Emotional Intelligence Leadership Communication

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Sometimes there are occasions where even subject experts, very technically brilliant senior people, get their message wrong, or at least not right and balanced.

A case in point is this. My wife, Miranda, and I were expecting our second child, and it was a caesarean delivery, because of complications with our first child’s birth. So, as Miranda and I are waiting in our room, awaiting preparation to then go and have the caesarean operation, which is considered major surgery, at least here in the U.K. a very technically brilliant doctor visited us and said…

Good morning. I’m here to tell you how the procedure is going to go, and also tell you about the risks associated with the caesarean delivery. There could be blood clots that cause problems in your uterus, we could damage your bladder, your bowel, and other internal organs. Worst case scenario, as well as there being lots of pain and scabbing around the incision, the worst case scenario is a hysterectomy may be required. But we’ll do out best to avoid any of those complications.”

Now, if you’re hearing this now with no emotional investment in this experience, this delivery that’s about to happen, you might be thinking, “Well, that’s prudent. They’ve got to tell you about the risks.” If you’re in our situation, and bear in mind I know how to manage myself, but at this point I’m thinking, “Surely, you’ve got tell us about the upside? Surely, you’ve got to tell us that Miranda is going to be cared for and she’s in a great team’s hands through this experience,” which she had encountered before and didn’t enjoy particularly much. But, the doctor then said, “Okay, we’ll see you in about half an hour when you’ve been prepped.”

The impact of his dialogue, for me at least, at that time was, “Tell us about the upside before you go. Tell us about the upside.” But he just turned to walk away. So as he turned to walk away, I said, “Doctor, could I please check with you? I know you need to tell us about the risks, but what’s the good think that could happen here?” “Oh, Mr. Watson, I’m very sorry, very sorry. I’m so used to telling people about the risks, because it’s hospital policy, I forgot to tell you. In about an hour or twos’ time, it’s very likely you’ll have a beautiful, healthy baby girl joining you. We look forward to being of help and you’re in a great pair of hands. And do remember, you get to choose your music whilst you’re having this experience.”

See what happened? The person, the technically brilliant doctor, was so focused on the procedure, the task, getting the job done, for all the right reasons, that his brain forgot at that point to mention, “Oh, by the way, we’re human beings and I want to help you feel safe, cared for, understood, and safe.”

What About Your Organisation, What About You?

Where in your organisation, where for you if you’re a leader, or manager, or a team leader, it doesn’t matter about the level, or even when you’re dealing with customers, where does your message sometime focus so much on the risks, that it forgets about the benefits, the pitfalls, or things that could go wrong, that the recipient of your message, whether it’s one person or a group, feel that it doesn’t quite fit well with them?

Anyway, Emilia did turn up healthy, wonderful, and it all worked out well in the end, but please bear in mind, it’s not just what you say, it’s, oh, how you say it. It’s the impact you create with the people or person receiving your message.

Just a thought.