The Stress Management composite subscales are: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance, and Optimism. A wonderful exercise to increase your Stress Tolerance is to figure out how to add meditation or journal-writing into your schedule. Stress Tolerance is the ability to take things in stride without being emotionally thrown off course when a crisis hits or things get rough. We all need to fortify ourselves in advance by having a yoga practice or some type of exercise or calming ritual. An example could be practicing deep breathing five minutes a day, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Do this and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll be able to self-regulate your emotions.
As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote the Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Roberta Ann Moore.
Roberta Moore, founder of EQ-i Coach and author of Emotion at Work: Unleashing the Secret Power of Emotional Intelligence, utilizes her extensive background as an accomplished business executive and licensed therapist to help executives, business teams, and sales teams achieve workplace and personal success. As a therapist for nearly two decades and a member of the Forbes Council of Coaches, Moore’s experience has taught her that the key skills responsible for successful personal relationships are the same ones that spark workplace success. With this discovery, Moore has been able to help companies succeed by focusing on emotional and cognitive intelligence behaviors and tools. By using specific, practiced skills, individuals learn from Moore the EQ skills needed to inspire, engage, relate, and ultimately increase productivity and profitability. For more information, please visit https://www.eqicoach.com/.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thank you for asking me this question, what happened in my childhood greatly contributes to the work I do today. I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mother had a serious mental illness that went undiagnosed because she and my father refused to recognize it. She was a very critical, angry person, and I was often her primary target. The worst thing she would say to me was that she was sorry that she had me as her daughter, and then continue to extol the virtues of my two younger sisters to me. She often told me that I was dumb because I didn’t clean the house as well as she did. She liked to say that her mother never taught her how to do anything, and she figured out housekeeping on her own, so she was not going to teach me either. A great upset to me was also one of my greatest blessings: to compensate for my mother’s treatment of me, I became studious and took school very seriously. I succeeded in getting good grades, which led me to earn the four degrees that I now have. Learning and curiosity gave me meaning and purpose, which led to self-motivation. I notice that these early experiences help me relate better to my clients, because there is always some hardship, they face that I have endured and overcome myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Perhaps that would be my whole first career: becoming an accountant and a CPA. I am a people person, as you may have intuited by now. On the Myers Briggs, I am an ENFJ, which means I get a lot of my energy from interacting with people and listening to other ideas. Conversely, most successful accountants are introverts who enjoy working alone (with numbers whereas I prefer talking). Always persistent, I tried different ways at different firms to attempt to fit in, including performing the role of practice development. This was decades ago, before the time when public accounting changed and recognized they needed to employ salespeople dedicated solely to business development. In the old model, one had to be chargeable and billable to clients or else you were considered administrative. I was tasked with doing tax returns with a productivity goal while doing business development at the same time. I was too naïve to understand that serving two masters just wouldn’t work smoothly. When two different managing partners told me that I just didn’t have the personality of an accountant because I was too exuberant, I took the hint and left the accounting field. I learned that it is important to have emotional self-awareness, and a good understanding of your skillset and how to use it in order to fully embrace yourself in your career. Ironically, the firms today have totally dedicated salespeople and I would like to believe I was just ahead of my time!
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
- Schedule Time Off each quarter
- Have a regular practice of meditation or yoga
- Get regular exercise
- Write in a journal
- Keep Dream Journal and analyze your dreams
- Do something creative on a regular basis.
- Take up a hobby
- Give back to the community in some way.
- Spend time with friends and relatives.
