Self-Awareness for Kids
© Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Jan Hanson, L.Ac., 2005
Sometimes I'm with my kids
(or driving in traffic or talking to my husband or . . . ) and suddenly
I'll start feeling angry or frustrated or sad -- and I don't understand where that came from. Other times, our preschooler
will just start lashing out but he can't say what's bothering him. Any ideas?
Great question! You're talking
about self-awareness, which is one of the five essential inner skills (the others are letting go of painful experiences, insight into oneself, taking in positive experiences, and
Although these inner skills
get much less attention than the outer ones - like long division, writing business letters, or driving a fork lift - they
make a much bigger difference in a person's lifetime happiness, income, and contribution to others. So it pays to help children
get good at them . . . and to get good at them ourselves. This is a profoundly important idea for every family.
For example, a toddler who
can notice early on that she's getting frustrated and go to her mom for comfort is going to be happier (and easier to raise) than one who builds up tension and anger to the point that it explodes
and overwhelms her. Similarly, a parent who can sense the softer feelings of being let down beneath the surface of anger is
going to be a lot more effective in communicating with his or her partner.
Everybody's self-aware, to some degree -- and here are some ways to get even better at it.
- Adjusting your feedback to
the age of the child, mirror back what he or she is experiencing. For example, you could say "Wheee!" exuberantly in tune
with an infant breaking into a smile. Or you might sigh in quiet sympathy with a teenage daughter who's frustrated with one
of her friends. Children come to see themselves in large part through being mirrored by their parents.
- Accept your child's experience
as it is; that will help him accept it, too, which is necessary for complete self-awareness.
Separate what a child is feeling inside, which is always alright, from how he behaves, which can be good or bad.
- Accept that children are
usually more aware of themselves than they can put into words; their verbal abilities lag behind their self-knowledge.
- In appropriate ways, describe
your own experience to your child, like "Well, mommy feels both sad at missing you while you are in childcare but also happy
at being able to help make money for the family." Get across the idea that feeling two ways at once is normal and OK.
- Take a moment at meals to
be aware of oneself and the food - perhaps combined with a religious blessing - before diving in.
- When something is bothering
a child, try to get him to describe his experience in age-appropriate detail. Focus on her experience, not the circumstances
and what she ought to do. Just that alone often helps a child feel better.
The inner world has its own
reality, and you can become a very skillful observer of it as well:
Take a minute or two at least
once a day to check in with yourself and assess the full spectrum of your experience, including your body sensations, emotions,
thought, desires, and images.
Whenever you feel at all
upset, do a quick check through the full spectrum of experience described just above.
Do an honest self-assessment about the aspects of your inner world that you tend to ignore, suppress, deny, disown, or push to the sidelines.
People who know you well can help with this. Remember that resisting your experience just makes it persist. The fastest way
to help it move on is to open the door wide to it; otherwise, it keeps on knocking!
Cultivate a daily practice
in SOMETHING that centers you in an inner sanctuary of peaceful, interested, kind awareness. Meditation, yoga, or prayer are
the preeminent methods for this, but you could also get a lot out of very consciously cooking, gardening, walking, playing
music, or making art or crafts. Then, from time to time during the day, take a moment to re-center yourself in this inner
sanctuary of simply being.
Imagine that your experience
is a kind of layered parfait, with adult levels on top and younger parts underneath, reaching all the way back to earliest
Notice your attitudes toward
your younger parts; these are often an internalization of your parents' messages. Do you accept those younger parts or push
them away? Do you bring kindness to them or meanness? Experiment with being especially kind to them, and see what that's like.
Whenever you're upset, try
to sense into the younger layers beneath the surface of frustration, loss, or anger. Your awareness of them will help them
flow . . . and move on.
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Self Awareness: Knowing Who You Are And How You Learn
The ability to learn is
much more than a college skill. Being a learner for life means that you will be able to keep page with rapidly changing workplace
technology, stay aware of world developments and how they affect you, and continue to grow as a person.
