Carly Ebenstein helps others reconnect with their true values through her training as a life coach. In this episode, she and Grace discuss emotional intelligence and how it improves our ability to respond helpfully when emotions run high.
Full Podcast Transcript
Revivify Podcast S02 E06 Carly Ebenstein
Grace Mase 00:07
Hello and welcome to the revivify podcast. I'm your host Grace Mase. I'm here today with Carly Ebenstein. She is a certified coach with the Coaches Training Institute. Like many athletic coaches, Carly works with individuals to help them to understand ways to amplify their strengths, improve their shortcomings and help them to see their blindsides and hold them accountable as they leap into the next level. And I'm very excited to speak with Carly here today at Revivify. Welcome, Carly.
Carly Ebenstein 00:43
Grace, thank you so much for having me here. I'm so excited to talk with you.
Grace Mase 00:47
There are some common misconceptions about coaching. For example, some people say coaches will solve problems for you. Coaches, like they're only working for people who are failing in business but in reality, they're not. So how do you help them to overcome these misconceptions?
Carly Ebenstein 01:04
That is such a great question and you're so right. And I think part of the problem comes with our title coach where a baseball coach or a sports coach does give direction and input and advice about how someone can work on their skills and improvement and faults and things like that. So, I understand why there's this confusion. I always explain that I don't tell my clients what to do. It's very different.
As coaches, I have to believe in my clients and I'm really a conduit. And so, when I'm meeting someone, I asked them, “what would you like more of in your life?” And maybe they say oh, I'd like to be more creative and then honestly, it's like a natural coaching mini session evolves because we've tapped into something that in their life that is maybe lacking in something they're wanting more of. And it kind of gives them a little bit of taste of what this type of non-sports coaching or non-executive coaching is about. That's one thing that has been a gift for myself as a person and a coach is sometimes, we think we can talk to a friend or family member and they tell us a problem in our minds, we think we know what they should do.
And of course, until I actually went through the training and did a lot of practicing with practice clients and have done coaching for several years, I came to realize like to let go of judgment is a huge gift for clients and myself. Because so many times, I can't even tell you how many times, my clients have surprised me. Like when I asked them, what is it that would support you in x or what is the one thing you could do that would help you get closer to that goal? Whatever it is, those types of questions, I can't even tell you how many times I've been surprised. And if I had come in thinking, I know like oh well, they definitely if it's exercise or losing weight or whatever, they definitely need to do more extra. Whatever it is, it's like if I come in with that, usually it's going to be wrong and then there's a rift between my client and myself; and deep down, I really do believe that my clients have all the answers. So, if I really believe that, if I really trust in them which I have to in order to work with them well, then I have to let go of judgment and I have to just let them come up with their solutions. And you know what, sometimes those solutions fail and that's okay because there's learning there. It's like we can always go deeper and eventually, that client leads themselves to their answers.
Grace Mase 03:56
Well, that's so true. One exercise I work with you on was called the value exercise. And as you know, I was very judgmental of myself. I was very critical of myself and that exercise I struggled a lot. It was really hard to do but it was really simple to do. So, would you mind share with us what that exercise is about and why is this so important?
Carly Ebenstein 04:18
Yes. So, the values exercise is huge because our values are really the core of our makeup. For example, anytime you feel that little tinge like when something really bugs you, that means that one of your values is being stepped on or someone else's doing something that really offends or is not in agreement with that value. Like if you know somebody's lying to you or somebody you know has cheated or whatever it is things like that. At the same time when something makes you feel really good like gives you a sense of wellbeing or excites you or maybe makes you happy, those are values too. And what happens is, and these are things that we’re just born with for the most part, but what happens is when we're younger, there's so much that's imposed on us both by our well-meaning parents usually and adults. And we're also influenced by our friends, our social environment. And what happens is we lose contact with our values because we see somebody get rewarded for something. For example, like being stoic, you know, not talking about when something hurts us and just being stoic. And if our parent says, look at so and so they're not complaining or crying about x, you know, and you are. It's like what happens is you've just gotten feedback that it's better to not express your emotions or not even acknowledge your emotions. And so what happens is as you get older, that could be something that you become less in touch with but it's still there and it still bothers you.
