Do you have three seconds to become more emotionally intelligent?
Humans are reactive and emotional creatures by nature. This means that in the stress of a workplace we often find ourselves in emotionally charged situations. Becoming more flexible and insightful when we encounter these moments will not only improve our work but the mental health of our work environment.
Justin Bariso is a consultant who helps organizations think differently and communicate with impact. In 2016 LinkedIn named him the top voice in management and culture. His new book is EQ Applied: The Real World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.
I recently interviewed Bariso for the LEADx Leadership Show, where we dug into the meaning of EQ and what to ask yourself when things go awry.
(The interview below has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: How do you define EQ?
Justin Bariso: I distill it into the simplest definition, probably, that’s out there, which is ’emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you instead of against you.’ And there are all kinds of ways that you can apply that and direct that, but basically, that’s what it is. We’re emotional creatures, we make decisions based on emotion, many times. Others try to reach us or we try to reach others based on a decision, so it’s being able to understand those emotions, to manage those emotions, to keep them under control so that you’re making them work for you.
Kruse: You were taught something called the “Three Second Trick.” Tell me about that.
Bariso: Right, so I actually learned that from an unlikely source, it was comedian Craig Ferguson, and I was watching an interview one day and he says, “You know before you say anything, you have to ask yourself three questions: Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? And does this need to be said by me now?” And he says it humorously, and he makes a joke about how it took him three marriages to learn that lesson, but that really struck me, especially because of my personality type, which, I’m a little more extroverted, I’m quick to speak, sometimes more quickly than I should be. I talk too much sometimes, so those three questions I found were perfect. And I would, it takes three seconds, once you get the practice, it takes three seconds to go through, so I apply them sometimes if I … yeah, if I’m in a meeting, and I have an impulse to say something right away I’ll go through the three questions real quick. Usually, it’s like, “okay, wait. Let’s hear what others have to say first. Let’s get more the big picture,” right?
Other times the answer to all three questions is yes, this does need to be said, by me, right now, and boom. And then you have the confidence to speak and not feel like you’re gonna regret what you’re saying later. So that’s the three-second trick. But for others, it’s different. See, that’s my tendency. For another person that’s more introverted, they don’t need to ask themselves that, because their tendency is probably not to speak up, and they often regret that. So what I advise in that case, ask yourself the question, “Will I regret not saying this later?” And sometimes just taking a couple seconds to ask you that will give you the motivation to go ahead and speak up.
So it’s all about self-awareness. Learning to identify your own tendencies, your own emotions, and then devising a strategy to help you in those moments.