Emotional Intelligence

This is sort of like a travelogue — a description of what I learned by attending a workshop here at Notre Dame on the topic of emotional intelligence. In a sentence, emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness, moves through self-management to control impulses, continues with social awareness and the ability to sense the emotions of others, and matures with relationship management used to inspire and manage conflict.

The purpose of the workshop — attended by approximately thirty people and sponsored by the University’s Human Resources Department — was to make attendees more aware of how they can build workplace relationships by being more emotionally intelligent.

The workshop’s facilitator began by outlining The Rule Of 24. Meaning, when a person is in an emotionally charged situation, then wait twenty-four hours before attempting resolution. If, after twenty-four hours ask yourself, “How do I feel?” If the answer is anxious, then repeat. If not, approach the other person with a structured script. In other words, practice what you hope to communicate. If an immediate solution is necessary or when actually having the difficult conversation, then remember a few points:

  1. pause — give yourself time
  2. slow your rate of speech
  3. soften the tone of your voice
  4. ask a few questions
  5. allow the other person to “save face”

When having a difficult conversation, try prefacing it with some like this. “I am going to tell you something, and it is not my intent to make you feel poorly. It is difficult for me as well.” Clarify this in the beginning as well as at the end of the conversation.

The facilitator also outlined a process for learning emotional intelligence:

  1. begin by being self-aware
  2. identify a problem that happened
  3. ask yourself, “What did I say or do that hurt the situation?”
  4. ask yourself, “What can I say or do to improve the situation?”
  5. ask yourself, “What did I do to improve the situation?”

There were quite a number of interesting quotes I garnered from the facilitator:

  • “When talking to people, don’t treat everybody the same. Take into consideration the personality of others. This is akin to the ‘Platinum Rule’ presented to the library faculty and staff a few weeks ago.”
  • “Emotions are tools if we use them properly.”
  • “Realize that ‘I don’t have to like you to work well with you. Let’s be productive together.'”
  • “It is not about being right and much as it is about getting the job done.”
  • “If you can see the humor in the situation, then things will go a lot better. Have fun with it.”
  • “Be prepared for the other person’s shock, anger, or disappointment.”
  • “Think about collaboration as if it were a sporting event where everybody knows the rules of the game.”
  • “Ask yourself, ‘What strengths do they bring to the table? What are the things they do to get in the way, and don’t think of these things as weaknesses.”
  • “In many cases it is not what you say, but how you say it. You can disagree without being emotional.”
  • “We are here to find solutions not find fault. Define common ground.”
  • “What are you doing that I’m not doing? Ask others for advice and how to deal with specific individuals.”

There were a number of other people from the Libraries who attended the workshop, and most of us gathered around a table afterwards to discuss what we learned. I think it would behoove the balance of the Libraries be more aware of emotional intelligence issues.

Much of the workshop was about controlling and managing emotions as if they were things to be tamed. In the end I wanted to know when and how emotions could be encouraged or even indulged for the purposes of experiencing beauty, love, or spirituality. But alas, the workshop was about the workplace and relationship building.

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