A Quick Look Back to See the Road Ahead

In this article, rather than give you our information or opinions about something, we have once again chosen to ask you a series of questions to help you learn from your own experience. We hope they are useful for you.

The following questions look at emotional intelligence through the attitudes you carried, the behaviours you showed, and the kinds of communication you used in the past year.

Their intent is to help you set a clearer and better path for yourself in the coming year. Take some quiet time to reflect on these – perhaps while sipping on a delicious, hot, tea or coffee. Make some notes in a place where you’ll refer to them later.

Some of these questions might be difficult or might require some real reflection, which might cause you to put them off, but you can revisit this a few times; you don’t have to do it all at once. Probably even 15 minutes on your first round will give you a good start. Then let some of the questions “brew” for a while in your unconscious mind. When you revisit the questions, you’ll almost for sure have some new insights. And if you truly want to improve the way you deal with people, it takes some effort. But the payoff is significant, and can endure your
whole life.

When you’ve finished the questionnaire below, you’ll be ready to answer the most
important question.


Awareness: The ability to identify your attitudes and emotions

  • What’s the one weakness or flaw in your attitude that limited your success both at work and outside work last year?
  • If you had foreseen and owned that weakness/flaw ‒ in much the same way that you look for potential problems and seek to own your weaknesses when you’re planning a negotiation – what kind of mindset or attitude might have served you better?
  • What do you think others would have said about the kind of attitude(s) driving your overall communication style?
  • Would others have said there was a dichotomy in the overall way you behaved at and outside work? If a dichotomy existed, why?


Adaptation: The ability to harness emotions and free up problem-solving energy

  • What was it in someone’s behaviour or communication style that caused a
    problem for you?
  • When you reacted to it, how did that reaction show itself?
    • I got angry and didn’t hold back
    • I said nothing and quietly seethed.
    • I ignored the whole thing in hopes it would go away.
    • I pushed aside my chagrin and approached the situation in an
      even-handed way.
  • Did your reaction affect your problem-solving abilities? If so, in what ways?
  • What’s the one issue you tried to resolve with someone but couldn’t?
  • Did you ask questions in order to check your assumptions about the problem you thought they were having?
  • Did/does the lack of resolution still affect you now? In what ways?
  • How well did you balance the stance you took on a given issue, against creating and maintaining good relations with others?
    • I gave in way too quickly
    • I was too nice, and afterward, felt wronged and less powerful
    • I hammered my points home and didn’t give in at any cost
    • Somewhere in between the above?
  • Did you tend to seek common ground with others whenever possible, or did you keep the differences between you ‒ your preferred solution vs theirs, your position in the company vs theirs, negotiation style, gender, culture, race, even religion ‒
    top of mind?
    • Did you allow these differences to block progress, or did you instead leverage them to assist with progress?
    • If you did focus on the differences as a roadblock, were there any instances where you subsequently altered your opinion? Why and how did you do that?


Empathy: The ability to empathize with another and understand their problems

On a scale of 1 – 10 (with 10 being the ideal), how empathetic do you think you are?

If you’re having difficulty determining where you stand, the following statements may help clarify your thoughts:

  • Someone came to me with a problem; I asked them questions and echoed their answers back to them so they could hear their words without judgement or coloured by my or their emotions. I acknowledged the difficulty they faced and felt genuine compassion for their situation.
  • I’m very busy and was annoyed that this person put this problem in my lap. I showed enough irritation to make them take their future problems somewhere else.
  • I knew I couldn’t fix this problem; I was angry the person put me in that position; so I attacked their inability to solve it.
  • I felt inadequate, and so I was cold and dismissive.
  • I found myself becoming overly involved, but I took a step back to gain perspective.
  • I found myself becoming overly involved and was unable to maintain the necessary distance to help the person.
  • I realized I am more curious than empathetic because once I found out what was going on with them, I Iost interest in helping them, and became impatient.


And now, for that all-important question we promised you:

If you asked an expert to observe your interactions with others last year, what’s the one attitude, behaviour, or way of communicating they’d advise you to integrate or improve upon in the coming year?


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