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Social and Emotional Learning in Post-Conflict Situations

Photo of Chantha by Thibault van der Stichel

For the past five years, I’ve volunteered at the Cambodian-based NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant. Since its foundation in 1996, Pour un Sourire d’Enfant has turned Cambodian children away from defeatism and a vicious cycle of drug addiction, prostitution, gambling, and violence. These children grew up amid severe hardship in which many of them were abused, prostituted, or orphaned in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which occurred during the 1970s. Almost 2 million people were murdered. Ethic minorities were targeted as well as students, doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. There was widespread abduction and indoctrination of children, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. Now, those kids have grown up, and their kids have inherited the extreme violence their parents suffered. This has created a desperate cycle of violence and poverty, and has made scavenging, prostitution, and drugs the main options that these children have to survive.

The Lasting Impact of the Cambodian Genocide

After the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed, the psychological repercussions were enormous, yet mental health care was ignored for many years. With their harrowing past, a significant proportion of the Cambodian population were inevitably afflicted with a variety of mental illnesses, most commonly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cambodian parents nowadays drink to forget, consume drugs to alleviate the pain, and use violence as a way to educate their children, communicate their needs, and express their emotions. Poverty, desperation, and a lack of empathy make Cambodian parents force their children to work on the streets, search for plastic at dumpsites, or prostitute themselves. These parents abuse their children and often sell them to child traffickers.

I observed that Pour un Sourire d’Enfant does a fantastic job of providing medical care, nutrition security, and education to more than 6,000 Cambodian children. Yet as the students get older, many of them consume drugs and alcohol, gamble, have suicidal thoughts, drop out of school, and struggle to understand and manage their emotions. I didn’t understand why this happened until I read Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Post-Conflict Situations

Thanks to Emotional Intelligence, I learned that family life is our first school for emotional learning and that everything a child sees, feels, and experiences will shape their sense of self. During the first three or four years of life a toddler’s brain grows to about two thirds its full size and evolves in complexity at a higher rate than it ever will again.

The areas of the brain affected by trauma are usually those associated with the regulation of emotion, as well as those that control learning and memory. Studies from the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. show that other brain regions related to the control of impulses and reasoning, problem-solving, and judgment are also impaired and, therefore, have less influence on an individual’s behavior. Victims of conflicts often have difficulty with bonding and attachment and thus developing stable and trusting relationships. Young children who experience trauma also show cognitive and language delays that place them at risk for early learning difficulties and later academic challenges. Traumatized children often suffer significant mood swings, anger, irritability, and profound depression. 

I soon understood that Cambodia was the perfect example of what could happen to an entire generation if mental health wasn’t taken into account after a country experienced war or conflict. Victims of extreme violence, human trafficking, and abuse, according to Dr. Goleman, “have had an early and steady diet of trauma, but seeing how the brain itself is shaped by brutality—or by love—suggests that childhood represents a unique window of opportunity for emotional lessons. The massive sculpting and pruning of neural circuits in youth is the reason why early emotional hardships and trauma have such enduring and pervasive effects in adulthood.” As a result, the sooner schools embed emotional learning, the greater likelihood that children can develop the skills to manage complex emotions.  

The post-conflict cycle of violence and poverty that occurs within families, communities, and entire countries can be lessened through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) education and reintegration programs. Research shows that SEL programs reduce fighting and bullying and increase academic achievement. Implementing SEL in post-conflict countries can accelerate their social and economic recovery and provide the foundation for a brighter future.

Beyond having the basic needs of food, safety, and shelter met, all people benefit from gaining a basic understanding of their emotions and how to manage them. Emotional Intelligence is key to leading a happier and more fulfilling life. It enables us to understand ourselves and forge meaningful relationships with others. Developing and cultivating EI in education, therefore, creates a foundation for success and helps kids develop emotional balance, self-esteem, and the ability to adapt to life’s challenges.

SEL for the Future of Post-Conflict Countries

There are several ways children can be affected during and after a conflict, such as becoming child soldiers, refugees, or victims of child trafficking. According to the Child Soldiers International’s World Index, in 2017, 203 cases of “suicide bombers” in Nigeria and Cameroon (by Boko Haram) were verified, “more than 3,000 cases of recruitment by armed groups in DR Congo were reported” (46 States militaries around the world continue to recruit children), “at least 19,000 under-18s are believed to be participating in the conflict in South Sudan,” and 240 million children live in countries affected by conflict.

We need to teach children not only how to do math and read English, but also how to understand and navigate their emotions, how to focus and adapt, and how to build positive connections with others. SEL should be incorporated into post-conflict child protection, education, and reintegration programs to help kids who suffer from child trafficking, extreme violence, and war injustices.

