Emotional intelligence and empathy are two things we often forget in today’s fast-paced world, yet these remain important not just in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. In this episode, Dr. Dianne Hamilton talks to business strategist, industrial organizational psychologist and chief consulting officer Anika Wilson as she shares insights on women of color, entrepreneurship and how emotional intelligence and empathy impacts them. After the interview, Dr. Hamilton then speaks about our perception of reality and how this colors how we communicate and relate with others. Tune in for more insights on leadership with Dr. Hamilton and her guests.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Anika Wilson here. She is the Creator and Founder of Nobody Greater. She educates, empowers, and equips women to restore their faith, purpose and passion. It’s going to be a fascinating discussion.
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Empathy And Emotional Intelligence: A Primer For Women Entrepreneurs With Anika Wilson
I am here with Anika Wilson who is a business strategist, industrial-organizational psychologist and Chief Consulting Officer. She’s a thought leader, speaker, and podcast host. I am so excited to have you here, Anika, welcome.
Thank you so much for having me. It is a pleasure.
I gave a little bit of your background but a lot of people like to know the backstory of how you reached this level. Can you tell me a little bit more about Anika?
My backstory is a winding road but that winding road helps us determine where we are destined to be. I’m a PhD student getting my PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology focused on leadership. I started back at fourteen where I encountered an assault that led me to a career in Law Enforcement. After working in the prison for many years, I knew I wanted something deeper. I worked in child welfare, social services, mental health and substance abuse for many years. I knew that there was more.
I have always been one of those people that think outside of the box and never conformed. I had a lot of insecurities being a woman of color, being raised by a single mom and having a lot of trauma and experiences. Somewhere around 35, I realized that all of my health issues and trauma were all preparation. It was preparation for what I was destined to do. I started coupling that with education, digging into school and doing a lot of self-learning.
Emotional intelligence is one of my things, learning that I am an empath, that it’s okay to be different, feel and transfer those skills into the business. Since I started my business in 2018, it all seems to make sense. It was like, “All of that was meant for what I need to put together, show and teach others how they can do the same instead of feeling like they don’t have a lane.” That’s what I do. I teach people how to couple all of their education and experiences into transferrable power to show up and dominate as who they were meant to be.
That’s such an important thing to help people with, too. It sounds like people should be able to do some of these things on their own but it’s very hard. I have had some great experts on this show. Daniel Goleman for one. We talked about emotional intelligence and empathy as all part of that. It’s such an important aspect of what people need to develop. That is so tied to some of the problems we see in the workplace. What you are studying sounds interesting. What’s your dissertation topic?
My dissertation is on why African American women are abandoning corporate to become entrepreneurs based on toxic work culture. I never fit in anywhere I worked. I was always told to stay in my lane but I was always a thought leader. I always had ideas on how things could be better. I had a good relationship with inmates and clients. That ethical line in therapy is always a thing. A lot of the leaders would say, “Don’t get too close to the clients.” You have to build rapport and listen. That’s who tells us what needs to happen.
One of the things that I realized working in social services is retention. The turnover is so high. I knew once I’ve got my Master’s in Psychology that I didn’t want to stay in clinical. I knew that I wanted to be part of changing the culture of corporate because we need things like nonprofits and social services. It’s a rewarding job but the people that work in those environments aren’t paid very much. That turnover also impacts the services that the clients receive and their life.
I’m able to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. Even in discovering Industrial-Organizational Psychology, I didn’t know about it until after I had already started my PhD. I told my advisor, “I don’t think this is what I want to do.” They said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I own a business and I have a podcast.” They said, “You would be perfect for I/O.” I was like, “What is I/O?”
That’s a newer thing and an interesting area. As you were talking about that, it reminded me of when I had Francesca Gino on the show talking about the case that she made for curiosity. Since I studied curiosity, we were going into her HBR article based on her research and how companies think that they reward people. You and all these people have these ideas and questions but they aren’t that receptive as they think they are to people giving these ideas. They are not listening and accepting of these things.
