Category Archives: Social and Emotional Intelligence

11 Jul

Emotional Intelligence, Stress and Emotions

hands of people sitting at a wooden table taking notes

The Power of Psychosocial stress

We often think of outside factors as stress inducers, for example – sitting in traffic, job changes or moving. But psychosocial stress (as in stress in relationships) is cited as one of the top stressors for people when it comes to emotional stress. What research shows is that what people think you of and how you interact with them sometimes really does matter.

Exchanges that are uncomfortable like direct conflict, situations that leave your wondering if you responded correctly, or situations that leave you worrying where you stand with that person can tax your mind and body. Awkward or uncomfortable situations can also lead to more conflict, misunderstandings, and stand-offs, leaving you feel anxious or depressed.

Your body has a natural way of responding to stress, sometimes boldly (for example somatic responses like sudden pain in your stomach or back), or sometimes in more subtle ways (for example, a sudden questioning of self-worth). Other signs that stress is impacting you can be changes in sleep or eating, changes in mood, or losing your temper over small things. Also having an inexplicable lethargy and general lack of motivation, might be signs that someone or some situation is taxing you.   

How does Emotional Intelligence help with the resolution of conflict?  

“Emotional intelligence means being able to read your own and other’s emotions and being able to respond to the emotions of others in a cooperative, functional, and empathetic manner”.

                                                               John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute

 

Responding to people and situations is normal for us. We are engaged with the world around us and are permeable as humans; things are bound to impact us. Believe it or not, practicing self-care in those uncomfortable moments is one of the best way to help yourself. The self-care skills here are about learning to regulate your emotions. In other words, be in control of them, not have them hijack you or the situation. Taking charge of our emotions can feel quite contradictory to our instincts, which often tell us to keep doing what we have always done in these type of situations, keep fighting – physically, verbally or psychologically to prove we are right or because of that script playing in our head that says we need to defend ourselves. Those thoughts are often due to fear, which can actually elicit unfounded beliefs. Often, we continue to engage and champion the cause, pushing to make sure we are right and heard. But research in social and emotional intelligence actually shows that practicing vital emotional intelligence skills like empathy, understanding, and patience and are actually better for your mind and body. They allow you to become more aware of your thoughts and responses and in turn, allow you to better control your behavior. They also impact the outcome of conflict in a more positive way.  As counterintuitive as these concepts feel in the moment, approaching the relationship from this perspective can not only make you feel better but also help prevent a negative outcome. Compassion and understanding are also precursors to compromise, which in marriage is a key factor to success.  

“Emotional Intelligence is the measure of an individual’s abilities to recognize and manage their emotions and the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups”.

                                                               TheSkillsYouNeed.com

 

7 ways to handle emotional stress

Take a break. Not forever, just from the situation in that moment. Walk away when things get heated or super uncomfortable.  Break up the tension and go for a walk or ask to “sleep on it” before the yelling starts or before you start to say things you will later apologize for. Give yourself and the other person a change of pace and a chance for a fresh perspective.

Channel your energy through another outlet. Try talking to a friend that can be neutral, supportive and objective. Or try writing things out in a journal. Just write, don’t edit, and get as much out as you can.

Practice mindfulness. This is about taking quiet moments to reflect and think. No, you do not need to sit cross-legged, with palms up chanting “Om” (you can if you want :^) This is more about developing an awareness of your thought process. Learning what triggers you and why, simply by reflecting about it. Observing your thoughts and reactions with curiosity not judgment is a great way to support yourself.

Go for a walk or workout.  Sounds like a distraction but actually exercise has been clinically proven to help with depression and changes in mood. Raising your heart rate pumps blood through your body and into your brain, releasing endorphins, which kicks off a whole other series of chemical responses in your brain. It may not solve the issue itself, but the minute you start working out, you are practicing great self-care by helping your body diffuse the stress and tension out of your body.

Try to dialogue vs. debate. When you return to the conversation, make sure you are both in a calm state. Instead of trying to win the battle and lose the war, try pursuing a dialogue vs. another heated debate. Become a good listener and practice compassion. If what is being said is a trigger for your, don’t say anything, but try really listening from the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Repeat back what they are saying in an understanding way. Then just sit with that. Don’t judge. Keep the dialogue going in an open manner and look for something you can take with you as a learning lesson.

Think before you speak. Why you are engaging with such passion or rigidity to what the person is saying? Do you really need to say it in a way that will be perceived as hurtful or insulting? What can you gain from engaging in battle? Is this topic worth the fight? Is there another way to hold your position and not hurt the other person in the process?

