Emotional Intelligence- Impulse Control

“I can resist everything except temptation”- Oscar Wilde

Most of us gain some kind of impulse control as we mature with age, as we mix with people, get exposure to different experiences in life etc. However, for some this may come very late in life or never.

The impulse control skill can best be demonstrated by the experiment which was done way back in the 1960s by Walter Mischel of Stanford University, which become famously called the marshmallow test. In this test, children ageing up to 4 years were made to sit in the room with a table, a chair and a marshmallow. Children were then instructed to take a small trip in the room and come back and sit on their place. They were given the option to eat the marshmallow immediately if they wanted, but if they waited till Mischel comes in the room after 15-20mins time, they will be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

Kids made the choice and Mischel noted the results. Two-thirds of the kids were able to hold on to their marshmallow and earn the second one, while others were not. They were simply not able to resist the temptation of eating the marshmallow till he came back. Some waited for a while and then decided that there was no fun to wait for the second one, so it would be wiser to eat the one which was in hand. Some kids were very alert and thought that if they touch the marshmallow, they will not be able to resist the temptation to eat it. So, they don’t even touch it. Some kids distracted their minds from marshmallow by engaging self in activities like playing, singing, tapping their feet, etc, to avoid eating it.

But that was not the end of the experiment. Mischel studied the same kids over a period of 12-14 years and came up with the following interesting conclusions:

  1. The kids who were able to resist the temptation of having marshmallow had grown more socially competent, self-assertive and shown a higher degree of Resilience, a skill necessary to bounce back in life after some reverses and failures.
  2. Those who were able to get the second marshmallow were better at delaying gratifications and more focused on their goals.
  3. Those kids who were not able to delay gratification had grown into stubborn, indecisive, and less equipped to make social contacts. They were more submissive to temptations and desires.
  4. Those kids who were able to reward themselves with a second one grew to have a better vision for the future and were more successful.
  5. They showed better social skills and skills at handling different situations in life and ahead of the game.

In other words, this quality of self-control at the age of 4 turned out to be twice a powerful indicator of later success in life as compared to IQ. In this experiment, the ability to delay gratification of eating the marshmallow was seen as the master skill where rational thinking part of the brain won over the emotions of the heart. In other words, this experiment proves that the capacity to put-off rewards is single skill psychologists pinpoint as an indicator of success in life.

So, what is Impulse control? It’s the ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive or temptation to act. To curb your natural tendencies to react and maintain your composure. It is identifying your angry and aggressive impulses and containing your angry, abusive, hostile and irresponsible behaviours.

“You promised me to take for Lunch and a Movie this Sunday afternoon, now suffer”

Some examples of poor impulse control:

  1. Not able to wait in the queue in a party buffet with a strong urge to start eating as early as possible.
  2. Not able to wait, after the traffic signal turns green by immediately starting to honk and getting impatient for the car in front to move.
  3. Snapping at the employees just after coming to office at the drop of hat for things that didn’t really matter or settings which are moved slightly away from the normal.
  4. Changing decisions very fast at the workplace, depending too much on their intuitions at that point of time rather than long term rational thinking.
  5. Hurting our loved ones by using sharp, abusive language knowing fully well that it would hurt them, just to satisfy the irresistible urge to get even when things don’t go as per our expectations.
  6. Can’t resist the temptation of purchasing online using credit cards, falling prey to perceived discounts/sale.

Some people take high pride in themselves, when they say that they don’t keep anything in their minds, whatever comes to their mind, the immediate release. What this actually means is they have very less impulse control and care a damn for others feelings and more engrossed in self – the result of poor self-awareness. These people are proud of their instincts. While impulse control never undermines the advantages of using your sixth sense, these people more often get too carried away. Being impulsive becomes a norm for them rather than an exception. These people say proudly, that they act on their instincts, but actually what it really means is they resort to ‘Knee- jerk’ reactions to events.

One of the commonest forms of less impulse control is the compulsive urge of buying online through Credit cards and possibly getting into the vicious cycle of the debt trap

Some of the signs of poor impulse control are:

  1. Rash
  2. Impatient
  3. Rude
  4. Hot-headed
  5. Unpredictable (fine now, lost after one minute)
  6. Mercurial
  7. Low tolerance for frustration
  8. Making wrong decisions under pressure, quite too often
  9. Spending money unwisely, but being stingy where it is actually required to spend (Penny wise, pound foolish)
  10. Poor interpersonal relationships

Individuals with effective impulse control, in contrast, have the capacity to think first rather than reacting immediately. This allows them to be at peace to think about various options available so that their actions and decisions are well informed and rational. They can maintain composure and always behave responsibly. Plans which are made after due reflection have a greater chance of meeting a success. People who take pause to consider the facts and don’t respond immediately to any idea or thought that pops up in their mind are more likely to achieve their goals. People with good impulse control calmly plan their words and deeds and remain unperturbed even in trying situations.

Impulse control brings with it the capacity to maintain delicate relationships or at least have the capacity to reconcile relationships which may have gone sour, and dealing with an agitated customer. People having sound impulse control have the better listening ability.

Impulsive behaviour is like an intoxication which gives a high for some time, quick release from thinking, however painful in the long-run. This behaviour is like shoppers’ gate crashing for the limited period sale and buying all those things which they may not require at all, just because there is a sale going on.

How can you have Impulse Control?

