Alex Meade our VP of Sales & Marketing, and Sabina Hahn, our Lead Content Strategist here at Beacons Point invited Rebecca Devaney and Kate Babcock of Culture Theory to talk about why emotional intelligence in the workplace is important. Culture Theory is a business consulting firm that focuses on bringing emotional intelligence to your workplace.
Episode Show Notes:
Kate and Rebecca of Culture Theory dive into common scenarios and what drives them to study and practice emotional intelligence. They define emotional intelligence as the ability or capacity to use and understand your own and others’ emotions. Which manifests as empathy, social skills, or great decision-making. Awareness of your or another’s emotions can have a direct impact on your success in life, whether it be professionally or personally. Emotional intelligence has a place in everyone’s lives and can help guide you in tough decisions or to see someone else’s side without controversy. Tune in to see how you can manifest your life with the help of emotional intelligence.
Connect With Us
Kate Babcock, Co-Founder at Culture Theory
Rebecca Devaney, Co-Founder at Culture Theory
Our company Culture Theory, led by me and management expert Kate Babcock, works harmoniously with leaders and teams to learn to discover, pursue, and prosper from Ei solutions to their challenges. Please reach out if this work connects with you, or if you simply would like to hear more.
Sabina Hahn, Beacons Point, Content Strategist
Sabina discovered her keenness for strategic and creative storytelling in college while working on campaigns for brands such as CHOC Hospital and Wienerschnitzel. As a Content Strategist at Beacons Point, Sabina works with the BP team to create engaging content that helps her clients reach their prospective customers and hit their goals.
Alex Meade, Beacons Point, VP of Sales & Marketing
Alex is the VP of Sales & Marketing at Beacons Point, a leader of HubSpot User Groups, the host of the B2B Growth Marketer Podcast, and a collector of Kurt Vonnegut books and San Diego craft beer.
Rebecca Devaney [00:00:00] Emotional intelligence is behind every single success we’ve ever had; also, every failure.
Alex Meade [00:00:06] Welcome to the B2B Growth Marketer Podcast. I’m Alex.
Sabina Hahn [00:00:09] And I’m Sabina.
Alex Meade [00:00:10] Today, we have an exciting topic. It’s something that maybe you’ve heard, something maybe you’ve seen on the Internet, maybe someone else or your friends were talking about, but maybe you don’t know a lot about it. No, we’re not talking about [inaudible 00:00:22] yet. We’re talking about emotional intelligence.
Sabina Hahn [00:00:26] This show we talk to Rebecca Devaney and Kate Babcock. They’re the founders of Culture Theory. Culture Theory is a company that trains teams and organizations in emotional intelligence to transform their productivity and culture, maximize their effectiveness, build team cohesion, and accelerate thoughtful and ambitious leaders.
Alex Meade [00:00:45] This episode was really fun to record. Through the conversation with them talking about different scenarios, where they came from to how they came to this idea of training teams through emotional intelligence was really reflective and an interesting process to go through and how it impacted them and thinking about how awareness of emotions can have an impact of your life, the people around you, the people you work with, your coworkers and everybody. As we talked a lot about sales and marketing, we also talked about a lot of different scenarios for all types of people. This episode is a great episode for anybody. For people that are team leaders, directors, VPs, if you’re starting your career, just dealing with people at home or other vendors, this is a great episode. Thank you so much for listening, and we hope you enjoy the show.
Welcome to the B2B Growth Marketer Podcast. My name is Alex, and I am joined today with a cohost, Sabina. Sabina, welcome.
Sabina Hahn [00:01:53] Thank you for having me again. Haven’t been kicked off yet.
Alex Meade [00:01:58] Still running two episodes so far. Our guest today is Rebecca and Kate from Culture Theory. Rebecca and Kate, welcome.
Kate Babcock [00:02:07] Thank you. Thank you so much.
Rebecca Devaney [00:02:09] Thank you for having us.
Alex Meade [00:02:11] I’m very excited about this. We were connected by a mutual friend. We’re going to be talking all about emotional intelligence today, something that I think is, obviously, becoming more of a talked about issue. More people are thinking about it, and more people are addressing it. Maybe if you guys can start for… I think for most people they’ve heard that term, they think they know what it means. Can you give us what is emotional intelligence, and why should we be thinking about it?
Rebecca Devaney [00:02:49] Well, emotional intelligence, I think, was first coined by Jane Austen. She just has one sentence about emotional intelligence in one of her books. Then in the 50s it was picked up by educational thought leaders, seeing this potential for building out frameworks around our emotional experiences. These are the experiences that we all have—the experience of developing self-awareness, regulation, empathy, social skills. These frameworks became more solidified. Daniel Goleman is known as the person who made it famous. Since then, we’re finally seeing in the past five years it moving from academia and into the workplace, into schools. We’re seeing it, because we do have these fractures in society. We have fractures within ourselves, within our workplaces, where that emotional experience is either being ignored or it’s not being supported. If you’re not supporting your workers’ development as people—and part of that is their emotional intelligence—I don’t think people are doing their job if they’re not supporting that part of a person. If you want to think about the definition, it’s simply the ability or capacity to use, understand your own emotions and other people’s emotions. That could manifest as empathy; it could manifest as social skills; it could manifest in really good decision-making. It’s our work on this planet to both evangelize for emotional intelligence and also to help make it extremely tactical and executable, whether it’s in education, or whether it’s in an NGO, or workplaces so we can all just get a little bit better both as people but also as coworkers, and also more successful.
Kate Babcock [00:04:49] Taking it out of the theoretical and applying it to daily life, to daily circumstances.
Alex Meade [00:04:58] To ask you personally, how did you two decide this is what you wanted to do? How did you wake up one day and say, “I’m going to help people understand, discover, and help them work on their emotional intelligence”? What’s your origin story on doing this?