Look from an accountability perspective. What will be the outcome of what you are doing and/or saying? What will you be accountable for in this situation? Is the topic worth fighting over? Is there another way to resolve it or say what you need to say in less harming way?

Next time you find yourself getting heated, try one of these techniques to move towards peace of mind.


Resources:

The Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence

Types of Stress and Their Symptoms 

Emotional Signs of Too Much Stress

5 Ways to Cope With Emotional Stress 

Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence to Resolve Conflict

Empathy is the Key to Conflict Resolution or Management 

6 Brilliant Things People With Emotional Intelligence Do Under Pressure

Evolve As A Leader: Top 11 Emotional Intelligence Skills For Improved Business Performance

 

05 Sep

12 Must Have Social and Emotional Intelligence Skills for the Workplace

 

etain services Karen Atkinson

Over the past few decades, thanks to Dr. Daniel Goleman, the term “Emotional Intelligence” has become an every day word in the American workplace. Most people have a vague notion that it’s something using emotions and smarts to make good decisions. When I read his first book “Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ” (1995), I was thrilled someone was acknowledging the emotional world we live. Today, when I talk to people about emotional intelligence, I would say, most people still don’t fully understand what it means.

Over the past 2 decades, Caruso, Salovey, Mayer, Ciarrochi, Goleman and Belsten have identified social and emotional intelligence attributes. These are qualities that a person utilizes which enable them to develop and maintain healthy communication, behavior and relationships. Several of these theorists have created their own assessment tools to help others determine where they fall within this skill set. The Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence, founded by Dr. Laura Belsten, offers the SEIP, Social and Emotional Intelligence Profile, which offers 26 competencies!

There’s much more to this than we realized.

Quick review: What is Emotional Intelligence?

The term “Emotional Intelligence” is now being expanded into “Social and Emotional Intelligence”.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions, in the moment, and to use that information to manage our behavior appropriately.

Social Intelligence is the ability to be aware of the emotions of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage our relationships.  

– Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence (ISEI)®

What they have found is that there are more than just a few things that make up Social and Emotional Intelligence. These are skills, meaning that they can be taught. And they are behaviors, that when utilized, are better indicators of workplace performance, productivity, and long-term success, for individuals and for businesses. They are not mutually exclusive, nor are they exhaustive. But they are definite contributors.

Here are 12 of the skills:

  1. The ability to be Self-Aware. It sounds self-indulgent but really it’s not. This is a skill needed as a foundation to develop healthy relationships with oneself and with others. The feelings (and thoughts) that someone has, in that moment, are what will dictate their responses and behaviors towards others. This is also the foundation for changes in behavior.
  1. Create an emotional vocabulary. Having language about emotions themselves allows for the healthy expression of feelings. This, by the way, is a normal process for people. When someone is self-aware and able to use an emotional vocabulary, they are also more able to develop healthy communication habits.

Note: Some people think that talking about or expressing emotions means they are weak, but that’s an outdated notion. Research actually shows the opposite – people generally function better in relationship when they are able to have a healthy expression of emotions.

  1. Practice Empathy. This is the ability to feel the experience of others. This means stepping out of our own heads and trying to really get the experience of another. This is another tool that builds the foundation for social relationships. Different from sympathy, research shows genuine empathy is the key to building trust and deeper relationships.
  1. Be aware of your own body. Good self-care reflects in a person’s presentation of himself or herself, body image and impacts self-confidence. It’s also part of what Social Psychologists call the Self-World construct, which is our understanding of how we see the world and how the world sees us.
  1. Learn to manage emotions. This is the opposite of emotional hijacking. Actively choosing to manage emotions like anger, for example, directly reflects a person’s theory about emotions. And it’s directly linked to a person’s value system and moral choices. Managing emotions is also a sign of emotional maturity and gives a person a better sense of himself or herself. For leaders, it allows more control over situations and engenders support while providing a feeling of safety to others, which can be critical in high stress situations.
  1. Develop coping strategies. This is critical for emotional resiliency and to develop emotional maturity. This can include stress reduction exercises, journaling, breathing exercises, and meditation or prayer, to mention a few. Many learn to develop these strategies in therapy or through coaching. Using habits like these, in a regular basis, increases emotional resiliency – the ability to emotionally tolerate and handle difficult situations.
  1. Practice assertive communication skills. The goal here is to develop an approach towards building healthy relationships through developing healthy communication skills. “I feel” statements are one example.
  1. Utilize limit setting. When someone actively chooses to put boundaries in place around a relationship or activity, they often can feel empowered or more in control. A feeling of managing things is also importance when managing the regulation of emotions.
  1. Learn how to understand other’s emotions. This is not the same as empathy. This is about learning to recognize cues in other’s behaviors. Tuning into others behaviors, facial expressions, and communication increases effectiveness in the communication. One way to build empathy is through the ability to recognize cues in a person’s expression, tone or body language.
  1. Manage negative emotions: like anger. Unbridled rage or passive-aggressive behavior can do more damage and actually hinder relationship building.
  1. Practice listening. Really listening. People generally need to not only be heard but also understood. One way to practice this skill is to listen to someone else and then reflect back what he or she said.
  1. Develop strategies for difficult situations. These are tools to think about in advance for when stressful situations come up. Some call if a “plan b”.