- Become part of something bigger than yourself.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Listen to your employees and take action based on what they say. An emotionally intelligent leader will immediately help to create a culture where employees feel supported and acknowledged. Recognize that there are preconceived notions about work and the environment where work is accomplished that have been proven wrong by the disruption caused by COVID and take it further — maybe there are other biases that can be challenged and changed to improve the work culture. Good work environments foster more productivity which fosters more profit which is good for the company and its shareholders and, in turn, good for the economy as a whole.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
There is an old adage that really fits my life: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”. As a child, I was constantly seeking the approval of both my mother and father. Perhaps that’s another reason why I became so studious: I sought their acknowledgement and attention through accomplishment and achievement. My father was very accomplished as a successful CFO and CPA, in a well-known and privately held company. He used to take me to work with him when I was on school break as a youngster and his staff referred to me as “daddy’s little accountant” and that stuck with me. As he was the more nurturing parent, I especially wanted to be just like him, so I set my sights on becoming a CPA. You may remember that my mother was very critical of me and often told me I was dumb, so I had trouble believing that I could learn to do accounting and pass the CPA exam. In truth, math and numbers didn’t come as easily to me as music, language and verbal skills. When I got discouraged, my father used to tell me that there was only one way to learn accounting: “pushing the pencil”, which meant you just kept trying until you got it right. I am a very persistent person. I never give up, even when sometimes it would be in my best interests to do so!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?
There are easily many different initiatives that come to mind as examples of what companies are beginning to do. However, the five that stand out to me as being the most effective or important are; Initiating EAP programs, allowing for flexible work hours, offering 12 weeks for a 25% salary paid Sabbatical, purchasing an extra week of vacation, and mandating employer/ manager training and coaching. All of these steps give your employees a greater sense of value and say in the workplace. As a result, companies that have worked towards these initiatives have seen a greater increase in emotional and mental well-being, which has led to an overall more productive and focused work atmosphere. One thing that I have especially seen as effective has been when companies offer online coaching to their employees with personal assessments and a debrief with a professional coach. Programs like this where the employee is able to work with that coach for at least 6 months raise awareness to the employee themselves where they can improve in their lives, giving them the opportunity to increase their well-being in those areas and the mental space to fully apply themselves in the workplace.
These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?
Identify the financial impact of poor mental health in the workforce. One thing that you can almost always count on to drive change in the workplace is money. It’s been proven in recent studies that depression increases the cost of health insurance (annual cost of depression 10,000 dollars vs 4,584 dollars without). Along with an increased cost, depression causes an increased amount of absenteeism. People with depression miss 27 more days of work per year than people without. This also translates over to productivity and impacts individuals’ ability to work. Recruitment and rehiring costs are also added in to train people to cover staff out because of mental health issues.
Become a positive activist advocating for good mental health in the workforce. Another important factor in raising awareness is talking about the issues. There are many ways in which this can be done. You can make presentations, talk to managers, write an office memo, anything that takes the issues and puts them at the forefront of the conversation.
For all the devastation COVID-19 caused this year, one thing it’s aided with is raising awareness and changing corporate awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence and mental well-being to a productive work environment.
From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues? Can you explain?
By increasing our own emotional intelligence, we are better prepared and able to help those who need support. One model that I use to help in increasing emotional intelligence is the EQ model. There are five composites in the EQ model, and each has three subscales:
- The Self-Perception composite subscales are: Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, and Emotional Self-Awareness. One of my favorite exercises increases Self-Regard. Take a stack of index cards and write one of your strengths or skills one each card. An example would be “I am a skilled executive coach”. Then read them out loud in front of a mirror. Do this daily for 30 days and you will be amazed at the increase in your self-assurance.
- The Self-Expression composite subscales are: Emotional Expression, Assertiveness, and Independence. One of my favorite exercises to increase Self-Expression is for Assertiveness. You can use it when you have a meeting or conversation that you know will be intense or off-putting. Take time to bullet point your talking points and rehearse them in advance. It’s even better if you can role play this with your coach or a friend. You will be surprised at how calm you feel when the moment arrives.
- The Interpersonal Relationships composite subscales are: Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, Social Responsibility. One of my favorite exercises for Interpersonal Relationships is to take an inventory of all your relationships. Write them down and then analyze them to see if the give-and-take is mutual and reciprocal. If any are out of balance, strategize to see how you can bring them into better alignment and you will see how much your energy increases. You might discover that some may need to end or dramatically change.