Recent research gives us reason to be hopeful. A large meta-analysis of SEL programming showed positive impact up to 18 years later on academics, conduct problems, emotional distress, and drug use. And, higher social and emotional competencies among SEL students at the end of the initial intervention was the best predictor of long-term benefits, demonstrating how important it is to develop these competencies in students. Ending the cycle of conflict, violence, and trauma is critical to advance civil society and it is within our reach. 

If you would like to learn more about SEL, check out these resources:

Want to develop your Emotional Intelligence in a supportive, virtual community? Over five, twelve, or twenty-four weeks, you can hone the skills that differentiate top-performers. Begin your learning journey this fall. You can learn more and register yourself or your team here.

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Time to Think: The Importance of Introspection in Leadership

I have the privilege to work with leaders from diverse sectors including government, medicine, nonprofits, and the arts. Something that constantly comes up during coaching leaders is their near constant fire-fighting and focus on the day-to-day. Like the movie, Groundhog Day, it seems like the same things happen over and over again. The clients I coach want to break the cycle of crisis and reactivity, but seem unable to. Yet they know they are capable of leading differently.

When leaders lead by crisis management, often a root cause is a lack of introspection–an absence of personal and strategic think time. This includes time to think about the future, time to plan, and time to consider what is most important. One way executives can explore this phenomenon is by reviewing their calendar. When do they think? Do they have time, their most precious commodity, blocked on their calendar for introspection?

The classic definition of introspection is a reflective looking inward, an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings. A leader needs introspection time for looking inward–to consider who they are, what they value, what motivates them–to build their self-awareness. I work with leaders who know the value of this self-reflection; they show up focused and clear. I also work with leaders who lack this habit of personal introspection. These leaders tend to show up frustrated and unfocused.

Looking inward is critical for self-knowledge and building one’s self-awareness. And as we know through Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence, our most effective leaders are highly self-aware. Self-awareness is the gateway to self-management and relationship building–important competencies for effective leaders.

Introspection or examination of personal values, meaning, and purpose creates clarity. It enables leaders to focus on long-term success, not simply fire-fighting. There is power in envisioning and planning for a future. If you don’t take the time, either during your totally packed week or during your precious weekend time, you miss an important leadership duty–“the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard” (Peter Drucker).

Journaling is a simple practice leaders can adopt to strengthen introspection and self awareness. There is great power writing. Not only does it bring inner clarity, the act of writing increases our ability to achieve. The physical act of writing stimulates the base of the brain, a group of cells called the reticular activating system (RAS). In Write It Down, Make It Happen, author Henriette Anne Klauser says that, “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that […] were there all along.” And we know writing down our goals helps in goal attainment. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, studies goal setting and found that you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down.

Leaders need to schedule time to be introspective and increase their self-awareness. And the simple practice of writing down their insights, intentions, and goals helps them become a more intentional leader who gets the best out of themselves, their people, and their organizations.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

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Emotional Intelligence in Times of Political Crisis

Leer en español

I was born in Puerto Cabello, an idyllic seaside city in beautiful Venezuela. I am the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, who like so many others, came from Europe to build a better future in a rapidly developing and modernizing country.

Venezuela received my beloved parents with warmth and joy and a willingness to share prosperity with people who work hard and wanted to become one with their adopted country. My family found their longed for future, and although we were not millionaires, we never missed anything.

Human connection in Venezuela is very close, and it was always easy to find any excuse to meet with friends to celebrate, watch a game or movie together, or simply just enjoy life.

Today, the reality for an immense majority in Venezuela is quite different. Our promising Venezuela crumbled; things we once took for granted are no more. Even basic foodstuffs are scarce, and our citizens are forced to look for them in the trash, taking turns to scavenge for scraps to share.

The streets have lost joy, fear has taken its place, and insecurity has grown by leaps and bounds. Corruption of our political classes is sweeping, and conscious or not, it causes disparity and alienation. Only those who have the resources to pay someone for a passport can dream of a different destiny; maybe a destiny like my parents dreamed of when they left Europe all those years ago.

Those who still find reason to remain in Venezuela, or simply do not have the resources to leave, have accepted that we have water only at unforeseen times, unstable electricity and internet service (when we have it at all), and a diet dependent upon what is available. We receive with certain normalcy the news of a loved one murdered at the hand of an offender (in uniform or not).

Despite the beauty of our landscape and its abundant natural resources, we live in this situation today. This collapse of civilization as I knew and I experienced it caused me to reflect on how my training in Emotional Intelligence might help me and my family through these dark and dangerous days.