Executive, Performance and Life coaches have taught these skills for years. The great thing is that each of these traits can easily become skills that help a person function better in relationship and in life. For companies, they can be qualities that become embedded into the company culture through the employees and managers, to increase team building, improve performance and increase sales.

About the author: Karen Atkinson is a certified Life Coach and Social and Emotional Intelligence Trainer. If you would like more information about this topic or if you are interested in workshops or trainings, you can contact her at Katkinson@EtainServices.com.


Resources:

Dr. Belsten, Laura, founder, Social and Emotional Intelligence Certification, Institute for Social + Emotional Intelligence®, 2017

Ciarrochi, Forgas, and Mayer (editors), Emotional Intelligence in Everyday Life, 2nd edition, Psychology Press, 2006

Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ, Bantom Books, 1995

Harvard Business Review, HBR’S Must Reads On Emotional Intelligence, 2015, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2015

ISEI-logo-2017

13 Oct

6 Attributes to Help Parents Raise Emotionally Intelligent Children

What is it emotional intelligence?

“Emotional intelligence means being able to read your own and other’s emotions, and being able to respond to the emotions of others in a cooperative, functional, and empathetic manner. Emotional intelligence is a kind of social “moxie” or “savvy” about even very complex social situations. It requires knowing who you are, knowing your own feelings, knowing your own needs, and being able to handle yourself and compromise these needs with the needs of sometimes very complex social situations.”
John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute

 

What are some of the skills needed raise emotionally intelligent children?

Awareness, empathy, compassion, patience, validation and respect to name a few, are valuable and necessary attributes, and are skills that teach children how to maneuver and manage their emotions while in relationship with others. Research has shown that children exhibiting these skills are more likely to succeed in the world more so than a child with a high IQ and good academic record.

With all of these attributes, as with values and emotions, it helps to talk with children about them, as well as, model them. Dialogue teaches children how to put words to their internal emotional world and that is empowering. It’s also important for healthy development. Modeling the behavior shows the child tangible actions associated with the concept, which they can then try out in their behavior. This is important since children’s brains are still developing.

A note about the learning process in children: parents often say, “I kept having to repeat myself” Believe it or not, that a normal part of development in children. A repetition of concepts is one way we learn. But if you’re child still just doesn’t seem to be getting it, it might be the way it’s being presented. Each child learns differently. Some children learn by seeing (visually), some by hearing (auditory) and some learn kinesthetically (both). Try out different ways to explain something. It’s the difference between watching a video about a sport vs. reading about it vs. trying it out. Take the challenge and find out how best your child learns!

1. Awareness about emotions. It’s bringing a consciousness and a presence to the emotional experience of the child (and sometimes for parents too!) For example, it might be helping a child gain awareness that things will not be “fixed” like they thought. This might include talking about what this different outcome feels like for them. Many children need help making transitions, so this is an added step to help that process. Awareness is an “open” experience, and an invitation to explore emotions. It is not an attempt to deflect, dismiss or control a child’s feelings, or creates an outcome.

2. Compassion defined as “a deep feeling of sympathy”. A necessary skill is for the adult to be able to tap into the emotions of the child. A parent needs to be emotionally available to model compassion. Saying things like “I’m sorry to hear that is happening”. Or “I’m so happy for you”. Or “that sounds like you are excited about that trip” can be invitations to discuss what is happening. One goal is to define in words what the experience is they are feeling. Another goal is simply to be present and engaged, with an open mind and heart towards your child and their experience. The idea is to try and feel what they are feeling in that moment and reflect that back to them.