- The Decision-Making composite subscales are: Problem Solving, Reality Testing, and Impulse Control. In order to increase your Impulse Control, practice your patience. Pick an area of your life where you know you have a problem with impulse control, and practice being patient. For example, if you have problems interrupting people when they are talking, pick someone to listen to and practice staying silent while you focus on what they are saying. Doing this will also increase your empathy skills at the same time.
- The Stress Management composite subscales are: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance, and Optimism. A wonderful exercise to increase your Stress Tolerance is to figure out how to add meditation or journal-writing into your schedule. Stress Tolerance is the ability to take things in stride without being emotionally thrown off course when a crisis hits or things get rough. We all need to fortify ourselves in advance by having a yoga practice or some type of exercise or calming ritual. An example could be practicing deep breathing five minutes a day, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Do this and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll be able to self-regulate your emotions.
Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?
Personally, I think about body, mind and spirit habits that restore balance. One of the most important things we can do for mental wellness is to rise early and spend time in quiet reflection and stillness before the rest of the world (or household) wakes up!
Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?
Yes! I believe early morning routines are very important because they set the tone for daily mental mindset, much like eating a healthy breakfast does for the diet. I rise early at 5:00, get my coffee and then read something spiritual for about 20 minutes. Then I switch to meditation. I heat an eye mask in the microwave and sit up straight in bed with a warm salon wrap on my lap. I use box breathing to get started, which means I inhale to a count of four, hold my breath for a count of four, exhale to a count of four, and pause for a count of four. I do about ten rounds like this and then I start a short tapping routine using the Emotional Freedom Technique. I then imagine my body is filling with divine light and love. I imagine being forgiven for any wrongdoings and I send my energy out around me like a beacon of light. I imagine being connected to the earth and all its peoples, and I pray for all of my clients, loved ones and humanity at large. This lasts for fifteen or twenty minutes. Then I get up and exercise. Sometimes it’s an hour’s walk with my husband if the weather is good, or else I do kundalini yoga or preset exercise routines using old CD’s from The Firm. It is essential every workday morning that I have two to three hours to myself, in order to fill up my mind, body, and spirit before I can begin my workday.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
My husband and I are book people, and we’ve had to downsize and clear out our library collection several times during our marriage to make room for house moves or new books. I bet we own at least 400 physical books, so it is awfully hard to name just one. Growing up I lived in a wooded country-area several miles from the nearest town. I often felt lonely for company and isolated, so I buried myself in books and the characters became my imaginary friends. Back then, reading the Bible, especially the psalms, helped keep me glued together with hope. All of the Nancy Drew books were also my favorites. As I grew up and started my career after graduate school, I started a routine that I’ve kept even now: listening to self-help books on tape (okay, now in the digital age it is often podcasts or online radio shows) that dispel negativity and fill me with inspiration that lasts the whole day. I have been especially influenced by: Carl Jung, James Hollis, Steven J. Stein, Christiane Northrup, and Marion Woodman.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
As I already hinted at, I value the role that empathy skills can play at helping people of different perspectives understand, accept, and respect each other. It would be my dream that every leader (corporate, political, church/faith, even parents) would learn about Emotional Intelligence and want to take an EQ assessment to determine their level of empathy. Then if they fell short, they’d want to get the coaching and do the skill-building to increase their skill to a high level. If every leader had high empathy (balanced with high assertiveness and self-regard), I could imagine a world where we were more collaborative, cooperative and less judgmental.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
My website, www.eqicoach.com, is a great place to keep up with my speaking events and new services, learn more about emotional intelligence in general, and sign up for my e-newsletter, where I share tips and resources on improving emotional intelligence and becoming more productive and successful. People can also follow EQ-i Coach on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, where I regularly contribute articles about the role of emotional intelligence in our personal and professional lives.
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!