Emotional Intelligence For Leaders With Joie Seldon

by | Sep 17, 2020 | Podcasts

SWGR 542 | Emotional Intelligence For Leaders


Humans are emotional beings. That is why it is never a good thing to always lead with practical knowledge. We also need to embody and embrace our emotional intelligence. Proving that in this episode, Elizabeth Bachman interviews none other than Joie Seldon. Joie is an actor and acting teacher, somatic psychologist, entrepreneur, and innovator in Emotional Intelligence. Here, she shares some of her expert knowledge with us to explain how we can use our emotional state as a creative tool for success in our careers. Joie also breaks down the number one myth around communication and then talks about helping women leaders use their emotions to grow their careers and visibility. Plus, Joie shares some tips on dealing with the trouble of tears, as well as how you are perceived.

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Emotional Intelligence For Leaders With Joie Seldon

How Your Emotions Can Positively Help Your Career

We’re talking to Joie Seldon, who is an emotional intelligence trainer. This is because leadership is what’s behind speaking. Speaking is a tool. Presenting in a meeting and webinar is a tool. It is the leadership behind that stepping up to say, “I am worth it. This is something that’s important to me.” That’s the reason why we go out and we do these speeches. Joie Seldon is an expert on dealing with our emotions, not suppressing them but using them. We talked about the number one myth about communication. We talked about how women leaders especially can use their emotions to grow their careers, visibility, and to show up as leaders including dealing with the trouble of tears. What happens if you’ve got tears coming to your eyes? We talk a lot about perception because it’s all about how you are perceived. This was a great conversation. I know you’re going to have a wonderful time.

Joie Seldon, welcome to the show. I’m going to start out by telling people a little bit about who you are. You and I have known each other for a while and we do in the same arena, but you are in emotional intelligence. We both came from the theater. That is a theme that I see with many speakers who started out with the art of great communication in a theater. Official bio is that Joie Seldon dreamed of becoming a movie star. Her struggle for that dream and ultimately falling short of it led to decades of exploration and study of human behavior and emotions.

I’m going to ask you about that a little bit later because the statistics are, at least for the opera singers that I worked with, fewer than 5% who study to be an opera singer or be a movie star get there. The question is what do you do next? Throw that in if I forget to ask you. Here’s what Joie did next. Drawing from her unique background as an actor and acting teacher as well as a somatic psychologist, entrepreneur, and innovator in emotional intelligence, Joie teaches students and clients how to use their emotional state as a creative tool for success.

She’s the author of Emotions: An Owner’s Manual and her online course, Emotions At Work teaches business professionals how to navigate difficult relationships and the complexities of being human at work. She’s a leadership and presentation skills coach. She’s worked with clients at AT&T, Blue Shield, Wells Fargo, the Project Management Institute, Dolby, and more. She’s a dynamic speaker, I can attest to that, who has presented to worldwide audiences, both in-person and online. Joie Seldon, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me.

I start out always by asking people if you were on stage with interviewing somebody who’s no longer with us on Earth or on this plane, shall we say, who would you like to interview? What would you ask and who should be listening?

I would have to interview Katharine Hepburn. Growing up, she was my idol. She showed me what a woman could be like that was very different than the women around me especially my mother. She gave me inspiration. I would want to ask her because her outward persona was strong and confident, yet she played a very wide range of roles from heavy drama to light comedy. She had this ability to be both strong, feminine, and sensual. I would ask her about her internal life. What went on inside of her as she went through this journey. It would be women but it would be great for men to be in the audience because they could hear something about what goes on in the interior of women. We have so much going on inside of us that doesn’t get seen, heard, or expressed that dictates a lot of how we move through life and that’s what I’d be interested in.

She was one of my favorites too. She went to Bryn Mawr, my mother went to Bryn Mawr, and I feel that connection. She reminded me a lot of my mother. What I was always interested in was how she handled the intense scrutiny of having a public life essentially a private person that she came from money, she came from an upper-class background which is a strike against you in public life unless you’re a prince or princess. People are ready to condemn you for that.

It’s a very mixed bag. We envy people who start out with a leg up, so to speak, they have wealth or they have that support. One of the things she also had was an incredibly wonderful supportive mother. She talked a lot. I read biographies about her. She gave a lot of credit to her parents and particularly her mother who was very advanced for her times in fighting for women’s equality. She had that part of a background that was the opposite of what I had.