To learn effectively, you
need to understand how you learn. This chapter will help you by introducing you to two different personal assessments - one
focusing on how you take in information, and one that helps you determine how you interact with others. You will then explore
other important elements of self:
- your self perception
The more you know about your learning style, interests and abilities, the
better prepared you will be to choose a career that makes the most of who you are and what you can do.
Is There One Best Way To Learn?
Your mind is the most powerful tool you will ever possess.
You are accomplished at many skills and can process all kinds of information. However, when you have trouble accomplishing
a particular task, you may become convinced that you can't learn how to do anything new. Not only is this perception incorrect,
It can also damage your belief in yourself.
Every individual is highly
developed in some abilities and underdeveloped in others. Many famously successful people were brilliant in one area but functioned
poorly in other areas. Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. Abraham Lincoln was demoted to a private in the Black Hawk
war. Louis Pasteur was a poor student in chemistry. Walt Disney was fired from a job and told he had no good ideas. What some
might interpret as a dificiency or a disability might simply be a different method of learning. People have had their own
individual gifts - the key is to identify them.
There is no best way
to learn. Instead, there are many different learning styles, each suited to different situations. Each person's learning
style is unique. Knowing how you learn is one of the first steps in discovering who you are. Before you explore your
learning style, consider how the knowledge you will gain will help you.
What Are The Benefits of Knowing Your Learning Style?
Although it takes some work and exploration, understanding
your learning style can benefit you in many ways - in your studies, the classroom and the workplace.
Most students aim to maximize learning while minimizing frustration and
time spent studying. If you know your strengths and limitations, you can use techniques that take advantage of your highly
developed areas while helping you through your less developed ones.
For example, say you perform better in smaller discussion-based classes.
When you have the opportunity, you might choose a course section that is smaller or is taught by an instructor who prefers
group discussion. You might also apply specific strategies to improve your retention in a large-group lecture situation.
Knowing your learning style can make the most of the teaching
styles of your instructors. Your particular learning style may work well with the way some instructors teach and be a mismatch
with other instructors. Remember that an instructor's teaching style often reflects his or her learning style. Once you understand
the various teaching styles you encounter, plan to make adjustments to maximize your learning.
Assess how well your own styles match up with the various teaching styles.
If your styles mesh well with an instructor's styles you're in luck. If not, you have a number of options.
Bring extra focus to your weaker areas. Although it's not easy, working
on your weaker points will help you break new ground in your learning. For example, if you're a verbal person in math - and
logic oriented class, increase your focus and concentration during class so you can get as much as you can from the presentation.
Then spend extra study time on the material, make a point to ask others from your class help you, and search for additional
supplemental materials and exercises to reinforce your knowledge.
Ask you instructor for additional help. For example, a visual
person might ask an instructor to recomment visuals that would help to illustrate the points made in class. If the class breaks
up into smaller groups, you might ask the instructor to divide those groups roughly according to learning style. so that
the students with similar strengths can help each other.
- Lecture: Instructor speaks to the class the entire period, little
to no class interaction.
- Group Discussion: Instructor presents material but encourages class discussion throughout.
- Small Groups: Instructor presents material and then breaks class into
small groups for discussion or project work.
- Visual Focus: Instructor uses visual elements such as diagrams, photographs,
drawings, or transparencies.
- Verbal Focus: Instructor relies primarily on words, either spoken or written
on the board or used with an overhead projector.
- Logical Presentation: Instructor organizes material in a logical
sequence like either time or importance.
- Random Presentation: Instructor tackles topics in no particular order,
jump around a lot or digresses.
"Convert" class material during study time. For example, an interpersonal
learner takes a class with an instructor who presents big-picture information in lecture format. This student might organize
study groups, and in those groups, focus on filling in the factual gaps using reading materials assigned to that class.
Likewise, a visual student might rewrite notes in different colors to
add a visual element - for example, assigning a different color to each main point or topic, or using one color for central
ideas, another for supporting examples.