In my experience, having Emotional Intelligence made the difference between barely surviving and living courageously during the recent shutdown in Venezuela.

How can Emotional Intelligence be useful when our basic needs are at stake?

Emotional Self-Awareness

The first thing is to be aware of are your emotions. In my case, I am fortunate enough to be a participant in the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, and without hesitation I utilized all the tools I’ve learned to detect each of my emotions and their triggers.

For a few minutes every morning and every night I practiced meditation to calm my breathing. During the day, I consciously made the decision to listen to my body and to associate its changes with my emotions. That gave me the opportunity to intervene before my emotions escalated. When my heartbeat accelerated and I felt a certain knot in my chest and throat, I became aware of the presence of fear or anguish, which accompanied me during those days.

I made an effort to identify the trigger of those emotions and reactions in my body. I realized the triggers occurred when I mentally reviewed my plan to face the day without water, without electricity, with uncooked food, and with limited options to acquire basic necessities. During this time the throbbing in my chest was accompanied by the chaos of my thoughts, which gave rise to anguish and fear. Becoming aware of my trigger allowed me to exercise greater control over my reactions while planning my day.

Emotional Balance

Once I utilized emotional self-awareness, which is the foundation of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (EI) model, I took advantage of the skills related to the management of my emotions. Emotional balance helped me check my emotions and my reactions to them. This was particularly useful to me, because despite so much pressure, I was able to maintain my own emotional balance and help my family do so as well. I shared with them the importance of observing ourselves during those difficult days, and anticipating the inevitable negative emotions in order to keep ourselves upright. Emotional balance meant that we could pause at the first signs of anguish, fear, or anger, and intervene with a question, a smile, a moment of calm, a talk, and a prayer.

Adaptability

Adaptability enabled me to adjust to our daily struggle and keep my family afloat. Without this competence I would have been unable to recognize that I have the internal resources to deal with these daily challenges.

I try to remember that the conditions are temporarily different, and look for ways to minimize the impact of the whole situation. This allowed me to take off my heels and executive hat and collect water, look for charcoal or firewood, reorganize the housework, and re-plan significant activities.

My intention was not to adapt to being without electricity forever. Adaptability is not conformism; this ability allowed me to adjust to the situation, awakening the possibility to learn from it.

Positive Outlook

In the less stressful moments, I took advantage of positive outlook. In particular, I used a visualization micro-technique which I repeated whenever I considered it necessary. Very intentionally, I focused on the situation I wanted to be in; I imagined it, I gave it color and feeling. I knew that my brain would not know whether this was imaginary or real. This sense of focus gave me more time to talk with my daughters, to sit around a candlelit table game, and pick up books I had begun reading.

Achievement Orientation

I also put together a plan to stick to my current goals. For example, to keep up my learning commitment for the EI Coaching Certification, I found a way to charge my phone, and in the moments in which I had telephone service, to update my learning team about my situation, schedule meetings, and anticipate alternatives in case the situation was repeated or extended.

I know that I am fortunate and in a privileged situation. While I focus on my certification, others made use of these skills to find medicine and medical care, or just feed their families and stay hydrated.

Empathy

And among these foundational competencies of Emotional Intelligence, the one that most comforted me and gave me the opportunity to help others was empathy.

By listening without interrupting, without judging, and without anticipating their answers, I was better able to understand what my daughters were thinking and feeling. Empathy allowed me to stay connected and compassionate amid the difficult situation.

Despite competition for basic resources, many of us shared food, water, a generator to charge some appliances, and kitchens at the homes of those who had gas stoves. We also understood that negative reactions often weren’t personal; they were reactions to the whole situation. This understanding in a crisis situation is borne of walking in the shoes of the other and from having the tolerance to be compassionate. In my experience, none of that is possible without empathy.

EI Competencies in Practice

Here’s how you can translate these Emotional Intelligence competencies into concrete actions during a situation like the one we continue to live in Venezuela:

  • Develop awareness of your emotions. When you feel fear, anger, happiness, love or another emotion, recognize it. Then stop a moment and ask yourself how you feel, where you feel, and how it manifests in your body. Recognizing your emotions is essential to a strong foundation of Emotional Intelligence.
  • Take a break, ideally at the beginning of the day, to practice meditation or an activity that calms you. If you’re new to meditation, try taking at least ten deep and slow breaths.
  • Become aware of how you react to each emotion and what your trigger is. For example, if you think about the day’s uncertainties and notice that your breathing starts to accelerate, stop; you just found a trigger. Prepare for how you’ll react the next time you detect that trigger.
  • When you detect a strong emotion, don’t react immediately. By taking time to pause, the response to your emotion will be a reaction from your brain’s neocortex, which can override emotional reactions, and not your amygdala, which is automatic and often irrational.
  • Adapt to the new conditions. This will allow you the calm needed to build develop a plan. Visualize yourself achieving your plan; your brain will not make distinctions between this happening in reality or in your imagination, take advantage of it.
  • When you incorporate new routines, remember to treat yourself with kindness, calculate risks, and allow yourself the time to adjust to the new routine.
  • Remember that this situation does not define your life–turn this into a mantra and do not give more power to the situation.
  • Practice tolerance and compassion. If you have knowledge of Emotional Intelligence, put it at the service of your connection with others, and lead your interactions with the harmony that only Emotional Intelligence can give us.

