The Strong MD | Episode 6

Leading with Heart: Unpacking Emotional Intelligence with Nikki Weber

Nikki Weber is a Leadership Development Coach on a mission to facilitate personal growth for everyone, regardless of their experience level. Her background in government and emergency preparedness has helped her understand and teach the commitment and value of planning, identifying healthy habits for accountability so her clients can better manage unplanned issues in the future. Nikki has worked with all levels of leadership, allowing her to see the challenges that leaders face daily with their teams. She enjoys time with her family, trips to Cape Cod, and college football.

Published on
January 08, 2024

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Nikki is a leadership development coach with extensive experience in government

Dr. Jaime Seeman: As a leadership development coach, Nikki’s mission is to influence a zest for personal growth with her clients. No matter what the experience level of the client. Identifying healthy habits and creating cultures of accountability for teams are her passions. With an extensive career in government, specifically emerge preparedness. Nikki understands the commitment and value of planning, building habits that serve you well now. So when you experience unplanned issues, they are built in. Her work with all levels of leadership and organizations allows her to see the challenges that leaders face daily with their teams. Her ability to connect and challenge mindsets allows her clients to achieve their goals. She enjoys time with her husband, twin boys and daughter, vacationing on Cape Cod and watching college football.

Nikki Weber is a leadership development coach and emergency management expert

Nikki Weber, welcome to the strong MD podcast.

Nikki Weber: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Can you give our listeners a little bit about your background and who you are?

Nikki Weber: Yes. So, Nikki, uh, Weber, and I’m a leadership development coach. Ah, and facilitator. My background is primarily in the government sector. Um, I was the head of emergency preparedness, um, division for the Nebraska emergency management for many years. Uh, and it was mainly state disasters, uh, and it was homeland security issues, um, and also emergency management in general. Uh, so that’s what I did. It was high stress, um, and making decisions on the fly and hoping they were for the best.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: So I feel like my life as an obstetrician is a constant emergency management situation. I could see that. So I know our listeners are going to get a lot out of this conversation.

We talk a lot about intent, uh, and messaging for their team

Um, so tell people what you do now, uh, in your day to day life.

Nikki Weber: Yeah. So I work with, uh, leaders all across many industries. Ah, c suite managers, directors, vps, doesn’t matter. Um, they can be first time supervisors. Uh, they may or may not have had good mentorship, maybe in their early part of their career. Uh, and maybe they did. And they would like someone who is a third party to be able to process through some tough issues or challenges they’re facing at work. And that’s where we come into play. Um, I get to be that third party that hears them and then gets to point out some maybe themes I’m hearing or phrases that I hear that I know people at work are hearing. Uh, and I get to be that mirror for them. This is what I heard. This is what it sounded like. Is that what you meant? Uh, and so we talk a lot about intent, uh, and their messaging for their team.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. I know in medicine we all would like to assume we’re really good leaders, but we’re really good doctors is what most of us are. And we own our own practices and we own our own businesses and we manage people. And I think this is such an important conversation about not only how it affects the people that we work with, but even the patient physician relationship, too, kind of guiding some of those tough conversations that we have to have.

Emotional intelligence is the connection between our head and our heart

Um, so tell us, if you were teaching my eight year old daughter what emotional intelligence is, tell us basic sense. What is emotional intelligence?

Nikki Weber: Yes, there’s definitely scientific and academia definitions. Uh, the one I like to use is emotional intelligence is the connection between our head and our heart. And a lot of times that backfires and it misfires and things don’t happen, but it’s intent, so it’s what we feel doesn’t always come out of our mouth. Uh, and so that’s why we say, well, that’s not what I meant. Emotional intelligence is, how do you use what you’re feeling? How do you word it appropriately? How do you voice it appropriately? So you take the other’s feelings into account.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Interesting.

What defines a leader who is emotionally intelligent as opposed to one who’s not

Okay, so when we talk about leadership, then what defines a leader who is emotionally intelligent as opposed to one who’s not?

Nikki Weber: So, uh, I think the easiest way I can describe that is we probably all have known a leader in our past that we could probably pinpoint is not. And a lot of times, that is one that is highly charged. Um, doesn’t mean that the decisions they’re not making on the spot aren’t wonderful, but, uh, sometimes it can be shrouded in the tone they’re using, um, or not seeking to understand. A lot of times that happens. Um, the other way I can describe that, too, is they’re making a decision without some key people in the room. Sometimes a command decision is needed, and you don’t have as much time and you don’t necessarily need the buy in. Um, that shouldn’t be the majority of the decisions we make as a leader. So it’s about buy in, listening to your team.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I think about that mean boss prototype. And, uh, is some of it, though, just personality? I mean, how do we develop emotional intelligence over our lifetime?

Nikki Weber: Yeah. One thing I coach a lot on is being humble enough and being relaxed enough in who you are to get feedback. Um, I coach a lot of executives that say at the beginning of the relationship, the, uh, coaching relationship, that they. Oh, yes, I get feedback all the time, Nikki. I get feedback all the time. I’m super comfortable with that. And then as soon as I initiate that 360, uh, there’s some hesitation there. What if they won’t be honest? What if they won’t be honest. Then you’re back to where you are because you didn’t know. Uh, if you want them to be honest, then have a conversation with them. Ask them. I value you. This is why I’m sending this to you. I want you to tell me if I have ketchup on my lapel.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right.

Nikki Weber: That’s an example I use a lot. Are you the type that lets people go around and you wouldn’t tell them? If you care about them, you’ll tell them. And so we talk a lot about that. We also talk, um, in growing the emotional intelligence. It’s recognizing when you have high levels of cortisol in your system, it does not do wonderful things to the human body. As you know, your body is supposed to dump it. It can’t stay in there, and it.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Becomes toxic under stress. We become different people. Yeah. Interesting. So part of the work that you do is soliciting feedback from these other key players in this person’s relationship, in their work. Is that what you’re kind of alluding to?