Kate Babcock [00:05:22] Well, for me, mine actually started when my dad pointed out to me in high school as a skill set I had before I really knew what the heck it was. He said, “You really do have high emotional intelligence.” I was like, “Great, awesome.” I felt like I was struggling so badly with school, because I had undiagnosed ADD, which is very common as a woman. I felt like a failure a lot of the times. But I was still selected as team captain for things, and I was selected for leadership retreats at school, even though my grades were mediocre. I did fine, but I wasn’t great. Those skills, because I had them as a strength as a kid, I focused on them a little bit and used them to benefit me in the workplace, and help me with my career, and noticed that a lot of the reasons people got in their own way around me were because they didn’t have self-regulation or they didn’t have self-awareness. They weren’t able to see where they were getting in their own way and then try to remove those roadblocks for themselves. I found it as a hugely beneficial skill set as a manager, as a young manager. I was 24 when I managed a surgical practice just outside of Boston. It became the skill set that allowed me to excel. It allowed me to go farther. Something that we talk about a lot was a natural set of strengths that I had that I then focused on, because it made me feel good to work on them. I felt good, because I could be strong in this area, where in other areas I didn’t feel as strong. As we started developing businesses, Rebecca and I together, we naturally came to this after focusing on working on culture, company cultures, business cultures. The core of a healthy company culture is actually having a workforce that is emotionally intelligent and having leadership that’s emotionally intelligent and that you can’t really achieve other business objectives without having an emotionally intelligent staff, company, leadership team. Rebecca came to it, actually, at a very similar age.
Rebecca Devaney [00:08:00] We had parallel tracks but very different stories. Kate and I grew up close to each other, but somehow, we never met despite having all the same interests, which is very strange, until we were in our early 30s. When I was 12 or 13, my dad went to jail, and I had a lot of huge interpersonal issues. I didn’t even talk for a year. I had bad PTSD. This is so weird. I had this guy who would bully me. I thought it was so funny, because I thought, “I don’t know why anyone would bully me. I have nothing to lose.” I have a resilience that only somebody who is completely traumatized could have in some weird ways. I stood up to this guy one day, and he actually became my friend, because bullies also, obviously, are very messed up. He became my best friend. He gave me the book on emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I read it, and everything that I had been told were poor instincts. I have a lot of empathy. I had been told that wasn’t a good thing, and awareness and all these things. All my hunches about the world were like, “Aha! This guy’s validating me.” I took down that this is the key to success piece. Within a year I was valedictorian. I went from being an okay student to being like, “Okay, so, how do I get out of this situation?” I would wake up, I’d say, at 4:30 in the morning, and I got two Ivy League degrees. I’ve had four companies. I can’t imagine how much of it I owe to studying emotional intelligence and prioritizing it my whole life. It’s not that I’m more emotionally intelligent; I just know it’s important because I’ve lived it my whole life.
Kate Babcock [00:09:52] I think that for both of us it’s not that we are more emotionally intelligent, like Rebecca said, than anybody else; it’s that we have placed a focus on it for a long time. That’s the whole point of emotional intelligence. One of the best things about it is that everyone has it, and everyone has the ability to develop it further over the course of their lives. It’s just a matter of how much attention you place on it and direct towards it.
Alex Meade [00:10:18] That’s so interesting that you both at a very specific age felt like you discovered it, like it was something that you finally realized inside of yourself that oh, the reason why I’m good at X, Y, Z is because of this, because now you’ve been made aware. I think in a lot of cases, not just emotional intelligence but a lot of things, that once you become aware of something, then all of a sudden, it’s something you know you can work on, something you can focus on. It seems like you both had different situations, different ways of getting to it but came to the same conclusion.
Kate Babcock [00:10:58] [inaudible]
Alex Meade [00:10:58] Kate, with you… Oh, go ahead.
Kate Babcock [00:11:00] I was just going to ask you if you’d ever read a book and then all of a sudden, you hear references to that book everywhere, or a classic or something where yes, you know “Moby Dick,” but then you read “Moby Dick,” and then you see references to it everywhere afterwards. It’s like that, where you raise your awareness of something, and then all of a sudden you see it everywhere.
Sabina Hahn [00:11:22] Mine was buying a car. I was like, “I’ve never seen this car on the road,” and now I see them everywhere. A little less educated than books but…
Kate Babcock [00:11:31] Yeah, exactly.
Alex Meade [00:11:34] Well, it’s interesting, because what you’ve both described—Kate, you more specifically—was you became a good leader and manager. You did it at a young age. You were involved in leadership retreats at school and then in that. A lot of people, to counter that, say, “Well, you’re good at leadership, and you’re a good manager.” How would you tell someone…? Is there a difference between being a good manager and being aware of your emotional intelligence so that you can work on it, or do those go hand in hand?
Kate Babcock [00:12:16] I would say that they… Well, I do think they go hand in hand if you are somebody who doesn’t intentionally seek leadership but then ultimately gets defaulted into leadership positions, which is what kept happening to me. I kept being surprised that I was nominated for the section leader position in my chorus or being nominated to be a… I thought I was flying under the radar. I thought I was just being friends with people. I thought I was being helpful. I thought I was being supportive of my teammates and my employees. I didn’t seek the first management position I had. I wasn’t looking for it. But because I had these skills that as a young kid I wasn’t looking to develop necessarily. But it was something where, I think, if you don’t seek out but you end up finding yourself in leadership or management positions a lot, it’s because of these skills a lot of the time. I do think they go hand in hand with unintentional leadership positions.
Rebecca Devaney [00:13:22] I would just add that… My background has been as an executive, and Kate’s has been as a manager. We’re well attuned to answer this question. What I would say is that everyone Kate has managed has chosen to have her manage them, and everyone I’ve led has chosen to follow what I have done. Leaders are just a little more vision focused, and managers are more team building. Kate is a human Border Collie. She can manage a team, run around in circles, get them to do what she needs. I can’t do that, but I can create a vision, and I can create a strategy for moving forward. But no one’s going to do anything that we say without being the type of person leading with integrity, being honest, hiring the right people. Emotional intelligence is behind every single success we’ve ever had and also every failure.
Alex Meade [00:14:28] Now let’s talk more about… Both of you said you became aware of it through your own way, your own time, but once you became aware of it, you realized it was something that you could work on and you could either—I don’t know. What’s the right word?—practice, to work on. You both decided that this is something that you have, and it’s a big asset that you have, and something that you know you can improve. Let’s talk about how you go about that. How does one improve their emotional intelligence? How do you take time to work on it? How do you set…? What are some things you can do? How do people become aware of it to do that? I’m curious on the next practical items of that.
