Articles tagged with: Emotional Intelligence

Random Acts of Kindness and Influence

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

I was recently at one of my favorite coffee shops, grabbing a cup of coffee, before hitting the road for a long drive. The shop was unusually busy that morning, which was not that big of a deal, other than that it took a long time and I was in a hurry.

I was having a great time "people-watching", as several of us waited with baited breath for our morning cup of joe. There was one woman in particular that stood out to me. We didn't speak to each other nor did I observe her talking to anyone else. She stood out to me because she had a sense of peace about her.

About the time I was trying to figure out what is was about her that made me feel this way, my drink was called and I was snapped out of my trance. I reached for my drink to discover it was very hot. I looked around but there was no sleeve for my cup, went to the condiment counter… no sleeves there either. I even tried to get a worker’s attention, again, to no avail. I was scurrying around looking for a cup sleeve and noticed this woman was watching me. I smiled and said, “I am trying to find a sleeve for my coffee… it is really hot.” She smiled back and that was that. I decided to give up the search for a sleeve and run to the restroom to wash my hands before leaving.

I left my coffee on the table right outside the restroom. When I came out, the lady was gone, but next to my cup of coffee, was a sleeve for my coffee. In that moment, my heart was warmed by the kindness of a stranger…. Nothing major, it didn’t even cost her anything, but it was just thoughtful.

I walked to my car and could not stop thinking about how such a little gesture brought so much joy to my hectic morning. Kindness is “indulgent, considerate or helpful.”1 This lady was all of these things. She was also being something else she didn’t even realize. She was being influential. Influential means “the act of producing effects on the actions, behaviors or opinions of others.” In that moment, and for the rest of the day, the kindness of a stranger influenced me to want to share kindness with others. I focused on just that for the rest of the day. In fact, she influenced me so much, I am writing this blog about it.

What about you? Have you ever had someone do something simple for you that had lasting impact – a random act or gesture of kindness? As leaders, it is important for us to remember the value in simple, arbitrary acts of kindness and the long-term effects they have to influence others.

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Does What I do Make me Who I Am?

Written by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Blog, All Posts

Here in America we define ourselves and those around us by what we do. Think about the first question we ask after introducing ourselves…. “So where do you work?” and “what do you do there?” In part, this is good small talk. We naturally ask these questions in succession. The other part has to do with sizing people up. We determine before we even get to know someone whether we think they are successful based on how they answer these questions. Is it any wonder why we personally define ourselves using this same measurement?

This type of stereotyping begs the question many are now facing, what happens when what we “do” is done away with? What happens when companies go bankrupt, jobs are outsourced, people are downsized or laid off? How then will we define ourselves, our friends, colleagues or family members? Although what we do is obviously important, we have to learn a better self-awareness, or who we are “being.” Who we are “being” is who we are, our character, values, beliefs and passions. It is not determined by titles, salary or prestige.

To discover who we really are beyond the titles we hold is a challenge. Think for a minute about who you are…. If I asked you to describe yourself could you do so without talking about what you do? The goal is that who we are being works collaboratively with what we do but it does not define us. I recently asked a client of mine while working through the “being” vs. “doing” question, “how would you respond if you lost your job for one reason or another and the only thing you could find was working at a fast food restaurant wiping down tables?” His answer was the best I have ever gotten. He said, “well I guess I would have to work hard and rise to the top in that industry!” Now that is knowing who you are being no matter what you are doing!

I want to encourage you, whether you are in the most secure position you have ever been in or whether you are having to re-define yourself due to job loss, search yourself to know who you are being in this world.

Here are some suggestions as you go through this process:

  • Be insightfully straight with yourself.
  • What transformations do you want?
  • What are your personal values, passions, beliefs?
  • Write a paper about who you are.
  • Write a paper about who you want to be.
  • Be in your possibilities.
  • Dream!

This can be an eye opening experience if you allow it to be. We would love to hear your feedback on this exercise and if it was beneficial.