And so this really creates this kind of uncomfortable feeling because we're not living in accordance with those really core principles that are part of our makeup. Instead, we've become a mixture of that as well as the kind of person that we think we “should” in quotes be. So, the values exercise, which is deceptively simple, but it really helps you get in touch with those things that are really important to you. First of all, getting in touch with them and then measuring how well are you honoring them in your life. If this is something that's for example, if neatness and a neat home is something that's important to you but your home is really messy because your family just doesn't put their things away. But every time you walk through the door, that's something that bothers you, there's some kind of value you're not honoring and just talking to your family about this. And that's just a very simple example you know, something that's easy to visualize. But this really happens in much deeper ways in our lives. It can play into our financial life, our professional lives, our romantic life, or spiritual life, physical exercise, it just really contributes to how we're living our lives. So, getting in touch with those values and then measuring them in terms of how you're honoring or not honoring them is just a really good mirror to show up.
Grace Mase 07:43
Absolutely. And what are you just describing, I just had a meeting with a client. And it's the same thing between homeowners and the pros that they hire rather than design pro or contractors. And there is those kinds of values even just with each other as well and how you honor those values with each other. And knowing what matters to you, what you care about versus how you behave, how you show up. And they're not fully aligned that disconnect with you up and I personally had that experience.
Carly Ebenstein 08:15
Yes. And especially with a remodel or any kind of construction project where there's a lot. Okay, first of all, it's already highly charged by the fact that there's a lot of money involved. Okay, that's just their period. But now you have different personalities and different ways of dealing with this. And you could have, the owner could be someone who on paper is looked at as being like oh, this is a very smart, intelligent, whatever it is. They're looked at as someone being there'll be an excellent client because they went to this school, they make this much money, they live in this, whatever it is. And then you have the pro, maybe they're the same on their end for their profession. But you know what, unless they're actually communicating in a way and really reading between the words, really using their emotional intelligence, looking how somebody responds, following up on that then that's really, I'm not saying that there's definitely going to be a problem but the potential is much more likely. You must have seen that in your work too.
Grace Mase 09:29
Definitely! Just because when you see those misalignments and value, trust is eroding and fingers are pointing and the partnerships are deteriorating which is really unfortunate in many cases. Sometimes just need that communication to realign themselves and make sure that we are in the same understanding, on the same page and also continue align with our values going forward.
Carly Ebenstein 09:55
Absolutely! I mean that's one thing I really appreciate about BEYREP and how you've set things up where that is the unique quality which is the questionnaire that people have to answer online where they are. No one's being judged about what kind of style they want or what their budget is or what these things are. But you asked so many great questions that I think people probably get a lot of, you know like emotional and personal and therapeutic values from that a lot. They probably learn about themselves just by answering that questionnaire.
Grace Mase 10:29
Absolutely! We ask these questions not just to be nosy but we really care about how the person thinks and feels and also understand their priority, what matters to them. If we don't understand what matters to them and don't really know them and just matching them with some random person, the relationship will be questionable. They could be wildly successful or they could be wildly miserable. And so we want to moderate that relationship and helping them to find alignment. When they're on the line together, there's a higher probability actually have a positive experience. Where they're so opposite of each other or so incompatible, it's just tough. And like you mentioned, it's a huge financial investment. It is very charged emotionally because it's one profession the professional will come to your space versus you going to a doctor's office or mechanic’s shop. It's very different dynamics and so we want to be respectful and understanding and do our best to provide that relationship matching for them to be engaged with at the appropriate level.
Carly Ebenstein 11:37
Yes. I mean, I can't even imagine how gratifying it must be to have the end of a project that's gone smoothly or even maybe there have been some hiccups that have been worked out along the way.
Grace Mase 11:52
And those to us, that's just a relationship and this business is all about relationship. So but within relations, there are also behaviors obviously. What are some of the common behaviors that we sabotage our own personal growth and happiness? I know it’s a loaded question.