Instructors are as individual as students. Taking time to focus on their
teaching styles, and on how to adjust, will help you to learn more effectively and avoid frustration. Don't forget to take
advantage of your instructor's office hours when you have a learning style issue that is causing you difficulty.
Because different careers require differing abilities, there is no one "best" learning style. Develop
self knowledge through honest analysis then accurately match what you do best with a career that makes the most of your strengths.
Specifically, how knowing your learning style can help you in your career.
You will perform more successfully.
Your learning style is essentially your working style. If you know how you learn, you will be able to look for an environment
that suits you best. You will perform at the top of your ability if you work at a job in which you feel happy and competent.
Even when you are working at a job that isn't your ideal, knowing yourself can lead you to on-the-job choices that make
your situation as agreeable as possible.
You will be able to function well in teams. Teamwork is a primary feature of the the modern workplace. The better your awareness of your abilities, the better
you will be able to identify what tasks you will best be able to perform in a team situation. The better your awareness of
personality traits - your own as well as others - the more skillful you will be at communicating with an relating to your
You will be more able to target areas that need improvement. Awareness
of your learning styles will help you pinpoint the areas that are more difficult for you. That has two advantages:
- One, you can begin to work on different areas, step by step.
- Two, when a task requires a skill that is tough for you, you can either
take special care with it or suggest someone else whose style may be better suited to it.
Now you know you have something to gain, look at some of the ways you can
explore your particular learning style .
How Can You Discover Your Learning Style?
Many different types of assessments are available to promote
self discovery. Each type provides a different means of exploring strengths and weaknesses, abilities and limitations. This
chapter contains one each of two particular types - learning style assessments and personality assessments.
Learning style assessments focus on the process by which you take in,
retain, and use information. Students may use learning style assessment results to maximize study efficiency and to choose
courses that suit their styles. Personality assessments indicate how you respond to both external and internal situations
- in other words, how you react to thoughts and feelings as well as to people and events. Employers may give such assessments
to employees and use the results to set up and evaluate teams.
The learning style assessment in this chapter is called Pathways
to Learning and is based on the Multiple Intelligences Theory, discussed below. It can help you determine how you best take
in information as well as how you can improve areas in which you have more trouble learning. The second assessment tool, Personality
Spectrum, is a personality assessment that helps you evaluate how you react to people and situations in your life. Pathways
to Learning and the Personality Spectrum provide two different perspectives that together will give you a more complete picture
of how you interact with everything you encounter - information, people and your own inner thoughts.
Multiple Intelligences Theory
There is a saying, "It is not how smart you are, it is how
you are smart." In 1983 Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor, changed the way people perceive intelligence and learning
with his theory, Multiple Intelligences. Gardner believes that there are at least eight distinct intelligences possessed by
all people, and that every person has developed some intelligences more fully than others. Most people have at one time learned
something quickly and comfortably. Most have also had the opposite experience: no matter how hard they try something
they want to learn just won't sink in. According to the Multiple Intelligences Theory, when you find a task or subject
easy, you are probably using a more fully developed intelligence; when you have more trouble you are using a less
The table below offers brief descriptions of the focus
of each of the intelligences. The Pathways to Learning assessment will help you determine the levels to which your intelligences
One of the first instruments to measure psychological types,
The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), was designed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers.
Later David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates combined the sixteen Myers-Briggs types into four temperaments, called the Keirsey Sorter.
These assessments are two of the most widely used personality tests, both in psychology and in the business world.
The Personality Spectrum assessment in this chapter can help you better
understand yourself and those around you. Based on the Myers-Briggs and the Keirsey theories, it adapts and simplifies their
material into four personality types, Thinker, Organizer, Giver and Adventurer and was developed by Joyce Bishop (1997).
The Personality Spectrum will give you a personality perspective on how you can maximize your functioning at school and
at work. Each personality type has its own abilities that improve work and school performance, suitable learning techniques,
and ways of relating in interpersonal relationships. Page 49 will give you more details of each type.