There’s a disconnect between what leaders think that they are encouraging in terms of curiosity and what employees would like to have seen. I could imagine maybe some of her research would help you. I would check her HBR article out. It was called The Business Case for Curiosity. Her peer-reviewed research is out there that she had taken to make that more user-friendly version. It’s an interesting subject of the disconnect of our perception versus what leaders think that they are doing in their culture versus what employees think they are doing.The communication gap is going to keep growing as long as people aren't receptive to feedback. Click To Tweet
That is what my focus is. I want to focus on the lived experiences because as long as people perceive things as, “It is the way I say it is,” that style of leadership is outdated. Leadership theory is all based on a White male. We are talking about why women aren’t climbing the ranks, held in middle management, and what both sides can do to change so that we have leadership that resembles our environment, culture and society. When we look at these things, there are so many factors that go into it. To your point, the disconnect or the gap can be closed through reception, listening and communication. I hear you talk about that all the time but that communication gap is going to keep growing as long as people aren’t receptive to feedback.
I don’t know that people recognize it. That is what I was trying to do with my research on Curiosity Code Index. I was trying to figure out what keeps people from being curious. If you don’t recognize what stops you, you can’t move forward. That is what I spent years figuring out and it was fun. I know a lot of companies are looking at engagement, for example. You could measure engagement, give something like the curiosity training and things like I do or others do, and then measure engagement again.
I know that Novartis did a lot of that thing. They had a big change too in the level of engagement that they saw at work. We know from Gallup that there’s a more than $500 billion a year loss in the US due to low engagement. If you can improve these things, you’re saving companies so much money. With your dissertation topic, it’s fascinating because you’re looking at why. What are the top reasons you think? Is it listening? Are there other things that you are finding out about why these women are leaving?
Honestly, it’s implicit and explicit bias. That goes exactly with what you said. It’s the curiosity. I don’t understand how people aren’t curious because I have always been that person. I’m always seeking to find out why. I identify something, always want to reverse engineer it and say, “Why is this happening?” One of the things that I experienced in the prisons, in mental health and all is, it’s the attitude of, “You are hired in entry-level. Stay here and mind your business. Do what I pay you for. Don’t think.”
One of the things is women have accepted that we have to work twice as hard to get paid $0.77 to the dollar. The women are getting tired of that. We have strived and tried to break the glass ceiling. One of the things I say in my writing is that it’s not broken. It may be cracked but it is not shattered. We have done a lot of work but we are not anywhere near. I always talk about how women hold unassigned leadership roles in everything that we do from our households to our businesses to school. You teach classes, write and run a business. We do all these things.
We have always held roles and responsibilities beyond what people even see, recognize or identify. That shows what our capability is and it has always shown. It’s like, “How do you not see it?” The people that don’t have the curiosity, it’s because it doesn’t affect them. It’s not their problem. As long as it’s not their problem and they don’t have to see it, recognize it, and aren’t forced to address it, then things can continue to be the way they are.
Unfortunately, what’s happening is that the old perception, we are waiting for it to die off. Whereas the Millennials are coming up, people talk about entitlement and all these things. To a degree, yes and no. It’s things that should have been addressed a long time ago that people are voicing. Social media is giving people a platform to voice these things. Ultimately, they have been a problem for a long time.
It’s a problem. I see it a lot in higher education. We were talking about that going in constant learning and the modes that we are in. I have held a lot of positions in different organizations. It was stunning to me how much women get all the women types of work and didn’t get paid as well. It’s much worse in that industry than in any other industry I have worked in. I was in a lot of sales-related jobs. In commission-based sales, you are as good as you are. It’s an equal evil. You notice it in certain industries.
What’s interesting to me is that your fear holds you back, whether you recognize things are holding you back or not. A lot of people are held back, whether they know it or not. When people ask me what I mean by curiosity, I’m talking about status quo thinking and behaviors, doing the same thing because it always worked in the past, that fear of doing something different or looking at something in a new way. I know that you look at different aspects of things on your show. You even sent me some information before the show that you deal with abundance. I thought that that was an interesting focus. I’m curious about what you wanted to talk about in terms of abundance.
I married my first love years ago. When I married him, it was interesting because he is a Marine. He is active-duty military and has been in service for years. His mindset is so opposite to my mindset. He is very goal-oriented. We own a real estate investing firm together. I’m an empath and a servant leader. I have always been a transformational leader. I’m always looking at how others feel and what I can do to help. I’m never looking for a reward. I’m always looking for the change, what can I do to alleviate a problem and help somebody see something good that’s there potentially. For him, it’s like, “What’s the ROI?” That’s his attitude towards everything.
I’m like, “Is that a male thing? Is it a military mindset?” I’m always trying to figure out where that comes from. In doing that, I realized that people’s definition of success is different. A lot of people associate success with money and it annoys me so much. I tell people, especially coming from a mental health background, “You can have all the money in the world and be the unhappiest person in the world.” I talk about Robin Williams and all these people all day long. Abundance is simply living a life free of worry. People’s needs are different. People like to alleviate problems for people but is it a problem for them or is it a problem for you?