Carly Ebenstein 12:13
Well, we'll just talk about a couple of them. Well, of course, we all recognize a very dominant person, someone who doesn't have a problem expressing themselves and maybe they express themselves but maybe they don't ask too many questions. Maybe they're a little bit loud. Maybe, if they think something has gone awry, they might be very quick to overreact. And then what happens is well, I'll just go into that one and then we can explore some others because I'm like oh yeah, I think we all recognize that person. Well, what happens is and this can happen with anything. Well, what happens is we react. So it's like, if someone picks up the phone because maybe they come home and there's something that was done differently in their home or maybe there was a mistake on the bill or whatever it was, they pick up the phone or they send an email. And maybe it is a little bit unpleasant, maybe it's a little bit aggressive. Maybe it could even be a little bit nasty but that's their initial reaction. I think we've all experienced that maybe on both sides. And what happens is, the person on the other end then has quite a bit of power because they can either react because they're feeling attacked and so they can react and then things can escalate or they can thoughtfully respond, they can get curious. They can have some empathy, you know, maybe realizing okay, this person who knows what happened to them. Maybe they just got into a little fender bender or maybe they lost their job or maybe they got into a fight with a family member. And then there was some little thing that they saw that was askew and then now all of a sudden, you're like the punching bag.
And so I would say, that's been like a learning lesson for me personally is when I feel myself feeling defensive or upset in terms of the energy that's coming at me, now I asked myself do I want to react or do I want to respond? And if I want to respond, sometimes that means in my case, not responding right away. Like take a couple of hours to really mull things over, maybe read that email or listen to that voicemail again. If it's something that happened in person, just to clarify what the situation is and just ask for a little bit of time to work on it or process whatever it is. That's one thing I've found is that there's always space and in this technological age where everyone feels like everything needs to be immediate. It's like you know what, sometimes that is the worst thing you can do.
So that's one personality type and one way to kind of address it. There's so many other personality types like the people pleaser, The client that tells you everything's great, everything's lovely but then later on, you find out that it's not. That's really hard and that person has a challenge with being direct or has some, you know, is afraid of hurting your feelings where it's like, your feelings are hurt by them not being happy, you know, ultimately happy. And so to help that person that's really about having them feel comfortable. And sometimes it takes a lot to build that trust so that they can feel comfortable to tell you if something's not right, if something's wrong because ultimately, it's going to come out. And you can imagine, especially in your business, one of the worst ways that could play out would be they tell you everything's fine and the project is done but then they're complaining about you to another client. That is horrible. And so for that kind of situation, it can take more time to make them feel comfortable and let them know that ultimately, their true happiness is what you're looking for and really check in with them. It might need a little bit more hand holding but ultimately, you're going to have a better result.
Grace Mase 16:35
Ah, love that. And let's get a little bit deeper because home design and building industry is very much relationship business. It's not transactional. Often, people may misconstrue as a transaction. The reality is very much a relationship. It's about partnership. And this year truly has been a challenging year for many people because together, you can't really see their entire face that they have a mask on. So, you can't really read their facial expression.
Carly Ebenstein 17:03
When it comes to a project whether it's a remodel or any kind of construction projects, people do look at this as very transactional. There's the beginning when you choose who you're going to work with and there's the end where you have the final project and they just look at this as a simple transaction. But there's so much that goes on in between and in the middle. It can be a very messy, uncomfortable, complicated situation and doesn't have to be that way. I mean and if it is for whatever comes up and inevitably and my impression is that in all these projects, there's always going to be something that goes off the rails. You have this opportunity to deal with it in a very positive way. And it makes all the difference to whether you're getting a glowing recommendation and referrals to somebody who's maybe walking away and muttering under their breath and that's a best-case scenario.
Grace Mase 17:59
Right! And that is reason why I want to focus on those areas because how people behave, how they communicate, how they interact with each other matters so much. The end result and reality is most professionals, they can deliver incredible results and they can help you to make your vision to reality. That's not a problem, is interaction. And that's why oftentimes people stumble and end up tripping over multiple times and to the point they hurt themselves unnecessarily. And so, if we can help just make that minor tweak to get them onto the right track, things could be just very smooth. There'll be few bumps but it's not detrimental.
