Fight for Your Life: Marital Arguments + Longevity

Is it emotionally intelligent to fight? New study from University of Michigan divides 192 couples 3 groups based on “unfair attacks”:

  1. both partners communicate their anger;
  2. one spouse expresses while the other suppresses;
  3. both suppress their anger and brood.

Preliminary finding after 17 years is that group 3 is at risk. Ernest Harburg, professor emeritus with the U-M School of Public Health and the Psychology Department, and lead author:

“When both spouses suppress their anger at the other when unfairly attacked, earlier death was twice as likely than in all other types.” Source: Physorg

Sometimes people think emotional intelligence is the same as “being nice.” Based on this data, though, the intelligent use of emotion is to fight! Or maybe to fight nicely.

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This…

Yesterday morning that song kept running through my head. Family and I were walking on the beach, a glorious, amazing January-I-am-so-lucky- to-live-in-California kind of day, watching my kids collecting sea glass… and thinking about my dad in the hospital.

We don’t quite know what’s wrong, it seems most likely to be lung cancer, we will know in a couple of days. He just had an incredibly amazing surgery to remove a tumor and 1 vertebrae, and today he’s been able to sit in a chair and will be out of ICU. istock_lighthouse.jpg

It’s hard to hold onto how miraculous that is — while also thinking about the fact that he’ll start the “real” battle with this cancer in another week.  These emotional paradoxes amaze me.  How at once I can feel this incredible sense of blessing and concurrently feel a looming abyss of loss.

I don’t want to “go there” until we get the oncology report, and I keep slipping into the shadows of grief – into thinking how much we’ll miss him, how much I’ll miss him, about how there are so many things we’d saved for someday.

Want a change in ’08? Willing to work for it?

I found this article intriguing, both in the framing and the advice. The setup is that while we talk a lot about things being different in our organizations (and lives), most of us won’t actually do much about it. Is that ok with you?

… the truth is we will all still be at the same spot next year, fussing about the way we are organizing, prioritizing and delegating.

But what would happen if we were determined to make a real change in the way we lead our organizations this year? Perhaps we should ask ourselves the more compelling question…what will happen in our organization this year if nothing changes in the way we lead?

In considering my own challenges as a leader, there are some results I want this year – this question is leading me to wonder: Am I really willing to work for it? istock_000004322683xsmall.jpg I’m pretty comfortable with the way things are right now – it’s not all it could be, but is pretty great. Hard work to change – worth it? Will think!

Sometimes I wish I could just “press the button” and have change done.

But change takes persistent effort. I don’t mind working HARD – its keeping it in focus day after day that’s so difficult.

The article then provides seven ideas of things to do differently – hard things like building better relationships, holding onto vision, and being authentic. These take a lot of courage and risk – I’d have to be a bit less comfortable, and I’d have to be willing to risk making others uncomfortable. Takes a lot of emotional intelligence to manage that. Where’s an good EQ consultant when you need one??


Like so many of my clients, I know this – but doing it is harder than knowing it.

Hm. So what’s it gonna be? Comfort or learning? I’ll let you know next year.

Check out the article – Gregg Thompson — WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF NOTHING CHANGES? (The Point, Jan 08)

Hilary’s tears: weakness or strength?

Challenging questions for Hilary Clinton and our society in an emotional intelligence meets politics moment — a Newsweek article (Hillary Tears Up: A Muskie moment, or a helpful glimpse of ‘the real Hillary’?) asks if Hilary’s display of emotion will be seen as a sign of weakness, or of honesty?  And in any case, the emotion trumps the facts:

No one will remember the hour of detailed policy talk that preceded Clinton’s emotional moment

Will Americans confirm that:

anyone who needed to carry Kleenex in her purse was unfit for the highest office in the land

or will the conclusion come that emotion helps

a candidate who is seen as aloof and too tightly scripted appear more vulnerable, more human and more appealing

What do we really want in a leader?  This brings up so many questions about trust and emotion — do we trust people who hide their emotions or show them?  Do we prefer “false strength” to authenticity?  I suspect that genuineness+moderate strength goes further than appearance of big strength.
I also enjoyed reading comments on this video on youtube – which raise the question: Was it real anyway?

