Beginning with the research by Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer who were the first to define EQ – Emotional Intelligence – as a scientific concept, EQ is now a truth confirmed by numerous studies at many levels. It states thathe emotional skills significantly explain personal and professional success. For many years ignored and stifled, today emotions are recognized as wealth, a source of information, an authentic guide in decision making processes and knowing how to manage them is of fundamental importance. At Studio Growing it is possible to choose assessment and emotional skills training, accompanied by professional coaches with specific experience.
To know yourself, to understand yourself and to increase awareness.
I found a recent publication by Susan David, an instructor of psychology at Harvard University, to be highly lucid and practically efficient. In the Harvard Business review Susan talks about “emotional agility” as a critical skill for the efficiency of leaders in every sector and defines it as the capacity to accept thoughts and emotions without looking to suppress them and without “being taken by the hook”; rather to approach them in the present constructive way and guided by your own values.”
Working, entering into relationships, living puts us in front of thoughts, also negative and uncomfortable sentiments, such as irritation, doubts and fear. Hiding or suppressing them, as we would be led to do according to old cultural heritage, is not a good strategy. On the other hand, managing emotions is to take note that these thoughts and moods exist, they are part of the normality of our daily lives and have a positive function if we recognize them as such: thoughts and moods, just that, not facts.
Emotions are phenomena that occur to the body and to the mind, independently of our will and conscience and contain specific energy and information. The ability consists in accepting the emotional message and acting on it as we maintain the choice in respect to the subsequent actions. In this way, in the presence of an impulse it becomes possible to become aware of the factors and triggered it, to draw from the experience information and learning and to not act automatically with a piloted behaviour but with a choice that reflects what counts: precisely our values.
Acting instead of reacting is the great freedom that emotional intelligence gives us, together with the possibility of living for more time and with greater frequency in desired states and source of resources. These individual and very personal values are preferred as well: having faith, serenity or concentration; being present, feeling inspired, feeling centred. This skill is not acquired in an instant but is trained over time with all of its components. The starting point is awareness.
Listening is the first thing, giving space, without judging: we accept the signal by our internal system that something is perceived as important and requires our attention in terms of reading and decoding. An essential passage consists in giving what we feel a precise name: if I have a word to say then it exists, and I recognize it. The more this process of “literacy” is efficient the greater the wealth of emotional language and it can be facilitated by models that supply semantic references. One of these is the Plutchik scheme that isolates eight primary emotions, their meanings and degree do intensity.
In addition, it is important to learn to recognize your own triggers, those factors that touch our sensitive points and trigger an emotional reaction. Joseph DeLoux, a neuroscientist from New York University, defines them as memories that are indelibly impressed in the Amygdala, the oldest part of our brain. If removing them is improbable, identifying them allows other resources to intervene: first of all, the cerebral cortex and the conscience.
And again: designing a profile of the emotions felt habitually, learning for each of them how to recognize and to represent the trigger, the intensity and the average duration. Recognizing and taking note of the patterns: those neural patterns and paths that are activated automatically after a stimulus that include thoughts, interpretations, bodily sensations and actions (on the definition of automatic emotional mechanisms the studies by Silvan Tomkins and his ‘Affect Theory”, 1962-1992 are still interesting).
This is a process of development of emotional development that is not always easy and anything but rapid. Many of us must work on it for a long time, dealing with one aspect at a time. One support that is often useful comes from evaluation tools: questionnaires based on solid research, such as SEI and MSCEIT, which give a clearer vision of initial abilities and they can suggest on which elements to concentrate first. Constancy is essential: a systematic approach, constant and punctual, of gathering, recording and physical analysis. And training to keep in touch with our internal experience and to notice what happens to us as soon as possible.
The reward is the power of meta-recognition, the capacity to think on the thoughts that support the understanding and the experience of self which allows real and authentic relational behaviour and improves the possibility to decide the appropriate actions to the situations we experience: in respect to the environment, to others and to ourselves.
by Laura Ravanetti