Above all, Emotional Intelligence is about recognizing our emotions in order to navigate them and effectively connect with others. EI is not about not feeling our emotions or repressing or controlling them, it is about managing our reactions to our emotions.

One day I found myself with tears in my eyes and I gave myself permission to mourn, to feel my fear, sadness, and anger. I cried for a while until I fell asleep, overcome by the fatigue of that day’s struggle. The next day it dawned on me; by remaining aware of my emotions and my reactions, I had the opportunity to help lead in an emotionally intelligent way, and share my story with my country and the world.

Thanks to my Venezuela for the lessons, I would definitely prefer they were gentler, but I still appreciate them. Thanks Daniel Goleman and Goleman EI Training for education in Emotional Intelligence, thanks to my Coaching Certification colleagues who have sent me their good wishes, offers of help, and even their frustration with the situation in my country. And a special thanks to my learning team, Patricia Figueroa and Nora Infante, with whom I always found a way to continue.

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Inteligencia Emocional en tiempos de Crisis Política

Read in English 

Nací en Puerto Cabello, una idílica ciudad costera, en la bella Venezuela. Soy hija de inmigrantes portugueses, mis padres como tantos otros, vinieron de Europa para construir un mejor futuro en un país en rápido crecimiento.

Venezuela recibió a mis queridos padres con la templanza de sus paisajes, la calidez y alegría de su gente y con toda su disposición a compartir su prosperidad con aquellos que con trabajo arduo decidieron ser parte de este, su país adoptivo.

La conexión humana en Venezuela es muy estrecha, y siempre fue fácil encontrar una excusa para reunirnos con amigos para celebrar, ver un juego o una película juntos, o simplemente brindar por la vida.

Hoy en día, la realidad para una inmensa mayoría en Venezuela es diferente. Nuestra prometedora Venezuela se derrumbó; las cosas que alguna vez dimos por sentadas ya no existen. Incluso los alimentos básicos son escasos, y muchas personas se ven obligadas a buscarlos en la basura, tomando turnos para buscar restos que compartir.

Las calles han perdido alegría, el miedo ha ocupado su lugar y la inseguridad ha crecido a pasos agigantados. La corrupción de nuestras clases políticas es abismal, causando disparidad y alienación. Solo aquellos que tienen los recursos para pagarle a alguien por un pasaporte pueden soñar con un destino diferente; tal vez un destino como el que soñaron mis padres cuando salieron de Europa hace tantos años.

Quienes aún encuentran motivos para permanecer en Venezuela, o simplemente no tienen los recursos para irse, han aceptado tener agua algunos días, electricidad e internet (cuando se tiene) inestable y una dieta que depende de lo que este disponible. Recibimos con cierta normalidad las noticias de un ser querido asesinado a manos de un delincuente (con uniforme o no).

A pesar de la belleza de nuestro paisaje y sus abundantes recursos naturales, hoy vivimos en esta crisis. Durante la reciente situación del apagón en Venezuela, me permití reflexionar sobre como el conocimiento adquirido en mi entrenamiento en Inteligencia Emocional podría ayudarnos a mí ya mi familia durante esos oscuros días.

En mi experiencia, tener Inteligencia Emocional marcó la diferencia entre sobrevivir la experiencia y vivirla con propósito.

¿Cómo puede ser útil la inteligencia emocional cuando nuestras necesidades básicas están en juego?

Autoconciencia emocional

Lo primero que debes tener en cuenta son tus emociones. En mi caso, tengo la suerte de participar en la Certificación de Inteligencia Emocional de Daniel Goleman y, sin dudarlo, utilicé todas las herramientas que he aprendido para detectar cada una de mis emociones y sus desencadenantes.

Por unos minutos cada mañana y todas las noches practiqué meditación para calmar mi respiración. Durante el día, tomé conscientemente la decisión de escuchar mi cuerpo y asociar sus cambios con mis emociones. Eso me dió la oportunidad de intervenir antes de que mis emociones aumentaran. Cuando los latidos de mi corazón se aceleraban y sentía un cierto nudo en el pecho y la garganta, sabia que estaba en presencia del miedo o la angustia, que me acompañaron durante esos días.