- Verbal/Linquistic: Ability to communicate through language (listening, reading, writing, speaking).
- Logical/Mathematical: Ability to understand logical reasoning and
problem solving (math, science, patterns, sequences).
- Bodily/Kinesthetic:Ability to use the physical body skillfully and
to take in knowledge through bodily sensation (coordination, working with hands).
- Visual/Spatial: Ability to understand spatial relationships and
to perceive and create images (visual art, graphic design, charts and maps).
- Interpersonal: Ability to relate to others, noticing their moods,
motivations and feelings (social activity, cooperative learning, teamwork).
- Intrapersonal: Ability to understand one's own behavior and feelings
(self awareness, independence, time spent alone).
- Musical: Ability to comprehend and create meaningful sound (music, sensitivity to sound, understanding patterns)
- Naturalistic: Ability to understand features of the environment
(interest in nature, environmental balance, ecosystem, stress relief brought by natural
Using the Assessments
The assessments follow this section of text. After each
assessment you will find a page that details the traits of each dimension and offers strategies to help you make the most
of that dimension's tendencies.
Complete the assessments, trying to answer the questions objectively -
in other words, mark the answers that best indicate who you are, not who you want to be. The more closely you can see yourself
today, the more effectively you can set goals for where you want to go from here. Then, enter your scores, you will see
a brain diagram on which to plot Personality Spectrum scores and boxes in which to enter your Pathways to Learning scores.
This page is organized so that you can see your scores for both assessments
at a glance, giving you an opportunity to examine how they relate to one another. Don't be concerned if some of your scores
are low - that is true for most everyone. For Pathways to Learning, 21 - 24 indicates a high level of development in that
particular type of intelligence, 15 - 20 a moderate level and below 15 an underdeveloped intelligence.
For the Personality Spectrum, 26 - 36 indicates a strong tendency
in that dimension, 14 - 25 a moderate tendency, and below 14 a minimal tendency.
Knowing how you learn will
help you improve your understanding of yourself - how you may function at school, in the workplace, and in your personal life.
Keep in mind that these and any other assessments are intended not to label you but to be indicators of who you
are. Your thinking skills - your ability to evaluate sources of information - will best enable you to see yourself as a whole,
including both gifts and areas for growth. Your job is to verify and sift each piece of information and arrive at the
most accurate portrait of yourself at this point of time.
Perspective on Learning Style
The assessments in the chapter
provide you with self knowledge that can help you manage yourself at work, at school and at home in the most effective way
possible. However, no one assessment can give you the final word of who you are and what you can and cannot do. It's human
to want an easy answer - a one page print out of the secret to your identity - but this kind of quick fix does not exist.
You are a complex person who cannot who cannot be summed up by a test or evaluation.
Use Assessments for Reference
The most reasonable way to approach any assessment is as
a reference point rather than as a label. There are no "right" answers, no "best" set of scores. Instead of boxing yourself
into one or more categories, which limits you, approach any assessment as a tool with which you can expand your idea of yourself.
Think of it as a new set of eyeglasses for a person with somewhat blurred vision. The glasses will not create new paths and
possibilities for you, but they will help you see more clearly the paths and possibilities that already exist. They give
you the power to explore, choose and act with confidence.
You will continually learn, change and grow throughout your life. Any
evaluation is simply a snapshot, a look at who you are at a given moment. The answers can, and will, change as you
change and as circumstances change. They provide an opportunity for you to identify a moment and learn from it by asking questions:
- Who am I right now?
- How does this compare to who I want to be?
Use Assessments for Understanding
Understanding your tendencies will help you to understand
yourself. Avoid labeling yourself narrowly by using one personality or intelligence type, such as if you were to say, " I
am no good in math." or " I'm never a thinker."
Anyone can learn math; however some people learn math more efficiently
through intelligences other than logical-mathematical. For example, a visual-spatial learner may want to draw diagrams of
as much of a math problem as possible. Everyone is a thinker; however, some people tend to approach life situations
more analytically than others.