Nikki Weber: And home? Yeah, that’s the other part of it. I encourage them to go home and ask the people that they are with outside of work, best friends, spouses, you name it, uh, how they see them, because that’s also. I hear this a lot, Nikki. That’s not who I am at home, or I’m a different person at home. M that’s not true. We’re the same people. We just have different triggers. Uh, so those people at home can be brutal with us sometimes.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that saying who you are some of the time is who you are all the time. And it really is true. It spills over into every area of your life. Uh, so why is emotional intelligence so crucial? If I’m a doctor, why should I even care about emotional? I’m a really good doctor. I know how to do surgery and deliver babies. Why should I care what it is?

Nikki Weber: I think, um, Dr. Seaman, you touched on at the beginning. When you’re going in, you’re having conversations, uh, many times. You know what you’re doing, you know, the right feedback, um, maybe to give the patient, um, one thing to keep in mind for not even just medical professions, but it could be you also have a home life that can impact our work life just like anyone else in any other industry. The morning routine didn’t go quite as you wanted. Uh, maybe at work. Um, the lab is late at getting results to you, or, um, the nurse didn’t do something quite like you were expecting or routine for them. It’s, how do we address those situations without the stress of what happened before in the morning? It has a lasting effect. So it’s, how do we check that? So we go into the break room, we grab our coffee. We’re frustrated, we spill the coffee. And then I spilled my coffee this morning. Of course it’s going to mess up my whole day. It doesn’t have to. So that’s what we talk a lot about, too, is giving yourself time to check. And it doesn’t mean check our emotions at the door. I’ll deal with that later. It’s maybe take a lap, maybe just walk it through.

How do we give better feedback to our leaders? We have specific questions

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. I was just about to ask you, what is a real world technique if I, um, couldn’t find my car keys or the car broke down, my kid did something right. When I was walking out the door and I’m walking into the office, what’s like a real world technique that I can use? Um, I know I’m walking in like this, and I want to fix it.

Nikki Weber: The one that I think I share with most is asking yourself before you open the door to wherever you’re going, or opening the car door to get out is how do I want others to see me in wherever I’m going? How do I want them to see me in that relationship? How do I want to end that meeting that I’m going to walk into? Um, one classic case I use a lot is, um, you walk into a boardroom, uh, you’re going to be a key member of the. Maybe you’re presenting or something, and you just had an awful morning, according to you. You had an awful morning, and you walk in and you go, uh, okay, I’ve got to be on my game for this. Maybe it’s taking just a lap around, or maybe it’s going to an office and just shutting the door and just kind of walking through. All right, that did happen. However, I’ve prepped for this. I know what I’m doing. I know my stuff. How do I want them to view me? If you want to be seen as calm, cool, collected, um, you got your act together. You got to tell yourself that. So we do a lot of self talk as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Interesting. Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Not just hoping and praying they won’t see it right, because they’ll see it right.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Just put your best face on, that’s for sure. Um, so when it comes to emotional intelligence, how do I know if I have low or high emotional intelligence? Is there, like, a quiz I take, or I just hire you? How does that.

Nikki Weber: There are a number of those, yes, you absolutely google. I think that’s interesting. Uh, that actually goes back to the feedback. We have specific questions, uh, through coaching, that will, uh, ask people to receive from their peers or loved ones, whoever they want to have, take it for them, or, um, receive the feedback. But, um, a lot of times, it is, how do you handle crucial conversations? There are executives that avoid crucial conversations. They maybe have asked someone else to have that conversation. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable doing that. A lot of times, you don’t know unless you get feedback. A lot of us walk around thinking. We keep our emotions in check, and we show empathy to others. And someone else might say, actually, I just shared with you a key part of what happened in my life the other day, and you acted as if, we have a job to do here. I need you to check it. And I’m telling you, it was devastating to me. I am going to do my job here, but I’m just telling you things might look a little different for me at times. It’s the empathy part, I think.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Sometimes when we get asked, uh, to give feedback, I think there’s always this feeling of hurting someone’s feelings when you’re being honest about it. So how could somebody give emotionally intelligent feedback, maybe to their superior? I mean, maybe somebody is listening that, in the hierarchy, isn’t the leader, maybe soon to be. But how can we give that? I mean, in medicine, uh, people like to use the word malignant, probably because it is a medical word that is like cancer. But some people will describe certain training programs as malignant, where basically there’s low emotional, intelligent leaders. And sometimes when you have that, how do we give better feedback to our leaders?

Nikki Weber: We have something we call, um. The conversation cube is essentially what it is. Um, it’s four parts. Sounds more in depth than it is, but you start with the observations. One thing I usually say is when you start with feedback, you’re best not to start with the feeling part.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay.

Nikki Weber: More facts. Yes. The feelings, uh, tend to make the others defensive. Well, that’s not what I meant. You’re telling me you’re frustrated. Oh, I didn’t mean to make you frustrated. I haven’t even got to what happened yet. Um, and so we say, start with the observations, and those are the indisputable facts. Third party in the room would validate. That is indeed what happened. That is indeed what you said. That is indeed nonverbally what you did. Um, so it’s just stating, hey, on a couple of occasions, I noticed you did, blah, blah, blah, or I noticed you mentioned blah, blah, blah. Then you go into the assumptions. That’s the second part. And based on what I saw, this is what I’m assuming now, assumptions aren’t always correct, so I can only assume that’s what you meant because it was the tone of voice, it was the nonverbals, it was cased in. And then you go into the feeling. So based on what I saw, this is what I assumed. I’m feeling like maybe blah, blah, blah. And then you end with the need.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: As my leader, I would really appreciate going forward if that isn’t what you meant in this case. Can we talk about how that might come across next time or next time this comes up, how else that might be communicated? A lot of times it’s giving a direct order and it’s not always delivered. No pun intended. The right way.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Just that open, honest communication, which is so hard to do, scared to do it.

