Executive Centre

Managing your emotions- abrasive communication & its after effects

Almost every job in this day and age has a social component, & the same gets intensified as we go up the leadership ladder. From working with customers or fellow peers, in sales or general management, almost everything and anything is interpersonally driven. 

Development of the social component of one’s personality is of particular interest & relevance in the field of executive leadership. Numerous empirical studies have linked interpersonal competence to high on-the-job performance -- and poor to failure. Indeed,     low interpersonal skills are a primary cause of career derailment among executives.

At the leadership level this is even more important, leaders must be able to influence groups of people, and those people will observe a leader's interpersonal skills.

Here’s an interesting case the author came across a few weeks back. An offer was made by the CEO of a potential employer to a ‘C’ suite candidate who responded to the same with the following in the form of a mail-

Dear Mr. XYZ,

I studied your company’s offer. I find it full of not-so-pleasant surprises. Here is my list as of now:

1. The PF component at 2L must mean employer's contribution. So my outgoings on this account alone would be twice as much (or better put 2L from monthly gross) of 41L making it effectively 39L for computing take home pay. I kept asking you for this amount and never got a direct answer. For information, I have been having a running PPF account for over 20 years and investing at maximum level.

2. I am not aware of PF deduction rates. But my own impression was that it was less than 10 percent of basic. At 90K monthly basic the PF at annual level should have been lower. Can I get the math behind the 2L figure?

3. Superannuation at 1L is a stunner. For a company set up by IIM graduates, this casting of payslip so close to one prevalent in governent is another surprise. Even government has abolished PF and pension combination allowing a person to opt for one and here we have both! The greatest surprise was that I never dreamt of this component (not having seen it for ages) and you did not volunteer it. This then is what is meant by 'look under the hood before you buy'. 

4. I was all ready to respond positively to your offer and write to my Chairman. That flow of events and accompanying thoughts will now have to wait till we turn this around.

Regards,              ABC

As a response to this mail, the CEO immediately withdrew the offer and not the least for just the tenor of mail. It was apparent that the candidate is low on EI for in no circumstances would anyone (not the least someone with almost 30 years of experience, over half of it at senior management ranks) use abrasive language such as that. Among the examples of emotional imbalance in communication the author commonly comes across, almost invariably, he has discovered a disturbing influence of something outside of the intended. As in the case above, the candidate is keen to continue the dialogue, continues to be eagerly interested in closing out these issues, the sarcasm & the undertones though disturbing may not be intended. In most cases, the disturbing element is a single unconscious thought rather than a more general psychic motive

It is essential to note that managing emotions is one of the most essential competencies of leadership. It is not possible to influence people without awareness of yourself, others and your environment. Your ability to cue into others' signals leads to an uncanny knack of adjusting your style as you read emotions. If you are able to manage your own moods, you'll be more consistent and predictable, hence greater credibility.

Each one of us are born with certain personality patterns, our environment and families are powerful forces which drive the same. The more you are exposed to good leadership role models with strong emotional balance and observe how they handle challenging situations, the more you'll have an edge. It goes without saying that it takes commitment and practice to develop these skills.

Globally, progressive organizations go beyond orthodox measures & spend a lot of resources in observing, understanding, and changing interaction and behavior patterns while grooming future leaders. While this may take some time to evolve at Indian set ups, individual action and in-the-moment experiential learning, as highlighted above will enable oneself to manage emotions & positively change ineffective or abrasive communication and behavior into effective, powerful communication and behavior- ultimately, learning to be aware of and to shape the impact of one’s behavior and actions on the people around- quickly, directly, and powerfully.