Perception is a big theme in this show. It would be a big theme in what I work with presenters whether you’re presenting within a company on a speech or you’re presenting to promote, how you are perceived is important. Coming from money didn’t help her get jobs as an actress. She started out as another ingenue so that didn’t help. Later, I could see how it would be difficult for her and her family to have somebody public who was also carrying on a years-long adulterous affair with Humphrey Bogart.

Her complex life that we only know a little bit about because she was a private person but there were a number of relationships in her life. This is interesting because it all comes to your emotions. As a performer but also as a presenter, your emotions are part of your toolbox. Perception is such an interesting thing how you were perceived in the workplace affects whether people listen to what you say, it also affects how you advance in your career and it affects whether people pay attention to you.

When you hold your own value, other people will start to treat you better. Share on X

What I might add to that is our perception of ourselves is equally important as the perception others have about us. That’s a lot of the work that I’ve done particularly with women leaders is how they perceive themselves. The imposter syndrome is much more widespread than we would imagine. I’ve met amazing women who’ve accomplished so much and yet inside they still have what I call the yada-yada. The self-doubt of self-criticism or holding themselves to very high standards that are difficult to meet.

Men have imposter syndrome too. Sometimes it shows up in different ways. That’s not male or female, that’s a human thing. I do think that women stop themselves from stepping out as a leader because they’re worried that they have to get it all perfectly. You said to me something in one of our conversations leading up to this about how do you deal with the feeling when you think you need to know everything or you think you need to show that everything and you don’t. This was not on our list but this is where the conversation is going.

I was thinking about one of my clients who had accomplished a lot. She was a VP in a Fortune 500 company and she had a family crisis. It took the rug out from under her feet for a while. When she got in and got back into the groove, back into the workplace and she was leading a big team, she had a lot of self-doubts. She had got into a certain level of success but she wasn’t believing in herself in the same way she used to and she was always second-guessing what her boss was thinking of her and who was unpopular with his direct reports. They were always coming to her for advice. She was like, “Am I doing the right thing?” When we began to work with her on being present with what she named anxiety or tension that we have which is this general sense of anxiety but I helped her.

This was part of the work I do around emotions is to get very specific about what emotions are part of that anxiety. We have this, “I have to be perfect. I have to do everything.” There’s a tension that goes along with it because first of all, it’s impossible to achieve but there’s this tension that we tend to call anxiety. Anxiety is one of the number one diagnosed problems and medications that are given in the country. She began to break down and understand my anxiety is there’s fear and where’s the fear coming from. There was some anger, sadness and grief about family losses and things. Where there was this mix of emotions, the clearer she got about the different emotions that were part of this thing called anxiety.

She started to recognize it. In her mind, how she was projecting this I have to be perfect in order to be accepted. That began dismantling and she began communicating, asking questions, expressing her opinion because she saw a lot of things going on in her department that needed work, and talking to her colleague who was disliked. I’m telling him, “Your management style is not working very well for you.” Over time it took time but eventually, the colleague changed his management style and the company moved her boss out of that position and promoted her into her boss’ role.

That’s a great boss of her addressing these issues internally created a tremendous success externally.

This is the thing I talk about when you’re speaking is to answer the push back questions which is for women, often you do have to be better and there’s resentment around that, that’s an emotion. Especially if you’re the only woman in your position, department, or area, men screw up and then get over it. Women partly internally but also externally but if a woman screws up then they say women can’t do this. They’re held to a higher standard.

That’s when you are more present and this is one of the things in speaking is when you do your best when you’re fully present when your mind isn’t second-guessing or you’re thinking about how are people are perceiving you or how well am I doing? When you’re present and you’re clear about what your message is, it’s similar because what is your intention? What is your message? What are you trying to get across? When you hold that, there’s confidence. I do believe that there is a general thing of having to prove yourself but women prove themselves over and over again and then they don’t own the value of themselves. They still have this underlying tension that’s trying to impress or whatever it is for that particular person.

I created and ran an opera company but I did it, it’s done because I can.

You carry that forward and it’s important to look at the big picture of who you are, not just these skills at work because I know for sure women, generally speaking, have a much broader scale of abilities, capabilities, talents. Everybody has talents but women are capable of doing many things because they have to deal with it at home, work, or family issues. There’s this broad sense of accomplishment and things that all the women I know have had to deal with privately. There was something that came up in one of the comments about don’t bring your personal life to work. I say you cannot help but bring your personal life to work. Bring it in a conscious, positive way, not in a way that’s distracting, but in a way that you recognize the things that you are dealing with and are capable of dealing with and bring that as part of your toolbox of abilities and capabilities that you can bring to the workplace and use that as a way of holding your own value. When you hold your own value, other people will start to treat you better.