When people are looking for success and abundance, I try to teach them, especially in business with my clients. You are looking for monetary gain. Ultimately, you have to be doing something in alignment with your morals and values. If it’s not in alignment, you can sell your soul and be the top salesperson but are you happy? Is there something that is eating you alive because you are adopting somebody else’s values to achieve a goal?
Back to the female aspect of it. In my youth, I took a job because I had kids and had to do something that wasn’t in alignment. I didn’t have to but in my mind, I thought I had to do this job that allowed me to spend more time with my kids. When you are in a position that other people tell you, “That’s the greatest job in the world. Aren’t you lucky?” You try to talk yourself into thinking it is the best thing. It’s hard. I look back and think, “I stayed in this job for so many years. I was so unhappy doing that.”
A lot of people do give up things for reasons. Maybe it’s your family or whatever. Younger generations are seeing ways around it. I have talked about this with a lot of people. People are working out of their homes and they can be with their kids more. They are not only with their kids but also teaching their kids. It’s a new challenge. Women have very unique issues in that respect. It has been good for men to see how hard it is because they are home too and seeing a lot more things that they maybe hadn’t seen.
I homeschool all three of my kids. My three kids have special needs and I have a chronic illness. When I married my husband, I had to start my business because I was going to be moving. I’m leaving everything I have known for years, the environment that I worked in and the socials. I knew the systems, processes, government and everything in Florida. We moved to Alabama and then we are in Hawaii. The culture and services are different. There are very limited health services.
To your point, I’m homeschooling three children, running two businesses and getting my PhD. I started doing identity work when I’ve got married. I started my conferences because I realized we take on roles, jobs, and even clients that aren’t in alignment. We are trying to find a way around our challenges. I get angry many days because he gets up and goes to base and I have to sit here and figure out how to make the world go around and not be depressed being isolated from family and all these things.
Those are challenges that everybody doesn’t have to face. When I talk about abundance, identity, and even leadership, we have to permit ourselves to do what’s best for us. I said, “I’m going to have to let go of some things that everybody else is telling me is good for me that I have said from the beginning I didn’t want to do but I’m doing it and I’m unhappy.” People think that when they see us on Facebook and on social media that we have it together, it’s like, “This is a daily process.”
We have these conversations with ourselves daily and hourly at times. As entrepreneurs, we are facing these challenges all the time. We are the gatekeeper, decision-maker, tech support and all these things. It adds to the mountain of roles and responsibilities that we already have. It starts with us. It’s giving ourselves permission to make those decisions and not worry about what everybody else is telling us. We are so used to people-pleasing and trying to make everyone happy instead of making us happy first.
You help a lot of people understand some of these factors. I know you have your company Nobody Greater. You help women with their resources to help them with their purpose, passion, people and all that. I was reading some of the stuff that you deal with there. Also, you have your podcast. I have been taking these courses in the past to create different courses on my own because I help people with curiosity and perception.
I like these individuals who are helping people become more independent like what you are doing for these women. I don’t know if you have seen Amy Porterfield‘s work. I don’t get anything from her and she doesn’t even know me. I like what she’s doing to help people create all these courses through Kajabi and these wonderful platforms that are easy to educate other people. Have you had a chance to look at any of that stuff? I hadn’t seen her work now. There’s so much out there for women to help them explore what they like and maybe they could even teach it to other people if they have something that they are good at.
I started a leadership academy where I let women come in and bring their courses so that women can come to one place and get the work on personal professional and business development. I haven’t seen Amy but I wrote it down because I’m a researcher. People don’t understand we have to research to find out what we need to do, and then we can create our own lane from there. It starts with education. I take courses. I registered for your course. I do that daily because that’s how we can channel what we are trying to do.
As creatives, the thoughts come but you have to put them into sequence, systems and processes. I try to help people manage the overwhelm of all of that. My desk has research and data from all kinds of stuff trying to put courses together. The joy of being able to do it on your own is that you can fill the gaps of what’s not out there. I’m sure your journey is not easy. If there’s somebody to fill those gaps, that would help you get from step A to B faster, and not even on your own, knowing that, it’s okay to ask for help.
To be honest with you, I don’t think women invest in themselves. Men will go get a coach or a consultant. We tend to sit here and say, “I have to figure it out because that money is for my kids. That’s for this. I can’t invest in myself because I have to put everybody else first.” That’s even something I’m finding that’s preventing women from succeeding faster.
