Season 2 Episode 4 : Social Awareness DONE DONE DONE
Welcome back to the integrated leader podcast.
We're on a mission to help you transform into a more effective, empathetic and impactful leader, both professionally and personally.
I'm your host, Lauren Marie and today's episode. We'll be delving into the third component of emotional intelligence called social awareness. If you're just joining us in this season. Welcome. I do want to let you know that each episode is built on the one before it.
So I encourage you to start at the
Social awareness is the ability to accurately perceive and understand the emotions and perspectives of others. And to respond empathetically and appropriately. It's a vital skill for leaders and team members alike. As it enables us to build stronger relationships, resolve conflict, and work more effectively with a diverse group of people.
And the previous episode, we discussed the importance of self-regulation and managing our emotions and making thoughtful decisions, even in challenging situations. Building on that foundation. We'll now explore how social awareness can help us navigate the complex social dynamics in the workplace. And beyond. In the previous episode, I've spent time articulating what each of the components are before I go straight to the conversation with my friends, Kaleb Mitchell. A licensed therapist of 20 years and the co-owner of two amazing resources in the Phoenix area. One, the Phoenix counseling collective, which is their private practice. And also now the wellness collaborative. That offers community and support along with office space for those. And the wellness fields.
But I want to jump right into the conversation and this episode, as he defines an articulate social awareness. So, well, listen in.
[00:02:03] Lauren Marie: Welcome Caleb. Thanks for having me. Thank you for being here. So if we're going to discuss, social awareness, how do
[00:02:12] Lauren Marie: you def.
[00:02:12] Lauren Marie: Find social awareness in the framework of emotional intelligence. And why is it important for leaders and team members?
[00:02:20] Caleb: At its core, social awareness is the ability to, read the room, which means that you're able to sense what other people think. Feel, so you're attuned to them, but you're also able to be attuned to yourself and understand how that interaction is playing out . and I think that that's really important because , I've been in a lot of meetings where a leader is telling us what they're seeing and what they're going to be doing, and what we're going to be doing.
[00:02:46] Caleb: And it's almost as if he or she is not aware of the glaze that everyone has on their eyes. Yeah. The way that, What they're saying may be coming off as an impossible feat or just boring. , and it's as if, uh, there's not any, energy being transferred between the leader and his team, and instead it just is kind of going into the void.
[00:03:11] Caleb: And so you've got these meetings that are completely worthless. And people are just looking at their watches, trying to figure out when it, when am I gonna get out of this thing?
[00:03:20] Lauren Marie: I like the idea of a meeting being a shared energy session because it is often one way.
[00:03:27] Caleb: Yeah. A lot of times leaders think it's here, we're gonna give you the vision of what we're about to do, and , because you hear it one time from me, you're gonna get super excited and you want to jump on when, that's often not the case. Right.
[00:03:42] Lauren Marie: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that.
[00:03:44] Lauren Marie: . What are some common signs that someone might need to improve their social awareness, and how can they work on that and develop it as a skill?
[00:03:52] Caleb: you know, the most obvious is that the leader gets complaints, which are oftentimes easy to dismiss by a leader. and so I think the ability to take those in and give some credence to them and some curiosity around. Why are people saying this is really important? I think another obvious sign is when a team isn't moving in the same direction as the leader wants them to go.
[00:04:17] Caleb: A lot of times leaders see that as a problem of the team and not as a problem of the synergy of the leader and the team and that there might be something that is missing, you know, it's funny. Lauren, your husband,
[00:04:31] Lauren Marie: partner in life and business,
[00:04:33] Caleb: my friend, he always asks that question of, do you know what you're supposed to be doing?
[00:04:40] Caleb: Do you want to do the thing that you're supposed to be doing? And do you have the resources to do the thing that you're being asked to do? And I think that those three questions, a lot of times, leaders aren't even asking. Instead, there's this blind assumption that you understand what I'm saying and what's in my mind.
[00:05:00] Caleb: And it doesn't matter how I give you the information, I can be kind of a, a jerk about it. And because I'm the boss, you're just going to do what I say and you're gonna do it exactly the way I want it to, be done. I think that that is a sign that something is not working. I think a third is that there's no one who pushes back.
[00:05:21] Caleb: Mm. if everyone is saying yes, one of two things happens. One, they just go at it and they just try to accomplish exactly what the leader wants and oftentimes burn out. Or they say yes, but then there's this passive aggressive non-action. Those two. Possibilities come when there's not space for someone to go, Hey, I don't know if this is gonna work this way.