(Compassion, empathy and awareness can also be applied to our own experience as parents, as we wonder about all the things we should be saying, or our desire to fix it, or our attempt to suppress the feelings of judgment or intolerance at that moment. Buddhist theory teaches that we must first have compassion for ourselves before we can have it for others. So be patient and kind to both of you!)

3. Empathy: defined as “the experiencing of someone else’s thoughts or feelings”. There has been a lot written about the importance of children developing empathy. Modeling empathy to your child is the best way to teach a child about what empathy is. Check in with your child with phrases like: “I hear that what she said really hurt your feelings” or “that sounds like such a great time you had”. Responses like these (without a parental fix at the end of the statement) offer a feeling of unconditional support to your child. That is a quality in empathy. These can be simple dialogues, yet they are critical to a child’s development, because children will, in turn, try out those comments on others to build the skills. Children also need to understand what it feels like and be able to differentiate it from other internal experiences they have, like compassion, sadness or apathy.

4. Patience: If you are naturally calm and patient, you are lucky because sometimes this is hard thing to muster when working with a child. One definition of this is “the ability to suppress restlessness”, something kids need a lot of help with! Patience is great to model because it gives the child the experience of what it feels like to wait, while experiencing calmness and excitement. Calmness is a critical tool when working to harness emotions. Calmness and emotional regulation also go together. Emotional regulation cannot happen without some ability to be mindful and calm oneself. Modeling patience is a vital step in the child’s development; as they see and hear someone else calmly put into words their experience while providing structure -not only to the situation but to their internal emotional world. By experiencing this, children can then internalize that and learn how to use these qualities as a skill. Children also feel safe when adults are calm. As a result, they are more open to learn, and can learn how to regulate their emotions, and be patient with others, yeh!

5. Validation: When a child is really heard, understood and supported, their view of themself and the world around them are validated. It’s not just about a child’s developing ego; it’s also about their identity formation. The message they should be receiving is that they are enough just the way they are, even if they don’t get straight A’s. And if they do get great grades, there is still so much more to who they are which is all good stuff. These types of conversations are also about parents having an opportunity to tell their children that they are important, loved, unique and have something of value to offer the world. Children need to hear that who they are as human beings is ok. It’s critical to healthy development.

6. Respect:

The best way to explain what respect is is to show a child. This is respect for oneself and respect for others. Respect can be modeled in dialogue and behavior. How do you respect yourself? How do you respect your child? Talk with your child about who you respect and why. Or name a respectful action when your child acts in a thoughtful way. An example is the art of apologizing. An apology is actually an act of respect when done sincerely. It is another important skill set to incorporate into their identity. Apologizing helps children learn what is them (ego) and what is “other” (other people outside of themselves). This will help them make a distinction about what things they should or should not say or do, which is directly related to moral development and choices they will make down the road.

 

The development of a child clearly is a complex process. Incorporating traits such as these, not only can empower you as a parent but help children learn what values and morals are, so they will, not only be more likely to make good decisions, but also like themselves!

*A note about yelling: Studies show that when someone yells and gets upset emotionally, often what is being said gets lost. Instead what the person being yelled at remembers is the other person’s anger towards them and the fear they experienced at that moment. For a child, it creates stress in the child, making it hard for the child to learn, feel safe and regulate their emotions. This, not only, can affect memory, behavior and academic performance but also creates negative emotions like fear, hostility and defiance. Bottom line: if you want your children to develop emotionally healthy habits, and be emotionally healthy, model the behavior you want to see.

Parent exercise: How are your listening skills?

Take 15 minutes and sit down with your child, or go for a walk and listen – to them. The goal is to listen with an open mind and in a space of non-judgment modeling the skills listed above. Ask open-ended questions, get really interested in what they are saying and let them talk.

This exercise also models really great listening skills, which teaches your child how to listen. They et the experience internally of what it feels like to speak their truth, to say what they really want to say without someone taking over their emotional or thoughts in that moment. Good listening gives them the experience to truly be who they are and be free of judgment or ridicule. This is a necessary experience for children to develop confidence and a strong identity. It’s also an incredibly respectful and loving way to be with your child.


RESOURCES:

National Association for the Education of Young Children: Building Social and Emotional Skills at Home

The Gottman Institute: Fostering Emotionally Intelligent Children, Families and Communities[PDF]
by John Gottman

EmoSocial.com: Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and Emotion Coaching – Part 1

Books:

Touchpoints by T Berry Brazelton, M.D.

The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant, Symbiosis and Individuation by Margaret S. Mahler, M.D.

Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

Copyright 2019 Etain Services.