Does your international team at work trust each other? Here are ways to make that trust grow.
Lieve Demol is the founder of Cometra, a consulting company in Belgium and a Six Seconds Preferred Partner since January, 2017. Lieve first got certified with Six Seconds 12 years ago, but has been doing similar work under different emotional intelligence models since 1992.
She worked with large and small businesses, including large oil, banking, insurance, education and health care companies. She feels Six Seconds has the most ethical and practical approach and so was excited to become a preferred partner. We spoke about how she uses EQ to bridge cultural divides and bring people closer to their purpose in life.
What’s your background?
I’m Belgian with a Flemish background. We’re closer to the Dutch culture. At the same time, my husband is French speaking, which helps me to understand the different perspectives and be empathic.
As a coach, how can understanding different cultural backgrounds help you build empathy?
In Belgium there still is a historic tension between the French speaking culture and the Flemish culture. Though we are certain to be very different, I am convinced that when we are able to use emotions, build on the emotions and choose for empathy, the diversity becomes a strength, rather than a difficulty to overcome.
I was born in Africa, lived there till I was twelve. It helped me realize that what we all have in common are emotions, whatever background we have. My personal story is probably why I’m so enthusiastic about EQ. I coach French speaking as well as Dutch speaking people.
I use my cognitive empathy to connect with them in order to create a learning climate. In general I need to allow the French speaking person to analyze, to rationalize, to be skeptical of what I’m saying. While when coaching a Dutch speaking person, I need to get to the point right away, to show them the data and enhance the result.
Having to practice this in my everyday life and work it most certainly helps me to build my empathy.
What advice would you give to others about working with different cultures?
- Trust: I choose to trust. Whatever culture I’m in, I’ve been working with African people, Asian people… trust is the key to learning and to create joy and commitment.
- Listen: I choose to be careful about emotional reactions. I put myself ‘on neutral’, and observe. Whenever I see some specific emotional reactions, I let go of the content in order to step into the process.
- Choose Curiosity: My experience is that when I choose curiosity and ask questions about differences, people feel valued. It is like food for thought and emotion.
Please share an example of how a shift came in how a client was running their business?
I was approached by Six Seconds to do a project for a large company because they were looking for a facilitator for a team who could speak French, English and Dutch. The first step in the learning process was to take the SEI assessment for the entire lead team. The results were debriefed individually.
It was a very important key to create connection and to help them clarify what EQ really was about, how you could approach it and why it mattered to them. It created a huge commitment with each of the members of the lead team to go on to the second step, which was the workshop.
The one day workshop, focused on the integration of the model and the competencies; aiming to be practical, sharing the collective intelligence, and creating opportunities for emotional openness. They could talk about their emotions, share their patterns and their overall goals. Especially the role plays were of big value to them and meant a shift as to the usefulness of EI in their role as a leader.
I remember the CEO coming to me and telling me “This is one of the big moments for my team”. It was one of the best experiences I ever had. It had a huge impact on the level of engagement as to how they could approach people differently.
We had two results: One, it helped them to start applying that what I call ‘different language’ when talking to the people they work with. The second was the team felt connected again.
The third step in the process was individual coaching. These sessions were reflective and action oriented. They decided on specific actions to develop their personal EQ and to strengthen the team EQ. They each chose a buddy to support one another and give feedback. This achieved high engagement. The buddy talks created a safe learning environment.
“I think, therefore, I am” is a strong foundation in the French culture. Let us not forget that the philosopher Descartes gave a central place to reason and mind. The greatest and most interesting result for me was to see they realized that using one’s emotions can inspire people and makes a difference in leadership.
Anything new you’re excited about?
I am looking forward to create a partnership to be stronger in the Belgian/Dutch market. I have decided to focus my activities on nothing but the development of EQ.
What’s the most powerful tool Six Seconds and its network can use to expand to reach 1 billion people?
The biggest difference is the Give Yourself Part. Often I hear the fear that EI is ‘manipulating’. The competencies Empathy and Ultimate Goal are a great answer to find or keep one’s authenticity. Knowing why Empathy and clarifying one’s Purpose, brings balance and grounds your authenticity. Expressing the ‘Why’ is a leverage to being at one with one self and the others. The network could be called a collective wisdom, people sharing, building for a global purpose. A kindling group magic.