What do you think? Fake or real tears? Weak or strong?

Iranian Children’s Hope for Peace

A friend of a friend went to Iran recently and took photos of kids and of their drawings about war and peace. Someone else then put together this video – it’s a little long, but I found it kept drawing me in. What must it feel like for children to hear superpowers talking about bombing their country? How do we help children make sense of the past and current conflicts so they create something different for the future?

A Hunger for Change

1.1 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day (World Bank). Using this measure, global poverty is decreasing; as of 2004 “only” about 1 in 5 people world-wide lived in poverty (but almost half of the world’s population lives below $2 per day). 850 million people, right now, are going hungry.

Unfortunately, the world just can’t afford to feed these people. After all, it would cost over $24 billion per year for 10 years to end hunger (Food and Agriculture, UN, World Food Summit: five years later, in June 2002).

Oh – but wait – let’s put that $24b in perspective.

Worldwide, there are over 15 billion cigarettes sold – about $2.25b – per DAY. Plus, smoking adds huge costs to healthcare ($76b per year in the US), drops productivity, and increases waste (World Health Tobacco Atlas)

In 2002, the US spent $22b on potato chips and salty snacks (World Watch Magazine, March/April 2005).

And the “first world” throws out far more than $25b/year. For example, the UK alone uses 8,000 tons of wrapping paper each Christmas (Guardian).

So if you’re keen to make a New Year’s resolution – consider this: While 1.1 billion live on $1/day, many of us spend over $100/day. If all of us in this category were to put just 5¢ per day into a fund, hunger could end in under 10 years.

It’s not a financial problem – it’s problem of will. Again – emotional intelligence needed here!! Maybe it’s time for us to be hungry for change.

leaf in the river

Amazing “ethnography” about students

One of the most intriguing youtubes I’ve seen this year – students at Kansas State University and Mike Wesch (presumably the prof) put together this piece sharing some data about a group of 200 students. The result is a compelling “story” that traditional instruction is not going to cut it. Wearing my “EQ guy hat” I look at this as a cry for emotional intelligence — the need for educators and educational systems to get better at connecting w students at a deeper level and helping them capture not just facts, but also meaning! This reinforces Tessy’s post about multitasking (below).

HBR: John Gottman on Making Relationships Work

Making Relationships Work: A Conversation with Psychologist John M. Gottman by Diane Coutu

Great article. Focus is on Gottman’s specialty, marriages, and it’s a bit thin on link to biz relationships — but the advice is very practical. 3 points I liked:

1. “Successful couples, he notes, look for ways to accentuate the positive. They try to say “yes” as often as possible.” Gottman uses metaphor of salt shaker that can be filled with “yes” – how often can you sprinkle that on relationships?

2. “good relationships aren’t about clear communication—they’re about small moments of attachment and intimacy. It takes time and work to make such moments part of the fabric of everyday life.” This takes making it a priority! Relationship is at the center of the leader’s job, not a distraction from the tasks.

3. There are a lot of theories about the basic things people fight about. Gottman says no – it’s not about a thing at all: it’s about HOW people fight! In other words, it’s not the subject that matters, it’s the emotional message that’s underneath it.

Highly recommended!

Friendly or Talented?

While they don’t call it “Emotional Intelligence” this article makes another case for the importance of EQ:

A résumé and a brief job interview can’t answer the question that matters most to a new hire’s co-workers: Is this person an absolute pain?Despite a labor shortage in many sectors, some employers are pickier than ever about whom they hire. Businesses in fields where jobs are highly coveted — or just sound like fun — are stepping up efforts to weed out people who might have the right credentials but the wrong personality.

Call it the “plays well with others” factor. Job candidates at investment banks have long endured dozens of interviews designed, in part, to see if new hires will get along with everyone they’ll work with.

Source: Warmth is a trait that can make or break a job applicant, Houston Chronicle, Nov. 9, 2007