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Making a space for thinking…

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

A manager who once told me that his goal for me was to find time for 20% open thinking time in my work day. At the time, I thought this was a silly concept considering I had so much to do and not enough time to do it. I was so busy with tasks that needed to get done. Coming from a strong work ethic background, it was actually hard for me to leave an open space in my schedule. I believed that being super busy was being the super employee. Clearly, this gift from my manager would take time and practice to understand and recognize the value.

A recent psychological study by UVA and Harvard found that people would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts. When faced with 6 to 15 minutes of time to think, many participants chose a mild electric shock rather than open time to think. “What is striking,” the investigators write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock…” – Wow! I guess this time to think is a common challenge!

Today’s technology devices allow us to fill every minute to be sure to get the most “productivity” out of our day. Instant, endless messages are sent at every moment of every day. The impact of this constant barrage of activity leaves us unable to quiet down often leading to exhaustion and insomnia. It becomes so uncomfortable to just be still.

I decided that taking time to think was a critical part of my wellness. I started with small steps. On the suggestion of a friend, I tried to pause to take a deep breath before opening the car door…easy right? Definitely No. I was miles down the road before I remembered my resolve… even after many attempts. Clearly this would be a long journey to change for me.

After much time and effort, I am pleased to say that I really enjoy open time to think. I had to try lots of different approaches to find a few that work for me…and I had to turn off the cell phone. Considering the research referenced, it’s no surprise that the focus on wellness continues to grow.

Personally, I am amazed at how the time to think can energize creativity. Creativity doesn’t just take the form of some amazing idea. For me, creativity fills the space with options to do things differently. Many creative ideas have been tossed aside but some have made a real difference in finding a better way to accomplish a task, partner with a co-worker, or solve a problem.

So what have I learned about the value of taking time to think? I’m happier and more creative. I have more patience for great conversations and future possibilities. I don’t really know when I lost my skills for enjoying thinking time, but I’m even more appreciative now that I have it back. My wish for you is some wonderful and enjoyable time to think…with no electric shocks. 

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Meeting Meltdowns: Why did I say that?!!!

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

4 Things to think about when you find your foot in your mouth

Did I really say that??!!!  Have you ever left an important meeting with a knot in the pit of your stomach not knowing exactly what you said but knowing that it was completely the wrong thing?  Wondering if there is damage to your relationships with key colleagues because emotions took control of your voice?

Fear not!  There are ways to better understand this emotional reaction and tools to help you use this energy for powerful and more effective messages.

First, let’s understand what is happening in your reaction.  If you have worked with personality typing such as Emergenetics or Myers Briggs (and I heartily recommend considering these tools if you haven’t), you understand our differences in how we process situations, information, and reactions to other people.  Certain ways of viewing the world are naturally more comfortable for you. So what happens to your style when stress or pressure pushes you to operate in a way that is completely outside of your usual style and comfort…and may lead you to post-meeting questions of “what was I thinking when I said THAT?”

I reference a great piece of research called In the Grip; Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function, by Naomi L. Quenk.   The premise is that when our usual dominant styles are confronted with fatigue and stress, we have an inferior reaction type, the opposite of our standard Myers Briggs type, which takes over our reactions in the frustration of the moment.

So what does this mean in real life situations?  Consider a situation when you are tired and at the end of your patience.  The reasonable “you” is now agitated, angry, and acting out of character. Backed into a corner, the opposite of your standard personality erupts in a way that is confusing to you and to others in the discussion. You can come away from a meeting wondering “who was that person?”

So how can you manage the energy of stress and ensure that you project your best self in discussions that matter? The trick is to reconnect to your comfort and style strengths by recognizing the situations that cause this level of stress and fatigue.  I recommend four basic ways to reconnect to your true type.