People are a blend of all the intelligences and personality types, in
proportions unique to them. Most often one or two intelligences or types are dominant.
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Self awareness is all about understanding our own ego. It's
such an important part of our own mind and body make-up. The Mind is a unique electrical-mental-energy, with abilities we haven't even dreamed
of to date. But, first things first, the eGO needs to be understood and controlled first, then we can all lead a life of unconditional love in peace and harmony.
Self-Awareness means, knowing We are a mere speck
in the Universe right now. We are made up of an electrical-energy, activated in a Mind that Matters. The Mind is split into
Rite-Brain-Left-Brain Thinking of a FE and MALE mindset, with a view to being an hermaphrodite form in the future.
That is, the Fe and the Male will be housed in
the same body only! This, I believe is a most precious gift, to live a Life of Love within the same mind-set, within the same
body too. Although, thus far, so many of us don't really understand how Love works, hence, we need to Love and nurture Our-Self, yes, the Ego, the SELF!
This is our very core being!
I believe we’re not complete if we’ve
not learned about the Self and developed an Ego through our own self-awareness. We start
with our all-seeing ‘I’, as we grow through the Mind a Body that works in conjunction with the Mind, not without
it, but with it in it's totality. The negative Mind has complicated the Mind and Body's Ego System, with a need to right that
mis-perception of the negatives' need to use it's Ego against life, instead of for life.
The more we complicate the Me, Myself and I makeup, the deeper we'll sink in the negative and
we'll never understand our own Ego's, so keep it simple and special at all times. Keep to the KISS principle, keep it simple
and special. The more you complicate the Mind, the harder it is to deal with, similar to an untrained animal. So much fear
has been injected into our Minds regarding madness, being mad, going insane, crazy etc, it’s caused and continues to
cause more problems than we know what to do with.
The smart thing to do, is to live and love your-self in a positive manner. To increase your self awareness, your Ego should be your
Amigo (Friend) when you’re attuned to your-self properly. Look at
the word - Self - there’s that little Elf so many of us have been hearing about and looking for, for such a long time.
So many of us feel lost and don’t quite know what to do. Of course we’re all searching for Freedom, that’s
the real-thing we’re all seeking to attain on some level, way shape or form.
Self Awareness means, making a Friend of Your-Self, when you’ll wonder what you did without Me!
Think about it? If you know your-self on a personal level, you’ll have more of an understanding of the people around
you, your choices will be more reasonable, you definitely won't be so quick to accept second-best, think twice before you
give your life over to someone who more than likely knows less about themselves than you do, which can be dangerous and is
how we got into the pickle we're in right now, hence you'll choose better Friends.
Self awareness means, you won't worry if you say
NO I don’t want to do that, or drink that, or take drugs, or get in a car with a drunken person, or take medicine prescribed
by another, or be cut by a practitioner! The above is the practice of unaccountability, leading you along the path of NOT
being true to your-Self!
At the end of the day, you’ll be respected and feel like the most important person alive. With your self-respect intact, you won't have that need to go round apologizing for something that's your right
to say no to.
Our Ego houses it-self in our Emotional Mind,
it’s up to us if we use our Ego in the Positive or the Negative. If you choose the Positive, you’ll go from strength
to strength mentally and if you choose the negative, you’ll go from weak to wooz rapidly and most times end up losing
your Mind to someone else's opinion of how you should be and should act.
I can’t stress enough the importance of
There are so many predators out there, just waiting
for the weak and the vulnerable, waiting to belittle, ridicule, degrade emotionally and sexually. Who needs that - don’t
go there, whether you're a Male or a Female, it’s a dead-end road, with a wall of concrete ahead, just to give you a
bit of impact for those negative thought patterns, that'll smash you up quick as blink and ultimately destroy your life piece
by peace without your very own self awareness in tact and solid.
Self-Awareness of the eGO is the only way to
Self Awareness for Life Balance
Manage Time & Learn to Say No Positively
© Jerry Lopper
There are five skills important to a balanced life. This article
address three of the skills.
