What is Emotional Intelligence? Can it be taught? Can we do it together? Will it be fun or boring? How can we do so? Don’t we become false if we learn to be what we are not?
Written by Fabio De Luca Translated from Italian by Adele Denise De Bartolo
These are just a few questions that people ask me when I tell them about my job. I personally train every day. I make a mistakes and I start over again. I remake a mistake and start again. It is a bit like in drawing. I was not born competent.
Let’s start from the very beginning. What does this word mean?
Definition of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence has many definitions:
- Goleman in 1996 defined it in his book “Emotional Intelligence”: “an aspect of intelligence connected to its capacity to recognize, use, understand and handle its own and the others’ emotions with awareness.
- Mayer and Salovey, before Goleman, in an article issued in 1990, described the concept in this way: “The capacity to control your own and the others’ feelings and emotions, be able to make distinctions among them and to use this information to guide one’s own thoughts and actions”.
- Joshua Freedman claims that it is “the competence to join thoughts to emotions in order to take right decisions, a fundamental competence to have successful relations with ourselves and with others.”
All these definitions are connected to the role of emotions. I personally like the one chosen by Six Seconds (Joshua Freedman), because it links the emotional issue to the decision-making one. Our life is full of decisions to make, that can be easy or hard, in the short or long term:
- What shall I cook for dinner this evening? What shall I do tomorrow? Who shall I go to see the match with?
- Giorgio has contradicted me in public, interrupting me and he didn’t let me finish my speech, I yelled at him, because I had to let him know. Sara has criticized me with Giulia, now I’m going to say a few words to her.
- My boss is giving me a hard time about my work. Shall I look for something else? Shall I adjust myself? Shall I tell him? What job am I going to do?
- Sebastian has not handed in the work on time. Now I’m going to put him back in his place.
Some of these choices are simple, but not obvious. Even choosing what to eat is important. I included examples that I had heard either among colleagues, friends, or in our parish or in the neighborhood. There is no place that does not include the possibility to choose. And even doing nothing and letting it go is a choice. It all comes from how much we are connected with our emotions.
Making bearable and emotionally intelligent decisions
But how bearable in time are the decisions that we make and do they really make us feel as the protagonists of a better world? What is the world that we would like to leave to our children?
I’m not talking about ecology. I’m talking about a world in which people do things together, collaborating, integrating their own talents and finding in a positive confrontation the keystone to produce excellent results. I’m talking about a world in which we can all get along well understanding the other’s point of view without judging him/her through absolute lenses. Each of us makes the best decisions possible with the resources at his/her disposal. These choices don’t always work.
Can you see how many choices we make? Why not train to choose in an emotionally intelligent way?
Let’s try to think of what would happen in a world where people were be prepared to listen to their own emotions, fear, rage, joy, …..And were able to handle them, understanding their deeper meanings and allow themselves to choose the best option possible in terms of bearableness. To tell somebody to “go to hell” would seem the best immediate solution, but if we look at it in the long term, it could turn out to be wrong. Let’s think about a world in which in front of offensive behaviors there would be the possibility to awaken the others’ awareness with the most powerful weapon in our hands: questions.
Questioning, for example: “How do you think the person to whom you said so is feeling? How do you think the person that you have offended and denigrated is living? How do you think your child is feeling when you yelled at her in front of everybody saying you are….? How do you think a son feels seeing that his parent does not listen to or understand his own difficulties?” These questions could raise awareness and create change. And it is a simple and practical act. Unfortunately, even this act has to be taught.
Training in Emotional Intelligence
Training in emotional intelligence requires patience, preparation and practice. Even though I train every day:
- I often ask myself if what I’m working on is coherent with my vision of the world (I love to contribute to the world with a smile and I love the idea of being a person able to listen in a complete and deep way)
- I commit every day to verify what I feel, Even the emotional shades can make the difference.
- I am inspired by my son. I have discovered that children were born already emotionally intelligent… The problem is that they are educated by adults that sometimes have lost the contact with their emotional intelligence.
And you help many people train themselves… I am still not capable of making bearable and coherent decisions considering what I think is valuable for me. I sometimes go back home and, even knowing that it is not right for me, I stay in front of the computer and I do not devote some time to my son. I sometimes talk to my colleagues looking at the monitor. Other times, in front of somebody else it is spontaneous for me to read a message on my cell phone.
And these are all things I am aware of. So why do I continue doing them?
Probably it is because I do not have unlimited resources and I cannot always find the time and the concentration to keep up with the commitments I took on for myself.. Fortunately, I am not alone in this journey. I have many companions, either in my job or among my friends. Reminding one another of the power of making bearable decisions is incredibly powerful and it helps me to concentrate more and more, in fact, before I even make more mistakes.
Somebody could think that the first Fabio, the one who made more mistakes, was more authentic than the last one. I think differently. I think that we were born with the responsibility to contribute actively for a better world and if this implies a personal change, I am sure it must be done. Or, it is better to say, I want to do it.
Speaking of this, I would like to thank the group that with me, this week, has decided to devote its own time to emotional intelligence, participating in the EQ certification course, planned by Joshua Freedman and by Six Seconds. We were thirty emotional intelligence Ambassadors (both at work and in the schools), all joined by a noble goal: Fight peacefully to spread these practices.
I would like to thank them because, giving me the chance to be a mentor and to receive much feedback, I was able to understand how much of the way I had already come and how much still needs to be covered. Knowing that I will do this with them even living in different parts of the world gives me the strength and makes me feel hopeful that the goal to promote emotional intelligence in the world is achievable and that to do it you can also have fun together (Thank you EQ Practitioner, Bologna 2017!).
I wish good emotional intelligence to all the ones who are having fun reading my article and I hope to find among them other incredible Ambassadors!
For any questions or clarifications… feel free to contact me. http://fabiodeluca.net/contatti/
Fabio De Luca
Translated from Italian by Adele Denise De Bartolo