Nikki Weber: And I understand. I don’t want you to fire me. I don’t want you to write me up, and I don’t want to be labeled the one that doesn’t work well with others because they give you feedback. Um, and so a lot of times it starts with just the facts.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I see that in medicine a lot. I’d like have these flashbacks to med school. I mean, you’re like the little med student. You’ve got the short white coat, pretty low on the totem pole. Um, and the people you encounter in your training, some are just absolutely and utterly fantastic.

If you have strong emotional intelligence, how does that make you a good leader

And you feel like you can mess up in front of them freely. And there’s others where the stress is like, debilitating, trying to perform for these types of people. So, um, if you have strong emotional intelligence, how does that make you a good leader? You’ve refined all of these skills. How does that make you better? Usually, uh.

Nikki Weber: Uh, an individual that has high emotional intelligence will not react right away. It’s a calm demeanor. A lot of times it is. What do you think they’re coming to you? Probably because they know you know the answer or you have the authority in the room, you should know the answer. Maybe. That doesn’t always necessarily mean you give it right away. Sometimes it’s tell me more. Tell me more. That’s a phrase commonly used by folks with high levels of emotional intelligence.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Tell me more.

Nikki Weber: It’s asking them. They’re also wanting to be the expert someday. So it’s a lot of that coaching, mentoring mindset, too. Uh, that was also something I was going to mention about this is those are typically your mentors or those are people that people want to learn from. They’re not always coming at you with the answer. They’re wanting to help you get to the answer.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, absolutely. It’s like lead a horse to water. Uh, those analogies are so true.

Debriefing is a great way to learn in an operating room

Okay, so thinking about, in medicine, sometimes we have to make quick, decisive decisions required in actions. Yeah. Especially, I’m thinking in the middle of an operating room and patients bleeding out, essentially. Um, how can we, ah, act in these situations? Um, is it good to unpack these situations as we go and kind of learn? What do you do with people when you work one on one with them? How do I know if I’m actually an effective leader in an operating room when a patient’s critically ill and dying? Is it kind of the team breakdown of getting that feedback from the nurses and the anesthesiologists? How do we learn from our own behavior in reality? Yeah, exactly right.

Nikki Weber: Easy to put in a textbook, for sure. I think probably the most common is debrief. Um, I know that’s done a lot in the military. After something is happening, they’ll do a debrief. Um, that’s also done in other industries also. But if there is time to do a quick, even five minute, what went good, what can we do better next time? And it could even be about, and if you have the authority in the room, doctor, maybe it’s, hey, next time we do this, each of you give me one thing you’d like to see me do a little differently. And if that’s part of the routine, then they become accustomed to it and it’s not awkward for them. Then they know Dr. Seaman’s going to ask me each time, is there one or two things? Um, or maybe you do once a week.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I like that. And I like how you said differently and not better like that there’s some particular way that’s best when maybe there’s just different ways that you haven’t thought about. I love that. I love that.

Do you hire a coach to help you improve your emotional intelligence

Um, okay, we’re under a lot of stress as doctors and in medicine. Um, how do we navigate this throughout our career? Um. Uh, I want to do something. End of the podcast. We’re going to talk about emotional intelligence, interview questions. I want to bring that up. But, um, let’s say you’re just a med student and, um, you want to learn how to navigate this. Do you hire a coach? How does somebody actually put this to work for them?

Nikki Weber: They certainly can. Uh, there’s many different types of coaches out there. M I am a leadership development coach. There’s also other types of coaches out there. Um, and it really depends on what you’re looking for. Some people are looking for a coach, and they just think that’s a good idea, but they don’t necessarily know what they want to work on. So if they are wanting to work on emotional intelligence, maybe they’ve received some feedback in the past that leads them to believe maybe I don’t handle stress so well, or maybe I don’t make decisions. Sound good decisions on the fly. What can I do? Reaching out to a coach? They absolutely can. Um, organizations like I am with sure can. Um, but a third party that they don’t work with is incredibly helpful. Um, when you have that in house, it can be groupthink or. Doctor, I know you never mean it this way, but this is how we do, and we’re real quick to excuse behavior because I work with you a lot, so I know that’s not what you mean. So it’s a new person that comes into work with you, maybe, or a new nurse may not be used to your style or something. Um, and so it’s getting used to that, and it’s asking for the regular feedback. But a third party coach, I don’t have any stake in the game with you at work. Uh, I only want you to be more effective at your job and with the people you operate with.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: And coaches need coaches.

Nikki Weber: Uh, we coach each other as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: And that is, we have our own blind spots. We have our own blind spots. So you’ve talked a lot about soliciting feedback as one of the best ways to kind of figure out where you lie in this spectrum of emotional intelligence. Where are other places that we can find our weaknesses or pitfalls that maybe aren’t just direct solicited feedback? Are there any.

Nikki Weber: So, another way, uh, we talk is what we call mirror neurons. And that is something, I don’t know that that could happen right away with most people, but most of the time, even as we’re talking, if I’m smiling, you’re apt to smile more. If I’m looking distraught or upset or something in a meeting, other people are going to match that.