Kate Babcock [00:15:19] Well, I think developing your awareness is the foundation of it, as we’ve already talked about. You can’t fix the problem until you’re aware of the problem, not that your emotions are a problem. Emotions are actually incredibly valuable, whether they’re good emotions or bad. There’s no good or bad emotion. It’s more like is it helpful to you, and if it’s not, how do you regulate it. Is it helpful to you in the given situation or not? It’s all context, I guess. With building the awareness, it starts with not only just getting some initial information, but I think it starts with asking questions. Emotional intelligence, I think in general, the basis of it is asking questions, asking questions of yourself and giving yourself the space to receive any information, whatever the information is, and not really judging it and not acting on it until you understand it better.
Rebecca Devaney [00:16:32] There’s a statistic I read the other day, where it said that only 36% of the average American can correctly identify their emotion. I think the amount of people that think they can is probably around 95%. This is what we deal with, and it’s something that we have to acknowledge as part of our work. Just knowing what you’re feeling, if you’re feeling angry or if you’re feeling sad, that is pretty much the most valuable thing you can do in terms of your entire life is just simply know how you feel. Once you know how you feel, learning how to regulate it. Once you can regulate it, you can start using your emotions to your benefit, using emotional information to inform your decisions, to inform how you act with people. There’s so many resources out there if there’s one area that might be difficult, like emotional regulation, for instance. In anger management courses they have people go on a three months’ anger cleanse. All that is giving people space and time to notice they’re angry. That’s it. It changes people’s lives. I’m watching Pam and Tommy right now. Tommy had to go to anger management. I can’t believe how much more I know about both of them now. I really helped them, because a lot of times people go from angry to action so fast that they never even realized, “Oh, I’m angry. This is why, and this is what the outcome is.” We’re doing some work with gender violence and, hopefully, we’ll be doing more of it globally. What we found out is that there’s all these intervention points, whether it’s at the doctor, or with village elders, or wherever women are being mistreated, and they score lower on the EI section of just understanding their emotions. Instead of having these huge interventions that are going to make people run away and be like, “Nothing’s wrong,” just helping them at every one of those moments, being like, “How do you feel? What made you feel that way? What do you want to do?” Just reiterating that they have that path, that inoculates women from harm. That’s how powerful just the simplest piece of this can be.
Kate Babcock [00:18:56] I would say that oftentimes it’s easiest to start to break into developing your own emotional intelligence from an inflection starting with a particular fight that you and your spouse have over and over and over and over and over again, where you’ve had the same fight for years now multiple times and looking at that disagreement, why you keep having it, what’s your own part in the cycle that you have within that fight with your spouse, what’s theirs, what are you feeling, and is that really what you’re feeling, or is that just a reaction to the annoyance of the 50 times you’ve had this fight already, and getting down to the root of something, being willing to dive into it, dive deep and take some ownership. Once you understand those cyclical things or that big inflection point in your life, how did you get there, how did you contribute to getting there, what were the other factors that were out of your control, and then looking at what was in your control and then saying, “Okay, well, what do I want to do about that thing now that I know that these things are within my control? What can I do to start to change that?” Those are the actions that you can then start to take, whether that’s just learning more, or whether it is actually having conversations, or getting help from somebody else—a friend, or a therapist, or a mentor, or whoever, a coach. That’s what I would say. Sometimes it’s easiest to look at it from something that’s more explosive than it is from the more subtle things that we go through every day all day long.
Alex Meade [00:20:46] I’ve got a three-year-old. I feel like I go through this all the time. We’re always working on him. Like, “Why are you mad? Why are you upset?” Trying to get him to tell us, to think about it and say, “Well, after about five minutes he usually has no idea why he was upset.” It’s interesting for adults. Going through that now. I’ve gone through exercises like, “Why am I upset? Oh, well, someone sent me a Slack message that could have been passive/aggressive but could have been fun. I don’t know why I’m mad.” It’s interesting.
Kate Babcock [00:21:26] The difference, hopefully, between your three-year-old and adults is that adults have a fully developed frontal lobe, and their brains are fully developed. They have a greater likelihood of being able to possibly articulate their feelings, whereas the three-year-old just doesn’t have it. They don’t have it yet.
Rebecca Devaney [00:21:46] It only develops at 25, though. If you did anything really irresponsible under 25, you’re fine. It’s not a big deal.
Alex Meade [00:21:52] I’m fine? That’s good to know.
Rebecca Devaney [00:21:55] Brain damage is at 25.
Alex Meade [00:21:59] That’s good to know.
Kate Babcock [00:22:00] I will say, though, with this last message that… A lot of what we’re talking about here is when you build your emotional intelligence, you give yourself almost time. You bend time and space within yourself. By having the ability to pause and not just react but give yourself the time and the luxury of responding, if you want to respond, or if you think it’s the best idea to respond as opposed to just telling off the person who sends you the possibly passive/aggressive Slack message. Maybe it wasn’t actually intended to be passive/aggressive is, hopefully, the goal.
Sabina Hahn [00:22:41] I think I learned a long time ago that if something makes you angry and you want to respond immediately, don’t. Resist all urges. Write the email, but don’t put anything in the subject line or the send bar and then just sit on it. Three days later you’ll probably not even remember why it was such a big deal. I think that initial knee-jerk response of like, “Oh, this hurt my feelings. I want to make their feelings hurt, as well,” is regulation in the sense of I don’t have to say this right now, and it’s not productive. We’re going to pause, and we’ll come back to it later.
Kate Babcock [00:23:18] What’s my goal here?