There are a lot of things that women have a lot of knowledge about, even if they want to stay home and not go out into the corporate world. With Amy’s stuff, it was interesting to me to watch how all these women are making this money and teaching people things that they already know. I also enjoyed a guy named Ray Edwards if you are writing down names. I was going to have him on the show. I haven’t had him on. I was hoping to. He hit about copywriting and the things that he does to make things appealing when you create your website, wording, emails and all the things.Abundance is simply living a life free of worry. People's needs are different. People like to alleviate problems for people but is it a problem for them or is it a problem for you? Click To Tweet
One of the things women can get into to be successful with their own businesses is to create courses. The way to sell those courses is to know how to write the copy. A lot of them create podcasts and think they are going to make money from podcasts but we all know that doesn’t always happen. The podcasts are great though to show expertise and connect. What’s the main focus of your podcasts? What do you like to talk about most?
My podcast started because I wanted people to have a platform to share their voices. For me, I felt like my voice was never heard. It didn’t matter if I was at work at church. In whatever I was doing, I always had something to say and I felt like it was always minimized. When I started it, it was to let anybody that had a story come on. All of my guests over the years have been entrepreneurs. What I found was that the core was a problem.
Everyone’s business started from a problem that was unresolved in their lives and that they are trying to resolve for someone else. In doing that, I have met people that have created businesses and coaching. I met divorce, hysterectomy, and infertility coaches, things that I never even knew about. I try to bring that to the forefront because the internet can be overwhelming. Also, the podcast itself gives people multiple ways to learn things.
You can get it from audio, course or download. You can learn in different ways. I have tried to channel it. I do have podcast panels sometimes where we have round table discussions. Ultimately, I have left the door open for guests to come on and tell me what they would like to discuss. Having those open conversations, I find that it does way more than being able to put a title on it. I try to describe it sometimes but to me, it’s whatever it needs to be.
All the shows I have had were interesting. It sounds like we have a lot of things that we do in common. I know that working on your Doctorate has got to keep you super busy. Are you doing a quantitative or qualitative?
It’s quantitative. To be honest, I’m in Advanced Inferential Statistics so I cannot tell you. I have been a mess. It started making sense and I was like, “If I say that this is learning a completely different language, I need Rosetta Stone to talk in my ear at this point.”
When I went to do my Curiosity Code Index, I hired psychometric statisticians because that wasn’t my favorite thing to do. They couldn’t figure out what I was trying to do. I’m the only one that knew what I was trying to do. I ended up having to go back and teach myself Factor Analysis, which I don’t think they even taught in that class that I had to take. You take Statistics in your Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate and each time is as bad as the last time.
I went back and taught myself Factor Analysis. When you are using it for something that you are trying to do something with, it finally starts to make some sense. You go, “It was fun,” but I didn’t like it when I had to take it for school. Good luck with that. I’m so glad that you are continuing your education because it’s so important. It opens so many doors. A lot of people can learn and get help from you so a lot of people may want to follow you. How can they do that?
This was interesting and it was so much fun to chat. I hope everything goes well. If you have any questions about your Doctorate program, let me know. I haven’t been a Doctoral Chair in a while but I know the process very well. Have fun with that.
I get so many great guests on the show. Sometimes I want to take a little bit of time to talk about some of the research I do. I’m going to talk to you about perception and some of the work I did with Dr. Maja Zelihic, who is also one of the people I have worked with at the Forbes School of Business. She has been great in this process of researching how perceptions to process in our minds, opinions, versions of the truth, biases and how we live.
What’s in a rose? Would it smell as sweet by any other name? All that we read about. We looked at what can we do with the perception in the workplace to discuss it. We looked at it as a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for Cultural Quotient, CQ for Curiosity Quotient. We thought, “This is something that they are not talking about enough in the workplace.”
We talk about perception reality and to what extent are our perceptions true. They are our perceptions but what is a reality to us may not be a reality to them. There is a truth to some extent but what’s real and all that is we start to get into this analysis paralysis thinking about it. We thought, “If we are thinking like this, we need to showcase what others have done to try and look at this because the world is changing.”
We have seen The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. It’s a great book. We know that what we used to think is the reality of everything that we thought we could do. It’s different. We are becoming more connected. We know that there are a lot more issues with the global tragedies. As companies are trying to do work in a global dot-com industry, it’s a lot different of how we look at things than when I’ve originally got into the workplace or when Maja got into it.