Joie, tell me again about perception and communication. We posted some questions on social media and we got some interesting answers. We asked what was the biggest myth about communication. Here are some of the answers we got. One was not so much a myth but a monologue. If you do a monologue and not listen, it doesn’t help. That’s something I deal with a lot and I’ve talked about in other episodes also using jargon will make you sound smarter. I’ve got a new episode coming out about this.

SWGR 542 | Emotional Intelligence For Leaders

Emotional Intelligence For Leaders Anger is not really about aggression or violence. Its core message is saying that there’s something not okay about the situation.


People will also say that you have to be an extrovert to be an effective communicator. I do want to assure anybody who’s an introvert, I’m an introvert, I’m a situational extrovert. I’ve learned how to be extroverted but the one that came up over and over again is thinking you’re being understood when you’re not. I don’t know if that’s a myth about communication or if that’s a trap that people fall into, but I would love to have you comment on that because we had a whole bunch of people suggests that that was a myth.

That was a great answer. You’re right. It may not be a myth but it is the common problem. Talking and words is communication. When you’ve said them then you’ve communicated but communication is a two-way street. I’m sure you and our audience know it’s a two-way street so people say it was about listening. It’s about listening but we circle back to perception. It’s noticing who you’re talking to and how it’s landing with them being emotionally present. You’re not only aware of your own emotions because if you’re angry about something, you’re upset about something, and you’re trying to communicate, and you have the energy of that, you can have the energy but how it comes across the other person. It’s going to dictate whether or not they receive your words in your communication because she’s angry, my defenses are going to come up to protect myself.

The fear, the fight or flight, all that stuff come as happening on a level. When you can be present with a person, if you’re angry, you can be angry but still be calm because anger is not about aggression or violence which is where it’s misused. Its core message is saying, “I don’t like this and want this. There’s something not okay about this.” If you hold that clarity about what the anger is about and then calm your body without suppressing the anger then you can stay present with the person and notice how it’s landing. If you see somebody go like that or whatever the reaction is, you say, “Something happened then and here is how you’re proceeding this or how you’re receiving this.”

You slow down, pay attention, and then address from moment-to-moment what’s happening in that conversation in the communication. If you’re in a room to have a team meeting, you’re leading the meeting, and you’re communicating something important, you need to pay attention. Are people on their cell phones? Are they looking down? Are they tweeting or texting under the desk? Make sure that you have people’s attention and you not call them out but you say, “So-and-so, I noticed, is this clear? You might want to let me know how you perceive this.” You take the time as a leader particularly to stay present with your own feelings but to notice everybody else, then that’s how you can tell whether it’s communicated or not.

That’s the biggest problem with communication. What’s the biggest myth?

It is about words and logic that communication is about as opposed to intention, what you want, the emotional undertone, or the emotions that are behind that communication and the emotions in the person that you’re communicating to.

That falls into one of the things I’m saying to speakers a lot. Only 7% of what people perceive about you and what people take in, if you will, comes from your words and the other 93% is how you deliver them, how you look, how you act. It’s the emotional cues.

They can connect to you emotionally. The audience needs to feel something as well as hear the words of it. I certainly brought my acting background into my speaking but I didn’t speak in circles. There’s a thing called relational presence. It’s about recognizing the connection that you have with everybody in the audience so that you need to be paying attention and looking at your audience. You can feel the energy, that’s the other thing about it if it’s like, “Something’s a little dull here.” You’re noticing people aren’t paying attention, address that when you’re speaking. Either shift something you’re doing or saying, “I’m noticing it feels a little dull. I’ve done that. It feels like the energy went low. Let’s see what we can do.” To be honest in a way. There are different situations that you would handle differently but that’s an important part. That’s where being connected to your body and your own.

The biggest myth is words and logic. It’s who you are in the room. I remember a colleague of mine who spent years in the startup world and she was pro bono advising a young startup because she was interested and she said, “I’m going down to a pitch session.” There’s a whole bunch of twelve different startups who are pitching to a funder.

We’ll get it because everybody else is young. They don’t know how to be and who they are in the room. I’ve been in here so many times. It’s because of who I am in the room that we’re going to get the funding because nobody else believes that. I thought who you are in the room? That’s a good way to put that.

I’ve got two big questions. We talked about what role emotions play when it comes to women leaders. For that matter, what the heck our emotions? We think we know but it’s not what I think. What is it, Joie?