Self aware people will say they’re self aware, but they have no idea

One of the first things we talk about with clients is, what kind of nonverbals do you get from others when you’re talking? Do people tend to listen intently and then make their way away from you? Uh, but it’s being observant. Self aware people will say they’re self aware, but they have no idea how they’re coming across or the presence in which they take up in a room that maybe is unnecessary at times. So it’s teaching them how to be a little bit more self aware of how others perceive them.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is there ever more conflict when you have two very emotionally intelligent leaders, or do they just seem to get along because they’re emotionally intelligent, or is that a problem in an organization?

Nikki Weber: I think there is healthy conversations all the time being held. Uh, we call them crucial conversations. And it doesn’t mean just because we disagree that we don’t respect one another and credentials and work history. It’s just on this one fundamental issue or this one issue, it doesn’t even have to be fundamental. We may disagree, but how do we move forward if we both want the same outcome? Maybe I address it this way, you address it this way. And if they’re not conflicting, does it really even matter?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right?

Nikki Weber: Maybe it doesn’t. But I think sometimes we get so caught up in what I know to be true and everyone else should do it that way, uh, that’s losing sight of others around and their gifts and their talents.

Do people naturally become more emotionally intelligent through being in scenarios

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Do people naturally become more emotionally intelligent through their lifetime through being in scenarios, or is it something that you actively have to work at?

Nikki Weber: I would argue you definitely actively have to work at it, um, simply because you’re going to get quite a few different scenarios thrown at us, uh, when we are in the work environment and at home, that it’s the first time I’ve been faced with this. I don’t know, or I’ve never actually had that question before. And so training yourself, how do I want to be perceived? M if it is confident and liked, maybe even then choosing the words, but watching those nonverbals, the receiving, because those will tell you whether it was effective or not.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm. Do you ever work with clients and think, I cannot teach this person this? I mean, are there, some people call it being uncoachable? Very kind.

Nikki Weber: There is coachable and uncoachable. The coachable, uh, as you can imagine, is being very open to feedback, open to new methods, new ideas, new approaches. Um, the uncoachable is a fixed mindset. This is the way it’s always been. It hasn’t hurt me before. In fact, Nikki, I’ve been promoted, obviously, I’m, um, doing things great. And my response might be, as an individual contributor, you might be absolutely correct. You are nailing it. You are doing an awesome job. However, maybe not in the leadership space. Maybe there’s some opportunity there. Um, so no, we talk about that right away in the coaching relationship too, uh, on whether. What they want to get out of this and what they’re willing to do to get there.

How does emotional intelligence play into marriage or parenting your kids

Dr. Jaime Seeman: So I’m a doctor all day, but I have a husband and a family, so I’d love to touch a little bit on just like home life. And how does this play into marriage or parenting your kids?

Nikki Weber: Yeah, especially when we talk about emotional intelligence with our clients. That’s usually when the spouses come up or the loved ones at home. That’s, oh, my wife has been saying this for years. I just heard that one the other day. Or, oh, my husband needs to be in here. He needs to hear this too. Okay. How do you become the coach in that case? It’s not telling someone how to do things. It’s not telling them, um, in a way, but it’s just, hey, this happened the other day. This is what I assumed you meant. This is how it made me feel.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Can you tell me what did you mean? That’s a quick way of saying, hey, that didn’t land well for me. Can we talk about that some more? And that’s not going to happen overnight, probably, yeah, but it opens the door.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, certainly. I can imagine talking to another adult and we can really kind of see eye to eye. What about kids? I mean, what about parenting? I mean, I feel like I want.

Nikki Weber: To raise stress at all. I have three daughters.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I mean, I want to raise emotionally intelligent kids. At what age does this even become in the realm of, like, how can I start to really foster this for them?

Nikki Weber: I also have teenage, uh, children and I have, um, daughter as well. It’s the age where things are happening. Right. Uh, and it is. It’s a lot of explosions with emotions and words, and then it’s wrapping back around later and just going, hey, can we talk about what just happened in the kitchen? I just want to process it with you. And usually it’s. I know, mom, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to say that, that kind of thing. But it’s not letting it lie. It’s wrapping back around when cooler heads. Because in the moment it can be pretty. I get it. A lot of feelings, a lot of emotions are happening.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Do you ever use like, video feedback with people?

Nikki Weber: There’s a lot of great movie clips of, um.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is there one that comes to mind that’s like, this is a great scene to display emotional intelligence, an anchorman one.

Nikki Weber: And I don’t know if it’s appropriate, that movie, when he finds out that she’s going to take the anchor spot.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yes.

Nikki Weber: And he says, I am in a, what is it? A glass case of emotion.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I’m in a glass case.

Nikki Weber: It is true. That is probably what it does feel like. And he knows a lot of feelings are happening right now. Not arguing that he responds well. Ah, to set emotions. But we start off by showing that clip, a lot of times shutting it off and just asking the room because we also do forums. Um, how many have felt like that before? You’re just in a glass case of emotions. Of course your hands are raised or heads are nodded.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Ah, yeah. Do you find yourself, um, we have a presidential election coming up. Do you find yourself looking at these people and really kind of gauging these little traits that are. Yeah, sure.

Nikki Weber: And I wonder too if it’s, and it’s not even just the debates, but I think I see a lot. It’s just human beings want to be heard.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: And I think we have strong feelings about what happens to us as we should. However, it’s the way we frame them and the tone and the nonverbals that go around it that sometimes isn’t the package we want people to see. Um, maybe in the moment it is. And then you look back and you go, wait a minute, that’s why my numbers started to go down, or that’s why people aren’t calling, maybe like they were.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Uh, my daughters and I just went and saw the new trolls movie. And it’s just like, it just makes me feel like everybody just wants to be heard and be loved. At the end of the day, we really are truly all humans. And I think sometimes when you’re in business, especially, um, you want to say these are the facts and this is how you’re performing. But really, at the end of the day, very tactical. Yeah, we’re all humans, and I think sometimes we forget that.