Rebecca Devaney [00:23:22] That’s just the thing is, “Oh, well, it’s just that…” We live in this economy that has this tit-for-tat vibe. How do we help each other? We’re always responding, because people are constantly doing rude things to all of us. We’re having people say things that are offensive, things that get under our skin, things that echo our little secret traumas, people speaking down to us because they had a bad day somewhere else, people taking things out on us that aren’t our fault. We actually have so much power overtaking those moments. If you can have the confidence to be like, “Okay, we’re raising each other together as adults.” That’s how I see it, as we’re all practicing EI. If we all practice EI it’s like, “Hey, I noticed that you were just really aggressive towards me. That really hurt my feelings. I also am wondering why and that we can make sure that that doesn’t happen again.” I have these conversations with my husband, not that often but once in a while. I couldn’t even have them five years ago. I couldn’t just be like, “This is my feeling. This was your action. It did not make me feel this way. I do feel this way,” and that whole idea of cause and effect. That’s been so hard for me to be like, “No one’s causing me to feel any way. It’s my peace. I can give it away if I want to,” which I do quite a bit. I felt a certain way because somebody did something. All I really need to do is tell them that thing, and a lot of times they’ll be like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I haven’t slept in two days.” Or sometimes you find out they’re going through something horrid, which I’m sure has happened to all of you, where somebody has mistreated you, and then you find out. These moments, it can almost become a moment of connection, unless it’s the same dude doing it all the time, and it’s like, “No,” cutting it off.
Sabina Hahn [00:25:22] I have…
Alex Meade [00:25:18] Oh, go ahead, Sabina. I keep cutting you off, Sabina. I’m sorry.
Sabina Hahn [00:25:26] No, you’re good. I have a question. If you are dealing with an adult above 25… I’m 24, so I can still get away with it.
Kate Babcock [00:25:39] You’re on the line.
Sabina Hahn [00:25:41] I’m physically incapable of doing irresponsible things. I went to a tennis court last night, and the sign said No activities other than tennis in the courts. I was like, “Yes, I don’t think we should kick the soccer ball in here if the sign says we shouldn’t.” I’m physically averse to all of those things. If you’re dealing with someone who’s above 25 and maybe acts like Alex’s three-year-old who is not really in touch with their emotions, doesn’t know how to self-regulate their responses, how do you work with somebody who has low emotional intelligence in a way that’s productive for both parties, especially in the workplace? It’s older generations. It’s just grind through it, ignore it, rub some dirt on it, that very push-through mentality of ignore your emotions mentality. How do you work with somebody who maybe feels that way? If you come to them with like, “This is how I feel,” and they’re like, “I don’t really care how you feel,” how do you deal with that situation?
Kate Babcock [00:26:56] Well, I would say first of all, understand what your goal of telling them how you feel is. What’s the outcome you would like to achieve? Maybe articulate that outcome to them as part of why you’re telling them what you’re feeling. That might be that you have to continue to work together no matter what, unless one of you leaves, or both of you. One of the reasons that developing or focusing on emotional intelligence in the workplace is that it is a safe environment, and also, it’s an environment in which none of you can extricate yourselves unless you choose to find another job. You are all trapped together, but you do all have usually a common objective. If you’re working with somebody, then you have something in common that you’re trying to work towards, which means that there is some… Because of that, you can focus on the goal as opposed to the person. If you can both focus on that as opposed to each other’s annoying behaviors or not productive behaviors, or start there, at least, start with the common objective to then try to build the relationship further. That is, if you can’t avoid them.
Rebecca Devaney [00:28:43] If you’re speaking of dysregulation, it’s hard to think not emotionally intelligent. The person could be extremely emotionally intelligent and just have lots of problems. I think just asking enough questions, where some trust is built, because once you have some trust, you might be able to find out more of the nature of what the challenge is. Without trust nothing ever happens. We refer out to psychologists a lot. We’re not therapists, we’re not psychologists, but we’re adjunct to that. There’s a line that happens. We’ve done this many times, because we find out that there is a dysregulation that somebody needs some help with that is beyond our scope. Sometimes that’s an issue. I’m sure you’ve all had people who have gotten mental health help, and they just become the best version of themselves. That’s the goal. To be able to build the trust to have the conversation that could lead to either an intervention like that or at least being able to tell them how it makes you feel, which is the hardest thing in the world, but it’s really helpful at work.
Kate Babcock [00:29:53] I would also say within a team, if you’re trying to raise the collective emotional intelligence of a team, if you have other allies or people who work similarly to you or have similar feelings to you, it’s not that you want to gang up on the person who might be exhibiting the maladaptive behavior. If you’re collectively raising the EI of your team, it’s going to make it uncomfortable for the person who doesn’t also raise their emotional intelligence or focus on their emotional intelligence. It’s going to make them uncomfortable within the team. They’re going to get uncomfortable enough that they will either… There are three likely possibilities: one, that they decide to leave, which has happened; or two, that they are going to try to focus on and develop theirs, as well; or three, they become extraordinarily disruptive and then become a problem, where they react by becoming even more problematic. Then they’re going to result in repercussions like warnings and possibly termination. Usually, one of those three things is going to happen. Also, rather than focusing your attention on trying to adapt that person’s behavior or get that person to change, you can focus on yourself, developing yourself, focus on people who actually are looking to develop themselves, as well, helping build the culture around you that you want to work in. That includes your leadership, too, talking to them about what your goals are for the team so that you are focusing on the positive behaviors and minimizing the nonproductive behaviors or bad behaviors and trying to make it an environment that you want to work in. That is likely not going to be an environment other people will want to work in if they don’t share the same values.
Alex Meade [00:32:03] I feel like there’s so much there. I feel like there’s so much to unpack on all of this. I know we said this would be 25 to 40 minutes. I feel like this could be a three-hour conversation, because there’s so many different areas and aspects to go on. We’ve got these scenarios that we’ve worked on. We have a team of 11. We have three owners that are effectively the managers of different departments. I’m sure we’ve had internally some of them at bigger companies. Thinking about these as scenarios, we wanted to get your thoughts on these from an employee perspective and from an employer/manager perspective. Are you guys game for that? Can we put you on the spot here?
Rebecca Devaney [00:32:56] Yes. I want to answer with ridiculous things, because it’s such a heavy time, but I’m going to try and give a professional response.
Alex Meade [00:33:05] There’s so many more directions we can go in.
Rebecca Devaney [00:33:11] We could just do this. It’s okay. I will be very serious.