Hice un esfuerzo por identificar el desencadenante de esas emociones y reacciones en mi cuerpo. Me di cuenta de que los factores desencadenantes ocurrían cuando revisaba mentalmente mi plan para enfrentar el día sin agua, sin electricidad, con alimentos sin refrigerar y con opciones limitadas para cubrir mis necesidades básicas. Durante estos momentos, los latidos desordenados en mi pecho fueron acompañados por el caos de mis pensamientos, que daban lugar a la angustia y el miedo. Tomar conciencia de mi desencadenante me permitió luego, ejercer un mayor control sobre mis reacciones mientras planificaba mi día.

Balance Emocional

Una vez que utilicé la autoconciencia emocional, que es la base del modelo de Inteligencia Emocional (IE) de Daniel Goleman, aproveché las habilidades relacionadas con el manejo de mis emociones. El balance emocional me ayudó a gestionar mis emociones y controlar mis reacciones ante ellas. Esto fue particularmente útil para mí, porque a pesar de toda la presión, pude mantener mi propio equilibrio emocional y ayudar a mi familia a hacerlo también. Compartí con ellos la importancia de observarnos durante esos días difíciles y anticipar las inevitables emociones negativas para no doblegarnos ante ellas. Esto nos permitió poder detenernos ante los primeros signos de angustia, miedo o enojo, e intervenir con una pregunta, una sonrisa, un momento de calma, una conversación o una oración.

Adaptabilidad

La adaptabilidad me permitió ajustarme a mi lucha diaria y mantener a mi familia a flote. Sin esta competencia, no habría podido reconocer que tenia los recursos internos para enfrentar los desafíos de esos días.

Intencionalmente me hice consciente de la temporalidad de esta situación y busqué formas de minimizar su impacto. Esto me permitió quitarme los tacones y el sombrero ejecutivo y recolectar agua, buscar carbón o leña, reorganizar las tareas domésticas y replanificar actividades significativas.

Mi intención no era adaptarme a estar sin electricidad para siempre. La adaptabilidad no es conformismo; esta habilidad me permitió ajustarme a la situación, despertando la posibilidad de aprender de ella.

Perspectiva Positiva

En los momentos menos estresantes, encontré un espacio para tomar ventaja de la competencia de perspectiva positiva. En particular, utilicé una micro técnica de visualización que repetí cada vez que lo consideré necesario. Intencionalmente, me centré en la situación en la que quería estar; la imaginé, le di color y sentimiento. Sabía que mi cerebro no haría diferencia entre si esto era imaginario o real.

Abrigada bajo esta competencia, encontré que el apagón también me dio más tiempo para hablar con mis hijas, sentarme alrededor de un juego de mesa a la luz de las velas y retomar libros que había comenzado a leer.

Orientación al logro

También armé un plan para mantener mis objetivos del momento. Por ejemplo, para cumplir con mi compromiso de aprendizaje para la Certificación de Entrenamiento en Inteligencia Emocional, encontré la forma de cargar mi teléfono de manera que en  los momentos en que tuve el servicio telefónico, pude informar a mi equipo de aprendizaje sobre mi situación, programar reuniones y anticipar alternativas, previniendo que la situación se extendiera en el tiempo

Sé que soy afortunada y que estoy en una situación privilegiada. Mientras yo estaba enfocada en mi certificación, otros usaron estas habilidades para encontrar medicamentos y atención médica, o simplemente alimentar a sus familias y mantenerse hidratados.

Empatía

Y entre estas competencias fundamentales de la Inteligencia Emocional, la que más me consoló y me dio la oportunidad de ayudar a los demás fue la empatía.

Al escuchar sin interrumpir, sin juzgar y sin anticipar sus respuestas, pude entender mejor lo que mis hijas estaban pensando y sintiendo. La empatía me permitió estar conectada y ser compasiva en medio de la difícil situación.

A pesar de la necesidad de todos  por los recursos básicos, muchos de nosotros compartimos alimentos, agua, un generador para cargar algunos electrodomésticos y cocinas en las casas de las personas que tenían estufas de gas. También entendimos que las reacciones negativas a menudo no eran personales; eran reacciones a toda la situación. Comprender esto, es solo posible cuando te pones en los zapatos del otro y cultivas la compasión y la tolerancia. En mi experiencia, nada de eso es posible sin empatía. 