There are five life skills that are important tools in keeping
work/life balance. This article focuses on three of those skills: Self Awareness, Setting Boundaries, and Time Management.
Positive Thinking for Life Balance described the remaining two skills of Positive Thinking and Using
your Unique Strengths.
Self awareness is the skill of being able to watch yourself
as if from a distance while simultaneously carrying on your normal daily activities and interactions. Did you ever think back
about an interaction you had with someone and feel regret at the words or tone you used? Perhaps you entered that interaction
with some overhead, such as an earlier situation still in mind affecting your interaction.
Self awareness will help you prevent this situation by enabling
you to correct your behavior in real time.
Many of our routine behaviors and reactions to outside events
and circumstances result - almost automatically - from fundamental beliefs we hold about the topic or situation. These beliefs
are brought forward from childhood, carrying the imprint of parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influences.
Building greater skill in self awareness will help you identify
the source of your subconscious responses, allowing you to examine and choose a reaction based on your adult knowledge and
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Nurturing Emotional Intelligence in University Students
Professor Hang Chang Chieh; Deputy Vice-Chancellor
Producing well-rounded students
and achieving academic excellence are traditional goals in education emphasized by NUS in its strategic plan for the 21st
century and recently reaffirmed by the Ministry of Education in its publication, The Desired Outcomes of Education.
The need to cultivate the mind, or rational intelligence, and personal qualities and interpersonal skills, or emotional intelligence,
has never been more crucial than before.
The term emotional intelligence
was coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990 and then popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1995 in his ground-breaking bestseller,
Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ?. According to Goleman, rational intelligence (or rather, intelligence quotient – IQ for short) only contributes about 20% to the factors
that determine success in life.
Some extraneous factors such
as luck, and particularly the characteristics of emotional intelligence (or rather, emotional
quotient – EQ for short), constitute the other 80%. These vital EQ characteristics are the abilities
to motivate oneself and persist despite frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s
mood and keep distress from overwhelming thought; and to empathize and to hope.
Management guru Stephen Covey,
author of the bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has observed that highly effective people
are proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win/win; seek first to understand, then to be understood;
synergize; sharpen the saw. But beyond understanding the importance of such qualities, one has to practice them constantly and, in so doing, internalize them as habits. Consequently, part of
our role as teachers is to nurture EQ to assist such habituation.
Definition of EQ
The study of emotion and its
practical importance has interested people for many centuries. In the 1st century B.C., Publilius Syrus said: “Rule
your feelings, lest your feelings rule you.” For David Packard, a guiding principle in developing and managing Hewlett-Packard
has been the advice given by his football coach: “Given equally good players and good team-work in a championship, the
team with the strongest will to win will prevail.”
Yet, the developing of emotional
strength was not explicitly regarded as a skill that can be learnt and mastered until Daniel Goleman published Emotional
Intelligence. Other authors have since further expanded the meaning, development and applications of emotional intelligence.
The following are two simple definitions EQ:
“EQ is the ability to
sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection
and influence.” (Robert Cooper and Ayman Sawaf)
“EQ is the ability to
monitor one’s own and other’s feelings, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s
thinking and actions.” (Peter Salovey and John Mayer)
It is clear from these definitions
that a person with high rational intelligence does not automatically possess high EQ. For all students to be well rounded,
it is thus necessary to enhance both their IQs and EQs.
EQ consists of five major
qualities or characteristics:
- Mood management
- Impulse control
- Interpersonal skills
The first four can be broadly
grouped under intrapersonal EQ. They each influence the development of one’s courage, perseverance, enthusiasm and passion.
Such personal qualities are vital in competitive sports, breakthrough scientific research, inventions, entrepreneurship and
extraordinary achievements. They also make the difference because creative solutions or radically new approaches are usually
considered illogical based on conventional wisdom; they only become logical on hindsight.
An example is the development
of fuzzy logic. When Professor Lotfi Zadeh first proposed the concept in 1965, most scientists and engineers could not accept
this radically new proposal and disregarded its potential practical significance.