Nikki Weber: It’s funny you bring that up.

Are leaders creating a psychologically safe environment for those they work with

Um, one of the things we talk about too, is just creating. When you were asking earlier about you as a doctor in the operating room, you have the authority in the room. And at the end of the day, are we, as leaders, creating a psychologically safe environment for those that work with us? And that just means, are you soliciting regular feedback? Just checking in. It’s one of those where I say a lot, you get to hold up the mirror, or you’re asking them to hold up the mirror. Hey, I know we just had this meeting. It seemed to go great, or the delivery went great. Um, however, I want to constantly improve. So again, that’s that growth mindset. And I want us to get even better as a team. So give me some feedback. What are some thoughts? And maybe it’s an opportunity that they give each other feedback and you get to observe. So it’s, again, creating that, hey, this is a normal thing. We do feedback here, and it’s because we care about each other, not because we want to tell someone off.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I can think of so many instances in medicine, um, in my training, watching different levels of emotional intelligence in an operating room and how it really just sets the tone for the whole room. You got this guy or gal who’s just a total jerk to everybody. I mean, they might be a great doctor, but you can see how it starts to affect the nurses, and they may not want to speak up about something all the way to the other end where it’s just like, hey, we’re all on the same level here. We’re all trying to take care of the patient and, oh, man, I’m in a whole spectrum in medicine that I’ve been able to witness for sure.

Nikki Weber: Humor is an interesting tool to use. Um, not everyone can use humor, uh, like everyone else sometimes.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Some people are really good at it, right?

Nikki Weber: And some are not. Uh, but the ones that are seem to just have an ability to relax, an environment to the point that if we are relaxed, it’s safe. We can tell each other some things. The moment it gets tense or awkward, we tend to be awkward. We tend to be tense. And so humor can play a big factor in that, too. It’s just lightening the mood a little bit, brings it down.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Do you think that people sometimes would ever feel like they were perceived as, like, too comfortable and too casual? I mean, it can go the other way.

Nikki Weber: It can. And, uh, we get too comfortable in a boardroom.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Uh, that was one of a client, uh, a while ago who. That was the feedback he received. He was actually too comfortable in the boardroom. Now, granted, his level in the organization would lead you to believe that should be fine. However, by the c suite in the room, it wasn’t received quite like he intended. Um, so we talked a lot about. Okay, in order to really walk this through, I’m going to need you to do some homework, go back and get specific examples. So again, those observations, ask.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Them, when was the last time this happened? And if you could just paraphrase, what did I say? Because many times we say things, if you asked me tomorrow, didn’t remember. That’s right.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: How that came out.

Nikki Weber: Oh, shoot. I’m so sorry, that’s not what I meant. I get that’s not what you meant.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: However, that’s how it played out.

Nikki Weber: Yes, that’s how it absolutely played out.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Okay.

Nikki Weber: It just comes up with maturity, too. Um, watching interactions with the humor in a boardroom or an executive level setting.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Hm.

Nikki Weber: It’s watching the dynamics in the room.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: First, reading the room, reading the room, know when to pull out the anchorman lines and know when not know when not to. Okay, we’re going to go to, uh. This is going to be a fun part of the podcast, you guys.

I looked up the top ten most asked emotional intelligence questions in interviews

I looked up the top ten most asked emotional intelligence questions asked in interviews.

Nikki Weber: They, um, are typically not asked, which is interesting.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: We’re going to throw these to Nikki Weber, and, uh, we’re going to just chat about them and see what. See, because I think that, um, interviewing for med school, interviewing for residency, interviewing for my big girl job, there’s a lot of critical points in medicine where we need to be able to put these things on display. So let’s dissect this. Do you guys like that? That’s a little humor for you. Um.

Nikki Weber: Well played.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay. Tell me about a time when you were criticized about your work. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?

Nikki Weber: That is a fantastic question, and I know that I should probably say that on all of these, that they’re a fantastic question, but that is an opportunity to hear someone really do some self reflection. And really, it’s going back to the feedback. When was the last time you received some feedback that, frankly, what you’re asking, that is when it didn’t feel good. M the positive feedback is wonderful. Everybody wants that. But the moment you ask for some crucial feedback, that’s a behavior change a lot of times. And so, digging deep now, Dr. Seaman, I would argue that organizations that ask these on the spot, and we coach a lot to this, you’re probably not going to get the deep, authentic, well thought out. Um, and so when you’re asking or trying to incorporate more emotionally level of, um, interview questions, it’s giving them a little bit of time ahead of time. Maybe pick a few of these. Some of these you have to ask every time. But it is. You want to get to know them. Human.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. Is there a right or wrong way to answer that? I mean, how would you answer that if somebody was interviewing you?

Nikki Weber: Well, I think if someone answered that with saying, I don’t know that I can think of one or I don’t remember. Uh, they can because they were probably embarrassed or they didn’t feel good about it. And they will always remember they received that. Um, so they can. And hey, it’s a safe environment. We’re all human. I’m going to ask you this question. We all have them. We are just asking you to be authentic with us.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. One thing in our practice is, um, we do patient surveys and, uh, on a monthly basis we get this packet on our desk and it’s great to go through there and read the five stars. There’s the one stars and they’re hard to get over.

Nikki Weber: That’s, um, where we focus.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm. Exactly. Okay.

Ask yourself what is most proud of your work and why

Um, tell me about a time when you were most proud of your work and why. What is this? Teaching the interviewer so that know Dr.