The biggest myth about communication is that it is about words and logic as opposed to intention. Share on X

Emotions are a physical or biological information system. Their purpose is to prompt you to action that is ultimately beneficial for your survival and your wellbeing. Emotions communicate through the body. You feel very physically different when you’re feeling angry than when you’re feeling sad. It’s because they are directing you to different types of action and the action is either to move you away from harm, death, pain, or towards pleasure, creativity, and fulfillment. That’s the action.

What about the emotions that are hooked up with imposter syndrome who are clearly trying to keep you safe and make you hide?

It’s a dysfunctional way of the emotions because of the way we’re interpreting them. This is part of our belief system. All emotions are subjective. We come into the world, pure innocent beings then you move into all the conditioning. It’s not that your people are bad or terrible but the human condition is complex. You get in messages through family, society, now, or media that colors your interpretation of what it is that you’re feeling. When you’re around kids, they can be crying one minute and laughing the next. It’s quick and emotions are supposed to come and go. It brings you the information, you feel it, you get it.

Once you understand that and take the action whether it’s an external action or an internal action, which is a recognition of your own belief or something that goes on inside of you then the emotion goes away. Sadness is the one that has its own timing and can linger because the loss of someone or something that has great value to you take time to process through. They are meant to bring you in and they have a signature piece of information. Each primary emotion is telling you a very specific type of action and meaning. The more we can stay present with our emotions and understand of sadness is about loss. Fear of my life is not in direct threat of death or dying then fears messages stop. Pay attention. There might be a threat but there might not. We interpret things too quickly and that’s part of the whole process of emotional intelligence.

As a leader and as a woman, what role do the emotions play?

They play a huge role. First of all, we’ve been taught that our emotions are our weakness. It’s getting better now, but we think that this emotionality, especially in business and in the workplace is a weakness. The problem with that is it cuts us off from a tremendous resource. Our emotions are bringing us information. They are a part of our personal power. When women can learn to accept that sensitivity, I do work with a lot of women who are sensitive. They’ve been told their sensitivity is you’re too sensitive. We think there’s something wrong with us because we’re sensitive. The truth is we’re perceptive.

We’re cruel to this resource of our emotions. It’s a power. When we can stay present with it and then make conscious choices. Emotions are not supposed to make our decisions for us, we’re supposed to get the information. I had a lot of stories about women being cruel to people in the workplace. It’s making me angry but if I yell at them, it’s not going to work. That’s not going to be okay. I have a choice. I can either stuff it, I can express it inappropriately, or I can take the message, process it, think what am I going to do with this information, and then make a conscious choice about what I’m going to do. It can be a huge power and it can also help women connect with employees, direct reports, colleagues, customers and audiences.

I’m not going to ask you all the aspects of what you do. If anybody is interested to contact Joie Seldon, she can take you through this whole process. Let me ask you about the big one. What if something hurts you and your eyes start leaking tears? What do you do about tears?

The thing is you acknowledge them and don’t apologize for them. That’s something we’ve all heard it, women apologizing. Don’t apologize for it, just say, “I noticed I’m crying. I have tears. This is affecting me.” It’s hard but if you can slow down at the moment, take a breath. I heard a story of one woman said, “Excuse me, I’m going to the restroom for a little bit then I’ll be back.” She went to the restroom, had a good cry, let it out, came back, and dealt with what it is that she needed to deal with. It’s not that you have to stand there bawling in front of people but they come for a reason. If we count that, dismiss it, and think there’s something wrong with us then we’re losing the value of that message that it’s bringing. It’s powerful to be emotionally present with someone and let them in.

Do you lose all credibility when someone says something and you say, “That hurt. I have to think about that one?”

I don’t think so.

SWGR 542 | Emotional Intelligence For Leaders

Emotional Intelligence For Leaders: Emotions are a physical or biological information system. Their purpose is to prompt you to action that is ultimately beneficial for your survival and your wellbeing.


At least nowadays you don’t. Thank God.

Sometimes saying that hurt might be a little abrupt for someone but you can say, I have a feeling about that came up in me when you said that. Do you mind if I share that?” People will inevitably say, “Sure.” When you said that, I felt hurt. The more specific you can be, I felt discounted and disrespected. It’s using that I language. It’s not you made me feel disrespected. It’s like, “When you said that, I felt disrespected. Did you mean to disrespect me? Can you help me understand why you said what you said? It doesn’t feel good.”

Often, there’s fear in there too. The tears might be that hurt and now I’m afraid.

