I’m back to the EQ blog after a very productive hiatus. When the proposal for my latest book was picked up by a publisher last year, I took time off to write the book, develop its internet platform, promote the book (in my spare time—ha, ha) and then leverage the new content from the book into improved workshops.
In my first book Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to Change for the Better When Life Gives You Its Worst, I introduce the Interpersonal Triangle model. However, it’s always been my dream to write an entire book on the model: I wanted to do a “deep dive” for readers. That opportunity arose when Linda Langton, a well-known New York literary agent decided to represent me (and the book). In her first round of inquires she found a publisher—Career Press—who picked up the book, titling it The 3 Dimensions of Emotions. Now it was time to get to work.
Since my first book, I’ve realized the benefit of framing the model in terms of dimensions. Just as there are three dimensions in the physical world—height, width and depth—so there are three dimensions in the emotional or relational world: namely power, heart and knowing (or mindfulness), respectively. Each of these dimensions has a negative side and a positive side. To the degree that we limberly move in the positive aspects of the three dimensions in our life, with balance and integrity, we are effective and therefore fulfilled (and perhaps even happy). The ability to dynamically integrate personal power or agency with heart or love for others, all the while maintaining stability and wisdom through knowing and mindfulness, is for me another way to describe emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman’s four categories of emotional intelligence—self awareness, other awareness (empathy) self-control and managing others—are all represented in the three dimensional model with the added benefit of prescribing how to get back into balance when we find ourselves out of kilter.
Ever since I developed this model decades ago from the brilliant work of psychologists Karen Horney and Wilfred Bion, I used the model to design and facilitate emotional intelligence workshops for parents, marital couples, mental-health professionals and for organizational leaders. Since the publication of the book last year I’ve had the opportunity to take these emotional intelligence workshops to their next level, especially in the area of organizational leadership training. This has been nothing short of exciting. Work comprises a major portion of our life and the more emotionally intelligent we are (and our boss is) the more fulfilled we are in our life.
Here’s a recent example of how I applied this model with a high tech company that I did a workshop for in India. A majority of the Indian managers and high-potential leaders within this company often found themselves reacting in the negative side of the “Heart” dimension by tending to appease others, and when that failed, freezing up and becoming immobilized. You could say that as people-pleasers, they were lacking in skills for positive confrontation. As a result, their effectiveness as leaders was minimized; they lost their personal power and perspective. This dynamic came to light after the participants took the Interpersonal Triangle Inventory, (which is available free to readers of my book).
Later, while participating in workshop exercises, we focused the second half of the workshop on building Mindfulness and Power skills to bring them back into balance and to improve emotional intelligence and effective leadership. For example, we helped them to identify the circumstances when they go into the freeze and appease mode. And when they were able to recognize that, we gave them a list of positive behaviors (best practices) that they could employ to pull themselves out of their negative reactivity. They could employ the “sleep on it before you react” practice when possible (Knowing dimension) or practice “I” statements with those for whom they were challenged (Positive Power Dimension behavior).
While this group was working on balancing their Heart reactivity with positive Power and Mindfulness behaviors, another group from the same workshop had a different challenge. They were Power reactors. They reacted by getting angry and trying to gain dominance over other people. They had to work on collaboration and empathy (from the positive Heart dimension) and self-control and self-regulation (form the Knowing or Mindfulness dimension). With the help from other colleagues in the workshop, they came up with a different set of best practices that they could incorporate to bring themselves back into balance and thus be more emotionally intelligent and thus be better leaders.
It was very rewarding to see the content of the new book fleshed out in front of me with real managers and leaders from another country. I saw them become hopeful when they realized that there were alternative actions they could take to their personal habits and reactivity patterns. I plan to return to India in a few months for a follow-up booster session because we all know that changing our reactivity patterns is not easily done in one workshop.
Well, its nice to be back to this blog. I look forward to more opportunities to exchange ideas.As always, you can also catch me on my 3 Dimensions of Emotions blog. And please let me know your thoughts and questions and what other topics that you’d like me to address related to the very important idea of emotional intelligence.