332: Communicating with Emotional Intelligence – with Roger Wolkoff

332: Communicating with Emotional Intelligence - with Roger Wolkoff

Meet Roger

Roger is a motivational speaker who helps you create teams and companies people don’t want to leave. You hire him for his expertise in emotional intelligence and appreciation. He doesn’t give up on people, he believes they will find a way to move forward and improve. Roger lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and currently serves as the president of the National Speakers Association of Wisconsin Chapter. He loves to travel bike and read science fiction. He’s a big fan of baseball, pinball, and all things Tesla.

Can you just tell us what is emotional intelligence?

You bet! It started with Daniel Goleman who has been called the father of emotional intelligence. Quite simply, it is your self-awareness and your social awareness. So following Goleman, there are two parts of self. There’s the self-awareness part and the self-management part, right? How we’re aware of ourselves and how we manage ourselves. Then the social part is how we’re aware of others, how we respond to others, their emotions, their actions, their behaviors. Then the other component in there is relationship building, hmmm, Social Capital much? That’s how emotional intelligence is defined and then Goldman and others also put components of empathy into emotional intelligence.

Tell me a little bit about how you got into speaking because this is kind of the main offering that you provide, correct? 

Right. I got into speaking and training and I got back into it actually. So way back early in my career, I was into training. I actually trained on all things Microsoft, I trained on operating systems, spreadsheets, Word, PowerPoint and then I also dabbled in a little bit of programming, and then I was also a resident expert on databases. So I love training and I love seeing the lights come on for people. So fast forward into a career in tech support and then while I was in tech support, I got recruited into project management and that’s how I fell into project management. So I did that for a number of years and I got really good at both the science and the art of project management, I got into the soft skill and the tech part, but I found that I really had this passion for the soft skill part like facilitating and how we get people past barriers and how we get them to do work. So at my last job about six years ago, they were downsizing, and rather than playing the roulette wheel and figuring out where I wanted to go next in project management, I’m like, you know what? I want to get back into the speaking and the training! I decided that was a great time to start my business. I never knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it was like this calling to get back up on stage. The more I got up on stage, the more I realized it was, I originally thought, you know, there was this big thing, like, you’re going to be in lights, it’s about you, and blah, blah, blah, and applause applause applause and I was totally wrong. It’s about the audience and the people and creating that connection and that emotional spark and sharing knowledge with them, and seeing the lights come on for them that way. So it was about six years ago, that I decided to hang out my own shingle and get back into the world of professional speaking.

Can you share the difference between emotional intelligence and communication?

It’s interesting to put them into both categories because I get that question a fair amount. So if we go back to what I was saying before, a couple of key components are of emotional intelligence are how you show up. One of the ways we show up is how we communicate. So we all have choices about how we communicate, the words we use, the expressions we use, the body language we consciously or subconsciously use. So just because we’re communicating doesn’t necessarily mean that we have emotional intelligence, and vice versa. I think the two are definitely intertwined. Don’t get me wrong, they are intertwined. For example, one of the things that happen when I deliver emotional intelligence programs is I’ll get somebody who comes up to me afterward probably about 40-50% of the time and they say, “Oh, this is great, Rojer, could you give this for my manager?” So I say, “Ok, that’s wonderful that may be the case so tell me what’s challenging you hear,” and they say, “I think I’m a great communicator,” and I say, “Fantastic, can you give me an example of how you communicate with your manager?” They think the manager might be the problem and they might be, but then a number of times, I’ve gotten this where they say, “I tell them everything that’s on my mind,” and I ask for an example. Then they say “Well my manager told me that we should manage up to them so I managed up and I really just gave them a ton of feedback.” So I say, “I think we’re talking about here might be candor versus communication and it might be the style in which you’re delivering it.” Come to find out, there’s more to it than just the manager needs to come to this. What I say is I would love to give out these little mirrors, because a lot of the time if we look into ourselves, that’s the first part of emotional intelligence and everything else can build from there.

Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you’ve had?

So as you mentioned in the intro, I’m a member of The National Speakers Association, and we get together every year at a big event called Influence. About 1000 people go to a huge event, and I love it. The first time I went I was overwhelmed. Now for introverts, 1000 people is a lot of people and it can be a daunting experience. That first day was my favorite because I went up and I just consumed as much as I could. At a good networking event, we don’t just go and give everybody your business card, that’s not networking. But I was going with the intent to listen and pick out one good thing that I could take away from every person that I met and I went with the intent of asking just one good question. My question was if you were starting out in this business, what would you do differently today? That was my question to everybody. So I had this pool of answers to the same question. I loved the event because everybody was so welcoming and receptive to whatever question we had. It was more than just going to the seminars, it was the hallway conversations where the magic happens. I really enjoyed the event because people would create, and I didn’t make this up, they would create croissants instead of bagels. What that means is we think about the shape of a croissant, a croissant is what? It’s a semi-circle, right? So people always inviting you in instead of the bagel or the donut which is closed. I didn’t bring that up. I love that the event was set up that way and that the people going to the event in networking were allowed to participate if they wanted to.

How do you stay in front of and best nurture this community that you’ve created?

A couple of ways. LinkedIn is the place where I see my network. I try to comment on content as much as I can. I’m always trying to up my game by providing something new, and I will be my own critic and say, I don’t do that as often as I should. It might help to have some marketing strategy and tactics behind that. The other strategy that I’m employing is networking, through email marketing, or email newsletters, and content, things like that. So again, always trying to up my game there. That’s how I stay in front of my people as much as possible.

What advice would you offer that business professional who is really looking to grow their network?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people. If you like going to events, go to an event intentionally, with at least three solid things that you want to get out of it, and think about three people that you want to meet, they can be intertwined. I would say be as visible as you can in the markets that you want to be seen in. I wasn’t always good at this at the beginning because I was trying to be everything to everybody. As we know, that doesn’t work. Once I started narrowing in on people who were receptive to my message, where companies that were getting taken over, or companies that were going through a lot of change, or leaders who were recently promoted or moved to a new area, that’s where I could come in and help because when we’re faced with change, that’s where I can come in and help keep people from leaving. If you’ve just inherited a new team or something, that’s where I come in. So it was putting myself in there, either in the social networks or just making initial conversations. I have a series of outreach that I do until I can get a conversation with them so that we can see if we’re for each other. So my advice is to be persistent and be in front of the people who are for you and will buy you.

If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?

I would tell myself to talk less and listen more.  I’d also tell myself, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Be your real, genuine, authentic self when you put yourself out there don’t hide behind all kinds of stuff. When I went into my professional career, I would go into meetings, and I would try to say something no matter what, just for the sake of saying something to be seen to be visible. It wasn’t until later on when somebody coached me in my mid-20s to listen more and talk less. I realized that I didn’t have to say something to get noticed. That’s when I first started learning about emotional intelligence and that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

Do you have any final word or advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?

Be as open as you can and show up as you! The only way you’re going to grow your network is to introduce yourself to people and just break down those walls and have good conversations with people be interested in them.


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Connect with Roger


Phone: 608-279-5160 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerwolkoff/

Website: https://rogerwolkoff.com/ 

Email: roger@rogerwolkoff.com