Sabina Hahn [00:33:17] You can have a little bit of both on there, I think. Break it up a little bit.
Alex Meade [00:33:21] You can have a little fun.
Sabina Hahn [00:33:25] I will give you guys the first one from an employee perspective. My boss doesn’t give me helpful feedback. What do I do? How do I work with that situation?
Kate Babcock [00:33:42] Well, I would say define for yourself what kind of feedback you would find helpful specifically and the context of that feedback, the kind of feedback, whether it’s… I’m having trouble pulling out an example of what… Do you need tough love? Do you need somebody to not sugarcoat things? Do you need the compliment sandwich thing, or do you need something written down? Do you need it to be one-on-one? Do you need it to be something where you do regular check-ins and have it be more common? Figure out exactly what specifics around the kind of feedback that you would find helpful are, and then schedule a time with your boss to have a conversation about that if you don’t already have a regular time set up to do that. Also, ask them what kind of feedback would be helpful for them, as well. What kind of feedback would they like? How would they like to receive that?
Rebecca Devaney [00:34:55] To add on to that, there’s a stat that… I think it’s 59% of people who aren’t properly onboarded leave within three years. Within the onboarding there should be a feedback section, where it’s not just this is when you’ll get feedback; it’s hey, what kind of feedback do you like? What motivates you? What does it look like? The who, what, when, where of feedback. In the worst case situation, you just hold the boss hostage till they tell you. That works really well.
Kate Babcock [00:35:28] You’re advocating for hostage situations. That’s your boss, right, Sabina?
Sabina Hahn [00:35:34] One of them.
Alex Meade [00:35:31] Not technically. Well, I was just thinking like, “Uh-oh. Am I going to get a lot of hostile Slack messages until I give proper feedback?” I like what you say—tell them what you expect. Set the expectations, set the tone. If you want written feedback with bullet points… Ask for what is best for you. Hopefully, the boss is also working on their emotional intelligence. They might already be having that conversation on the onboarding, like you said. That’s super interesting. What do you guys think of these scenarios? I think of companies in general. We work with marketers and salespeople. They’re dealing with how do they get feedback on a sales process. That might be a little more tough love direct marketing. It might be like, “It needs to be a more professional tone,” which is very broad feedback. Marketers get the brunt of how do we define what my boss just said into tangible changes. You’re nodding your head like, “Yep.”
Kate Babcock [00:36:53] Part of that is going away and then thinking about whatever feedback they’ve given you, and then coming back to them and saying, “Okay, is this what you meant?” Clarifying of expectations all around. You might have to do that multiple times, because they might say, “No, that’s not what I meant.” They might give you equally vague feedback on what you’ve presented, or they might give you more specifics. You whittle down until you get to the truth of whatever it is that they’re looking for. This is also depending on whether or not your boss has given you problematic feedback many times before and might have a style that really doesn’t work with you, or whether this is somebody who is a newer boss and you’re just starting out the relationship with them. The ideal is that you have this conversation at the beginning in your onboarding, in the beginning of the relationship or maybe even in your interview. Like, “How do you receive feedback? What kinds of feedback do you receive? What’s the delivery system of that?” If you’re not and if you’re entrenched already, which is probably more people’s situations than not, then if you do have this conversation and you do give them kindly also without… Go into a conversation like that, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they want to give you effective feedback, even if you think they might not want to give you effective feedback. Giving people the benefit of the doubt in general, including your boss, that they want to be good to you, and they want you to produce good work, and that part of you producing good work is you getting effective feedback. “Okay, I’m going to give them the information they need in order to be a better boss to me.” Also giving them the time and the opportunity to modify their behavior to try to accommodate what you’ve told them so that they’re not immediately failing within the first week. We all know how hard it is to modify our behavior. That goes for our bosses, as well. It takes a lot of work and attention to change. If you’re a boss who has 11 employees, that’s a good-sized team. Or if you have a huge company, you work for a corporation, they’re going to have hundreds of employees, maybe thousands of employees. It might take a little time for them to accommodate the behavior. Have your threshold of what that healthy timeframe might be, too, where you then have a further expectation or you have another follow-up conversation about it.
Alex Meade [00:39:25] I’m going to ask one from the employer perspective. I feel like we at Beacons Point try to be as open and have conversations to avoid this. I know there’s a lot of companies right now that have gone remote. This is something they’re learning how to do and learning how to manage teams that aren’t in the same building as them. With this work from home, what divides work from personal is a very fine line. From an employer perspective like a manager, what are the signs of burnout, and how can they help address it maybe before it even gets there? If they see signs of burnout, what are some things that they can think about, actions they can take, anything?
Rebecca Devaney [00:40:22] I think a lot of times we think of burnout as somebody just coming in, and yelling, and throwing something. In actuality, a lot of times it looks like apathy, where you just have a lack of interest, lack of motivation, lack of pleasure. It looks almost like workplace depression. That’s how I’ve seen it manifest. It’s why we can’t ignore it. Not only does it affect the person, and a lot of times it’s personal. It could be something like they have a new kid. From having a kid, what did that do to your life? There’s things outside of work that just turn our lives upside down. I think knowing that burnout can be real, quiet and listening and talking to people about it. We know right now everyone’s under a lot of stress. For instance, I’m married to a Russian person, and the other half of our family is Ukrainian on that side. We’re pretty devastated. You wouldn’t know that unless I just told you. Talking to my Ukrainian cousins last week, I was devastated. I’m barely touching the situation. Everyone’s fighting so many battles that if that battle is starting to manifest where they can’t perform their job, that’s when we just have to be human beings. I think that’s where it gets a little bit… There’s almost this veneer that there’s work and then there’s life, and there’s professional you and then there’s life you. The truth is there’s just you and there’s just life. That’s it. There’s nothing else. If we don’t treat each other like that… If you can’t go to the people that you work with and say, “Hey, I’m having a really tough time right now. I’m having burnout.” Hopefully, you have people around you who are like, “What do you do when you are burnt out?” Everyone’s answer to that is different. I don’t know. For me, I like to be alone. I like to watch a bad movie, go in a sauna. I really have to be alone to restore, which is just personal. No one would know that unless I told them. Do you have coping mechanisms that are very specific that work for you?