Now let’s consider some impulse controlling strategies:

  1. Reflection: Why you find yourself out of control? One of the ways to find is to reflect on the self. Studies have found out that there are only two reasons people lose their impulse control viz. Fear and an unmet need or desire.  We become impulsive if there is threat to our jobs, fear of losing loved one to others

(possessiveness), fear of losing control and self-importance, being alone, uncertainty, physical pain, failures, rejection or unmet desires for- wealth, happiness, success, power, position, security, approval, growth, pleasure etc. Once you understand the fear or desire that is driving into a strong reaction, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this situation really a threat? Our knee-jerk reaction may be over-reaction. Is the intensity of your reaction really required?
  2. What would be the best action in this situation? – Maybe, you can move away from the spot where emotions are high. Tell all the people concerned that, you are feeling overwhelmed by the situation and would like to take a break and get isolated for a while. Maybe go out for a walk, drink cold water, go running, apologizing and then coming back to listen with a calm mind, do anything to change the state.
  • Reframing: We need to get out of our habits of jumping onto conclusions/labelling or judging people. For this, we need to develop the habit of reframing our thoughts and our opinions about people and situations.

E.g. 1. ‘You will never be able to do any job properly’ becomes- ‘with more practice, I am sure you can ace in this activity/task’. Or ‘You are very stubborn’ becomes after reframing- ‘I like your resoluteness, but can we also try this….’ Or ‘That’s it, I cannot take it anymore’, becomes ‘I need to take a break to get over my frustrations so that I am able to do a good job’. Or ‘No one cares what I think around here becomes ‘My ideas are not always chosen. Let me get feedback on that last idea.’

  • Rehearsal: Now that you have taken time to reflect and thought of an action that is productive in mind, it is worthwhile rehearsing the actions and behaviours before the actual anticipated event so that you can handle your emotions and impulses in a much better manner.

After identifying individuals, places or repeatedly happening events where you lose your impulse control, rehearsal can be used to be prepared. Say for example, one of your colleagues has a habit of constantly cribbing and complaining about people, things and in general everything. You know that his/her behaviour puts you off, the moment he/she comes to you may start asking them about the pending work, give them more work (to keep them busy) with deadlines. Motivate such people to come out of their blame, criticize and shame tendencies to focus more on work. If you have already done this home-work you can get more used to handling your impulses in a much better manner.


The old saying ‘Look before you leap’ cannot be apt anywhere else more than it is for Impulse control. People with this healthy habit consider before they act and are able to resist and delay the urge to react in knee-jerk fashion. Those who find it difficult to control or at least delay their impulses are always stressful, find difficulty in controlling anger and exhibit unpredictable behaviours. Most importantly, these people cannot maintain cordial and meaningful relationships with anyone, not even with their very close family members.

Emotional Intelligence-Forgiveness

To forgive is your choice. The one who forgives, let’s go of anger, resentment and revengeful thoughts. Forgiveness allows a person to release buried anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, regret, hate and other toxic emotions which make the person ill both physically as well as emotionally. Forgiveness is something which happens on the inside of you- It comes solely from your desire to forgive for the sake of forgiving. The person who intentionally harms the other person does not deserve to be forgiven, but still, it is a good idea to forgive to have emotional freedom and health than to suffer from life long feelings of hatred, resentment, and revenge. Forgive the person who caused you the pain, not because he/she deserves it but because you deserve the peace of mind.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we undermine the amount of pain the person goes through, or it also does not reduce the importance of the painful experience. To forgive also does not mean that the person is saying “I am ok with whatever you did to me” or “This wasn’t a big injustice committed against me”. Rather it is saying that “I no longer choose to hook onto those toxic emotions or feelings of unforgiveness towards the person who hurt me.

It is easier to brush off minor hurts, superficial offenses, or occasional Emotional Hijacks from the other person, by having feelings of empathy and even sympathy for that person. But forgiving deep emotional wounds and grave offenses like infidelity, abuses on a continuous basis, is always a process and cannot happen overnight. It takes time and effort to forgive.

Whatever we may say or claim but there will be some relationships which we cannot avoid. E.g. A son needs to carry on with the abusive father all through his childhood (which may leave scars on his personality for life), a wife may carry on with her toxic and not-caring husband for years, etc.

At some point in time the individual needs to decide if he/she can forgive that “close” person which will depend on the many factors such as:

  1. The victim’s nature: Some people may be naturally more forgiving by birth and hence find it easier to carry on with their perpetrators. They are naturally more Empathetic perhaps and may convince themselves that “the other person did what he/she thought was right at that point in time” Or they rationalize by saying that there is always a positive intention for every action. Such people don’t carry the baggage of anger, guilt, revenge or any other disruptive emotion against the person who caused them harm. They are likely to attain peace quicker in life.
  2. The intensity of the damage: Forgiving or not will also depend on the extent on the damage the other person inflicted on the victim. E.g. a husband may not have spent any quality time with his wife ever, or may not have given her any gift or sometimes hurled abuses as well, but if he has remained faithful that may perhaps reduce the resentment the wife carries against him and hence may find it easy to forgive him.
  3. The value system of the individual: What is the most important thing for the victim? People may find it very difficult to forgive a person if they have inflicted some harm to the person you love the most. If Love and caring are some of your top values and the other person has miserably failed on these counts, you may find it difficult to forgive him/her.
  4. Infidelity: Women normally find it very difficult to forgive a husband who has strayed. They just cannot accept him eroding their self-respect, sharing husband with someone else without their consent, their Ego getting hurt very badly. They can tolerate all the other atrocities such as verbal abuse, insults, demeaning, or even physical assaults. However, infidelity is unpardonable.

Pardoning or not for infidelity may also sometimes depend on being forced to stay together for children, adjusting with having own affair as a spouse, and the financial condition of the spouse. If the marriage is already fragile, infidelity can prove to be the last straw. However, if “It had just happened”, and was not intentional on the part of either partner, marriage is otherwise going very strong and long-lasting, things can always be worked out.

As Gaur Gopal Das very beautifully explains in his book ‘Life’s Amazing Secrets’, “Forgiveness means to take note of the higher purpose”. You need to forgive your spouse if it means togetherness/love for your children, their upbringing, and seeing the whole thing in a holistic manner.

