do is to feel in control. That's another thing you can do. Put yourself in control, what is it that you can do on a day to day basis that puts you in control? Well, I'm in control of the time that I get up every morning, the time that I go to bed, I can choose whether to clean my teeth, I can choose what what I eat, I can choose which emails I respond to, I can choose what I do on social media, recognize what those choices are, also recognize that it's important to have good social networks. Now I can't come to the states to meet you can't come to the United Kingdom to meet me just meet to say that we can't connect and we can't engage over zoom, or through podcasts or through other things to build up our connections that way. Okay, I can't touch you. You can't touch me, we can't hug but metaphorically, we can support each other that way. And then look at those emotions that facilitate resilience. When you feel good, when you feel good about yourself, when you feel refreshed, rewarded, whatever it is, what is it you could do to get more of those emotions? How do you construct your life and the tasks that you have to perform in order to get those rewarding emotions. And there are certain emotions that drain resilience. And it's very easy for you and I to talk about these when the but when you're in the pits of despair, when you have been sucked down into these emotions, which are draining you in every way and reducing your energy. You cannot snap out of it. But the first thing that you can start to do is just to say, Okay, I'm not feeling very good. I'm not feeling very good about myself. I'm not feeling very good about the situation. I'm going to have to live with it for a while. And when the opportunity presents itself, what is it that I can do to help myself get out To this, and I must say that if somebody has a need to go along and seek medical attention around their medic better mental health, I would firmly encourage them to do that, and not to be fearful of taking some of the very powerful medications that have been developed to help people to overcome their, their negative state, their their feelings of despair, because more often than not part of their brain is not making the biochemicals that they need, in order to get the emotions that they need in order to cope.
Wendy Hanson 30:47
That's a good call out Robin, because I, you know, we need to make sure that these are not usual times at all, and people are feeling things that they have never felt before and to know that you can go get help. I know, coaching a lot of leaders in the last month or so, you know, usually the beginning of the year, everybody's like, I got to get better at this, I got to get better at that. And I think this year, it's I'm hearing more about needing to be more self compassionate, rather than push ahead. This is a time to breathe, and use those self self coaching skills of what is it that I need to feel better about this right now, you know, what can I do to feel more in control. And, you know, one of the things in the book too, was, you know, if you have all these big projects, break them down into small pieces, so that you can feel some success like that will build your capacity and your resilience, if you can feel like I am moving in the right direction. And you're compassionate with yourself. Because as we said, with that mirror image of what a leader does, or a manager and their team, if you are compassionate with yourself, you will move that on to your people, and everybody in the organization will benefit.
Robin Hills 32:05
It also brings in another really interesting concept that is underpinned by emotional intelligence. And that's mindfulness. Now, without getting all metaphysical, with you to build in more around spiritual intelligence, just recognize that we are living in the present moment. So at this particular present moment, I am talking to you, Wendy. So I'm not able to deal with some of the inquiries that I'm getting from learners around my courses, I'm not able to develop another course, because I'm having a conversation with you. It also means if my telephone was to ring, and I should have switched it off before this podcast, and I happen, so I hope it doesn't go off. But if it does go off, I'm here speaking with you, that phone call could wait. And it can wait until such a time as I am ready to make that phone call. Now, it might mean that we end up doing a voicemail tennis match. But at some point, we can then get together when we are emotionally in the right frame of mind to have that discussion. I'm very fortunate, you're very fortunate in that, if we miss a call, nobody's life is going to be terminated because of it. I have to say this to the doctors I work with, you've got to make a decision as to when you're going to take emergency calls, or when you're not going to take emergency calls. And if you are in a situation where you have to listen out for emergency calls, it changes your behavior in the way in which you react within the present moment. But it's still your choice.
Wendy Hanson 33:59
So mindfulness is another factor, like being really focused in the moment not being somewhere else. And when you read about people that are really productive, like Fast Company just had their issue which they talked about who are the most productive people like Serena Williams was at the top of one of those lists. They always talk about spending some time in mindfulness and meditation. So there is a reason and from a neuroscience standpoint, that's a that's a whole 'nother podcast, but we know how important that is. So any any closing thoughts and how can people find you to get more information about what you're up to Robin? We're going to have all of these in the show notes. We'll have links to how to get in touch with you but any other closing pieces you'd like to share?
Robin Hills 34:49
I think the the closing piece that I would like to say is just not to be frightened emotion of your own emotions, but just To recognize them as containing information. I know we've spoken about this, but I really want to emphasize it. What is the information this emotion is giving you? And how can you work with that emotion in an intelligent way. And if you just become a lot more aware of how you're feeling, and how you're working with your emotions, it will help you to empathize with other people who may be feeling similar emotions, it will allow your self to engage with them at a deeper level. And by so doing, you'll become a lot more emotionally intelligent.
Wendy Hanson 35:43
And what is your website again, Robin, in case people aren't looking at the show notes and want to get in touch with you.
Robin Hills 35:50
Can I give you two websites. The first is the AI for change website, which I would encourage people to go along and find out more about me more about eo for change - it's ei4change.com. And then the other website I will give you is courses.ei. For change again, the number four change AI for change dot info. And that will give people the opportunity to go and have a look at my emotional intelligence courses. There's a free emotional intelligence book. And there's a free mindfulness course that people could be enrolling.
Wendy Hanson 36:34
Right, good resources for now. Yes. Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us this was really, I really appreciate your perspective and that you have studied this for so long and it brought some new insights to us as you put this out in the world. So everybody, be safe, be be aware of the impact that you have on others. And that's a big takeaway, whether you're a leader, whether you're a manager, your emotions are really going to be a mirror for other people. So make sure that you make them positive when you can. All right, have a wonderful day.