Carly Ebenstein 18:45
Yeah, I think that you're bringing huge value to your clients beyond. They're getting so much more than their project being completed. They can see that this can be done in a way where there are good communication skills and relationships being built and trust and instead of going in and feeling like fear and distrust and wondering if they're getting ripped off. It's just such a better way to do business.
Grace Mase 19:13
Yeah. And when you focus on transactional relationship, there's that fear of getting ripped off. But if you shift into more trust-based relationship, building partnership then you bound to have more positive output, or positive interaction where people feel good about their engagement, their involvement, their decisions, collaborative decisions.
Carly Ebenstein 19:33
I love that. I love how much you bring in the word collaborate too. I love that. It gives me the warm fuzzies
Grace Mase 19:41
Because projects, besides there's no way one person could do the job perfectly. It's a teamwork. And when you have a team you have to learn to collaborate. And when you're having a large group of people working together, you have to have better way of communicating, engaging, being respectful and be mindful each other's emotions and their space.
Carly Ebenstein 20:06
Yeah, totally. You have so much to offer and bring to this industry really.
Grace Mase 20:11
Well, this is where I feel like, I think the industry is ready for us to think differently, take it to the next level, be more human and be more mindful, be more considered and be more compassionate altogether. And this is your home. And I think all of us spend so much time at home now more than ever. We need to find a way to make this space work for us and make the space where we don't regret or to have negative trigger emotions when you look at tiles not done correctly or whatnot. Those things happen when things are not cooperating effectively. They're not communicated effectively.
Carly Ebenstein 20:51
Absolutely, I agree. It's been in very negative ways. But at the same time, I feel like I take a deep breath when I say this but I feel like there's some gifts here. And part of it is maybe to be a little bit more compassionate, be a little bit more empathetic, look at creative ways to communicate and connect and understand. And if that's something that we can take with us then I think that, we need to be looking for those unintended gifts.
Grace Mase 21:19
Absolutely. And just like any struggle, there's always a gift at the end because you get to learn something. I think this year, even though there are many ways we can describe this year probably not so positive words but the reverse is we gain a lot of these lessons that we learn.
Carly Ebenstein 21:37
So some of these things are just so deceptively simple because we've distanced ourselves so much with technology. I would say one big way is so simple, it's simple listening. And when I say listening, I mean, and this is hard for everyone. I'm not going to lie. I'm not above it myself. I'm talking about people being 100% focused not looking at their phones, making eye contact because we can still do that if we're on a zoom call. If we're on the phone, not looking at our phones or looking through a book. I'm talking about like true listening. And then this is actually a really interesting exercise. Try after you listen to somebody, if you practice saying back what they said for example, after they tell you something. Okay, so what I hear you saying is and then saying it back and then asking them is that right? I did this workshop which dealt with that exercise and I'm actually a particularly good listener. And I was sitting right across from my partner who was telling me something and basically every sentence, I was supposed to say okay, so if I can just repeat that back to you, here's what I heard you saying and I repeated it back and inevitably, there was one little thing that was a little bit different and that was so surprising.
We can practice that all the time. And so I would say that by listening and then repeating things back to make sure you understand, that builds so much trust in the client because even if they say well, no, not quite there's this, repeat it again to make sure you get that right. That's really going to build so much trust because people are going to feel heard, they're going to feel like what they say is important because so many times clients and I can speak for myself because I'm not someone who's really comfortable with the building process or things that are mechanical. I feel a little bit intimidated by that pro. Like if I ask a question and they might be thinking like oh, that's such a simple question. So, for that pro to like, really give me that time and let me know that whatever I'm asking or saying is important, that will make me feel so much more comfortable. I guess I'm like the perfect person to pass that up because I am not mechanical or technically particularly savvy. So that will build so much trust.