  • Then there will be other factors such as the age of the perpetrator, relationship and weighing other things that he/she might have done right, etc will decide how early one can forgive that person.

Finally, the one who forgives and also the one who is forgiven must always remember, that it is an act of strength and not a weakness to be able to forgive. It requires a great deal of courage to let go of anger and seek to walk in peace. Not everybody can forgive. It’s a great virtue one should be proud of.

Emotional Intelligence- Self-Confidence and Accurate Self-Assessment

We have already seen in my last blog how Self-Awareness is the foundation for Emotional Intelligence and that all the other three blocks viz. Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management are built on it.

In continuing with our discussions, we will today see the other two very important aspects of Self-awareness:

Self-Confidence: This is a very important element of Self-Awareness. People with high self-confidence can recognize and acknowledge their feelings and their impact on themselves and others.

Confidence is the one basic necessity if one has to achieve anything worthwhile in professional and personal life. Yet there are many people who feel unsure of their ability to tackle challenges in life. No one is immune to these bouts of insecurity at work, but there are ways on how to deal with it. Let’s understand…

Overcoming self-doubt starts with honestly assessing your Strengths and Weaknesses and getting comfortable enough to take advantage and work on them, respectively.

People with high Self-Confidence possess the following qualities:

  1. Their thoughts, words, and actions are congruent with each other under all circumstances.
  2. They have a very strong Value system and stick to it irrespective of the conditions and temptations that they may come across.
  3. They are willing to stick their necks out for something that is right.
  4. They are not afraid to voice their opinion/points even if it means going against the set beliefs, norms, and practices.
  5. They have full conviction about the direction of their lives.

Self-confident people understand that they have a great deal of control over what happens to them in their lives and have no problems in pursuing it.

How to develop your Self-Confidence?

  1. Prepare: There’s that old saying which is true even today: “Practice makes you perfect”. Building confidence is a process and you have to invest energy and effort in it and work hard in the chosen area or project. E.g. you may have to rehearse your presentation multiple times, which you have to deliver in front of your directors before you are yourself comfortable with it. You may start taking baby steps towards building confidence say e.g. if you want to overcome stage fear or fear of public speaking, you may start addressing a small group of friends you are comfortable with and then gradually increase the size of the audience. You will require to practice hard irrespective of the talents you have to maintain that high confidence. E.g. A player of the class of Sachin Tendulkar still required to practice hours together daily against the fastest bowlers, throw machines and different pitches, so that he can score heavily in Test matches.

The other advantage of practicing is you come to know your mistakes and hence the quality of work keeps on improving apart from the developing confidence.

  • Change your thinking patterns: Confident people are willing to acknowledge the fact that they don’t and can’t know everything. They don’t shy away from asking for help when required.

Many people stall their progress because they think too much about what others will think rather than what they can offer. When you realize your value to others, you may bring a totally new perspective for yourself and your work.

  • Come out of your comfort zone: Playing to your strengths is good as long as you are prepared to take up new challenges. Do all those things you are afraid of doing. E.g. go jump and learn swimming if you fear water, join that driving class if you are afraid of driving, go bungee jumping if you fear height. The key here is to stretch your-self all the time if you have to grow. Asking for help from others can make this job a little easier. Embrace new opportunities to prove you can do difficult things.

Overcoming roadblocks to developing confidence: To get a more confident you, your team, and family the first thing to understand is what comes in the way. If you have the confidence, you are motivated to put in the effort, to invest time and resources, and to persist in reaching the goals. The key to success is not the confidence alone, it’s the investment and effort you put in. Without enough confidence, it is very easy to give up or not to get started at all. To develop the confidence to work towards your goals, you need to overcome the following roadblocks:

  1. Setting goals that are too high/unrealistic: The corporate world is many a time obsessed with BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). However, most times enormous goals undermine confidence. There could be a hugh gap between big goals and today’s reality which can be depressing and demotivating. Small wins occurring regularly can build confidence in a more assured way than going in for a big and the more difficult ones. Each small win will take you closer to the big goal. The key here is to break the whole project/goal/task into intermittent milestones and achieving them one after the other.
  2. Self-defeating assumptions: If you think you can’t do it; you will not be able to do it. This negative thought may be a result of a small reverse one may have suffered. I remember a very close relative of mine, met with a minor accident while learning how to drive a car, he never tried to learn to drive again. These people “leave before they leave”. It’s good to be realistic, but counter resulting to behave like a loser before entering the game.
  3. I can do everything myself: It’s a trap people find themselves in sometimes, as they think they can go it all alone without taking/giving support. They like to do all things their way. If you have to win, you need to work as a team, build your confidence, think about building the confidence in others and create an environment wherein each member is likely to succeed, through mentoring and recognizing individual strengths. It has to be give and take. If you support others, they support you as well. Giving to others is such a good feeling, boosting your self-esteem and making you feel happier.
  4. Playing the blame game: Confidence comes with taking responsibility for one’s own behavior. Keeping on complaining about some past harms that might have been done, reduces confidence for future possibilities. In-corporates, it is found that people jump to take the credit for a success how so ever small, but if there is a collective failure, they are quick to blame each other. Blaming reducing confidence in self and also on others.
  5. Overconfidence:  Confidence is the perfect balance between hopelessness and arrogance/complacency. Overconfidence can be the curse for individuals who feel self-important and take themselves granted for success rather than work for it. When a person is complacent and arrogant, he is disconnected from basics and doesn’t listen to his critics- a trap which he lays for himself.
  • Accurate Self-Assessment

All three aspects of Self-Awareness (Self-Confidence, Accurate Self-Assessment, and Emotional Self-Awareness) are closely related and dependent on each other. First, you must understand your Emotional state and only then you can assess it. Once you can manage and have a complete grasp over your emotions and how they manifest, you can feel more self-assured and in control which will boost your confidence.