Nikki Weber: Seaman. I could go a couple different angles on that one. It is number one, as an individual contributor, what am I most proud of? Uh, where did maybe I get the credit or the glory for it. On the other hand, it’s asking where you as a leader have demonstrated or created a great environment for your team and they were able to succeed.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm. Are you giving the credit to yourself? Are you giving the credit to everybody?

Nikki Weber: Yeah. And you can still be happy and proud and it’s the team and you got to help create that environment. Ah, they knocked it out of the park, but you got to be there and witness it. Own that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that. Okay, this is a good one. If two of your coworkers on your team were disagreeing, how would you help resolve the situation?

Nikki Weber: So I’ve actually seen this one in asked, um before. This is, um, one where folks have gone, well, I would just pull them both in the room, we’d talk through it and they would each have their say and we’d come out and it’d be fine.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That just sounds like a unicorn situation.

Nikki Weber: That it does. What we forget is usually one that, um, is most passionate about. It tends to tell a third party about it. Maybe they both do. Uh, but if you’re going to do that, maybe go to each of them individually. And one of the favorite questions I would ask, even in a coaching situation, I’ll take this, even in a coaching situation is how did that make you feel? You know, that other individual?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: What do you think they meant? You know, their heart, what do you think they really meant by that? And maybe it’s still an opportunity to provide feedback and bring them in and do a feedback, but it’s calming the waters before you throw them into a room.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I use this with my kids all the time.

Nikki Weber: Do you do the t shirt.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: No, they both wear this.

Nikki Weber: You put it over them and they have to hug.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: No, but we sit down and I’m like, okay, what did you say? And then I’m like, okay. How did that make you feel? Absolutely. Because I think I have three daughters. They’re sisters. Sometimes emotions run high and, um, you can just start saying things that can be really hurtful. And I think sometimes just hearing how that made the other person feel, it’s like, ooh, uh, even his parents.

How do you handle conflict when dealing with clients and customers

Okay, um, tell me about a time where you disagreed with a colleague. How did you resolve the situation? So now conflict, not, uh, amongst two outlier people, but conflict with you.

Nikki Weber: This one, when asked in an interview, I’ve seen this one go where they don’t go very deep with it. Because what you’re really asking is, how do you handle conflict? Because we have conflict here, we have disagreements here. So what can we expect of you when we disagree and they don’t want, in an interview, they don’t want you to know that they can fly off the handle or they can say things they don’t blame or blame.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Justify, yes.

Nikki Weber: Play the victim or anything. So they’re going to answer it a bit more soft. So that’s why I would always follow up that question with, if they were here, what would they tell us happened? Or how would they describe that situation to us? Uh, usually that tends to. Oh, well, they might because we’re going to call him.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: We’re going to call them like the radio show. We’re going to get your ex girlfriend on the phone, on the line.

Nikki Weber: How does that make you feel?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Oh, I love it. Okay. Um, this one was kind of one I was alluding to. If an upset client called to complain about a product service being too high, how would you handle the situation? So now we’re dealing with clients and customers.

Nikki Weber: External. Yeah, that one. If they would answer that as a, oh, I usually ask them the feedback I walk them through. How do we fix it? That’s a real quick solve. Chances are that’s not always how it’s handled.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: We tend to usually go defensive and blame, well, we couldn’t have possibly done it. It was something, maybe they didn’t read the description, not our policy or something. When in all actuality they’re usually right. Maybe the way they’re communicating it is highly charged. Uh, but they’re pretty passionate about it. It’s, again, how do you handle crucial conversations and you remain calm? Did you let them speak? Did you hear them? And did you validate what you heard. That’s the other part of this, is when you’re speaking with a third party. It’s what I heard you say was, uh. Is that correct? So that way, they get to say, actually, no, I’m glad you asked. That’s actually not what I meant. What I meant was, that way you’re on the same page and it evens it a bit. So that way it’s not them. M against you. You’re trying to meet them where they are and find a solve.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. And I think sometimes I can think of a situation. Just this week, a patient, um, needed a medication that their insurance company was kind of like, not going to pay for. And she was very angry with me in our office. And I called her on the phone, and I said, what’s going on? And I said, listen, what I hear you saying is, you are very frustrated. And I hear your frustration, because those situations are as equally frustrating for us as doctors. But in that instantaneous moment, I could just see her just relaxing on the other end of the phone, like, okay, she gets it. This is really frustrating.

Nikki Weber: De escalated the situation.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Exactly. Instead of pouring kerosene on the fire. Yes. Okay, let’s see.

How does this person react when things don’t go as planned

Uh, tell me about a time where you had a dilemma at work that prevented you from doing your job on time.

Nikki Weber: That one usually gets brought up when you want to get to. How does this person react when things don’t go as planned? Do they take ownership, or are they quick to blame? That’s really what the question is.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Your fault or everybody else’s fault.

Nikki Weber: What part of this did you play? Your lack of preparedness does not constitute an emergency on my part kind of a thing. Um, but usually, if you can dig a little deeper, um, in their follow up answer, it’s, if you could go back, what would you do different? And it’s usually, I would have prepped a little bit more, or I would have made a prep phone call, or I would have given myself an extra 15 minutes or something. Okay, moving forward, you probably have another case coming up. How do you do that?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Another opportunity? Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I love this one. How do you destress after a tough day at work? Is there. Wrong answer. Is this just about self care? I drink a case of beer, and I turn on Netflix.