[00:05:46] Caleb: The assumption a lot of leaders have, and I think it's understandable because there's a lot of pressure to move something in a certain direction, and there's a sense that it only can be one way. Without space to be able to push back, then you're never ever gonna find some third option, and maybe even more viable option.
[00:06:06] Caleb: But I think at its heart, When there's not someone who's willing to push back, then are we actually going in the right direction? So I, I think there's plenty of examples of where. Someone on the team goes, I knew that was a bad idea. Mm-hmm. Or, you know, I, I, I knew this wasn't gonna work.
[00:06:26] Caleb: And I think that's unfair to some leaders. And they're probably like, well, could you just have a told me? But I think there's also some leaders who create some really difficult environments where that's not even allowed.
[00:06:38] Lauren Marie: And how does that happen? How does a culture get created where that's not allowed?
[00:06:42] Caleb: I think oftentimes it's done by bullying. I think there's also not any questions, no one's asking, Hey, what do you see is going on here? There's just an assumption of this kind of traditional power structure where the leader. Tells everyone what to do and they tell 'em how they're going to do it, and everyone just follows, and that's how you move forward.
[00:07:05] Caleb: And I think that that's, a really poor way of moving forward.
[00:07:09] Lauren Marie: Yeah. It seems a little outdated at this point. Yeah. Archaic even.
[00:07:13] Caleb: Yeah, for sure. For sure. , Gary Maynard, Chuck says that. What's needed most in business today is speed. And if you have teams where there is drama, then you can't have speed.
[00:07:28] Caleb: And nothing causes more drama than a leader who won't listen to anybody and everyone's complaining behind their back.
[00:07:36] Lauren Marie: True, true,
[00:07:37] Lauren Marie: I have this analogy in my head sometimes of, a boat and the boat represents the project that we need to accomplish. And so the boat is how we get there. And when we get to the final destination, the project's complete. And you have a crew of people, which is your team, and.
[00:07:54] Lauren Marie: Someone on this boat finds a small leak and they see that water's coming in and it's like they don't have to report it. It's like not that big of a deal. But if there is any hesitancy to bring that to the leader or the captain of this ship, You're not gonna make it. So the whole point in developing psychological safety and trust is so that all the leaks are known as soon as possible so that we can make it.
[00:08:24] Lauren Marie: And it's not the fault of the person who found the leak there. There's no blame for them to, to bring it forward. But it's like good news that we just found the problem. It's like sometimes leaders forget that their whole job is to mitigate problem. That is what work is. Right. This just a bunch of problems coming your way.
[00:08:44] Lauren Marie: Yeah.
[00:08:44] Caleb: It's filling holes, putting out fires. Right. And trying to avoid the large rocks sticking out of the water. Yeah. That's what projects are. That's what they are. To me. It is funny, funny story. I. Recently rethought some of the structure and how we were gonna do our practice. And I created all these spreadsheets and I created all these documents and I took it to our leadership team, which is essentially my, my wife who owns the practice with me and a couple of other people.
[00:09:18] Caleb: And I said, here it is. Mm. And then, yeah, they all talked it through with me. We kind of played around with it, and then about a week later I thought through it some more and I said, I don't know if we're gonna do that. And my wife very kindly said, you realize you just took us all on a roller coaster. Hmm.
[00:09:38] Caleb: And I, I couldn't say anything except Yep, I did. And I'm sorry. And had to apologize to all the rest of the team of, I think I might have just freaked you out. I, I, I might have taken us further, down some path that we might not be going and yeah, I just had to apologize that my attempt. To, to fill the hole.
[00:10:03] Caleb: Probably needed to be more metered and more patient for the good of the people that I was trying to lead. and so I'm thankful. I mean, granted it's my wife, so she feels like she can push back all the time, but I'm thankful that there was some awareness. That she brought to me of, Hey, do you realize that this has an impact on everyone?
[00:10:26] Caleb: , because I needed that, I, I needed to be aware of my anxiety and how it was impacting the rest of the organization.
[00:10:34] Lauren Marie: This might be a tangent, but there are some people that see the hole in the boat the leak, and they, they already know what to do to fix it.
[00:10:45] Lauren Marie: And then there's a different type of person, and I don't know if it is the socially aware person, but they come in with this curiosity of like, how should we fix this? And it's like there's space for them before. They take the action where I know for me it, there's no space. It's like, oh, I leak and then I fix it.
[00:11:05] Lauren Marie: I don't need to talk about it with anyone. I already know what to do. It's, I'm gonna fix it. Where then the rest of the crew feels a little left out or like, Hey, can you bring us along on this? I don't have time to talk about it.
[00:11:17] Caleb: Yeah. I, and I think two things come to mind as you say that I think.
