Change the Energy in the Room

There are people who can read the tone, people who can set the tone, and then there are people who are tone-deaf.

The people who set the tone in the relational environments they step into know how to change the energy in the room.

They are what I call Energy Carriers.

If you want to be a force of influence who affects the “outer energy” of the room, the kind that exists in our relational contexts (i.e. the vibe or spirit of any given setting), it begins with how you manage the energy of your internal world (i.e. learning to be fully present, living in the now moments of your life, and knowing how to harness what’s on the inside to change what happens on the outside).

Energy Carriers know this: if they want to be a force in their outer world of relationships, they must learn to be more fully present. They must resist and overcome the temptation we all face of distraction. I once heard it said, "Distraction is the greatest spiritual enemy of our time." I'm convinced of this truth.

From that present, centered place, we can embody what it means to be an energy carrier who learns how to navigate through the tone, vibe, and/or emotion of the environments around us. We can shape and form the relational ethos of the lives of others around us in a positive way, meaningful, and intentional way.

Read more in my book, Relational Intelligence.

Becoming a Story Collector Involves...

Every human being has a story to tell. I use the term "Story Collector" to describe people who are genuinely interested in the story that other people’s lives are telling. They recognize the novel that is being written by another person's life, and they engage their story with anticipation. Story Collectors understand how to discover the most distinct dimensions of another human being through uncovering the multi-dimensions of their story.

When it comes to being interested in someone’s story, the goal is not to be interested in every detail of their life, rather to discover what’s most interesting about them and draw it out in a smart and meaningful way. In essence, that’s what a Story Collector does. In addition, they’ve developed a listening skill set that drives how they go about “collecting stories” from the lives of others.

For more about how to fine tune the skills of story collecting, grab a copy of my book, "Relational Intelligence: How Leaders Can Expand Their Influence Through a New Way of Being Smart."

The Michael Scott Syndrome

Self-awareness is not difficult to define, but is incredibly difficult to admit when we lack it; and, it is incredibly difficult to identify in ourselves. In fact, we tend to recognize weakness and dysfunction in others way easier than we notice it in ourselves. As a result, we often fail to see what needs to be fixed when looking in the mirror.

Increasing our self-awareness is such an underestimated and overlooked component in this critical quest for relational intelligence.

I'm convinced that our pursuit of relational intelligence must begin with self-awareness because it frames the entire conversation around being honest with ourselves first and foremost. It reminds us that we all have blind spots, and that we need other people to give us input if we want to maximize our highest levels of relational intelligence--we cannot engage this journey alone.

If you are familiar with the main character from the TV show, The Office (i.e. Michael Scott), you know how much he lacks self-awareness. Of course this contributes to the comedy, but the truth is, we all have a little bit of Michael Scott in us. In other words, we don’t always see how we contradict ourselves with our words, or what our deficits and dysfunctions really are, or how unaware we remain about how insensitive we can be to others. That’s just the beginning of why this journey is important for every one of us. Let’s face it. We’re often not aware as we think we are.

Turning Big Conflicts into Small Conflicts

Most of us do not enjoy relational conflict, mostly because in some way it creates discomfort or awkward tension. And although we often choose to avoid it, we ultimately cannot avoid the consequences of that avoidance. In many cases, we let small problems or tensions go unaddressed, and later they add up to cause a much larger, more uncomfortable conflict. When we avoid smaller issues too long, they soon become a larger issue.

Relationally intelligent people learn to address small conflicts head-on, in constructive ways, and as a result they don't have to avoid as man of the larger conflicts and all the awkwardness and discomfort that come with it.

When people don't address conflict head-on when it is small enough to solve in simpler ways, then along the way, they leek. In other words, they might make passive aggressive statements that could seem like joking around but are revealing of unaddressed conflict. They may use nonverbal yet awkward signals behind someone else's back or perhaps even to their face. They may spew other emotions like anger at the person they have unaddressed conflict with, and that anger may seem like it's about something else involving work or a task, but in truth it's a very personal matter.

There are many more examples, but I wonder how our relational worlds would change if we got better at addressing the "smaller conflicts" head-on in more frequent fashion, so we could avoid more of the "bigger conflicts" that we all run from at times.

Brain Expansion & Relational Intelligence

The human brain can and does change. In fact, science tells us that learning marks the brain in an actual physical way. Our brains can develop new connections similar to how our biceps grow when we hold and curl dumbbell heavy weights. And the more you lift the weights, or use the brain, the stronger you become and the easier that weight you are lifting gets. It's not that your brain grows in size like your biceps can, but it can grow in intelligence as well as speed in which it functions.

In that vein, we can accelerate the speed and increase the efficiency of our relational intelligence by developing new frameworks of relating to others. There are many examples (lots found in my book), but it baffles me how self-absorption and disinterest in others ruins and dissolves relationships, and most people even realize it. When I talk to people about learning to be interested in others, most people think they are (but often they are not).

If we are genuinely interested in others, we'll become more responsive in how we listen to them rather than neglecting to express ourselves as it relates to what they are saying. Also, we'll interact specifically with what they are saying rather than always steering the conversation to being about us. And, we'll learn to ask more questions rather than always offering up the answers or responses that try to prove to them how much we know or have experienced in life.