You see them on television, calmly smoking cigars, wearing sunglasses as they play for high stakes in poker tournaments. The one thing that is true for all of them is that you cannot tell what they are thinking. There they are, stoic, hiding their emotions and their intentions. Which is why we call people who hold their cards close to their vest good poker players. Many of us can do it well if we choose.

There is a place and a time for keeping our cards close to our vest. But, people with good emotional intelligence, especially leaders do that only rarely. The truth is that it is very frustrating to work for someone or with someone who does not disclose what they are thinking and in appropriate ways, what they are feeling.

One of the key elements of emotional intelligence is that of being self disclosing. That is, being up front and clear as to what we are thinking so that others know where we are coming from, what our expectations are, where we are going, and what our intentions are.

The poker player mentality is that of secrecy and non-self disclosure. If you know someone like that or report to someone like that you know how frustrating that is. It is frustrating and it is unfair to others because it does not allow for honest and transparent dialogue or give others the information they need to work with or for someone who does not disclose their thoughts, emotions or intentions.

This does not come naturally to everyone but it can be learned. If you wonder how well you do on that score, ask those around you if you give them the kind of feedback and information you need as to what you are thinking or intending. And then be intentional in expressing your opinions, thoughts, observations and intentions. In the vast majority of cases, clear self disclosure is far better than holding your cards closely.

Self disclosure is closely tied to the ability of others to trust us. If I do not know what someone else is thinking and cannot seem to get that out of them, it will be very hard for me to trust them with responsibility because I don't know what I am working with. Holding your cards closely works well in poker but not in real life.
  • Jul 16, 2013
  • Category: News
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