Nikki Weber: Right. There are different ways to alleviate stress, as you know. Um, exercise is obviously one of them. It decreases cortisol in the body. It releases it, and you feel better. Um, that’s one thing I’ve noticed with my clients is they almost don’t feel like they deserve time to do that. And frankly, I hear that a lot more for women executives. I’m a mom, I’m a wife. I’ve got, uh, things to do at home. And then obviously I go home, then I have to prep meal. Everybody’s hungry in the house. Uh, and it’s like my job never shuts off. There are men, obviously, uh, that have that as well. That’s a common thing. Well, when do you take time for you. And a common one is I go to the store and I just push my cart around. Or I take longer getting groceries because frankly, I don’t want to go back home.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right. Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Or that’s my, it’s, I stop and get Starbucks on the way. But the exercise is, I think, what we lack a lot.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: I don’t want to drive all the way to the gym. We don’t have a home gym. You can get out and walk.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. I mean, for me, self care is, I always say, like, you can’t fill other people’s cups if your pitcher is empty. So for me, it’s like waking up at 05:00 a.m. And heading to the gym. It’s like picking the right foods to eat because I know all of those things affect my behavior and how I perform. And I think that’s hard for women to see. We’re such givers. We do everything for our kids and for our spouse and for our work, and we just like, give and give and give and give until we are just totally depleted. And I think it feels really selfish. But I always say, pay yourself first, ladies. That’s my advice.

Who are two people that you look up to most and why

Um, okay. Who are two people that you look up to most and why?

Nikki Weber: Oh, my word.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I feel like this is a really common interview question.

Nikki Weber: It is. And most will probably answer this with, um, trying to think. I’ve done a lot of interviews. A lot of it is parental. They’ll usually go to the.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: My mom. I really look up to my mom. She was such a great role model for me.

Nikki Weber: The second part to that question, uh, that I like to ask is, why? And what was the relationship like? What really made that great? It’s quick to say, well, mom always gave selflessly to us, and she was always present and blah, blah. Okay, tell us a little bit.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: She never took care of herself at our.

Nikki Weber: She never. Yes. And so it’s wide. Is that the case? Um, the other question I like to ask is. That’s usually a safe answer.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Hm.

Nikki Weber: But we also have folks in our life that we’re, uh, not related to. That we have sought out for different reasons. Sometimes it’s a mentor person, um, in your church, somebody that you just look up to or, um, that you always go to. And we talk about this a lot. Um, we encourage our clients to recognize it’s not. They have, they do have. It’s recognizing a personal board of directors. So if we were in a boardroom right now, um, I would be here and I would have certain folks around my table. So if I have an issue that I throw in the middle, it’s, hey, okay, what should I do about this? You’re the people in my life that I go to for certain situations. There’s different people. But you’re my trusted source, so what would I do? And sometimes the people on that board, uh, is what that’s getting at, can change as you grow.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Sure.

Nikki Weber: And they’ve served their purpose. And now you have a new person that comes in board. I’m not suggesting there should be 20 people. Ah. Maybe five, maybe that you call when times are tough or even just celebrating too.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Who would be authentically proud of you and encouraging.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Absolutely. You always have to know that circle, um, that has your back for sure. Um, this is a common one in medicine. Burnout. Burnout in medicine.

So this question, have you ever felt burnt out in the workplace

So this question, have you ever felt burnt out in the workplace? How did you deal with it and recover from it? Is this like seeing how easy you.

Nikki Weber: Quit and you recognize when it’s happening? Mhm. I think that comes up a lot when. No, Nikki, I don’t think as soon as I say the word burnout, because they’ve just led me down this path, that it just frankly sounds exhausting. And I’m not even in their life, but it just sounds exhausting. How do you function? And then I say, I’m getting a sense there might be close to burnout. It’s like that four letter word. It’s not, uh. Oh, no, I’m not there yet. All right. You’re telling me you’re not sleeping. You’re telling me you’re lethargic during the day, you’re not your best, all the stuff.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is that good feedback to give. You seem burnt out or is that kind of like, ah, throwing daggers?

Nikki Weber: I observe this, this and.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: And then it’s, I’m assuming, are you burnt out? When I look at the definition of burnout and I look at the symptoms that the things I’m seeing with you. So again, it goes back to those observations. These are things they can’t say didn’t happen. You’ve snapped. You’re taking on so much.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Um, and the stress seems to be really high. You’re going from one meeting to the next. Uh, maybe not in the medical profession.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: But now one clinic room to the next, it’s like they’re triple booking you and you only have five to ten minutes. And then the patient charts. I mean, I think one thing that contributes to burnout in my day is like the volume of patients you see and then the phone calls you have to make and then the charts, you have to click all the buttons and it just seems overwhelming some days.

Is your calendar running you or are you managing and owning your calendar

Nikki Weber: A, uh, thing I noticed too with that question with burnout is, and I see this in my coaching as well, is, is your calendar running you or are you managing and owning your calendar? And that may be true in the medical profession, or maybe you don’t have control over that, but it seems so much that people are. I didn’t even know I had this meeting on my calendar. How did you not know? How often do you look at your calendar? Uh, what is your routine at the beginning of the day for the rest of your day? Or. Oh, I completely forgot I had it. How did you forget you had it? Walk me through your day. Walk me through your week, your planning of the week, that kind of thing.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Like you’re running on someone else’s hamster wheel.

Nikki Weber: Mhm.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay.

Nikki Weber: And allowing it to happen sometimes.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. This is probably the best summary of our entire conversation today.

Question number ten. How would some of the people closest to describe you

Question number ten. How would some of the people who you are closest to describe you? I mean, that’s like what you’ve said over and over and over today.

Nikki Weber: They’ll always answer that. Maybe I shouldn’t have used always, but 90% of the time they will answer that with the positive perception of us. Again, we’re in an interview. I want you to hire me. I want you to think that I am.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Should you say the bad things?

