My emotional intelligence training has come on the job, as a counselor/educator, a parent, a husband, a citizen, a friend, ect.
And by emotional intelligence, I mean knowing what I am feeling and thinking and making decisions about how to behave based on that knowledge.
Emotional intelligence training will teach me to be aware of subtle changes in attention and emotion so that I can adjust those aspects of my behavior before I am feeling an unpleasant feeling too strongly and need to act on it.
(You know, the kind of situation where you feel hurt in 1/18th second, then anger, then throw a punch before your remember that the receiver of the punch is your boss).
The best emotional intelligence training tools are HeartMath and some of the brain fitness programs.
I personally believe that helpful change is always possible. I have done it, and I have seen others come back from the gates of hell.
While change can be wrenching, we can do it. I want my emotional intelligence training and behavior to support my belief and experience.
The key piece of emotional intelligence that no one speaks to is that thoughts and feelings for all human beings change at an incredibly rapid pace, much faster than most of us realize as we walk through our day to day life.
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi,Ph.D., author of FLOW, wrote in 1993 that the central nervous system processed seven bits of nonverbal auditory and visual data at a time and the shortest amount of time between sets of seven bits was 1/18th second.
An eye blink takes 1/10th second.
Paul Ekman,Ph.D. who is an extraordinary researcher as far as I am concerned, says that we respond hormonally to an expression of contempt in 1/25th second.
Michael Merzenich,Ph.D., one of the worlds leading researchers on neuroplasticity, a creator of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, says that Senior Citizen drivers need to prepare for changing driving conditions in 1/45th second.
Remember, an eye blink takes 1/10th second, so emotional intelligence training takes some real mindfulness practice, which for the most part must run in the background, because if I am in a conversation with a peer, it is difficult to carry on a conversation and be stopping to think about what you are feeling, or what the other person is feeling.
So emotional intelligence has to be a habit.
I think the first part of emotional intelligence training has to be internal.
I have got to make a commitment to treat people a certain way, for example, treat people like I would like to be treated, and that rule or tenet needs to hold true inside me no matter how the other person responds.
The next training, that I think really aids my ability to stay true to my central belief is to know and use the steps of listening.
Central to the steps of listening is a commitment to use the steps of reflective listening, so I am hearing neither to agree or disagree, just hear.
When I am good at that, folks like talking to me, because I am one of the few around who pays attention, and can repeat back what I have heard.
Believe me, folks who are upset will calm down if they think you are paying attention to them. Listening reflectively requires empathy, a key emotional intelligence skill.
Emotional intelligence training as I have laid it out is first a commitment or a thought or belief to treat folks a certain way, and this belief will have grown out of your life experiences probably.
Then communication will be based on the steps of reflective listening, and next comes the physiological regulation.
In my domestic violence classes, I use the John and Julie Schwartz Gottman model called the Art and Science of Love, because there are modules to complete and steps to learn.
The Gottmans have been studying couple for 30 years, and they have distilled their research into some very succinct ideas.
The Gottmans say that the Masters of Marriage are folks who repair expressions of contempt, stonewalling, criticism, or defensiveness quickly with what they call repair phrases, and they nurture positive feelings.
That last point is so important. To be emotionally intelligent, and successful in relationships, work relationships included, I must learn to nurture positive emotions first in myself, then in others.
I must manage the inside of me positively even though the external presents problems.
This is something men have a bit of difficulty with because we are taught that we are to control the external.
In actuality, I can at best manage my thinking, my feelings, and my behavior.
So is there a tool that helps me learn to pay attention to the inside of my body very fast, and change that body very fast?
In my experience, HeartMath needs to be an important part of any emotional intelligence training, because it helps me train my body to do heart beat by heart beat what the Gottman's suggest we do, nurture positive feelings, operating from an affiliative and cooperative heart based physiology.
I can train my heart to beat coherently, and when I do that, I feel good, and that 'feel good' experience can last for long periods of time, and if I switch out of coherence, I can switch back in very quickly.
A coherent heart rate opens the higher perceptual centers in my brain for problem solving, and I and my team or even my company can get on the same heart beat, so as a team we can be affiliative and cooperative, brainstorming solutions, and resolving disputes from a heart based place rather than an 'I win-you lose' place of contest.
I have used HeartMath with couples, with each partner hooked up to a different computer, and then holding hands to establish an experience of paying attention to their thinking and feelings while moving into and out of coherence.
My folks have been able to effectively learn that they move from one physiology to another in less time than a heart beat and they need to attend to that and move back to coherence and then attend to the relationship.
Oh, the coherent heart has a tremendous impact on the brain and its fitness too, which we will get to in a minute.
As you do your emotional intelligence training with HeartMath, and get used to staying in a place of internal balance and coherence, you might just be surprised at how creative you become, generating some innovative solutions to personal and professional issues.
That is because not only does HeartMath impact your emotional intelligence, it impacts your brain fitness.
No one knew until perhaps a decade or so ago that we could work out our brains like a bicep, and that brain fitness could be encouraged and enhanced, by attending to the "pillars of brain fitness".
The pillars are, physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
Remember from above that the interpretation or thought I have about the external world changes the inside of my body, meaning hormones and neurotransmitters, in as little as 1/45th second.
So if I respond to a co-workers look of disgust without thinking about it, I fill up with adrenalin and cortisol fast, and shut down the higher perceptual centers of the brain to deal with what is now a crises, which means I am focused on that issue only, and lose the big picture capacity of my brain.
It is the big picture capacity that allows me to brain storm, so I will do HeartMath not only for emotional intelligence training, but for brain fitness.
Not sure about this brain fitness stuff? The marketers make it sound like you can become some kind of super person if you do their brain fitness program, but Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. have written and excellent, easily readable book called Brainfit of Life which tells all about how emotional intelligence training benefits from brain fitness.
One of the brain fitness programs out there, called Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro has been shown to increase IQ, which requires a high EQ to be most successful.
But as you practice the Mind Sparke program, you will discover yourself becoming aware of your attention and how it can drift.
Your awareness of that aspect of your attention will have huge impact on your emotional intelligence training.
In other words, you will become aware of subtle changes in your attention and feelings very quickly which will allow you to adjust them quickly without incident.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.
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