This second part of Self-awareness is the ability to accurately weigh how your emotions are affecting your performance, your behavior and in turn your relationships. It’s a very helpful self-evaluating tool especially for leaders, who need to understand how they could be sabotaging the success of the whole team and have a negative effect on their morale if they (leaders) are not aware of the impact of their emotions. Self-Assessment involves honestly finding out and acknowledging your emotional strengths and weaknesses. People who have the capability and the willingness for self-assessment are able to learn from their new experiences and look at their weaknesses as opportunities for self-improvement and development.  

One of the most important ways for Self-Assessment is being open and ask for feedback from the people/colleagues around you whom you trust and respect for their ability to handle their own emotions, behaviors, and relationships. This way you can get all the information for Self-assessment.

Rules for getting feedback:

  1. Listen:  For better understanding, you may ask questions like “Do you mean to say …” or “can you please elaborate on that? or just say humm.. or nodding your head. But giving undivided attention to the person giving feedback and keeping all the other tasks aside is very important. You have to keep an open mind to the perspective of the other person, which you yourself may not be able to see. This is a chance to learn about yourself and not an opportunity to justify your past behavior.

Don’t defend yourself or justify your actions or your behavior in front of the other person giving you the feedback.

  • Don’t hold anything against the person giving you the feedback, even if you don’t like what the other person tells you. You take the advice/ feedback with a pinch of salt if it comes to and be ready to hear the bad with the good. You must respect and appreciate the fact that the other person is comfortable enough to tell you what you may not like to hear. Also, appreciate the time and the interest they are showing towards you. If you have to say sorry to that person, please do so and consider this process as an opportunity to save relationships.

Emotional Intelligence- Emotional Self-Awareness

I remember the incident of a man (owner of a small-scale company) who would vent out his anger on to his employees when he was not able to do so on his clients, had financial problems and no business. It so happened one day that, he was operating from his home office and had some reverses on phone from the client (his clients were not paying on time and had hugh payment out-standings). This had turned him off and was really frustrated, furious but unfortunately oblivious of his own feelings at that time. Out of rage, he calls his Head-operations (newly appointed with no experience of factory operations, his job description not defined clearly, etc) and just starts blasting him for not sending him the attendance report of the security guards. Head-operations were taken aback and didn’t know what happened. What was his mistake? After all, he was never told that this particular task was included in his job description, nor did he have any experience in operations to know naturally that it was the responsibility of the job title to do so.

Why did the company owner behave in the way he did?

He was unaware of the impact that the disappointment of not getting the payments and business had on him. He did not have the capacity to recognize the feelings of anger, disappointment, and bitterness that made him lose his head. He was also not aware of how his feelings drove him to vent out his anger and frustration wrongly on the Head-operations.

What were the better options with the Business owner?

  1. He could have first recognized his internal turmoil perhaps by getting connected with the physical reactions such as some tightness in the neck and/or stomach, feeling hot and perspiration, frown on the forehead, etc. By asking himself and getting to the ‘why’ of the situations that could have upset him, he would have been conscious of his anger being related to not receiving payments and business from the clients. He would have recognized that these disruptive emotions of anger and frustration made him vulnerable to behave improperly with his Head-operations.
  2. He could have just taken a walk outside doing nothing when the disruptive emotions run high, allow those feelings to cool down and then call anybody.
  3. He could have also taken 10 deep breathes, focus on the breathes as it goes in and out and have a glass of water.

In this scenario, the business owner knows that he is getting angry/is angry now, recognizes why he is in this state and is aware that he is at risk of behaving improperly with his colleagues. (by the way, the victim in the above story is yours truly).

Emotional Self-awareness is the strong foundation on which the whole tower of Emotional intelligence is built on. This is the first key to knowing more about yourself and understanding yourself. But unless you are aware of what is happening inside of you due to any external triggers, understanding your normal tendencies, what you are doing, why you are doing it, and most importantly how it is going to affect others, you cannot bring about the change in you. Absence of self-awareness will always put you in the position that “there is nothing wrong or there’s no need and reason to change”. That’s why self-awareness is very basic and mastering this skill alone will pave way for you to be successful in other areas of emotional intelligence. Without it you may try to fix all the professional and personal problems, but you will be going only round in circles, you don’t ask/get feedback (since you repel people with your behavior)-you would be unable to monitor your progress and hence your chances of achieving your goals will be diminished.

Being fully aware of our feelings requires not just acknowledging them, but identifying them and understanding what message they are trying to tell us.

How to increase your Self-Awareness?

  1. Get into the habit of sitting quietly in a calm place say during the morning, lunchtime, and before going to bed. Ask some of the following questions to self. There is no right or wrong answer but answer them honestly.
  2. How am I feeling?
  3. What am I feeling?
  4. How long has this feeling been?
  5. In which part of the body does this feel manifests? E.g. am I clenching my teeth, am I getting sweaty palms, is there any tightness in my stomach or neck, am I perspiring, is my heart rate increased, am I having a headache, is the rete of my breathing increased, etc.
  • Once you are able to tell yourself how you are feeling, try to understand what started your disruptive feelings. Was there any particular trigger? Or remembrance of a past unhappy incident, try to identify the emotions. By practice as you get better at it try to label these emotions. Again, these emotions can be in different shades depending on the intensity of the feeling, which in turn will depend on the severity of the trigger, your perception about the incident, etc. E.g. say for Anger the various shades could be irritated, annoyed, frustrated, mad, upset,…..furious in the ascending order of intensities of anger. For the feeling of sadness, it could be dissatisfied, moody, unhappy, miserable, disappointed, ….. depressed. Remember that all emotions are not disruptive. Some are positive as well. Practice recognizing positive ones like pleased, enthusiasm, pleasure, joy, peace, gratitude, inspiration, curiosity, etc.
  • Why that Emotion?

