Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hobbits, Lobbyists & My New Hobby - Working on My EQ

I've been trying to up my EQ. You know, Emotional Intelligence. Apparently, its all the rage.

What is she talking about? you ask. Or maybe you don't. But I shall tell you.

Emotional intelligence is basically (at least according to this fancy webinar I saw last week) having a grip on how and why you react to situations and understanding how and why others react to you. There are four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Its been said that there's not much you can do to improve your IQ - your EQ, however, is another story.

One of the ways to be self-aware is to recognize what people/things trigger an emotional reaction in you. You know, what gets your knickers in a twist.

Up until last week, I had pretty clearly defined my triggers: 1.) my boss's voice. 2.) my parent's phone number on my caller ID. 3.) any email emanating from a particular co-worker. 4.) a particular tone of voice my husband uses when he thinks he's being rational and sensitive in making a request and I think he's being whiny, clingy and needy. There. 1. 2. 3. 4. Easy enough.

That was until I had a whole new entity enter my life.

Right now, its budget season. That point in the year where politicians present their ideas of how life should be and who should pay for it and at what amounts. Lobbyists, advocates and concerned citizens scramble, rally, hoot and holler to see who can effectively (or at least loudly) make their case for whatever their case may be.

There is one particular piece of the budget that relates to what I do that has several folks' knickers in a twist. You can't really see it unless you look pretty hard. It's not obvious when you pore through those pages and pages of spreadsheets. But it's there. Tucked away as a "program integrity" measure. And some feel it has the potential to dismantle an entire service delivery system for some pretty vulnerable people.

The point is, it's so serious, we've called in every single member of our association that is remotely connected to or has once upon a time hired a lobbyist and tried to get them all into one room. Tried to hand them papers to get them to all speak from the same page. Tried to get mega MEGA type A personalities, who, BTW, are all competitors and don't particularly care for each other, to get along and, gasp, perhaps even collaborate. All for this higher good.

I am unsure if anything is any "higher" than the egos in a room full of lobbyists. JFC give me strength.

In my role with this group, I am treading a very delicate line - we do not pay these folks, our members do. So I can't directly manage any of these people, these personalities, their relationships or what they do with them. I can attempt to facilitate and coordinate. But I am trying to do so as a peer, not as a staffer, not as some kind of administrative assistant. At the same time, any time I get too deferential, I can hear my boss hiss in my ear (because she's subtle like that, "don't ask permission! we should be in charge here.") Ok. Fine. But we're NOT. Not unless you, dear boss, want to write several large checks to several high powered lobbying firms who are still trying to figure out who the hell we are and what WE are doing here and why they are doing all of this extra work for what they believe is free.

This could be the most extreme test of my emotional intelligence ever.

I am finding myself simultaneously stroking, asserting, nudging, navigating, placating, juggling and coquettishly batting my eyelids trying to get my way. This might as well be a porno.

Or better yet, some totally nerdy fantasy film.

When I think of this motley bunch, the urgency of the mission, the larger than life personalities, somehow one visual keeps popping up in my head.

I've definitely identified my dwarf.

I am trying so hard not to be Sam Gamgee.

Whenever I have a quiet moment with anyone from the brotherhood (a few sisters in there. not many), they inevitably use it as an opportunity to bemoan the lack of cooperation from any other member of the fold. I'm all about collaboration, too bad xxx doesn't work well with others....

The hilarious part about that is, cut and paste any one member of this here fellowship with the other. They all say the same things about each other. Yes, hilarious. And tiresome.

So, several more triggers have been added to my EQ monitor, as have chances to improve how I deal with them. I can't help thinking if I get my EQ together some very real opportunities could emerge from this venture. Hopefully for me, and for the people we're working to protect.


Nadine said...

Its bizzare/scary/shocking how government(and Gov Agencies) works isn't it? I was disgusted by the lot at previous job where I had to sit and listen to a department admit that they had no clue where the money was going, how to track it and who was getting how much, but, they didn't have money for that new breast cancer drugs. Aholes.

You need to write a book, your a seriously talented writer. I was reading your post on the ipad, it died and I ran upstairs to the real computer (where I have to stand to use it) to read your post.

Good luck with those people!

dana said...

I can identify, somewhat. our Leg is in session as well and we're on- call 24/7 right now. And the questions I'm getting from staffers (who get them from our elected political heroes) are... um...dumbfounding. It must take me at least an hour to respond to some queries - and not because I don't have the answer, but because I have to constantly delete things like, WHY DON'T YOU KNOW THIS? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY ASKING ME THIS? AGAIN? I CAN'T HANDLE THIS LEVEL STUPIDITY.

Eh. I hate this season. Makes me ragey and crazy.

Anyhow, good luck. Lobbyists are like a bunch of six-grade girls waiting for the other to turn their back, knife in hand.


Smiling said...

Go give it your all -- I get it. I think I know the type of people who get screwed by these budget moves. No one is a natural in these situation, the important thing is that someone who gets it is in the room. It might not go well or perfectly, but you being there makes it better that it otherwise would be.

If it wasn't for all the confidentiality issues, I think many of us have a few books in us about our work stories. Yours would be amazing. I second Nadine, you write really well

Good LUCK!