Competencias de la IE en la práctica

Aquí encontraras como puedes traducir estas competencias de Inteligencia Emocional en acciones concretas durante una situación como la que vivimos en Venezuela:

  • Desarrolla la conciencia de tus emociones. Cuando sientas miedo, ira, felicidad, amor u otra emoción, reconócela. Luego detente un momento y pregúntate cómo se siente, dónde se siente y cómo se manifiesta en tu cuerpo. Reconocer tus emociones es esencial para contar con una base sólida de Inteligencia Emocional.
  • Tómate un descanso, idealmente al comienzo del día, para practicar la meditación o una actividad que te calme. Si eres nuevo en la meditación, empieza haciendo al menos diez respiraciones profundas y lentas.
  • Toma conciencia de cómo reaccionas ante cada emoción y cuál es su desencadenante. Por ejemplo, si te levantas con la lista de todos tus pendientes y notas que u respiración comienza a acelerarse, deténte; acabas de encontrar un disparador. Prepárate para la forma en que reaccionará la próxima vez que detectes ese disparador.
  • Cuando detectes una emoción fuerte, no reacciones de inmediato. Al tomarte el tiempo para hacer una pausa, la respuesta a tu emoción será una reacción del neocortex de tu cerebro, que puede anular las reacciones emocionales, y no de tu amígdala, que es automática y, a menudo, irracional.
  • Adáptate a las nuevas condiciones. Esto te permitirá la calma necesaria para construir un plan. Visualízate logrando tu plan; tu cerebro no hará distinciones entre si el logro de tu plan sucede en la realidad o en tu imaginación, aprovéchalo.
  • Cuando incorpores nuevas rutinas, recuerda tratarte con amabilidad, calcula los riesgos y tómete el tiempo para adaptarte.
  • Recuerda que esta situación no define tu vida; convierte esto en un mantra y no le otorgues más poder a la situación.
  • Practica la tolerancia y la compasión. Si tienes conocimiento de Inteligencia Emocional, ponlo al servicio de tu conexión con los demás y gestiona tus interacciones con la armonía que solo la Inteligencia Emocional puede brindarnos.

Por encima de todo, la Inteligencia Emocional consiste en reconocer nuestras emociones para navegarlas y conectarnos efectivamente con los demás. La IE no se trata de no sentir nuestras emociones ni de reprimirlas o controlarlas, se trata de controlar nuestras reacciones ante nuestras emociones.

En mi caso, una madrugada me encontré con mis lagrimas y me di el permiso de llorar, de sentir mi quiebre tejido de miedo, tristeza y rabia, lloré un rato hasta quedarme dormida vencida por el cansancio de la lucha de ese día.. y luego amaneció. Y consciente de mi emoción y de mi reacción, ese amanecer también me dió la oportunidad de elegir conducirme de manera emocionalmente inteligente, dejando mi granito de arena a mi país  y al mundo.

Gracias mi Venezuela por las lecciones, sin duda las preferiría mas gentiles e igual las agradezco. Gracias Daniel Goleman y Key Step Media por el aprendizaje en Inteligencia Emocional, gracias a mis compañeros de certificación de coaching que a la distancia me han enviado sus buenos deseos, ofertas de ayuda e incluso su frustración ante la situación vivida en mi país y gracias especiales a mi equipo de aprendizaje Patricia Figueroa y Nora Infante con quienes siempre encontré una manera de continuar.

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Yes, and… Improv & Emotional Intelligence

If you’ve ever seen episodes of Whose Line is it Anyways?, a popular U.S. improv show adapted from a British TV show, you might have found yourself in stitches and thinking, I could NEVER be that spontaneous! Yet the truth is that you improvise every single day.

In the show, four improv actors get on stage without any script and are given prompts by the show’s host. Out of seemingly nothing comes a complete scene that elicits laughter. Yet it isn’t out of nothing. The actors craft a story from gifts they give each other. These gifts may seem subtle to the observer, but in fact, they include nuggets of information, trust, and of course, “yes, and…” Rather than rejecting what the other is saying, no matter how absurd (Rita! There is a pink rhinoceros brushing your hair!), improv actors accept the statement as reality and go with it.

In Dr. John Gottman’s words, they “turn towards” each other. Gottman has spent decades researching what predicts marital stability versus divorce: whether couples turn towards, or against or away from each other. For example, if one says, “I made dinner tonight,” turning toward might sound like, “it smells wonderful, thank you;” turning against might sound like, “you know I’m trying to cut carbs;” and turning away might sound like, “let me tell you about my day.” Sound familiar?