We are looking at some of our belief systems of what shape us both consciously and unconsciously. If we know that, we can be more responsive and respond to this multicultural and multi-language world in which we are living. If we can monitor our perceptions and guide them towards where we want to go or where we don’t want to go, and understand what other people believe, not necessarily agree with everything that they believe in, we can understand them and see where they are coming from.
That way, we manage our perceptions and we can build empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. Maybe you can’t walk 1 mile in my shoes but we can have a better appreciation for what it would be like to do that. We looked at what was available in terms of assessments out there of how can we test, validate and do all these things with that.
We came up with a Perception Power Index, which goes along with the book The Power of Perception. Those are the things that we are going to talk about. We come into this world with this predisposition to how we view and interpret things. Imagine if you are born where you are compared to if you were born somewhere else. We know that with twins that are different. If they were separated at birth, there’s a different upbringing.
We have this cultural impact on how our behaviors, beliefs, and everything that we relate to is impacted by our social, ethnic, age group and everything. We are seeing that there are a lot more conflicts in the world. A lot of it is because we don’t understand each other that well. Something that we don’t even think about is not questionable here in the United States but might be something very questionable in another culture.
If you are wearing a miniskirt in Brazil, it’s a lot different than if you are wearing that in Saudi Arabia, for example. We have to appreciate where other people are coming from and see if maybe we are allowing our culture and society to dictate what we are thinking and perceiving. I have had Joe Lurie on the show. He’s got a great book, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, where he writes about all the different perceptions of things that he’s found in different cultures.
Eye contact in Western cultures is candor and confidence. If you go to Africa, they don’t want to do that because if you make eye contact with a person of authority, you’ve got to worry about respect. There are a lot of different issues when you are talking about Western culture versus other cultures. In Asian cultures, they might use a calculator to negotiate the price of things but you might not want to do that in some other areas because it may seem disrespectful.
Looking at different areas is fascinating, even how certain hand gestures mean one thing. It might mean A-OK in one language and maybe insulting in another culture. A lot of studies look at Western culture versus other cultures and that is worth reviewing. We know that there are a lot of stereotyping going on. We are trying to get away from that biases. We have biases. Beau Lotto talked about that on my show. I hope you read that episode about how you need it. You can’t live without some bias to give you some decision-making ability. We have to pay attention to unconscious bias.
We’ve got to be careful that we don’t come across as arrogant or condescending. Saying something like, “Keep it simple, stupid,” might mean one thing in one language. We have that as a saying and it’s not meant to be insulting but if you tell it to somebody else, it could be very insulting. These are the things that we were looking at when we needed to look at cultural quotients, IQ, CQ, our drive, motivation, knowledge, cognition, metacognition, and all those things to look at how we come up with these actions or behaviors.
Do we have to adapt to customs or should they adapt to ours? Should we be more tolerant of differences? Change is a big thing that we teach in business classes. Being proactive about it is also important. We know that we have these teams where there are in-groupers or out-groupers. We want to try and get people to get along well. I have had Amy Edmondson talking about teams, teaming, and how people get along. A lot of collaboration is about having a curiosity to ask questions and learn from each other. We want to look at the path that we are on that’s similar but also understand the path that we are on that’s not so similar.You can have all the money in the world and be the most unhappy person in the world. Click To Tweet
Some of the things that impact sometimes are things like spirituality, whether you are religious or not, it could be different. Some people have this impact of how important their spirituality or religion is to them. Other people might be agnostic or atheists. That could completely shape your whole perception of the situation at hand or you might accidentally insult someone without even realizing it or how important something is to them.
I don’t think a lot of people give a lot of thought to the differences of how much strength they can have in their ideas and the things that they question or don’t question. It can have a big impact because we inherit a lot of beliefs from our family. We personalize our beliefs. We take things that work and don’t work for us. We make something around what works in our situation. That can make us think we are right, they are wrong and vice versa.
That is a problem in the business world if we don’t examine what these people are coming up with or not coming up with. Having personalized beliefs are fine but we have to recognize that even though Stephen Covey says spiritual renewal is one of the habits that are central to effective leadership, we have to look at what’s your greater purpose. What do they think is their greater purpose? What are our values or ethical principles? What are theirs? What will our legacy be? What is theirs?
Those are the things that we researched in terms of how people use their religion and spirituality in that. It was also fun to look at gender and see the differences in how people look at paintings. There was a comment we put in the book. Two strangers, a man, and a woman were visiting an art gallery. They found themselves standing next to one another, staring at a painting of an old country estate replete with an elderly man sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a mansion with various barns and outbuildings serving as background.