Sabina Hahn [00:42:52] I think I’m still trying to find mine, to be quite honest. I’m not really sure what my comeback is at this point in my life.
Alex Meade [00:43:04] Well, apparently, your brain is not fully developed, Sabina. It’s not your fault. You’re only 24.
Sabina Hahn [00:43:06] I got another eight months.
Alex Meade [00:43:13] To figure it out.
Kate Babcock [00:43:17] I love that answer. I love that response to that. I do think that age does help, because you develop a diversification of those things that help relieve that stress, hopefully. You develop more stressors, I think, but you also develop the ability to manage them, as well. What’s your diversification of happiness? What’s your diversification of stressful release so that if one doesn’t work at a given time? That’s what I’ve had to figure out during these past couple of years. I’ve had to reinvestigate or reconfigure my strategies for burnout or my strategies for this whole situation, this whole stressful situation that we’ve been in, where some things that worked initially when we were first quarantined and everybody working from home. I needed to get out and go for a run most days. I needed to, because I wasn’t getting this passive walking activity to go to the train station every day. I had excess pent-up anxiety. I needed to go for a run or go for a walk. Now those coping mechanisms are different. They’ve developed over the course of the pandemic. It might be that you have more social time. It might be that you have less social time. It might be that you have physical activities that you decide you need to do to help. Having more than one is a good idea. Having more than one friend you can go to, or confidant, or healthy emotional relationship you can rely on is good. Because we’re all going through this, sometimes you don’t have the reserves to be there for the person who might be low. You might be low, as well. Having multiple people you can reach out to, that kind of thing so you’re not an island without any help.
Rebecca Devaney [00:45:31] To go back to our first point about the self-awareness piece, you’ll feel the burnout lifting, and that’s how you know what your thing is. Maybe it is going to a tennis court and breaking in, playing a little soccer.
Sabina Hahn [00:45:45] The door was open; there was just a sign that said…
Rebecca Devaney [00:45:48] They were asking you to break a rule, Sabina. They were asking.
Sabina Hahn [00:45:51] It was my train of thought, too. They were like, “You’re so uncomfortable right now, aren’t you?” I was like, “Yes, I’m very uncomfortable.”
Rebecca Devaney [00:45:59] Maybe your brush with danger alleviated your stress, and then you can get into dirt bike riding or something, whatever it is. Everyone is so fundamentally different. But it is paying attention to like, “Wait a second. That horrible feeling that carries with me all day is suddenly gone. I’m eating vegetables. Note to self: vegetables are part of my rest and relaxation plan.” That’s why we have jobs.
Kate Babcock [00:46:29] We may not be jaywalking.
Sabina Hahn [00:46:35] I went to New York, and I was jaywalking. I was like, “Look at me being a New Yorker.” Then I came here [inaudible 00:46:40] back to California standards, walk into the street. I do like the point you made about having multiple people you can go to. I think we all have that friend who’s maybe going through a rough patch and are usually low. Their low brings you lower. It becomes more toxic than helpful for both of you. I think that’s really important. It might feel selfish to like, “Oh, well, my friend needs my help, even though I’m really struggling. So, I need to be there for them, even if I’m not there for myself.” It’s never selfish to take that time that you need in order to be a better friend, or a better coworker, or leader, whatever that is.
Kate Babcock [00:47:32] Oh, yes. Sometimes to be a better friend you actually do need to be honest about that with yourself and with your friend. You may not have the capacity all the time, and that’s okay. Being honest about that that it’s not… Also, that it’s not them, either; it’s something with you, and it’s not something that they’ve done. If you just don’t answer your friend’s texts or something because you just can’t handle their problems right now, they’re going to think they did something wrong. Letting them know that they didn’t then is also a good thing, and letting them know that you’re also going through something. Then you guys can commiserate. Then you’re both like, “Oh, okay, well, we’re both in this together. Everything should be great. Let’s be in it together.” Sorry, I just swore. I just swore, and I didn’t realize if we could swear here. I didn’t think of it. Sorry.
Alex Meade [00:48:26] That’s fine. We’ll just say it’s a reference to “Moby Dick.” Now that you’ve said “Moby Dick,” it’s going to be everywhere. I feel like for me, burnout… When I was in my 20s or 30s, I don’t feel like burnout was something that I ever thought about. I was working in advertising and film video. This is just the job that I signed up for. I don’t know if I just… I had physical things I went and did from when I left. It was over. I don’t think it was until I started with my business partners this company that burnout became a thing. I answered burnout by working more. That helps. My burnout when I was younger was definitely social. I was like, “Let’s go to happy hour. Let’s go hang out with people.” Now that I have kids and the pandemic, I don’t know what happy hour is anymore. It takes different shapes. I think your coping mechanisms definitely shift as you change or your environments change, which is interesting. I haven’t really thought about it. I eat vegetables. That makes me happy. I listen to an audiobook and walk the dog, and that calms me down. I guess I need to work on my emotional intelligence of tuning into my feelings more, because I never really thought of it that way.
Kate Babcock [00:50:00] Your emotions and feelings give you so much information. Not to listen to them or not to pay attention to them deprives you of a lot of intelligence. It deprives you of a lot of information.
Rebecca Devaney [00:50:17] As a man living in a patriarchy, we were all told those are soft skills, those aren’t important, when in actuality, people are totally unreasonable, yet they make sense emotionally. You can’t deny an emotion. People do things, and everyone’s like, “No, reason is so important.” I’m like, “Really?” All I see are people having emotional decisions that they later come up with logical reasons for and tell you the logical reason. It’s like, “No, I saw you. You bought that shirt because it was green.” Seventy percent of shirts are bought because of the color they are. No one cares. It’s such madness. It’s really unfair to men, specifically, I think, to everyone, but men being told whatever you do, don’t use emotions or understand your emotions, because that would be weakness. That’s literally the opposite. We’re biologically wired to be powerful from a place of emotional strength. All men on the planet are wired that way. You were…
Sabina Hahn [00:51:23] [inaudible] and the guys are great. They are, but they come from the background of nut up or shut up, don’t talk about it, punch through the pain, all of that stuff. I’m glad they have that outlet, but just being around them, I’m sitting in the corner like, “You know, guys, therapy is really cool, and I think you should try it. I think it would be good for you.” They’re like, “No, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go lift.” Like, “Okay, that’s fine.” Very funny.