You have identified your emotion with a label and also trying to find what that emotion is trying to tell you. However, you need to find the underlying reason for that emotion as well. E.g. if you are feeling afraid try finding if it’s because you feel under-confident/ you might fail or is it because someone will hurt you, people will laugh at you, you will feel miserable about yourself, you will lose something (if yes, what?), etc. Similarly, if you are angry try finding out is it because you feel vulnerable, in-secured, out of control? Or are you angry because someone made you feel bad/insulted you or are you angry because you accepted a work assignment that you never wanted to do in the first place? All the roots of anger can be different, but the emotion is the same.

Is Anger the main culprit?

Yes, perhaps it is, in the emotional spectrum. When we get angry, we lose our thinking power making us oblivious of our surroundings and to ourselves. We even may not know that we are angry.  We are only faintly aware that something is happening but don’t know what it is. If you are angry, sarcastic or belittling and don’t even know it, two things will happen for sure- physiologically, you are risk of various health issues ranging from High BP, cholesterol, headache, up to heart problems if getting angry has become a routine thing for you. Secondly, you turn off people without understanding why. They will flee from you. Even if you are extremely talented at work, possess some unique qualities, or skills you have acquired, you may not get the chance to demonstrate them. Key relationships will be sour before they can be developed. Your capacity for empathy will diminish, which will further make you insensitive in dealing with others in all situations.

Benefits of Self-Awareness:

  1. You are able to recognize when you feel out of sorts, irritable, sad and you are then able to see how these feelings alter the behavior that may repel/or drive others away from you.
  2. Since you have a total grasp of your emotions, you feel more confident in all your dealings, be it people or business.
  3. Since you are aware of your reactions that will turn off people or alienate them from you, you are able to build better, long-lasting and meaningful relationships.
  4. Self-Aware people have a strong value system for themselves and these are the major drivers in all their decision making. This helps them to make sound decisions.
  5. And because they have clarity of thoughts, words and their own actions, they are able to communicate effectively with others.

Would like to end today’s’ blog with a very apt thought by famous fabulist-

“He who knows the universe and does not know himself, knows nothing”- Jean De La Fontaine,1679

Emotional Intelligence-What it exactly is?

Let me tell you some of my own stories/experiences-

I did my engineering from a place called Pen and we were 3 friends staying in the same room. This was a private college with a fee of close to around Rs.10k per annum (whereas in govt colleges it was only a few hundred), which was a bomb for most students’ parents in those days( around 1985) and we all were very conscious about the kind of money our parents were spending on us and some guilt as well for not studying enough and not getting into a govt college.

Me and friends would order of just 2 tiffins for dinner and share the food, so as to save on the money and reduce the burden on our parents. Once I had late practical session in college and got late returning back to the room as I studied till 10.00 PM in the college library. I was not too sure how much food would be spared for me by my partners Joe Anthony and Denis D’Souza. I thought they would keep me only little as I was not there at the time of dinner with them.

The fire of hunger in the stomach was at its peak as I came back to the room and was anxious about the food. But to my pleasant surprise, these two friends of mine, in fact kept slightly more portion of the total tiffin, which they both could have easily finished off.

The other memory is of my niece, Chinar was just about 3 years old at that time when I happen to visit my elder brother’s place in Pune. There was some sweet dish that my sister in law had prepared for the lunch and my brother was yet to come home from the hospital. (He’s a doctor by profession). She told me to finish off the remaining portion of the sweet dish as she had already reserved some portion in the refrigerator for my brother. Not knowing this, my niece immediately said “Baba la thev thodishi” (Keep some portion for my dad).

Simply put- in both the incidences above, Joe, Denis, and Chinar had shown very high levels of Emotional Intelligence. They were able to understand how the other person would feel at that point in time. Did they know anything about this term called Emotional Intelligence? No. This term was perhaps not even discovered at that time. While some people are naturally emotionally intelligent right from birth, most others need to really work to develop this skill.

Before we get into the details of EI, it is worth-while understanding who first coined this term. Well, it was the duo of John Mayer and Peter Salovey of Yale University way back in 1990. It was more popularised by another psychologist and author Daniel Goleman when he wrote his book- Emotional Intelligence- Why it can be better than IQ? created havoc and was the international bestseller in no time. He defined Emotional Intelligence as “EI is that part of intelligence which gives the ability to be able to be aware of our own emotions, and the emotions of others and using this awareness to manage ourselves and our relationships.”  What I would put it as much as I understand it “It is the skill when you are connected with self and in full knowledge of how you feel about your feelings at any given point of time (which depends on any triggering incident most times) and how you reply to different situations, aware of your tendencies. Emotional Intelligence is all about being able to pick the emotions of others based on which you decide your actions, behaviors, and responses to make people around you feel more at ease and manage better relationships with them. Emotional Intelligence is defined by an entity called EQ (Emotional quotient) just as the cognitive ability is defined by the term IQ (Intelligence Quotient)

While Emotional Intelligence is a Hugh subject to be discussed in a single blog, we have just got an overview of it. It is also worth-while understanding what Emotional Intelligence is NOT. Some points:

  1. EI is not being nice with people that too, all the people, all the time.
  2. EI is not curbing or suppressing your emotions. In fact, it is getting aware of and managing them.
  3. EI is not remaining calm and quiet all the time- there is no harm in getting angry where you have to and in the right proportion, but with the full awareness that “I am getting angry” e.g if there is a road rage where you are unfortunately involved with no fault of yours, you cannot remain calm if the other person is throwing some blows on you. You have to get angry to retaliate and save yourself.
  • EI is also not about being submissive or allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.
  • EI is not about caging yourself in some toxic relationship or continuing a bond that you feel is not mutually enjoyable, respectful, and meaningful.
  • EI is not a fad or a trend. It existed eternally, the key here is recognizing it, developing those skills and putting them in practice.