The woman, without prompting, commented, “What a beautiful painting. It’s so serene and peaceful. It’s a beautiful blend of man and nature.” The man commented in response, “That barn looks like it’s in dire need of a paint job.” We both look at the same thing but we see different aspects. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong. It could be the opposite way round. It could be the man seeing the great thing and the woman saying the opposite. We don’t want to stereotype necessarily but it’s interesting to see that men and women do see things a little bit differently. There are psychological differences. These have been documented, including differences in their brains.
We hear gender bias. We know studies show women are viewed, treated and paid differently. We know there’s a predominance in the number of men compared to women in executive positions. Those are the things that are important for leaders to recognize. We have to know the origins of all this and why we see things through these different lenses. We know that men’s brain is structurally different than the female brain. That’s a fascinating thing to look at in itself. We are not going to exactly see things in the same way.
There’s a book, a New York Times Bestseller called The Female Brain. It’s from Dr. Louann Brizendine. She’s a neuropsychiatrist. She also later wrote The Male Brain. She guides you through how the brains of each gender differ and how they shape our behaviors from the time we are infants, all the way into adulthood. The women’s perceptions of behaviors are different than men’s mostly due to hormones. We do have different hormones. We know the women have more estrogen, progesterone and even though we have testosterone, it’s not as much as the men. It goes all the way back to some of these hormones and how we are influenced by them.
I talked to Tom Peters on the show. That’s a great show if you get a chance to look at it. He talked about the female brain and he recalled an article from Duke University Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski. It was in The Sunday Times Magazine section. He described how that coach, often referred to as Coach K, would bring his wife to all the team meetings. He said the reason was that she would see what was going on in the players’ lives that he didn’t notice. She would notice the smell of a problem of a girlfriend 100 miles away or some kind of distraction. He didn’t think men psychologically saw those things. He found it fascinating as an observation.
There are differences. If we pretend like we are not different, that doesn’t work. We get uncomfortable. If we look at that as one thing is better than another, that’s also uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize that these things are part of us. We are intended to be different. We are not intended to be exactly the same. Life may be super boring if it was that way. I thought that that would be something that you talk about in the workplace of what we can get.
We know that the percentage of women in the workplace is increasing, the rate of women occupying key roles in the workplace is on the rise and women are being hired into leadership roles more often than they were, as CEOs, at an increasing rate. We would like to see it higher. We know that women are bringing different perceptions into the workplace. Those are different aspirations.
It is an interesting thing to look at how genetically wired we are. We are wired differently right from birth. These differences are spawning this ground for this history of beliefs and stereotypes of how we are taught to view each other. We are carving a different road for ourselves, the women versus the men. It’s important to know that we are evolving.
When we are doing that, we are impacted by our intelligence in this process. If we look at intelligence, we talk about IQ and EQ. If we are thinking of intelligence, it’s what we know and how we apply what we know. We know that we need to be able to use our intelligence to understand how to relate with one another. We know that our intelligence and perceptions evolve in different ways. There’s this perceptual intelligence of fluid versus crystallized intelligence that comes about.
There’s some great work by Raymond Cattell who talked about that if you ever get a chance to read some of his work. There are all these different types of what we learn and how it changes over time. It’s a very important thing to look at. Also, Howard Gardner is very heavily cited in the area of types of intelligence. It used to be that we thought we only had one kind. He studied all these different types of abilities that we have.
You could have naturalistic, musical, logical and mathematical, existential, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal or linguistic, interpersonal, visual, spatial intelligence and the list goes on. To say somebody is smart is a hard thing to do because there are these different types of ways of being smart. How do you value that intelligence? What’s important in your culture for that type of intelligence?
That was interesting to us as we went through all the different ways that we grow, learn and apply what we know. We also looked at emotions as in emotional intelligence in that aspect as well. I had written my Doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and that’s such a huge area. It was so great to have Daniel Goleman on the show to talk about emotional intelligence. If you haven’t read that episode, I highly recommend it.
Emotions play a big part in how we make decisions. Empathy is a big part of emotional intelligence. If we have empathy, sometimes that ties into curiosity. We are asking questions to learn more about each other. Our emotions can be different across cultures. You have different studies between Japanese and American subjects. They found facial expressions and non-verbal behaviors vary significantly between them.
