I recently facilitated a half-day retreat for a school’s community education staff on cultivating emotional intelligence (EI). I want to share several insights that came from their experience.
- Self-awareness is only helpful if you make a change in your behavior. This insight surfaced when someone recognized they were highly skilled in understanding their emotions. However, the challenge for them was to act on that information and make changes in their behavior, which is the self-management EI competency. Interestingly, their highest EI score was self-awareness and their lowest was self-management. Not a surprise.
- To be an active listener is to clear your mind. This insight surfaced when a person stated that they need to take intentional steps to become an active listener. How does one do that?
- Pause before engaging as the listener,
- Be aware of the clutter in your mind,
- Take one or two slow breaths and then announce to the person, “I’m now ready to listen and be present with you.”
Being intentional in our preparation to listen is critical.
- Slow Down. This insight surfaced when a person stated that they realized it takes time to cultivate EI. It takes practice, a change in one’s habits. So, be patient with yourself.
- Ask for Feedback. It is important to ask for feedback about your behavior and the changes you are attempting to make. How do you do that? Know the person(s) you are extending this invitation to; it takes a lot of trust. Be clear about the changes you are practicing and why you want the feedback.
Mindfulness and EI are learning companions. There is no need to compartmentalize them. When you are cultivating EI, you are being present and deeply aware of your surroundings, training your brain to engage in new habits for the purpose of deeply connecting with your inner self and with others. Isn’t that what mindfulness is about?