[00:11:21] Caleb: The, the leader who does leave some space is first off, humble. There's some humility that goes, huh, I see it. This is the best way to do it. But there might be a better way. Mm-hmm. I think the, the second thing that comes to mind is that a leader understands that their job is to lead people. And if you are just moving.
[00:11:45] Caleb: Too fast. What happens is there's no one who can follow you. And so I often tell, talk to leaders about, we have to be able to give our staff, the people we're leading the information at a pace and a rate that they can handle. Mm-hmm. so , it's more about this understanding that things don't get done quickly with a lot of people.
[00:12:08] Caleb: Right? If you want to go fast, go by yourself. Right? But if you want to go long, then go with other people. someone else said that, But I think that a leader who is leading well understands that their main job is leading people not getting the hole in the boat fixed.
[00:12:26] Caleb: Right.
[00:12:26] Lauren Marie: Yeah. I like that. It reminds me of a story when, when I was skiing with my parents, we passed this guy and he was like looking all around him. As he was skiing down, he's like, I'm the leader, where'd they go? Like, he couldn't find the group that he was supposedly leading. And it had just stuck with me we'd say it as a joke now.
[00:12:45] Lauren Marie: I was like, I'm a leader. Where? Where is everybody?
[00:12:46] Caleb: Right? Right. There's that old adage of like, you know, you're a leader if people are actually following you. Right. But if you think you're a leader and no one's following you, then maybe there's some need for some self-awareness.
[00:12:59] Lauren Marie: Well, yeah. And the fact that it is okay to not be a leader,
[00:13:02] Caleb: right?
[00:13:03] Caleb: Exactly. Yeah. I think what, what is hard is that the way that our. Work system is built is that if you get better at something, and in order to further your career, you have to move into management. Right? And then you just keep working up this ladder, but then that's the only way to make more money.
[00:13:23] Caleb: It's the only way to mm-hmm. Grow your career and learn , and get better. And, that just really makes it difficult. Right.
[00:13:33] Lauren Marie: All right, so another question what are some barriers that might prevent people from developing their social awareness and how can they overcome these challenges?
[00:13:42] Caleb: Social awareness is really difficult because it's built on the foundation of what we talked about earlier, and that is self-awareness, and that is, that's a difficult process. To begin to know what you are feeling and experiencing and to know places where you feel shame, where you feel fear, where you feel anger, these more painful places in yourself.
[00:14:08] Caleb: , those are hard to know. But when you do begin to do that hard work, then you begin to build this muscle of empathy, which is this ability to imagine what others feel because you know something similar to it. so When a employee or a staff member comes and tells you that they're struggling with their pay and that they need more, as a leader, sometimes you're not even in charge of that. Other times, You know where the business is financially, and you know that that request is a, is a real drag on the whole organization and you can work from there.
[00:14:48] Caleb: But if you actually have experienced times when you are struggling financially, and if you actually know what it's like to miss a car payment, then you're going to be more empathetic to this person. You're at least gonna be able to say. Oh, this is hard, and I know that this is, this is difficult for you.
[00:15:07] Caleb: Same is true when someone says, Hey, I don't feel like I'm really being heard in meetings. If you are not okay with places in your own story where you have not been heard and you. Instead just sort of ignore that and you can't feel some of that pain, then what you will have to do is you will have to ignore their pain.
[00:15:28] Caleb: Because whenever we see someone else's pain, it often is a mirror back to us about our own pain and our own frailty as a human. And so I think that kind of openness to your own experience allows you to be open to another person's experience. Um, But that means that you're also open to that pain as well.
[00:15:51] Caleb: Is
[00:15:51] Lauren Marie: it possible to have empathy and say, yeah, I can see how this might be hard, but also not validate their story. So like, I see this is challenging for you, even though I know that your narration in your head about what's going on is actually incorrect.
[00:16:13] Caleb: Well, I, maybe my pushback is,
[00:16:16] Caleb: you know, to use my illustration of the person who says, Hey, this, my pay isn't actually matching my needs. I'm not gonna sit there and try and judge them based on, what kind of car they have or what kind of house they have, and, That kind of thing. What I can do is empathize and
[00:16:35] Caleb: I can differentiate and, and be aware of. Where I start, where they start, where I end, where they end, and what I'm actually capable of doing in their situation. So empathy doesn't mean that you go and try and fix it. Uh, the empathetic leader might go, oh, I am so sorry, I.
[00:16:53] Caleb: And we can't do anything about it. Okay. And so I don't think they even need to make a decision about what's right or what's wrong about what this person is saying. I think it's the ability to, to empathize what this person may be feeling, and then also be aware of my limitations as a leader to meet them where they want me to meet them.