I had Paul Ekman on the show. The TV show Lie to Me was based on his work. There are certain expressions that we all make that are the same, whether you are blind or not. I thought that was fascinating. My father was born blind. It’s interesting what things we have similar and then other things that are completely different. It’s conceptually different based on the way you grow up and the influences around you of how you respond to your emotions.
Your emotions can make you perceive failure differently either. Some of us have the fight or flight response. Some of us will run from it or run to it. Most of us have that sense that failure is not our favorite thing. Our perception of failure can influence how much we explore things and ask questions. It gets back into curiosity again.
I tell a story in my talks, in my head and I wrote one in the book about different experiences. Sometimes you are in a sales presentation where you get your rear-end handed to you. You might be on a call with your partner. Your partner thinks it’s the worst thing in the world while you might think it’s the best thing because you have learned everything you need to know how to fix your next presentation.
If you don’t learn these things, sometimes your perception will get you down and you will quit. You have to learn from failure. If you don’t, you are going to end up being the glass-half-empty person and you won’t move forward. You will stay where you are and move backward. That’s what we are trying to avoid by understanding perception.
The other thing that we looked at when we were looking at perception was, whether if it’s your reality or not. I’m looking at some of the perception experts, especially Beau Lotto. I love his TED Talks. I know he was on the show. He talked about a lot of great things on the show. If you want to know perception versus reality, I would look at some of that because it’s fascinating.
Talking about perception, you need to talk about collaboration. Collaboration is a required skillset in the workplace. If you are being hindered by your perceptions, there are so many variables. Think of the questions we ask ourselves. Does this project intrigue us? Does it motivate us? Do we like our teammates? Do we like our leader? Do we like the role that we have been given? If you look at all this and you are getting mixed reasons for why you like or don’t like something, a lot of it could be your perception of it.
When we talk about collaboration, I always think about Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk. That ties into how they’ve got the Chilean miners out in that disaster. These people were able to work together and collaborate. They maybe had different perceptions but they knew that it was life or death, in this case, to help people get out from under that rock.
Understanding that perception is critical to collaboration. Getting people to work together and being innovative and creative is interesting. We are talking about how much we have problems. Gallup says we are losing $500 billion a year on engagement. We know that people want to be collaborative. If we don’t have this ability to get along, that’s going to be huge. We want people to be creative and see things differently.Everyone's business started from a problem that was unresolved in their lives and that they're trying to resolve for someone else. Click To Tweet
I love the Dead Poets Society movie. Robin Williams had the students get on top of their desks to look at life differently. He said, “To make life extraordinary, you have to make a difference. You must see things differently.” That’s a key point that a lot of people always are looking at things from their vantage point. They don’t get on top of their desks and look at things from another way.
I have done a lot of training classes where we have given Legos and we have had people build things as teams in collaborative ways. It’s fun to see them get ideas from each other and go, “I would have never looked at it that way.” Maybe you aren’t a big fan of teams. Sometimes it’s helpful to get on a team with people who are completely different from you are. If everybody thinks the same way, life is boring.
It helps to look at things from a critical thinking standpoint to do research. How did these people do this? How have they made it successful? What facts support their argument? What’s the source of their information? How did they come to that conclusion? We are back to curiosity again. Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves. I don’t think we get enough of that.
There are a lot of people who want to take things at face value based on what they have always known and what supports the values that they have always had. That’s common for people. You watch CNN, Fox or whatever that supports your values because it makes you comfortable. It is important to get curious and get outside. Our perception suggests we know something but our curiosity proves that we don’t. We need to know what we don’t know.
A lot of people aren’t asking enough questions. That’s the thing that’s in the book Cracking the Curiosity Code is a huge part of changing the culture in organizations. I often talk a lot about that to groups. If we can ask more questions, we can get better at decision-making. Decision-making can be challenging. I love a quote by Deepak Chopra where he says, “If you obsess over, whether you are making the right decision, you are assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.”
If you think about that, you always think you have the right or the wrong thing. It’s not necessarily the case. There are shades of gray. Not everything is black and white. That’s what I find particularly fascinating in the research that we did for trying to fix all the things in work. We are trying to fix engagement. You are losing $500 billion a year according to Gallup. When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
What we need to do is get people emotionally invested at work and contribute. Part of that is to ask questions and understand each other better. If you are asking questions, we are back to empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence. We are getting that perception of the other person’s ideas and seeing it not from our own standpoint but theirs.
