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8 Brilliant TED Talks That Will Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

8 Brilliant TED Talks That Will Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

As the world becomes increasingly automated through machines that replace human labor, there still exists something that robots can and never will be able to replace – emotional intelligence (EI). EI is the key thing that differentiates us from robots; it is the ability to feel, understand, and manage emotions and behavior within ourselves and amongst other people.

Humans are social beings at heart, and EI understands this by helping us to see the best in others as well as ourselves. This can prepare you for managing any difficult situations that come your way. Investing in your EI therefore ensures longer term success in all aspects of your life. The good news is that EI can be learned no matter how old or young you are, and putting it into practice is completely up to you. Here are eight top picks from TED talks to kickstart your EI growth journey:

1. On Vulnerability

Who: Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston

How it helps: Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness by many; something we should strive to hide from others whenever we feel afraid or incapable. In fact, Brown’s research and experience on vulnerability shows quite the opposite – how being vulnerable helps to enforce an attitude of kindness and gentleness towards yourself and others, and to prevent the blame, addiction and judgement that can arise from the tendency to hide one’s imperfection.

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2. On Compassion

Who: Daniel Goleman

How it helps: In this classic TED talk, Goleman shares his insights on compassion, one of the main factors that determines your emotional intelligence. Through engaging stories, he notes the inherent motivation behind being compassionate towards others, explains how empathy separates us from becoming sociopaths, and touches on examples of compassion that truly make the skill worth practicing.

3. On Love and Acceptance

Who: Andrew Solomon, Writer on Politics, Culture and Psychology

How it helps: Solomon explains the fine difference between unconditional love and acceptance, and describes his understanding about both concepts from his interviews of numerous families and their children. The touching stories that he shares shows how this is a choice, and will give you fresh perspective on what unconditional love and acceptance does for ourselves and society.

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4. On Smiling

Who: Ron Gutman, Founder and CEO of HealthTap

How it helps: Smiling doesn’t cost us anything, but according to Gutman, is also worth the equivalent of receiving “16,000 British pounds in cash”. In this talk, Gutman takes us through studies on smiling – from our inborn ability to smile without being taught to wide reaching effects of smiling on ourselves and others. Well worth a listen to understand and use the power of a smile.

5. On Stress

Who: Kelly McGonigal, Health Psychologist

How it helps: In a fundamental shift of perspective, McGonigal shows us how stress can help rather than hinder. All too frequently, we get stressed when being unable to cope with our own emotions, or being affected by those of others. However, McGonigal suggests reframing our thoughts into using stress for the better, and we can apply this to how we deal with everyday stressors. A big part of improving EI is also learning to shift your perspective using positive psychology, making this talk incredibly relevant.

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6. On Saying Thank You

Who: Dr. Laura Trice, Counsellor and Coach

How it helps: In just over three minutes, Trice reminds us of the act of saying thank you and why it means so much. When said a certain way, this simple trick we were taught since we were young can boost your EI in no time.

7. On Disagreement

Who: Margaret Heffernan, Management Thinker and Former CEO of 5 Businesses

How it helps: Disagreement sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially when it comes to inter-personal relationships, but Heffernan shows how disagreement can lead to improved and outcomes through communication. A vital tool for anyone looking to boost their EI in an assertive and productive manner.

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8. On Listening

Who: Julian Treasure, Sound Consultant

How it helps: Listening – the skill of paying conscious attention to sound – is becoming increasingly unused as loud and attention grabbing noises continue to overwhelm our world. Treasure speaks of the risks associated with greater noise distraction, such as being more desensitized and less empathetic. Throughout the talk, he gives the audience several methods of improving ways of listening, which are certainly worth trying out. Although featured for businesses, we can take a leaf out of Treasure’s book by remembering to listen and to do it well, in order to increase our sensitivity to others and the environment around us.

Featured photo credit: Athletic Man Jumping Between Rocks In Outdoor National Park by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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