[00:17:12] Caleb: And so that can be named at the same time. And held at the same time. So I don't think I have to go, oh, nope, you're not seeing it. Right. I can say I'm sorry that this is how you see it, and I can see that this hurts and I can't do anything more than what I'm doing right now.
[00:17:31] Lauren Marie: Yeah. I, I like that. I think in the, in the example of I don't feel heard in the meetings, that's clearly their perspective.
[00:17:40] Lauren Marie: I can validate that, that must be hard for them. And then as the leader, I think it is my job then to call them into something better and say, how do you like to be heard? What is it that we're like, these are the things that we've done to try and hear different voices. Maybe this isn't working for youth.
[00:18:02] Lauren Marie: We're open to new, new ways,
[00:18:04] Caleb: Yeah. I think that that begs the question to me of if you were heard, what would be different? Great question. Because maybe the way that they want to be heard is for something to drastically change that you can't change. Mm-hmm. I think being more clear about that is super helpful.
[00:18:26] Caleb: Or maybe just being heard means that they get some time in the meeting to talk. Well, I can give you some time in the meeting to talk and that's fine. I mean, I think it's finding out how, what the win is for them and being aware of as the leader, can I actually provide that win? Right. Or can I not?
[00:18:45] Caleb: Yeah. And I think that's where the, that's where the work is. Self awareness. Yeah. It's, it's also the self-awareness, right? It's the ability to be aware of. What my ability as the leader in this context is to actually help this person get a win. , I might not be able to help them. Right.
[00:19:02] Lauren Marie: anything else that you wanna share regarding social? Awareness.
[00:19:05] Caleb: I, I think the other thing that is difficult about growing social awareness is that you have to learn that other people are not like you. And so to begin to learn what someone else's experience, who might be of a different gender, might be of a different race, who may have a different.
[00:19:27] Caleb: social background means that you have to get in there and learn things that might make you uncomfortable. And so I think that that also, it, it's kind of one of those things where we kinda like for everyone to just be like us and then we feel like we could, we can understand them, right? But not everyone is exactly like us as well.
[00:19:48] Caleb: I mean, Your experience as a woman is different than my experience as a man. And so it's much more difficult to begin to ask you and learn what your experience is and even to learn about how people of my gender, um, have been harmful to the people of your gender. Um, and to that, that is a difficult process to go through.
[00:20:17] Caleb: Takes a lot of humility. Uh, and some people just would rather not go through that.
[00:20:23] Caleb: Yeah,
[00:20:23] Lauren Marie: we talk about emotional intelligence being a developable skill and we develop through challenge and. Going into situations that are unknown and having a lot of grace and compassion and, Acceptance of failure or acceptance of, oh, I didn't get that quite right and reflect on how I could do that better next time. is all part of the development of emotional intelligence. So thanks for bringing that. Yeah,
[00:20:52] Caleb: and I think one thing I would add is that we're all trying to be safe, right? We talked about that and.
[00:20:58] Caleb: In the self-regulation part, and one of the primary ways of doing that is to be the one with the most power. And as leaders, there is this safety in being the one that's in charge that. Insulates us from some of the pain that others experience. And so I think that part of the other piece to this that's difficult is that as the leader, you have to give up some of your power to begin to understand what the people you're leading, what their experience is of the world, of working with you, of working in this organization that you're in.
[00:21:35] Caleb: And so That's hard to do at times and can be a scary thing. Like anytime you learn something new, it's always scary at the beginning. I mean, I was just talking with my wife the other day about skiing and how, when I started skiing, um, five or six years ago when I started taking the girls out skiing and.
[00:21:58] Caleb: And with, with Lauren, your husband. I, I wasn't a great skier and here I was trying to help little kids ski. Right. And I wasn't very good. So they're falling on the ground. Oh my goodness. Crying and needing someone to help pick them up while I'm trying not to fall as I tried on them. Right. And so I think that can be how leaders feel a lot of times of, look, I'm trying to do this scary thing too, of going down this mountain.
[00:22:26] Caleb: And I get to like look like I'm in charge, but internally I am terrified cause I don't know exactly what I'm doing. And so it takes a lot of internal strength to be able to learn as you are going down a mountain with other people who need you to help them go down the mountain too. Yeah,
[00:22:46] Lauren Marie: that's a great example.
[00:22:47] Lauren Marie: Thank you for your insights, appreciate hearing your perspectives on social awareness. Thanks
[00:22:53] Caleb: for having me. Yep.\
Thank you for joining me today on this journey. And I look forward to continued exploration of emotional intelligence in the coming episodes.
. Remember. Business is personal. So let's be good at it.