They thought it was absurd
to have logic that was not precise. More than 15 years later, Japanese engineers successfully demonstrated the wide applications
of fuzzy logic, ranging from controlling high-speed trains to simple cameras and washing machines.
Consequently, fuzzy logic
is now the foundation of the new science of ‘Soft Computing’ that deals rationally with imprecise knowledge. Through
the years of being rejected, Professor Zadeh remained passionate about his discovery and continued to champion it, thereby
demonstrating extraordinary intrapersonal EQ.
Intrapersonal EQ qualities
are equally important to all of us in our daily lives. Through self-awareness, we are conscious of our feelings and can deal with them better. Self-awareness also helps us to catch any worrisome episode as soon as possible. Through mood
management, we can act to overcome any negativity (e.g. being angry or depressed)
that prevents us from accomplishing our goals.
To hope or think positively
helps us to sustain our morale in the face of setbacks or defeats. Self-motivation is the internal drive to scale new heights,
overcome obstacles, disappointments and frustrations, and search proactively for opportunities. It also prompts us to initiate
resolving conflicts, seeking clarification and mending relationships.
Impulse control allows us
to resist temptation and delay gratification; it encourages a person to pursue higher goals as he/she copes better with the stress associated with a difficult task, foregoes short-term
rewards for more substantial long-term goals, and follows through on difficult plans.
The fifth quality can be called
interpersonal EQ. It is the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, how to work co-operatively
with them. It requires the fundamental skill of empathy – identifying oneself mentally with a person and understanding his/her feelings.
Empathy makes other people feel safe enough to talk freely without fear of being judged. There is a great difference between listening and empathetic listening.
In listening, we listen but may not hear what the speaker is saying; instead, we may be trying to interpret what they mean.
In empathetic listening, we place ourselves in the speaker’s shoes, undergo what he/she is feeling and identify with
Empathy and the four intrapersonal EQ qualities combined together create other important interpersonal skills that Hatch and
Gardner of Harvard University have identified:
- Organizing groups
- Negotiating solutions
- Personal connection
- Social analysis
In all, these are the stuff
of interpersonal polish, the necessary ingredients for charm, social success and even charisma!
Interpersonal EQ is essential
in the practice of management with ‘heart’. Managers with low interpersonal EQ criticize easily and are frugal
with praise. In contrast, managers with high interpersonal EQ empathize, show compassion, praise others generously, avoid prejudice, and accommodate mistakes by using them as opportunities for
staff to learn and gain experience. With their positive outlook, they are easy to interact with; they also gain trust, build
consensus and co-ordinate teams well.
Such managers will be very
important in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century for effective teamwork in a flat organization of empowered knowledge workers
will be a critical competitive advantage. There is need to pay special attention to developing such skills, particularly as
life becomes potentially more impersonal with technology – email and distance deliveries, for instance, becoming increasingly
Unlike IQ that may only be
marginally improved over the years, EQ can be nurtured and significantly strengthened and
it is never too late for students to improve their EQ. It is, however, harder to nurture EQ than IQ in a classroom setting.
Traditionally, schools and universities have used opportunities such as extracurricular activities to provide a rounded education,
indirectly facilitating the development of students’ EQ.
Other more direct and conscious
strategies can be adopted too. The first essential step, naturally, is to have students gain a better understanding of the
fundamentals of EQ. This might be achieved through awareness courses or self-study.
Having been made aware, they
should be encouraged to reflect on the differences between high IQ vs. high EQ people as illustrated in Table 1. What follows should then be the
practice of what has been learnt till these habits become automatic and integral components of one’s character.
For instance, if impulse control
is weak, walking often amongst peaceful surroundings might have a calming effect while regular exercise improves general well
being. Participation in committee work would be one way of practicing people skills. All these efforts could be part of achieving
EQ improvement as a life-long pursuit.