I always say if I’m only going to teach about one emotion, it’s going to be about fear because fear colors many other things. Colors are fear of feeling other emotions because tears come. Sometimes they’re about sadness, stress, or emotion wells up. There’s a lot of emotion going on all at the same time. It’s a natural mechanism to release that so that you can be present.

Let’s expand on this a little bit more. How can women use their emotions as a positive tool for career success?

To listen to them, to value them, pay attention, honor them. They are bringing you important information. You do need to look at this emotion defensiveness on my part. It’s both looking externally and internally for why I’m feeling that because sometimes it’s my own defensiveness coming up and I feel threatened because there’s a sense of powerlessness at that moment. I realize I’m feeling powerless. Am I powerless? I’m not. It’s slowing down, taking a moment, and sometimes it takes time. You have to say, “Can I get back to you? There’s a lot going on. I need to process through this.” Own it because ultimately, it is a huge power. It’s a way that’s going to help you like women, to connect, and it’s one thing we all need in our lives. It is vital for our human tribal. The more you can create a connection and then you can have empathy with the other person.

That was a little harsh what you said and I’m curious what’s going on with you.

It helps you to be present in a way that’s powerful and owning your value.

One of the things that you can do if somebody says you’re talking much in that meeting is to find out how exactly. Get somebody to define it and say, “Is that because I’m a woman or was I talking too much? Didn’t sound like I didn’t know what I was doing? I do know what I’m talking about.” What makes you say that? Do you help people with that thing?

How do you communicate? We all need feedback. Women do tend to, and I’ve done it with my husband. I have to say, he helped me with this to get into too much detail. In a setting if you’re leading the team meeting, you’re contributing, you want to be as succinct as possible. Sometimes women do go on and on and in a chatty conversation with your girlfriend, it’s fun. It’s great. Leading a team meeting or contributing to anyone at work, conciseness is an asset. Part of this is being willing to get feedback and not get defensive about it. It’s learning about yourself, what’s your style. You can always go to someone. Find someone that you trust at work and say, “I’m working on improving my leadership skills, my communication. I’d love a little feedback. Do you mind giving me a couple of things that you noticed that I can improve upon?”

If you asked for that kind of help before you go into the meeting, you are less likely to go off on a tangent. Going off on a tangent is something that women and creatives do. Plenty of men get creative or excited. They get excited about something and then they’ll go off to tell you way more about the details that you want.

Connection is vital for our human survival. Share on X

This is not a woman’s thing alone to talk too much.

Talking too much but going off on tangents. Make a plan before you go into that media for how you’re going to be concise.

You want to be prepared. You want to know so well that if something surprising happens or you have an interaction with somebody in the audience, I do advocate interactive presentations where you’re having a dialogue. Even if you’re doing most of the talking, you’re having a dialogue.

Joie Seldon, this has been amazing. I’m going to ask you about one thing. Do leave us with one thing. Before we do that, tell us how we can find out more and how can we find out more about your online course.

The online course, you can go to www.EmotionsAtWork.online and you can see a layout of the different modules. There are four live Zoom calls. It’s a self-guided eight-week course but you can participate in live Zoom calls, which have been fun. Ask questions. It’s a fantastic platform. EmotionsAtWork.online or go to my website JoieSeldon.com. You can get the first chapter of my book for free by going to my website and get a little video that comes from the online course as well.

Joie Seldon, thank you for being with me. Do you have one thought to leave us with?

Emotions happen in the body and the quickest way to calm your nerves and anxiety if you’re speaking or whenever is to come into your body, feel your feet on the ground, feel the lower part of your body. There are various techniques that you can use, breathe, come into your body, and start to develop a sense of trust. It’s a wonderful way to calm your nerves and turn towards your emotions. Don’t try to suppress them.

Thank you.


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About Joie Seldon

Forty years ago Joie Seldon dreamed of becoming a movie star. Her struggle for that dream, and ultimately falling short of it, led to decades of the exploration and study of human behavior and emotions. Drawing from her unique background as an actor and acting teacher, somatic psychologist, entrepreneur, and innovator in Emotional Intelligence, Joie teaches students and clients how to use their emotional state as a creative tool for success. She is the author of Emotions An owner’s Manual and her online course, Emotions At Work, teaches business professionals how to navigate difficult relationships and the complexities of being human at work. A leadership and presentation skills coach, she has worked with clients at AT&T, Blue Shield, Wells Fargo, Project Management Institute, Dolby and more. Joie is a dynamic speaker who has presented to worldwide audiences in person and online.