Educating Emotional Intelligence

Practical intelligence in all the areas of life, be it financial, commercial, technical, mechanical, procedural, are abundant in our world. Yet humanity’s greatest problems have not lessened. On the contrary, we can safely say they have increased exponentially. Why?

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Emotional Intelligence is an in-born skillset that varies in degree. Similar to IQ, EQ can also be nurtured externally. While the family plays a role in moulding the EQ or EI of a child at home, it is extremely important, more than ever today, for educational institutions to integrate a child’s social and emotional development with cognitive development.

Succinctly put, it is due to a shortage of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is what makes us better workers, lovers, friends and citizens. While we make linguistic, mathematical, scientific, biological and many other subjects part of our scholastic curriculum, sadly we are rarely taught to nurture our Emotional Intelligence. In leaving it out, we as a society, pay a heavy price for this gap in learning.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the quality that helps us confront any adversity with patience, insight and imagination, especially in relationships. It is a specific type of intelligence which often does not enjoy the prestige it deserves. While Intelligence Quotient or IQ measures our cleverness, there are several situations where extremely clever people with strong IQ scores make a mess of their personal lives. There are cases of extremely rich and successful people facing restlessness and a sense of unsettlement. There are people who are quite powerful, yet they are unimaginative in their problem solving methods or are intolerant.

The importance of Emotional Intelligence (also called Emotional Quotient or EQ) is manifold than IQ. A person with a low EQ – however successful they may be in their career – has a personality that is flawed and often abrasive. They fail to understand what really may have triggered a person’s behaviour or reaction. For example, a person lacking in EI may not be able to identify a violent outburst from someone as an actual cry for help. On the flip side, an overtly happy person may actually be hiding an underlying sorrow that may be affecting their psyche.

A person with high EQ is more adept at understanding fundamental conditions. Hatred many a time may mask love, and anger may be the face of extreme sadness. An emotionally intelligent person can pick up the signs and correctly read superficial outbursts to resolve issues – be it of the self or others known. EI also helps people deal with rejections and failure and powers their resilience to bounce back time and again, thereby leading them to success. It was once said, “Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart”. This is a trademark of an emotionally intelligent person.

Is Emotional Intelligence inborn? Or is it a skill that needs to be learnt?

Emotional Intelligence, like IQ, is inborn. The degree varies depending on multiple factors, including environmental conditioning. There are ways to take control of one’s emotions, and these can be learned. It is a set of skills that can be acquired and thereafter improved with practice. Parents can teach their children EI example. Their responses to challenging situations at home equips a child with tips and tricks to implement in similar circumstances. Since it is basically the ability to identify and handle our emotions, as well as the emotions of others, developing or honing this skill will help people interpret their own selves and others.

Education for Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is an in-born skillset that varies in degree. Similar to IQ, EQ can also be nurtured externally. While the family plays a role in moulding the EQ or EI of a child at home, it is extremely important, more than ever today, for educational institutions to integrate a child’s social and emotional development with cognitive development. This has been reiterated many a times by June Auton, the founder of the Human Values Foundation, England.

Are EI lessons for kids alone?

Is education for children alone? Not really, right! The same goes for EI too. It’s never too early or too late to upskill your emotional intelligence. It’s a lesson that one needs to learn and improvise upon throughout life to manage surprises that come at various turns.

The environment one lives in is a great teacher to polish one’s EI skillset. While the television, internet and books can assist one in learning this skill, it can also prove dangerous at times considering cases of violent thinking and action wrapped in a goat’s skin that find their way into these media. Instead of elucidating on EI via constructive representation, ideas and ideologies may, at times, be downright contrary to what should be portrayed. This is a direct result of ‘intelligence’ in all areas sans Emotional Intelligence.

Here is where educational institutions can fill the gap and providing the right direction to students at a young a impressionable age. Today’s fast-paced and unrelenting environment has created challenging factors that the young generation is dealing with, without proper guidance. Their age and consequential lack of experience make them soft targets. EI can be a trusted and important ally.

They can equip them to counter the effects of society and the world around us with confidence. The world needs this NOW, more than ever.

Expertise in all forms of intelligence has helped man take giant strides in almost all fields. However, a sounder, healthier and wiser future for the human race is largely dependent on building the capacity of EI globally. We need a future workforce that is more prepared to tackle the emotional upheavals that come well packaged with the growing competitive and increasingly global business environment. Our future leaders, educators, politicians and business professionals – all need to have a high level of EQ to meet competitive expectations.

Excellent vehicles for this type of education are our established centers of learning – our schools and colleges. They are ideal for overcoming emotional challenges and providing opportunities in the education of EI. After all, personal happiness, success in relationships, career and achieving personal goals are equally dependent on both EQ and IQ.

EQ-IQ vs. Stress

Being academically smart and being people smart together results in shaping an individual into a well-rounded human being, ready to find a place in this ever-changing and constantly evolving world. It is imperative to understand that there is a big difference in the knowing of something and the application of it. Learning about EI and applying it to one’s life are two different things. Stress can be a big deterring factor, and it can override our best intentions.

Schools and colleges can play an institutional role in powering students with the required skills to beat stress from the word go. Yoga and spiritual instructions can help one manage stress effectively and boost EI.

Five elements of Emotional Intelligence

Emotionally stunted people are those who are stuck in their negative emotions and are unable to move on in life. They need to see life clearly and accurately for what it is and to deal with what it throws up.

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who propounds Emotional Intelligence states that there are five key elements to it:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

According to Goleman, EI is the ability to recognize, understand and manage not just our emotions, but also that of others. Managing our own emotions and with understanding, influence the emotions of others, is paramount. It is a vital tool in handling stress, both positive and negative. Mastering this art is the need of the hour; this especially, when several studies have found EI on the decline globally, thus fostering lack of emotional understanding and empathy for others, and instead provoking aggression and violence.

A March 2016 study conducted by World Economics Forum called New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology, stated that by 2020 creativity, people management and emotional intelligence will be among the top ten skills required. Schools and colleges have to step up to the challenge. Parents and educators alike need to work with their protégés to develop their EQ.

This is even more of a challenge considering the pressures of today’s fast-paced world that parents need to manage as well. This definitely tilts the balance more towards educational institutions to play a greater role in helping children understand and handle human emotions. A school that integrates and imparts a strong program on EI, shows evidence of its commitment to build a stronger world. Its students grow and emerge as strong and confident individuals who accept responsibility for their behaviour and know what corrective measures to take to exploit their own potential. And that, my dear friend, is the human force that will make this world a great place to live in.

Being honoured with doctorate in Sound and Music therapies and founder of MERT (Music and Emotion Release Therapies), I use Sound and Music Therapies to help the clients and patients to shed off their emotional burdens, environmental conditionings, social masks and disempowering beliefs which inturn empowers them to be more confident, empathetic, loving and be in their powers.

Schools need a shift in the way they envision sustainable development, and that shift is in the direction of community wellbeing that exists within the organisation. By community, I mean teachers, students, staff, parents…may be neighbouring schools. It needs to become one’s priority

Author of the International best seller book, “Power of Sound”, Dr. Sujata Singhi, holds a Doctorate in Life Skill Education with specialization in NLP and Sound Therapy and Wellness,(only one in Asia currently honoured by the UN). Founder of Divine Soul Sound, Dr. Sujata Singhi has been honoured with 2 more doctorates for her research and service to mankind by the Universities recognized by GOI and the United Nations. She has researched and founded a new technique for emotion well-being called as MERT-Music and Emotion Release Technique.