Kate Babcock [00:51:52] Do you even emotionally intelligent, though? It is so much information, and emotions are driving decisions all the time. It’s just are you aware of those emotions or not? Focusing on your own awareness allows you to receive a lot more information and make much more powerful, much better decisions, because you have more information. You’re not just suppressing it, ignoring it, or shoving it down, down and away, punching it out.
Sabina Hahn [00:52:28] That’s a great way to put it, too, for someone who’s like, “I don’t really want to be in touch with my emotions.” When has something negative ever come out of having more information? Probably never, because it’s just information. You can label it as whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it’s like, “Here you go. Now make an educated choice,” rather than like, “Oh, you’re emotional.” No, I just understand the situation for what it is.
Kate Babcock [00:52:59] Emotions are going to impact your decision no matter what. Being aware of them, and knowing what they are, and knowing how they’re contributing to how you feel about a decision you have to make is a lot more powerful and informed than not. It’s the difference between reacting and responding. Reacting is letting the emotion run away without you, and responding is taking into account and then making a calculated choice to then take an action. Critical.
Alex Meade [00:53:31] It’s interesting. The older I’ve gotten, I think the better I have realized that if someone’s doing something that’s bothering you, maybe being married for 10 years, kids now, the time for conversations with my wife has certainly dropped, the amount of time we have to have just one-on-one conversations. Things can fester, and they can take a long time to clear. That’s happened in the past with friendships, other relationships. I think it’s all coming full circle. I don’t think I tied it together. Again, this is such an enlightening conversation, at least for myself, that even my awareness to know that I just need to say what’s bothering me, even though that’s going to be weird and uncomfortable, usually resolves the situation in minutes versus I’m just going to be quiet and upset for another four days, which everybody knows something’s wrong, but nobody has the time to talk about it.
Rebecca Devaney [00:54:36] Alex, that was my signature move in my marriage was being like, “Oh, I know. I’m going to hold the relationship hostage. I’m not telling him what I’m upset about. Oh, yeah. Okay, I’m going to just quietly…” Actually, my husband told me that I had to start talking about my feelings. This is seven or eight years ago. I was just sitting there, and I was like, “I talk about feelings all the time,” [inaudible 00:55:00] thought in my head, “On my terms,” because I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t want to be vulnerable, because then he could hurt me if I said, “Oh, I feel really hurt by this thing,” and it doesn’t even make sense. But it does, because feelings always make sense. I saw my cousin walking with her little boy, and he was crying. I heard her say, “Well, you can’t deny a feeling.” I remember just being like, “I would have done anything to have heard that when I was that kid’s age,” because I spent a lot of time denying feelings I thought were wrong, or embarrassing, or vulnerable. No, we’re all just walking around trying to do the best we can. I had to learn to talk about my feelings…
Kate Babcock [00:55:46] Not only does everybody know, also, that something’s going on or is in the air, but sometimes you’re both feeling something very similar, or you’re feeling something that they don’t know you’re feeling or wasn’t the intent whatsoever. By just simply stating the awkward thing or the uncomfortable thing not only frees up… I’ll use COVID as an example. It not only frees up your own mind, but it also might be something that you’re giving them the gift of articulating, because they might be feeling it, too. I lived in Salem, Massachusetts for 16 years. One of my favorite places in the world is a restaurant that’s a shanty—it’s very shabby—in downtown Salem. The crew of people who work there are like family at this point, because I had a studio that was right across the street from them. After they reopened, after the pandemic allowed us to reopen restaurants and whatnot, the staff, I hadn’t seen them in I don’t know however long it was—six months, eight months, something like that. I went down, and I was talking to them outside. I was talking to these people who are like family to me. At one point I could not focus on the conversation, because in my brain I was like, “I am feeling so awkward right now. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know where to stand. I know these people so well, and I don’t know how to interact with them. I feel wicked uncomfortable.” I just said it out loud, “I feel really awkward, guys. I don’t know why, and I’m having a really hard time. I’m really happy to see you, and I also don’t know what to say right now.” They were like, “Oh, yeah. We’ve been feeling that, too. It’s fine. No problem.” It’s super weird. Once you voice the thing that is distracting your mind from moving forward, or developing a solution, or just getting past that one awkward point or that uncomfortable point, then it’s out there. It has a lot less power. It’s a lot less heavy. Now it’s shared between you and that other person, and you’ve given them the opportunity to then say, “Oh, yeah I feel that, too,” or, “Oh, yeah, that’s totally normal,” or, “Oh, that sucks,” or, “Okay, well, what do we want to do about it?” as opposed to just being this thing that lingers or hangs between you.
Alex Meade [00:58:06] Well, we are well past the time I said this would probably take to record. I’m going to close it out. I have one last question for you. I want you to think about this in the sense of the audience and whatnot. What does emotional intelligence training look like, and what is your philosophy, your model? If someone asked you, “Well, I want to improve my leadership’s emotional intelligence,” what’s your answer to that or your pitch for that?
Rebecca Devaney [00:58:42] Well, we could talk about just one part of that, what our model is. Our model stands on the shoulders of giants. It’s from both “Emotional Intelligence” from Daniel Goleman’s work and also social and emotional learning. What we start with is seven steps. These are areas that we focus in, but we will focus on a specific area. We could do sales training but have these areas as a focus. We’re doing a lot with decision-making right now at the corporate level. The first piece is optimism. We don’t mean optimism in the way people think of it. We literally mean just a hope for a better outcome, because without that no one’s ever going to do the hard but way more rewarding work of developing their capacity for emotional intelligence. The second piece is self-awareness. You can think of these as building blocks. Then emotional regulation. You’ve got resilience. We put resilience in there, because we are planning on doing a lot of work with companies and in areas that really need this, and building that self-awareness and that regulation piece into strength. Then after that, if you think of emotional intelligence as building self to society, we’ve got social skills, empathy, and decision-making. Those seven things are over here. You’ve got yourself, and here is your community. It could be your workplace, society, whatever it is. We help develop all those pieces, because they all go together. We strengthen organizations, whether that’s through workshops, consulting, coaching, doing talks. I think our favorite thing right now is probably doing workshop series, doing three months of workshops, because then we can set up a Slack channel for people to talk about what they’re learning. That’s what emotional intelligence training can look like. We can also have it as an adjunct to primary intervention. If somebody, for instance, is doing humanitarian work, we can help build just an adjunct to that. We don’t know their primary fields. We’re not trying to become an expert in everything. We can just give whatever the initiative is success steroids because ultimately, emotional intelligence is the way that you become most successful, which is something we didn’t talk about.