Switching gears a little bit with that technical person like let's say you have a client who is themselves an architect or engineer. Okay, they're very technical and now they're asking lots of technical questions and maybe challenging the pro a little bit like oh, why are you doing this and instead of whatever it is. The best way to start is to just meet that person where they are okay. That person is likely coming in because maybe they're concerned about being taken advantage of or maybe they feel like they're being judged like why aren't they doing more. I'm just making all this stuff up. But that person, if they're being hyper technical, you have to meet them where they are and then that builds trust to then kind of it takes out that charge where hopefully because they feel like they're respected as being the professional that they are or they have this technical expertise or they are being apprised of different techniques or they want to be involved in some level, there's some reason for that, that can help mitigate any kind of charge of suspicion or being discomfort. I would say that's going to come out in some other way.
Grace Mase 25:46
That does. I often start asking for their guidance so I can learn from that perspective, not so much questioning their ability. By humbling myself and truly, genuinely interested to learn I ask, please help me to understand.
Carly Ebenstein 26:02
Grace, that is such a huge gift because really what you've introduced is vulnerability. You've shown them that that's okay. That yes, you're the pro, you're with the pro, you know, you guys are the experts. But you can learn from everyone. And maybe the client has some kind of insight that is hugely valuable and could be helpful. And maybe that's something new that you learn maybe or maybe it's something that is valid but once you understand, you can actually then show them side by side or you can either explain or you can just outline differences so that they can make a decision. They want to be included in the process for some reason. But by you just showing that vulnerability, you also model that for everyone else you're working with both the pro, the other pro and the client. And that only can improve the relationship and connection.
Grace Mase 27:04
Absolutely, I do find that by just being honest of how I'm learning what I need to help them to realize where I am and help them to come to where I am, explaining things to me in a way that I could digest information, that just become a much more even dialogue. And it certainly improved the decision making much quicker. There's not a whole lot he says, she said and there's no long press of emails back and forth. As you mentioned, build trust. I do trust the person. I'm not questioning their ability to I'm genuinely interested to learn and that just cut down all the miscommunication or all the potential friction that may cause
Carly Ebenstein 27:46
So valuable, I can't imagine that is the norm in your business.
Grace Mase 27:54
Well actually, you brought up a good point because in our business, our industry 98% are primarily men in the field and the decision-makers tend to be women. About 80% of home improvement or any home projects are initiated by a woman. And so not to play the gender issue but there is some inherent issue associated with communication styles. And that's where emotional intelligence becomes very critical to understand and recognize the different emotions, how you managing through them and if there's an issue, how do you regulate the emotion? How do you recommend people to build their emotional intelligence?
Carly Ebenstein 28:31
Such a great question. And by the way, we all have to learn. We all have things to learn. I’m sorry Grace, you're not so special in that area and its life learning. But I would say one of the key ingredients is to get curious instead of we all have this reactive gene in us for things like when people are different or people respond in a different way or were taken by surprise, all those types of things. And so and you already have built this in with your program, and with your clients, it’s like you're curious. You're wanting to learn and find out about your clients and we can do this in our lives. We meet new people and we're kind of curious, like if somebody is themselves asking a lot of questions, you notice that they're very curious person or whatever it is. If there's someone that makes a lot of eye contact or if there's someone that's like particularly distracted. I mean just to kind of get curious, I think is a really good building block of connecting with emotional intelligence.
One other thing I just want to add is and it's again, so deceptively simple and it was a big like aha moment for me in my adult life. But it's like when we are dealing with other people, we tend to want to comment on the other person like they did this, you did that whatever It is. And if we just like practice, that's a reflex like when we notice things are different. But if we just practice looking inwards at ourselves, we were really our own project. So why is that something that bothers me or why am I reacting that way or what is it that I find funny about this? Whatever it is to kind of look in the mirror and really get curious about ourselves, those two things they're so deceptively simple. Then you're already on your way to building emotional intelligence.
Grace Mase 30:35
I love it. That's so key. It's as simple. Like you mentioned such a simple idea with such a powerful exercise rather than looking outwards as other person did to you or what they did was wrong but it's much easier to say, what can I do? What did I do that caused this reaction?