Now, having understood something about Emotional Intelligence and what it is not, let me list out (Based on my experiences) some of the characteristics of people with high emotional intelligence:

  1. They are less impulsive in their responses against any triggers and think before doing/talking anything. These people are aware of what their behaviors can result in and avoid getting into situations where they have to regret their actions. Their thoughts, words, and actions are congruent with each other.
  2. These people understand quickly the emotions of other people and alter the way in which they talk to them, practice restraint in a given situation and often diffuse the situation by calming the person and suggesting better logical alternatives.
  3. They are honest with themselves and the people around them.
  4. They have a strong value system to guide them in all their decisions (especially in tough, confusing and tempting situations).
  5. They always think from the other person’s perspective and avoid judging/labeling people.
  6. They are always ready to help and since they can feel their own emotions, they are sensitive to other’s emotions.
  7. Due to the above qualities, these people are more likable and are able to make quick friends, start, build, nurture strong and meaningful relationships, both in personal and professional life.

There are five major realms of Emotional Intelligence viz. Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation (or Self-management), Motivation, Empathy, and Social Awareness.

We will be discussing each of these skills in more detail in my subsequent blogs.

Coming up next… How is EQ different from IQ?

Anyone can get angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right people, in the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way- that is not easy.                                                                                                     -Aristotle

Emotional Intelligence- Leadership

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes- Peter Drucker

How do you define leadership? Many great people and leaders themselves have already defined leadership in many ways. I would just like to mention my perspective about leadership as “When people follow you/your footsteps if and when your thoughts, words, and actions are congruent with each other and you resonate with people and spur them into action”. Some of the key elements of Leadership are inspiration, authenticity, and integrity. In other words, a true leader walks the talk. A true leader commands respect, adoration, and admiration.

Some of the exceptions to the definition of leadership are some of the so-called political leaders who become leaders not because people chose them to follow, but through money muscle, goondaism, and most times due to lack of real, authentic and honest leadership. People choose them as best among the worst. Some times people choose them for vested interests and prefer to be their sycophants rather than weighing them for their values, ethics and principles.

Today, however, we will be discussing leadership only in the context of an organization’s viewpoint. Being in the leadership position for more than 20 years in corporate and private companies, I know a thing or two about leadership. I firmly believe that unless you have that experience in any field or have learned a new skill, you cannot with conviction and full confidence speak or write about it. It is so very important for a leader at whatever level he/she might be in the organization needs to have an emotionally intelligent attitude to be successful professionally and personally. All the EQ (Emotional Intelligence quotient) skills discussed already in my earlier blogs such as emotional Self-awareness, Self-Management, Empathy, Motivation, and Social awareness are key to the success of a leader in any organization.

EQ- leadership is a vast subject in itself and to cover it in a single blog will be impossible. We can at best have an introduction of the same. To begin with, I would like to narrate some of my own experiences, wherein I was a Team leader, however totally oblivious of the term EI (emotional intelligence), nor did I possess some of these skills naturally, although I was fairly decent boss who can handle his team to get the best out of them. However, due to a lack of awareness sometimes even I committed some mistakes inadvertently.

Once I got really overwhelmed by a situation in which the delivery of the equipment was getting delayed well beyond the date and time which was promised by me to the customer (a regular feature across companies in the industry I was working). The customer was yelling at the top of his voice, as his position was at stake in his organization since he took the decision to buy our equipment based on the trust, I had built with him. That’s when I lost it completely. I vented out all the frustration on my colleague who was nowhere related to the project or not even at fault at that point in time. Now, when I look at that incident, I wish I were more self-aware of my emotions, had better self and impulse control before tripping onto my colleague. 

Another incident when I showed less empathy to a colleague of mine. It so happened that, I and my colleague went to a joint call (a presentation) and from there I went to another nearby customer just as a courtesy visit and my colleague was supposed to come back to the office for some urgent work. I completed this call, took a cab directly from the customer’s place to the office only to find that this fellow had still not reached. I jumped to the conclusion that he was just wasting his time outside or maybe go for some job interview. I was not able to resist my temptation (lack of impulse control) to shout at him as soon as he came to the office. He was too shocked and upset that he didn’t tell me the full story as to why he was so late. Only after some time I came to know from another colleague that, he first took a bus(since at his grade he was not allowed cab by the company) from customers’ place to the nearby railway station, then took local train to the station of our office and then had his lunch outside, had to visit the doctor in between as he was not feeling well since morning (he didn’t show or reveal this to me, nor was I able to detect) and walked for more than 15 mins in the scorching Mumbai heat to the office. I wish I was more empathetic before losing it out on him. Thankfully, all this was many years back when even I was too young, less experienced, learning (even today I am learning) immature, impatient and deprived of self-awareness. However, as you gain more experience, get beyond the age of say 35 or so you tend to get more mature, soberer/less flashy and more considerate about others. (Disclaimer: not to suggest that all young leaders of today i.e say below 35 years of age are immature or less empathetic)

How Team leaders/Zonal Heads/Managers halt their own and organization’s progress with these unruly/disruptive behaviors/emotions?