  1. Take a time out – Even a short trip out of the meeting room for a common excuse can give you the time to take a few deep breaths.  Although adrenalin is needed if we are in peril, it can be your enemy in a meeting full of emotional turmoil.
  2. Find the patience to listen– In a stressful meeting, messages are flying in all directions and no one is really listening.  The respect of truly listening to an alternate viewpoint can change the tempo of the whole meeting.  Try repeating the message of the “other side” and you may find that you are not as far apart as you thought.  Once you listen to their input, they may react much better to your perspective rather than your emotion.
  3. Forgive yourself and follow up - If you really “lost it” and your comments create a conflict, take accountability for a bad meeting.  Most people have experienced something similar and will react well to a sincere apology about getting caught up in the emotion of the moment.  Use this as a lesson to understand what triggers you in these situations and to manage your future reactions.  This is an opportunity for a valuable leadership lesson.
  4. Refresh your personality testing knowledge - Revisit and explore personality typing.  Myers Briggs and Emergenetics help to explain how others may view situations differently and can help immeasurably in shaping your leadership messages.

The better you understand yourself and others, the more productive your meeting discussions can be even in stressful situations.  Exploring your personal style can be an exciting journey.

MSB Coach has the resources and tools to develop with your leadership skillset by understanding personality types.  Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

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A Leadership Call to Action

Written by Tony Marbury Posted in Blog, All Posts

There is a shortage of great leaders. I recently read an article that reported the shortage of leaders as the most pressing human resource challenge that businesses are facing. This is a crisis. The gap between the challenges we face is increasing faster than the ability, or the will, to produce the leadership necessary to shorten the deficit.

It’s graduation time! I’ve been thinking about the challenges these young people will face as they enter the workforce, and thought they could use a bit of advice. As you read the letter, ask yourself if you have become the kind of leader that our world is demanding our graduates to strive to be.  If the answer is no, use it as a call to action.  Take an inventory of your training, skills, capabilities, and effectiveness and do the right thing. Now is the time and as mentioned in the letter, we are all counting on you too! And be sure to share this with the new grads in your life!

A Letter to Graduates

Congratulations! You’ve done it! You are now officially graduates! Find the time to celebrate. You definitely deserve it. Be very proud of yourselves as this is one of the greatest accomplishments that you will experience.  You have learned many things about both your limitations and your capabilities and now it is time to go out and make a difference in a world hungry for your many talents. As you navigate through life in search of new knowledge and experiences to build on your foundation, I offer this advice to take with you on your leadership journey:

  • Ask questions. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~Steven R. Covey         Everyone has a journey, knowledge and their own worldview. As you embark on your path of understanding, be receptive to and question all other people no matter how different they are from you, in either appearance or thought. In fact, the more different they are, the more your own worldview will expand.
  • Think before you act. Take the time to give yourself a chance to process your words and actions before you proceed. Create in your mind’s eye a story, complete with a beginning and end, of the path you are about to take. Evaluate the imagined results to increase your chances of a successful outcome.
  • Never stop learning. You can put away your books, but you must always be a student. The world is dynamic. We will never know all that there is to know. The best we can do is to keep our minds and hearts open to this wonderfully vibrant creation.
  • Listen. A colleague once told me, that the greatest gift you can give someone is to listen. Spend less time talking and more time listening. Hearing is not the same as listening. Hearing just happens; listening is intentional. Effective listening is an art that must be learned and constantly practiced.
  • Constantly evaluate your surroundings. Be present and aware. Put down your cell phone and interact with the people around you. Don’t be a bystander. You must anticipate and prepare for anything and everything you may encounter.
  • Be empathetic. In my opinion, empathy is the greatest trait a leader can have. Walk a mile in your own shoes and you will get to the next town. Walk a mile in everyone else’s shoes and you will get around the world. I can’t say it better than the author, Daniel H. Pink: “Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
  • Find something to believe in.  Find a cause, religion, a community organization, politics, or all of the above. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. Leaders always find a way to give of themselves to aid in the betterment of the world. Perform small acts of kindness: lend a hand, cause a smile, wipe a tear, warm a heart – give of yourself in these ways, and I promise, you will be rewarded.*

As graduates and future leaders, we are all counting on you. Find your place in the world and use all that you have and will learn, to, as Michael Jackson said, “Make it a better place for you and me.” *This life insurance commercial from Thailand captures it best.

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