Carly Ebenstein 30:56
What did I do and also acknowledge how you feel like okay, I feel uncomfortable, I feel embarrassed, I feel shame, I feel sorry. Acknowledge how you feel and then get a little bit curious because sometimes, that other person whatever happened, that exchange could just be a trigger. Maybe it wasn't really that person, it's that it reminds you about something else that was much more impactful. But to just get curious, whatever we feel and I guess this is like one of the biggie that I'd love people to take away is that whatever you are feeling is completely valid. It doesn't matter what it is. It doesn't matter like if someone says, oh, you're overreacting, no! Whatever you're feeling is valid. Now your interpretation about why you're feeling or what happened or what they did, that is up for discussion because whatever you are feeling is valid. And these are kind of building blocks of emotional intelligence.
Grace Mase 32:03
That's great. And I love what you said about being a really good listener, empathetic listening, to be curious not just curious about what's going on externally. But more importantly, looking inwards to be curious about your feeling, why you're behaving this way, how you're feeling all together, what that matters altogether, like you mentioned builds a foundation of good emotional intelligence and also really comes down to become better on communicator.
Carly Ebenstein 32:32
Yes, I agree. All your relationships and work and personal life and then the third rail family have the potential to improve for sure. And I just want to mention that this takes practice. I'm still practicing every single day. I get lots of opportunities especially with my blood family to practice.
Grace Mase 32:56
That's awesome. Now quit lying around. What's the secret recipe for your success?
Carly Ebenstein 33:02
I think success is a moving target. And I think success is all how we define things. But I would say one of the big building blocks that helps me is how I view failure and mistakes. I used to so many times and I'm using myself as an example. If I made a mistake or did something wrong or failed something or somebody in some ways like, I would feel just intense shame or embarrassment or feeling bad and now I would kind of put a period on that experience, like and that's how I feel the end. And what happened was it was just a huge opening when I realized instead of a period, that could be a comma. And it's like oh okay, this happened and I made a mistake or this didn't turn out the way I wanted. How can I take this and learn from it? Or what value is there or what good things actually happened instead of looking at this as an overall failure, like what positive things came from that experience or that exchange?
I would say how we view failure or how I view failure is so such an important shift in my life that's been very rewarding. Being vulnerable, that's been huge. Admitting when I'm wrong or made a mistake, like publicly like to people I have to say, I actually enjoy that now. Like, that used to be something where I felt like oh my God, I can't admit that I was wrong like in a meeting or something like that. And now I actually take pleasure in saying, you know what, I was wrong about that. It really makes me feel good. It reminds me of, you know, there are athletes that have some kind of skill like with soccer players, like maybe their left leg is weaker than their right leg or something like that. And so they practice and they practice and so that that lesser skill becomes their dominant skill. And it's like that's something like I feel like I'm doing and that just makes me feel so good. And so I feel like those are some of the things that have contributed to me feeling very fulfilled in my life and that's how I would view success.
Grace Mase 35:25
Wow, that is beautiful. Thank you.
Carly Ebenstein 35:29
No, thank you. I want this for everyone. And I feel like this is available for everyone. You are a living example. I just feel like it's really available for everyone and it doesn't really even have to cost that much money really. I mean, you can work with a personal coach like myself or you can just read books, or you can listen to podcasts, you can do a lot of these exercises, you know, and practice with your friends and family. So much of it is just about making a simple choice.
Grace Mase 36:02
I love it, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you?
Carly Ebenstein 36:05
The best way is to go to my website, which is (carlyebenstein.com). Go to my website. I'm going to confess that I am behind on my monthly newsletter because between COVID and right now I'm living abroad in Korea, there are just been so many other things going on. But that's a good way to learn about me and you can see some of my previous newsletters like two years where that have really good content that is still relevant. And so feel free to subscribe I will be writing again.
Grace Mase 36:50
Well, Carly, really, truly appreciate you spending time and help us to get a better understanding how to regulate the motions to become more emotional intelligence and to be a better communicator and recognize a weakness and strength and how to be the best version of ourselves where we show up to either meet with clients or meet with professionals to collaborate with each other.
Carly Ebenstein 37:12
Yes, I love that. And I want to thank you Grace for giving me this opportunity and it's just a joy. I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity.
Grace Mase 37:23
Oh, you're so welcome. But this has been an awesome chat with you. Thank you all for joining this episode of REVIVIFY podcast. I hope you enjoyed learning from Carly just as much I have about her coaching support and thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.