Happiness feels intolerably elusive for many of us. Like fog, you can see it from afar, dense and full of shape. But upon approach, its particles loosen and suddenly it becomes out of reach, even though it’s all around you. We put so much emphasis on the pursuit of happiness, but if you stop and think about it, to pursue is to chase something without a guarantee of ever catching it. READ MORE: Happiness Isn’t the Absence of Negative Feelings | Harvard Business Review.
There’s no shortage of advice about how to react to negative feedback. Whether the critic is a boss or a co-worker, the same familiar guidance is consistently presented: Listen carefully, don’t get defensive, ask for time.
There’s nothing wrong with these three suggestions, of course. But at the moment when an unhappy colleague is telling you loudly that the project plan you created left out some obvious key components, or your boss is taking you to task for the stumbles you made in running an important meeting, it’s hard to recall these valid pointers, move them to the front of your mind, and actually act on them. READ MORE: How to Handle Negative Feedback | Harvard Business Review.
Volunteering in a public library and changing workplaces from the corporate world to academia and back again over the past five years has exposed me to different organizational cultures. These experiences have provided insight into the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in your leaders and peers and how workplace culture influences your emotions and behaviour. I am really intrigued by emotional intelligence theory and believe in the value of understanding its application in our personal and work lives (supported by research). We can improve the way we interact with our peers and respond to conflict. Below, I have provided links to insightful articles on this topic for your enjoyment and professional development. I will continue to add articles to this post as I come across them in the news.
DON COOLIDGE AND JP Benini are bringing cognitive smarts to the world of children’s toys. Coolidge and Benini just launched a Kickstarter for a toy dinosaur toy driven by IBM Watson, the machine learning service based on the company’s Jeopardy-playing cognitive system.
Developed under the aegis of a company called Elemental Path and a project called CogniToys, this tiny plastic dinosaur uses speech recognition techniques to carry on conversations with kids, and according to Coolidge and Benini, it even develops a kind of smart personality based on likes and dislikes listed by each child.
The toy is another example of online machine learning pushing even further into our everyday lives. This is made possible not only by an improvement in AI techniques, but also by the ability to readily deliver these techniques across the net. READ MORE: A Toy Dinosaur Powered by IBM’s Watson Supercomputer | WIRED.
There is much research that suggests that emotional intelligence develops from social interactions, yet children are increasingly spending their days in front of computers, tablets, and smartphones. Today, children under the age of eight spend on average two full hours a day in front of screens. El Kaliouby is deeply concerned about what happens when children grow up around technology that does not express emotion and cannot read our emotion. Does that cause us, in turn, to stop expressing emotion?
The answer, according to recent research, is yes. A University of California-Los Angeles study last year found that children who had regular access to phones, televisions, and computers were significantly worse at reading human emotions than those who went five days without exposure to technology.
But El Kaliouby does not believe the solution lies in ridding the world of technology. Instead, she believes we should be working to make computers more emotionally intelligent.
If you’re the kind of boss who fails to make genuine connections with your direct reports, take heed: 91% of employees say communication issues can drag executives down, according to results from our new Interact/Harris Poll, which was conducted online with roughly 1,000 U.S. workers.
In the survey, employees called out the kind of management offenses that point to a striking lack of emotional intelligence among business leaders, including micromanaging, bullying, narcissism, indecisiveness, and more. In rank order, the following were the top communication issues people said were preventing business leaders from being effective… READ MORE: The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders | HBR
Several years ago, I was given as a gift a remote session with a bibliotherapist at the London headquarters of the School of Life, which offers innovative courses to help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence. I have to admit that at first I didn’t really like the idea of being given a reading “prescription.” I’ve generally preferred to mimic Virginia Woolf’s passionate commitment to serendipity in my personal reading discoveries, delighting not only in the books themselves but in the randomly meaningful nature of how I came upon them (on the bus after a breakup, in a backpackers’ hostel in Damascus, or in the dark library stacks at graduate school, while browsing instead of studying). I’ve long been wary of the peculiar evangelism of certain readers: You must read this, they say, thrusting a book into your hands with a beatific gleam in their eyes, with no allowance for the fact that books mean different things to people—or different things to the same person—at various points in our lives. I loved John Updike’s stories about the Maples in my twenties, for example, and hate them in my thirties, and I’m not even exactly sure why.
But the session was a gift, and I found myself unexpectedly enjoying the initial questionnaire about my reading habits that the bibliotherapist, Ella Berthoud, sent me. Nobody had ever asked me these questions before, even though reading fiction is and always has been essential to my life. READ MORE: Can Reading Make You Happier? | The New Yorker.
WE’VE LONG KNOWN there’s a market out there for robotic buddies. One compelling piece of evidence: The original Furby sold more than 40 million units, and it didn’t really do anything.
17 years later, an A.I. and machine-learning company is making a robot pal that will do way more than its fuzzy predecessor. It’s called Musio, and it houses a pretty impressive A.I. engine developed by a company called AKA.
The robot remembers details from prior conversations, asks follow-up questions based on that info, and can be used as a smart-home controller. But its main goal is to be your friend: Asking you questions, actually listening to your answers, and learning what you’re all about
Very timely article on emotional intelligence and compassion in leadership. Well worth the read.
Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty tells the story of performing surgery on a little boy’s brain tumor. In the middle of the procedure, the resident who is assisting him gets distracted and accidentally pierces a vein. With blood shedding everywhere, Doty is no longer able to see the delicate brain area he is working on. The boy’s life is at stake. Doty is left with no other choice than to blindly reaching into the affected area in the hopes of locating and clamping the vein. Fortunately, he is successful.
Most of us are not brain surgeons, but we certainly are all confronted with situations in which an employee makes a grave mistake, potentially ruining a critical project.
The question is: How should we react when an employee is not performing well or makes a mistake?
Frustration is of course the natural response — and one we all can identify with. Especially if the mistake hurts an important project or reflects badly upon us.
The traditional approach is to reprimand the employee in some way. The hope is that some form of punishment will be beneficial: it will teach the employee a lesson. Expressing our frustration also may relieve us of the stress and anger caused by the mistake. Finally, it may help the rest of the team stay on their toes to avoid making future errors.
Some managers, however, choose a different response when confronted by an underperforming employee: compassion and curiosity. Not that a part of them isn’t frustrated or exasperated — maybe they still worry about how their employee’s mistakes will reflect back on them — but they are somehow able to suspend judgment and may even be able to use the moment to do a bit of coaching.
What does research say is best? The more compassionate response will get you more powerful results.