Comparison of Reactions of People Who Are IQ or EQ Dominant
- Confronts threats head-on
- More effective during times of calm
- Avoids taking risks (intolerant of failure, quick to punish)
- Prone to short-term thinking (certainty)
- Quick to formulate strategy and implement it
- Fails to act (Sees more and more layers to a problem...)
- Tries to avoid confrontation
- More effective during times of stress/crisis
- Uses more gut feeling (forgives and learns from failure)
- Prone to long-range thinking (uncertainty)
- Spends more time defining problems and strategizing
- Knows when to wait and when to act (perseveres)
Creative Thinking and Intuition
EQ can also be cultivated
via academic pursuits. As university education increasingly requires the exercise of creative thinking skills through open-ended
assignments and project work, students will have more opportunities to practice and improve their EQ skills. The conventional
educational approach where obtaining the right answer all the time is emphasized tends to prevent new ideas from emerging
that might unravel complex difficulties. In contrast, creative problem solving encourages the development of multiple ideas, no matter whether they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. This process allows
for questioning of the status quo, prompts a ‘why not’ mindset, and promotes humility and tolerance for ambiguity
and multiplicity of viewpoints, embracing even those from non-experts. Clearly, this concurrent nurturing of both problem-solving
and EQ skills will better prepare students for the competitive knowledge economy that requires the flexibility and fortitude
to solve real-world problems for which no easy answers might be found.
A more advanced source of
problem-solving skill is intuition, defined in the dictionary as “direct knowing without the conscious use of reasoning”.
Intuition, when followed by thorough analysis and planning, has sparked many innovations and successful business developments
globally and is now a widely sought-after quality in an entrepreneur, leader, or great scientist. This is because intuition
is a great asset when there is not enough information or when there is too much data that confuses the situation. It may be
described as ‘gut feeling’ or a form of self-awareness (one of the basic qualities of EQ) that enables us to listen to our hearts and distinguishes
opportunity from vulnerability; truth from politics; depth from motion. A heightened dimension of emotional intelligence,
intuition can be better understood and practiced continually, drawing on emotional wisdom garnered through past experiences.
Other intrapersonal EQ qualities
also help in the process of learning and practicing intuition. For instance, one needs to overcome fear when dealing with
the unknown. We cannot be intuitive if we are anxious about being right. We need to gain experience and hence should not be
afraid to make mistakes. This requires emotional strength. As General Bolivar Buckner once said:
“Judgment comes from experience and experience
comes from bad judgment.
I shall now address the inter-relation
of IQ and EQ. First, emotions are known to be powerful organizers of thought and action. EQ often complements IQ when we need
to solve complex and vague problems or make a key decision, and helps in accomplishing these tasks quickly and with exceptional
results. Emotions invoke intuition, helping us to anticipate uncertainties and plan our actions accordingly. IQ and EQ in
tandem lift intelligent energy. As NUS increasingly emphasizes creative thinking, independent research and teamwork, the nurturing of EQ will contribute tremendously to academic performance. All university students
should be urged to develop their EQs to match or even surpass their IQs.
Second, the mutually complementing
roles of IQ and EQ are crucial in teamwork. A team leader should have a high EQ if the team is to have a good chance to perform
brilliantly. The high-EQ leader would muster team members with high IQ and EQ and harness both these strengths to boost team
Much of what I have discussed
in this paper is common sense, but certainly not common practice. NUS provides many opportunities and an excellent learning
environment for enhancing knowledge while nurturing EQ. By highlighting the importance of
acquiring EQ to students, we will, hopefully, cultivate EQ literate graduates who will become champions of EQ as well as role
models of life-long learners in EQ in their future workplace.
1) Robert Cooper and Ayman Sawaf, Executive EQ, Orion Business Books: 1997.
2) Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ?, Bantam Books:
3) Patricia Patton, EQ In The Workplace, SNP Publishers: 1997.
4) Peter Salovey and John Mayer, “Emotional Intelligence”, Imagination, Cognition and Personality,
Vol. 9(3), 1990, pp. 185-211.
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