  1. Insecurity– If the team leader himself/herself is insecure about his/her job, no way they can give any kind of security to his team members. In fact, it is seen that people fire their sub-ordinates (especially in Sales) so that their positions are secured at least for a few months. They put their failures on some of their subordinates and make one or more of them as scapegoats. Such so-called leaders can never gain any confidence/ respect from their team. Such people will always try and terrorize team members that they will lose their jobs if they don’t perform.
  2. Divisive: It’s actually an extension of the first point. Being insecure themselves, they cannot tolerate their immediate next who himself/herself is handling a team, to grow in stature in the eyes of his/her team. Hence this leader may try and reduce your importance by dividing the team and asking some people to report to him/her directly and giving you a very small/inexperienced team just to demotivate you.
  3. High EGO: Such bosses are very hard to handle. They can trip at the drop of the hat if you hurt their so-called ‘Self-importance’ and this can be really tricky. On the other hand, if you can correctly catch his/her pulse and get to know how to flatter him/her, they are the coolest people to work with, although I have never used such tactics nor endorse one. (In fact, many times I got on the wrong side of my boss for calling “Spade a Spade”)

When these leaders make decisions, they expect others to just follow through without questioning them on anything.  Decisions taken by such ego-driven leaders are for fulfilling self /vested interest rather than for the betterment of the department/organization as a whole. But such attitudes can have negative consequences and the productivity and morale of the team may take a beating in the long run.

  1. Concealing Info: these people will try to give only enough information that is required. You are not supposed to know more. They feel it not correct to divulge too much information to even your immediate next since they belong to the TOP management. While every company has some set secret policies which is fine too, but these people most times do get too carried away.
  2. Working in Isolation: Their team is not aware of their whereabouts. Well not everybody should know & that too all the time, but yes if you and one of your team members are working together on a project or a big-ticket sales requirement, he should be knowing if you visit that customer & what all things were discussed.
  3. Tripping frequently on Emotions: In other words, their motto is ‘Just do as I say’ no questions to be asked. This type of leader are terrors for their subordinates and team members look for the first available opportunity to change dept/leave the organization.
  4. Wrongly loyal: these types are leaders who want always to be in good books & views of their bosses and the TOP management and will seldom fight for the rights for his/her team members.

Some leaders think these behaviors are necessary to have ‘control’ over their team members. They think it’s ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ to behave in such a manner. But these tendencies may give you short-term results but they will never succeed in achieving long term objectives and goals for the organization.

What is Emotional Contagion?

The moods, emotions, and behaviors displayed by the leaders get rubbed on to the employees. The mood generated in the organization/team/department comes from the leader heading it. Leaders set the organization/department’s tone. It can be formal, friendly, serious, anxious, relaxed, tensed, fun-loving, or any other shades of emotions depending on what percolates down from the leader heading it.

If positive emotions, collaborative working style, and enthusiasm emanating from the leader, it reflects in the better performance/productivity, quality and customer service from the team and they are more likely to achieve the desired results and targets. On the contrary, negative emotions such as threats for job, anger, jealousy, groups, instilling fear, etc result in poor team performance and ultimately high employee turns over rather than sales turn over.

Who is an Emotionally Intelligent Leader?

Some of the qualities can be listed as under:

  1. Importance to other’s work: An emotionally intelligent leader instills pride in his/her team member with a strong feeling that no work is less important irrespective of the position and the grade the person is working in. No job is too small. Everything each member of the team does contribute to the overall objective and goals of the team and the organization.
  2. Vision for each member: These leaders show and have a big picture and vision of each member of the team with clearly defined objectives and collective goals. They first identify where each person is and work towards the liking of that person to achieve a Win-win situation for the team.
  3. Just positivity: These leaders will be full of enthusiasm, hope, confidence, conviction on the task/activity they are doing, optimism, co-operation and continuously work towards building trust not only on themselves but among the team members as well. All these positive emotions get easily rubbed onto the team members. They keep that fire burning and passion alive on each working day. They build confidence in their team members by throwing more responsibilities on them and give them the belief that even if they fail it’s ok, they are not alone and that their leader is there to support them. They build trust and cooperation by showing that they care. One self-example of this I would like to mention here- in one of my earlier jobs where I was heading the Region and responsible for a separate profit center. It was the last day of the quarter and salespeople can relate how important invoicing is on this day. We need to get the numbers for not only meeting our own sales targets but also helping the region which is lagging behind (by exceeding our sales target) to meet the overall sales targets. We had orders in hand but the material reached the depot for local billing (those were pre-GST days) only late evening on the last day of the billing quarter. Me And one of my colleagues Nagrani waited in the office right up to 11.00 PM and completed the billing in SAP. Nagrani was commitment personified in spite of being a woman, to work so late in the night. Such acts of walking the talk and digging in and working together help instilling a sense of belonging to the organization in your team members who are then very loyal to you as a leader.

These leaders are very optimistic. Even when the going is tough, they never let their own and their team’s guard down, continuously pushing team members. E.g if a team member had lost an important big order, they motivate him/her by saying that “never mind, winning/losing are part and parcel of the sales game. Important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. I know you can still achieve your targets and you have the capability to replace the lost order with a new prospect of equal or bigger size. I am there to work with you in getting your numbers.”

  • Giving freedom: These leaders will give full freedom to their team members to work in a style that suits them within the framework of organizations’ rules and policies, just by letting them know what and by when the outcome is expected out of them. This helps to instill creativity among the team members and this flexibility allows them to work at ease and in a relaxed manner yet meeting the deadlines.

I Would like to end today’s blog with the following quote from John Quincy Adams…….

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

  • John Quincy Adams

Emotional Intelligence-Sales Process

To understand the psychology of selling, the first step is to envisage various steps and probable process of sales. We will discuss the normal sales process in any normal big-ticket sales order or in project sales. However, there could be small changes depending on the industry, customer choices, ways of deciding the order( e.g many customers these days may go in for the reverse auction, tenders or forward auction). But more or less the process remains the same as we shall discuss today.