Nikki Weber: I think that’s where you follow up that question with, hey, we need to get to know you. I want to hear good, bad and ugly. Just tell us.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: What are some positive things people have said about you and what are some things that make you go? But again, it has to be packaged in this psychologically safe environment. This is what we ask all clients. We ask you to be authentic. We’re going to follow up maybe, or we have some follow up questions, that kind of thing. But again, it’s telling them ahead of time. We’re going to ask these type of questions. So we’re going to ask you to be pretty authentic.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Because we’re going to get to know you regardless. You don’t want the other end, right? Oh, wish we would have known this sooner. Oh, goodness.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: You need a lot of help.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I mean, can people interview that well, or is it really? I mean, you are probably a great interviewer because you can dissect these things. I got to be careful not to coach. Can some people really fake it enough to get through?

Nikki Weber: Ah, there are certainly people that can fake it enough, but it will come out at the end. Even if they’re selected. That’s when you start to see folks that go on performance improvement plans or they’re getting pulled aside quite a bit. They’re not new. Those behaviors were always there. They just weren’t uncovered soon enough.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Um, that’s why we say hire slow. And if you have to make an exit, then you do that quickly, but you hire slow. I think too many times we’re quick to get someone because we need a butt in the seat. Maybe you look for the right butt.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: The right person for that position. Such good advice.

Nikki Weber: Were you virtual before the pandemic

Well, this has been so lovely.

Nikki Weber: Thank you.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Tell people, um, where they can find you, find your work, or maybe even work with you if they want to.

Nikki Weber: So, Nikki Weber and I’m with an organization called leadership resources. We have offices in Lincoln and in Omaha. Also virtual. Uh, we have clients all over the.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: So, were you virtual before the pandemic?

Nikki Weber: We actually were.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: You were virtual before virtual was becoming cool.

Nikki Weber: We did. We worked with an organization with women executives. Odly enough, uh, fitting for this conversation, uh, uh, from all over. And that was ladies. That was one of my favorites.

How are women and men different when it comes to emotional intelligence

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay, that makes me think of one last question that we have to talk about. Um, how are women and men different when it comes to emotional intelligence?

Nikki Weber: Oh, man. Men don’t look at it.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Might be a whole podcast.

Nikki Weber: They’re like, say it. It’s fine. I think women a lot of times get labeled as the nurtures. Um, maybe we get labeled as emotional. She got emotional. I use this scenario a lot. Um, when I hear my male clients say, no, you got to take motion out of it, or, I’m not emotional. I’m not emotional. And I usually always raise the flag. I go, you are. You’re not recognizing when you’re emotional. Um, I use the example of when they go to buy a car. When men typically go to buy a car, you’ll probably agree you sit in the car, and the first thing they do is grab the steering wheel. How does it feel? The grip? Right? How does the car smell? How does it make them feel the seat. Is it grabbing them? Is it snugging them in? It’s all in how the car makes them feel. That’s emotion. That is absolutely emotion. So they’re using it when they’re making decisions. That’s no different than what we do. We just maybe vocalize it more. They’re quick to get in the car and go, yes, that’s the one. That’ll work. Good engine.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’ll work. Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Okay. They may not say the other, but they did. They definitely had it.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. The men won’t like what I’m about to say, but there was a study a number of years ago that showed that, uh, critically ill patients admitted to the hospital were more likely to die under the care of a male physician. And the premise of the whole article was not to say women are better than men, which, of course, is how the headline read. Um, but I think there is a piece of that where the nurture the emotion makes them really good doctors and really good caregivers. And, uh, it’s okay. I think sometimes in corporate America, you’re like, I can’t act, be definitive. I got to keep broad shoulders and sit at the big table. And, uh, I think just showing up authentically is so important.

Nikki Weber: The premise of being assertive, when we work with a lot of, uh, women executives, it’s Nikki, I’m assertive. I feel like I’m assertive. But we get labeled when we’re being assertive. Certain word. Uh, but my male colleagues don’t get labeled that way. In fact, they get promoted for being overly assertive or getting things done. Nikki, how can I overcome that? And it’s a matter of how did you word it? How did you carry yourself? A lot of times it can be, I guess I could have worded that slightly different or, oh, yeah, I could have got some better feedback. Now, that doesn’t mean that males did anything wrong necessarily or anything, but it’s recognizing a lot when to lean in. Um, there’s been many times where you watch a movie, something, or you walk in and there’s a meeting, you walk into your next board meeting and watch where people sit. It is fascinating how many times a female might walk into the room and look for the galley chairs. It’s.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Mhm.

Nikki Weber: Fascinating to me. I’m going, you are a c suite level. Get your sit up at the table. You’ve earned that right. Oh, I’m only presenting just for a little bit. Okay. Were you told to sit in that chair? No, I just figured assumed men will come in and just sit down. Yeah, come in and sit down.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nikki Weber: Are they really going to ask you to get up and not sit there?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right.

Nikki Weber: So it’s leaning in. Doesn’t mean being awful about it. It just. No, hold your space. You’ve got the job. Uh, use them.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that.

Nikki: You need to ask your loved ones how they would describe you

Okay, well, you guys have some homework from the podcast. You need to go ask your loved ones how they would describe you, because I think that the first people we should start with is just eliciting that feedback from our very close circle. And, uh, this has been such great advice. Thank you for this. This is wonderful. I hope you all enjoyed today’s episode with Nikki, talking about emotional intelligence. I know this is a tool that you can keep in your toolbox to help you land those jobs. Be a better physician, be a better spouse, and really a better human. Enjoy the episode, and of course, like, share and leave your comments for us.