For a successful improv scene to work, not unlike a marriage, the two actors must turn towards each other. And the greater their Emotional Intelligence (EI), the greater likelihood of the scene’s success. When improv actors have high emotional self-awareness, they are better able to tap into their emotions and authentically respond to the gift of dialogue that their partner has given them. When they have high emotional balance, they are better able to keep their responses in check and move the scene forward rather than co-opt it or freeze in the moment. When they have high adaptability, they are better able to adjust to anything that gets thrown at them in the moment (including pink rhinoceroses).

Beyond being aware of and managing their emotions, improv actors also need EI to build trust and give their partners nuggets of information that they can build upon. This requires empathy, actively listening to and picking up cues about their partner; organizational awareness, reading the scene’s underlying relationships and dynamics; and teamwork, sharing the responsibility of building the scene.

Much of the work on an improv stage happens off stage. Not every scene works, and the constant adaptation, affirmation, and constructive feedback during rehearsals enable improv actors to build trust and safety with one another. Improv actors do not go out of their way to be funny. In fact, trying to be too funny may fall flat. Rather, being authentic to the given “reality” may elicit far greater laughter and a scene that is absurdly funny and completely human.

Every single day, you have conversations that are improv. You might not be on stage figuring out what to do with a pink rhinoceros, but you might need to figure out why your two-year old decided that spaghetti would make a good sofa cushion or wonder why your boss thought erupting into anger at a staff meeting would be productive. Other people are constantly giving you gifts, nuggets of information that you can actively respond to. Emotional Intelligence supports your capacity to turn towards, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant the situation. When we accept and build on these gifts, we can set ourselves and the other person towards a better result.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

We have only a few spots remaining for our personalized EI coaching and training package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

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Stories that Change the Status Quo

The stories we tell, the words we choose, and the body language that accompanies those words have a tremendous impact on our ability to influence others. When people feel understood and can see themselves within the story you tell, you gain the power to change the status quo.

Influence is the essence of what a leader does. As such, you can utilize influence to gain buy-in for your ideas, to foster change in your organization, and to instill purpose in your work, even if you aren’t in a formal leadership position.

On a neurological level, tone of voice, body movements, gestures, facial expression, and posture all combine to create packages of energy received by the social brain. People with strengths in influence are sensitive to the exchange of this energy and use it to persuade through language.

Storytelling enables us to connect with the social brain. This active engagement fosters trust and resonance with others. After all, a compelling story is far more engaging than facts or information alone. We can use stories as vehicles for information that also speak to our shared emotions and goals.

Telling Your Story

Leaders–whether formal or informal–achieve their effectiveness through the stories they tell. Resonant narratives offer an alternative to the prevailing storyline (“this is just the way things are”) and help us gain buy-in from others to move an idea or project forward.

Marshall Ganz, community organizer and Harvard professor, has identified three layers to an effective public story: “the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now.” The story of self is your personal story. This includes why you have chosen to pursue change–whether you want to make your company more environmentally sustainable, improve the school system in which you teach, or establish patient limits in your hospital.

Why is this change important to you? And how has your story thus far led you to value this change? You might begin by thinking about your parents and your childhood. In what ways has your past led you to where you are today?

The story of us enables others to fit themselves into your vision. What values do you and members of your organization share? What story can you tell that articulates your shared identity? For example, as a nurse petitioning for safe patient limits, you might find the story of us in a common desire to help others, for which you and your coworkers have made sacrifices throughout your careers.

An effective story of us necessitates authentic leadership. With self-awareness and empathy, we can build genuine rapport with those we seek to lead. Without these competencies, the group you want to influence may find it difficult to relate to you or envision themselves within your narrative.

Lastly, the story of now articulates the action you and your group must take. Effective leaders identify actions, not simply problems. What specific action will you call upon your group to take? How does this serve your mission? Why should your group take this action now, instead of postponing it for the future?

You may find it beneficial to tell your story to a friend or record yourself. Start at the beginning (your parents, your childhood), move toward the present, and envision the future you’d like to shape.

Once you’ve gotten your thoughts out, try to distill your answers to three sentences, one for each layer (self, us, and now) of your story. The ultimate goal of this exercise isn’t to write a single narrative, but to have pieces you can adapt and iterate from again and again for different audiences and situations. When we build a narrative in this way, we develop the tools to initiate positive change in our communities and organizations.

This activity is inspired by Marshall Ganz’s worksheet, “Telling Your Public Story.” If you’re interested in developing a politically oriented story, you may find his work particularly beneficial.  

Recommended Resources

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

We have only a few spots remaining for our personalized EI coaching and training package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

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A Most Civil Dinner: Bridging Disagreement with Emotional Intelligence

Put two people together, and there will be disagreement. No matter how agreeable they are, even if they were part of the same zygote, each person will perceive the world differently, depending on their own experiences, assumptions, and filters. As one of the 12 Self-Discoveries of the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification program states, our Senses + Perception = Our Experience. Disagreeing is part of the human experience. And hopefully finding commonality as well. Our predecessors must have been quite successful at doing this; otherwise, they would have battled to the death over whether or not to use fire for cooking (No doubt many did. Thank goodness for those who decided, “yes, please.”)