Some of the questions that we need to ask to improve engagement are like, “Do my employees’ filter growing in their work? Are they being recognized for their work? Do they trust the companies on the right track?” Those are some of the things that lead to great communication. I had Kevin Kruse on the show. He has a great book and information about engagement and that’s helpful. All this is so that we can be better leaders and employees. It’s both.
We have to sometimes suspend our beliefs, be agile and look in some of the words that we hear a lot about vulnerability. Brené Brown has made a lifelong career out of that. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing that. That’s what led to our interest in looking at what the perception process is and how can we manage our perceptions. Creating an assessment would be an important and epic decision of how can we help people understand that what they go through.
What does the process look like? We found that it’s about evaluating, predicting, interpreting, reshaping and correlating one’s perceptions. The EPIC acronym we came up with is Evaluation, Prediction, Interpretation and Correlation. If you take the Perception Power Index, you will find out how you are doing in those areas. What could you do to improve your EPIC process?
If you have taken the Curiosity Code Index, it’s very simple. You get your results right away. You can find out a lot more about how well you go through this process and what kinds of things are helping or holding you back. If you get a baseline of, “This is how I am at this,” then you know how to move forward. Let’s look at some of these because, in evaluation, you are going to examine, assess and do a lot of these different things that you can recognize if you are open to thoughts or ideas. You look at it from your own perspective of your self-awareness. This one is more in that respect.
If you applied this element of emotional intelligence, this self-awareness, then you are going to get along better and be able to be more aware of how you come across to other people. That’s a lot of a problem. I see a lot of people don’t recognize body language, issues, tone or if they are typing in all caps. There are all these different things they can do to how they come across and they don’t realize it.
They can predict how the other person is going to act. In a way, that’s another part of emotional intelligence. It’s their interpersonal awareness of are they able to understand the other person, where are they coming from, what their perception is, their capabilities and abilities, and how they make decisions. It is very challenging to predict what other people are going to do if you don’t look into what they are doing, have empathy, ask questions, and have that sense of emotional intelligence.
It’s only then that you can make your interpretation. In your interpretation, you have to consider how all of this impacts their decision and how curiosity comes into this. You are making assumptions and looking at how their fear is impacting them. A lot of this ties back into their culture of how they were raised. We know that behavior and different things are rewarded or not rewarded in certain systems. We need to look at that. How did their culture and company culture shape them?
It’s about assessing and understanding your own emotions for the EPIC part. The I is more about putting it collectively together and interpreting what you know, and then you end with your conclusions. Correlation is your final C of the EPIC process. Now that you have all this, you can come up with your solutions and conclusions. After researching your facts, this is the critical thinking aspect of it all.
We know that there are so many great ideas that come out. If you don’t go to the part where you end it with coming up with the idea, taking what you have learned in this group setting, and changing a little bit of your behavior so you can have a win-win situation, you haven’t come to any conclusion that’s going to be good for everybody. Those are some of the main points that we make in what we are talking about in this EPIC process and this power of perception.
I thought that this would be something critical to share. You can take the Perception Power Index at DrDianeHamilton.com. All of the assessments are there. You can take the Curiosity Code Index and the Perception Power Index. You can even take DISC and emotional intelligence tests. A lot of that is all there. If you don’t see it in the drop-down menus at the top, there are more menus at the bottom. I hope you contact me if you have any questions. I hope that this helps you understand perception a little better.
I would like to thank Anika for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show. If you have missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Nobody Greater
- Daniel Goleman – Previous episode
- Podcast – Your Voice, Your Power with Anika
- Francesca Gino – Previous episode
- The Business Case for Curiosity – Article
- Curiosity Code Index
- Amy Porterfield
- Ray Edwards
- @NobodyGreaterInc – Instagram
- Maja Zelihic
- The World Is Flat
- Perception Power Index
- The Power of Perception
- Joe Lurie – Previous episode
- A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures
- Beau Lotto – Previous episode
- Amy Edmondson – Previous episode
- The Female Brain
- The Male Brain
- Tom Peters – Previous episode
- Paul Ekman – Previous episode
- Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- Kevin Kruse – Previous episode
About Anika Wilson
Anika Wilson is a Business Strategist, Industrial Organizational Psychologist and Chief Consulting Officer. She is a respected thought leader, speaker, podcast host, conference curator and business consult to women committed to lead through business. Anika creates personalized systematic solutions through strategic action plans for high-achieving women. Her integrative approach to life, business, and leadership comprises her lived experiences, education and passion for excellence. Anika believes that every woman has the potential to work, live and lead their lives, businesses, and families with excellence with the Strategic Success Solution.
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