Kate Babcock [01:01:02] In addition to that—that was a really good framing, Rebecca. Good job—I would say yes, you could hire somebody to help you to do leadership development coaching and things that they could then translate to their teams. You could do something where a consultant like us comes in and works with an entire team or company, or you could work within your own company, or your own community, or your own circles. We all know people who have a higher level of emotional intelligence who seem to have those skills innately. Whether they’re innate or not, whether they’re something that somebody is focused on, we know people who have better skills than others. Seeking out within your own company or your world mentors or if you are a leader, if you are an employer of others, setting up mentorship programs within your companies. If you don’t have the funds to purchase services from an outside firm, developing mentorship within your company is a great way to do that. We’re huge advocates for mentorship in organizations across the board. It’s beneficial for both mentors and mentees. This could be one of the areas that they focus on. I would also say just reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman is a great place to start, but there are lots of books out there now at this point for podcasting.
Sabina Hahn [01:02:30] I was actually going to ask you guys for your rapid-fire resources—the books, the podcasts you would recommend. If we’re going over too long, then you can always just shoot us an email with them, and we’ll share them. Up to you.
Kate Babcock [01:02:47] One of my favorites that I use a lot that I found personally very informative and a really powerful tool, although in general it may not be helpful for people who don’t have the same relationship expectations that I do. Gretchen Rubin has something called The Four Tendencies. It is a framework that focuses on how people respond to expectations, how people meet expectations. All people on earth tend to fall into one of four categories, which is super interesting, as well. Her book “The Four Tendencies” is all about that, and it’s very interesting. When you read these things, you start to think about all the people around you and how they respond to expectations and why. Not only does it give you information about yourself but others, and how to deal better with others, and how to get people to meet expectations. If you are a boss, how do you motivate people? How do you motivate different kinds of people to meet the expectations they need to meet? That’s one of my favorites.
Rebecca Devaney [01:03:50] My favorite podcast hasn’t come out yet, but it’s going to be either “The Emotional Intelligence Show with Kate and Rebecca,” or I have one with my husband called “Married with Lifetime,” where we make fun of Lifetime movies. Humor is a very important part of emotional intelligence, where we watch the worst ones. We just did a double family double feature about a guy who secretly has a second family. It’s just so dumb. Beyond that I would say everyone loves Brene Brown. It’s ridiculous to say Brene Brown, but Brene Brown. I would also say Daniel Goleman is doing really cool work. Positivepsychology.com has tons of resources; 6seconds.org, tons of resources. The UN has a lot of resources that are about EI, but they won’t say EI. There’s so much out there, and yet there isn’t enough. It’s not tactical enough. That’s what we really hope in the next five years to develop is just massive amounts of content, where we can have all the things we discussed today. We discussed so many things. It would be great to exist in a little one-minute clip or something. Those are a couple of good ones. I plugged us. There’s so many. I just really hope that if there’s one takeaway from us, it’s that everyone has emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent life doesn’t just help you. It will make you more successful, and it will make you probably more content with your life, but it actually rebuilds society. All these people are fractured. They’re not talking to their families, whether it’s vaccines, or politics, or whatever it is. We’re seeing fractures right now that are untenable in a healthy society. They’re purposeful, and they’re fueled by misinformation. We can use EI to just spackle over those. I’m in a home improvement stage. Spackle all the cracks so we can just have a healthier society for our children to grow up into and for us to engage in. It doesn’t need to be complicated. I think technology has made it a little complicated. I just want everyone to have the confidence to explore their journey and know that it is a little bit of a movement. Let’s see if we can write this…
Alex Meade [01:06:16] That is a great ending, though. I think that’s perfect. I want to thank you both for the time. I know we went over. I thank you for being flexible and for joining the show. This is, I think, one Sabina and I have been looking forward to, as it is so much unknown, and so many questions, and so many directions. We had to contain our excitement and try to not ask too many questions. I thank you guys both for your time. It was wonderful.
Sabina Hahn [01:06:43] I do have one more question. Do you guys have social channels you want to plug or website? Where can people find you guys?
Kate Babcock [01:06:53] Our website is culturetheory.io. We have a blog there. We haven’t been putting out much on any other social handles, but we’re culturetheorynerds on Instagram and also on Twitter.
Rebecca Devaney [01:07:16] We have a lot of social media coming out. We’ve just been hoarding it, but it’s time. Anyway, thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure, as always.
Kate Babcock [01:07:28] Thank you for the opportunity to talk about emotional intelligence. As you can tell, we’re a little bit…
Rebecca Devaney [01:07:36] We’re not rabid in the slightest. [inaudible 01:07:37] enjoyed it all.
Alex Meade [01:07:38] Nobody here has enjoyed this.
Kate Babcock [01:07:42] We would love to talk more about marketing and sales problems specifically, because we can talk about EI in general and EI in the workplace all day. Getting into the specifics is what makes it more helpful, too.
Alex Meade [01:08:00] I actually see this as almost a series that we can touch base on. We get a lot of questions. We talk to a lot of people. Lots of situations come up that if you asked me what are these switches, I can’t think of them now, but as soon as they come up, and we’ll start taking some notes. Maybe we can do a Q&A almost episode. We’ll bring some questions, and you guys bring your ideas and thoughts. All right. Well, thank you again. Enjoyed this so much. Thank you.
Kate Babcock [01:08:36] Likewise. Thank you.