Such natural disagreements have taken a different tone in contemporary times. The U.S. celebrates its freedom of speech for many, many good reasons. Yet it isn’t hard to see that we have entered into a space of uncivil discourse. Regardless of our political leanings, we have become prone to staying with our bubble of passionate peers, convinced the “Other” is wrong. Even if a possible disruption to our bubble arises, we might stifle that independent, wayward thought for fear of being ostracized or labeled as an enemy-from-within. We may stifle any urge to give the “Other” air time to share their misguided beliefs. Yet as Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

History is full of lessons on the importance of self-awareness, and how it may allow us to have the wherewithal to critically examine ourselves, the situation, and others without letting our emotions snow us under. When we do that, we can better connect with others in more meaningful ways toward a common good, even with those with whom we have disagreements.

For example, Socrates, now revered as the Father of Western Philosophy, was not so popular in his day. His belief that “the unexamined life is not worth living” was not held in high regard, nor was his philosophy that one must use rhetoric to justify behavior, no matter how abhorrent that behavior. Today, the Socratic method, elenchus, of cooperative, argumentative dialogue is used in many settings, including classrooms, to get each party to draw out presuppositions. This requires critical thinking and the capacity to civilly make a case and challenge the other.

The examination of the self in order to regulate our emotions and behaviors, and to then show up for others, is part of a philosophical tradition that extends beyond Socrates to the likes of Confucius and many others. By doing this, we go beyond ourselves to impact others and the systemic and/or institutional realities around us.

The Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification (EICC) is grounded in a Self-Other-Systems approach. Self-Other-Systems relies on self-awareness and self-management (the foundation of the EICC model), enabling us to connect with others with curiosity and compassion and as a result shift organizations and systems.

One tool for civil discourse is the Jeffersonian Dinner, based on the dinners that Thomas Jefferson held during his time at Monticello. Jefferson wasn’t perfect, and perhaps his dinners were not as inclusive as they would (hopefully) be today, but we can learn from his goal of creating connection civilly.

An advocate and revitalizer of these dinners is Jeff Walker, author of the Generosity Network, who has been hosting modern-day Jeffersonian Dinners on topics ranging from global health, to anti-poverty, to education. The goal is to bring different people together to build real connection, challenge one’s perspective, open one’s bubble, and become motivated to take action. Innovative ideas arise from diverse perspectives; better relationships emerge from deeper connection; and progress happens when awareness moves us to action. During Jeffersonian Dinners, dinner guests are not allowed to only talk to the person next to them; rather, the point is to have a “one-mind conversatIon.” One table, one conversation. Everyone hears everyone.

In Walker’s TedX talk and article, he articulates the following rules:

  • The people: 12-15 at a table (consider ways to bring together people who might not otherwise find themselves at a table naturally)
  • The theme: offer a topic of interest
  • The narrative: set the progression of the discussion to go from ME to US to WE
    • Ask each person to connect with opening question on an individual level (ME).
    • Find commonality and connection with each other’s responses (US).
    • Take a pulse of what/who to follow up with (a pause).
    • Identify actions each person can take individually and together (WE).

This process can be used in a variety of settings, from board meetings to nonprofit gatherings. Recently, this method was used in a jury deliberation in which each member was asked to listen with an open mind, respect every opinion–no matter how much they disagreed–ask questions for clarification with curiosity and without judgment, share rationale based on evidence not speculation, and agree on the common goal of reaching the right decision. The judge lauded the jury for civilly coming to a decision quickly and with genuine curiosity, connection, and compassion.

This type of discussion requires self-awareness and self-management, so that we aren’t carried away by our own emotions or stuck in our own presumptions when someone else is speaking. With strength in these abilities, we can truly listen with curiosity and invite other perspectives that help us challenge and critically examine our own beliefs.

Civil discourse doesn’t require a dinner. Though filling the belly can be an added plus.

Recommended Resources:

We have only a few spots remaining for our personalized EI coaching and training package. You’ll receive year-long access to our online EI training courses, a range of EI assessments, one-on-one coaching sessions, and more. You can learn how it works and register here.

Are you interested in leading Emotional Intelligence transformations? Apply today for the Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification. Whether you’re an established coach or new to the field, this intensive program offers the tools and first hand experience you need to coach for transformational growth.

Get the latest news in Emotional Intelligence delivered to your inbox!

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