There’s a saying in the military: “Check 6.”
It basically means: don’t forget to look behind you. It originally came from the idea of a pilot checking the six o’clock position directly behind an airplane or bomber.
But you don’t have to be a veteran to adopt it. For people with high emotional intelligence, this expression means even more.
It means getting into the habit of using six key communication tricks to make sure your emotions don’t unnecessarily get in the way of what you hope to achieve.
1. Check your language.
This is the first and easiest habit to adopt. Basically, if you find yourself using sentences like these to start an important point you want to make, stop immediately:
“It’s not difficult…” (Suggests that anyone facing a complicated problem should simply adopt your controversial solution.) “Can’t you just…” (Suggest that the problem the other person is facing is completely wouldn’t mind if he or she would just do what you want them to do.) “Look, I get it…” (After which people generally summarize a small fraction of another’s position, most of which the easiest to undermine.)
Each of these sentences is designed to do one of two things: either to make it seem like yours is the only reasonable position, or to boost your self-esteem while putting the other down.
If someone says them to you before suggesting an action, do you feel like you’ve been listened to or rejected? Therefore, emotionally intelligent people check that they are not using them.
2. Check your direction.
This one is easier to identify in retrospect than at the moment, so it may take some practice. In short, check whether you fall into the following pitfalls:
Using phrases like, “oh, that reminds me” to launch unrelated points or stories under the guise of conversation. “I’ve been thinking about closing my startup and trying something different.” “That reminds me: Have you heard of Company X closing?”) Catching yourself in a “one-upmanship contest” where instead of responding to someone else’s statement or points, you share anecdotes that are similar, but larger. “We have had no power for a week.” “Really? We’ve had no power for a month!”) Putting yourself in the spotlight when your goal should be to get to know the other person’s wants and needs.
Philosophically, it’s about considering where you want the conversation to go and whether your conversation structure is likely to get you there.
Emotionally, people understand that it is the difference between using language that constructs a parallel conversation, in which both sides simply express opinions, or a convergent one, in which everyone listens, thinks and tries to find a way to come together.
3. Check your goal.
Here’s an easy trap that people constantly fall into: getting emotionally entangled in a strategic goal, to the point that you lose sight of your overall goal.
A company tries its best to sell a certain product to a certain type of customer, but doesn’t seem to break through. Discouragement ensues. But is the ultimate goal to sell this product? Or maybe it’s better to turn around and find another opportunity that works better? A parent wants to spend a great day with his or her children. So they organize a great day together, only to find that the kids are not interested in the activity. Do they allow the disappointment to keep them from finding another way to spend time together? A student wants to get a good education and start a rewarding career. But they are not accepted at the university of their first choice. Sure it’s disappointing, but in the long run do they allow that rejection to prevent them from finding other rewarding avenues?
Actually, there’s another general example that I love, which is when you want to convince someone of something, and you succeed, but for whatever reason the resolution feels hollow.
Do you get caught up in the emotions, or do you accept that you have accomplished what you set out to do?
4. Check the escape route.
Not your escape route. The escape route of the other.
Basically, emotionally intelligent people recognize that you need to find ways to save other people’s face when you’re trying to convince them of something.
Allow them to agree with you, even if it’s hard: “I have to admit, that’s not entirely a bad idea.” Or else, even if it expresses frustration: “If you could just let me speak, I’d suggest that!” Or else, just to save face. “I hope you understand that it took us a lot of courage and hard work to try this different course of action first, even if it didn’t work out in the end.”
The point is to allow the other person to come back, or come to your way of thinking, while also giving them an emotional escape route so they can agree without feeling defeated.
5. Check your impressions.
Remember that old quote: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
That’s true, but it’s also true that when you communicate an important point, you also communicate secondary impressions. There are so many things that affect the likelihood (or not) that emotions will interfere with what you’re trying to accomplish:
There’s your tone. There is the timing of the conversation.
There’s the question of where and when you choose to have it (or, sometimes, when you’re forced to have it.)
I’ve written here before about one of the best examples I’ve personally seen: when my accountant (who had been one of my best friends since long before he became a CPA) mailed me a bible and then asked I swear I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to file my tax return in the future.
But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. Emotionally intelligent people know how to control the environment and the impressions they make, whether they mean it or not.
6. Check yourself.
This is the last point and I will try to demonstrate myself in this article. In short, check that you are not saying more than necessary.
Embrace the power of silence in conversation. (Other people often rush to fill it.) Embrace the obligation to listen fully. (How else can you really claim to be trying to understand someone?) And embrace the ability to “accept yes as an answer.” (If you win an argument, stop arguing.)
On that note, let’s just point out that of all the leadership growth tools that business leaders say they want to work on, emotional intelligence tops the list.
That’s why in my free eBook 9 Smart Habits of People with Very High Emotional Intelligence, I’ve put together a long list of simple tricks you can use to become more emotionally intelligent.
And that’s why simple changes like the Check 6 rule can make a big difference in how you lead and whether other people are likely to follow.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not Inc.com’s.
This post How people with high emotional intelligence use the ‘Check 6 rule’ to become extraordinarily persuasive
was original published at “https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/how-people-with-high-emotional-intelligence-use-check-6-rule-to-become-extraordinarily-persuasive.html”