Prospecting: Many may argue that there is one more step before prospecting i.e, suspecting. But this step may not be always applicable. Suspecting is when you assume as everyone can buy from you and you are trying to create a market place for the product you are about to launch. Here you mainly try to gather maximum information from the market and try to understand the customer tastes, likes and the trend in the industry. Prospecting is actually generating some leads which may be closed into orders as you successfully complete the subsequent steps. Many channels are used by super salesperson to generate inquiries or leads. It normally starts with generating a database for a particular industry, subscribing to various sources of new projects coming up, industry directories, past users, enrolment with consultants, contractors of the relevant field, manufacturers, tenders, referrals, and other means. Once a database is generated, getting in touch with the contact over the telephone/fixing appointments, e-mailing, social contacts. and establishing contact with the right people at the right time and with the right message.

Connecting and Building rapport: The second step is building emotional connections with the various stakeholders (Purchaser, End-user, consultant, architect if any, contractor and influencer). This is very common in a typical industrial, high ticket or project sales. In this you arrange for an initial meeting with the stakeholder. A super salesperson tries to understand the buying patterns and processes, gain control, lower the emotional barriers and basically sets the ball rolling towards the next step. In this step, you gauge the contact and try to qualify him. Both the stakeholder and salesperson get a fair idea if it makes sense to move ahead or not. If the contact is fairly qualified, the key here as a salesperson is to generate interest, build trust and credibility so that stakeholders feel the need to go onto the next step.

Strengthening your case: This is the most important step in the sales process. Here you ask a lot of questions without stakeholders getting to feel that you are interrogating and do lots of empathetic listening. Gathering maximum information tactfully ( yes this is an art/skill to elicit information as many a times the stakeholders conceal a lot of things or even misguide) about the present situation, problems faced by the stakeholders, their pain points, consequences faced due to these problems and how best your product/solution or service can solve them. A super salesperson asks powerful, provocative and sometimes, even challenging questions to build their case and to get them out of the comfort zone. The whole idea is to create self-awareness in the minds of the stakeholders and get them to act faster. You strengthen your belief about the stakeholders for their place at the top of your sales funnel.

Presentation: another very important step in the sales process. You try and convince the stakeholders thro’ technical presentations, testimonials, offerings, etc that your product/solution or service is the most optimum and best suited to their requirements. You build informal bridges that motivate the prospect to move forward to the next step. It is in this step that the super salespersons differentiate themselves, products or solutions offered by them from the competition and think from the prospect’s point of view ( empathy) rather than their own.

Ask for the next step:  in the next step, the customer might ask for a factory visit, visit an installation of similar equipment made by the supplier to other customers, references, etc. If the prospect asks and completes all or some of these tasks, you can assume that you are playing your cards right till now (although this will not guarantee the closure of order in your favor) and the stakeholders are reasonably engaged.

From the salesperson’s point of view also, asking is one of the most important skills in the sales process. Because unless you ask for what you want, you will not get it. You may have to ask yourself some or all of the above tasks to check the stake holder’s engagement ( For more information on stakeholder engagement kindly read my earlier blog   https://www.shrikantmambike.com/emotional-intelligence-sales-testing-prospects-for-engagements/) Super salespeople find it easy to ask because they have earned the right to ask.

The key to moving ahead to the next step is to follow the case-specific sales process, develop emotional connections with the stakeholders, listen, built relevant bridges thereby increasing confidence in closing the order in their favor.

Turn around objections:  Many times when competition senses that you are getting stronger in a particular case, they try and influence the stake holder’s mind against you and the objections raised by them may be the result of such negative tactics. E.g questions like after-sales service, or technical points, or raising a non-issue of the breakdown of an installation at other customer’s places (which actually could be site related problems or issues not related to the product, etc). Objections can be anything related to supply in a particular segment, company position in the market, financial condition, etc and more often than not stem from the handy work of the competition. Yes, many a time stakes holders may have some genuine concerns and hence the objections.

A super salesperson welcomes objections and is not afraid of those. He/she has a firm conviction and confidence about self, product or service and the company they are representing. They are convinced that objections are a sign of stakeholder being suitably engaged and interested.

Closing and Execution: This is where the super salesperson wins the order making more often than not a Win-Win situation for both the parties. Before closing often several rounds of negotiations take place. (Negotiations in itself is a Hugh topic in sales, more of that on a series of blogs later).

Once the order is closed on mutually agreed terms it is the responsibility of the Salesperson with the help of support staff and factory to get the same executed in the smoothest manner and hold true to all the promises given during earlier stages of the process. Order execution will involve steps such as preparing internal work orders, informing the factory for technical details, drawings asking for an advance from the customer, co-ordinating with accounts and finance for BG, if any, etc.

After Sales Service:  Just closing the order does not end the work of the salesperson for that particular case. He needs to coordinate with factory/ service department, line up engineers for site inspection, and act as a bridge between the customer and his own people.

Once the supply is completed and equipment is commissioned, it is the responsibility of the sale person at least initially, to co-ordinate with the customer service department for any requirement of support from the customer’s end. After-sales service and account management is the key to customer satisfaction and your repeat business depends majorly on this one very crucial factor and go in a long way towards retaining customers, developing long and cordial relationships, and growing revenue for the company.

Referrals and Testimonials:  Assuming that you have executed the order smoothly and the customer is reasonably happy with the whole process, you have kept all the promises you made during the sales process, there are no major issues, then you have the face to ask for some testimonials and even referrals (as they may know to be in the same industry, that is how word of mouth publicity helps) who may require same or similar rating of equipment.

A super salesperson will first understand the case-specific sales process and very diligently follow it. He is also fully aware of the fact that sales will happen only if their sales process matches the buying process of the prospect.

Coming up next buying process of the prospect….. Stay tuned…

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