Monthly Archives: January 2017

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Self regulation

Willpower affects many areas of life, including personal decisions, social interactions and conduct in social settings like school and the workplace. Self-control, along with intelligence, is considered by psychologists to be two key human traits that produce many benefits for people and others around them.

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For most of the 20th century, scientists have worshiped the hardware powers of the brain, but there has not been any significant attempt to study the software powers of the heart. Walter Mischel, a psychologist at Stanford University, took up the challenge and studied the value of emotional intelligence. He, like many of us, wanted to know the answers to certain perplexing questions: why some people seem to have a gift for living well; why the smartest kid in the class may not end up as the richest; why some people are liked almost instantly and others are distrusted; why some people remain buoyant in the face of troubles which would sink a less resilient soul. In short, what are the qualities of brain and heart that determine success. He decided to conduct a psychological experiment on small children to find out the real story. Mischel distributed marshmallows (a kind of sweet) to groups of 4-year-olds and left the room, promising that any child who could postpone eating the marshmallows until he came back, 15 to 20 minutes later, would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.

Not all the children, however, behaved or followed his instructions identically. Some of them just could not resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow immediately. Some waited for a few minutes, and then decided that there was no fun in waiting for a second one, and that it would be wiser to eat the one which was in hand. Some fantasized with closed eyes that they were eating the marshmallows and tried to wait for the return of Mischel. Significantly, there were still some kids who did not allow tempting thought(s) to sway them, and did not touch the marshmallows at all till Mischel returned.

This experiment further reported that some of the children had been able to think differently. They had resorted to singing, tapping their feet, telling themselves stories, and imagining that the marshmallow was a fluffy cloud, to avoid eating it. Interestingly enough, one kid had even fallen asleep with the marshmallow in his hand! Mischel came to the conclusion that the different moods of the children reflected the amount of emotional intelligence they exhibited. Does this experiment really provide a fundamental measure of emotional intelligence? What does it shows us to prove the importance of emotional intelligence?

Follow-up studies by Mischel 12–14 years later revealed that the children who had triumphed over their desire to delay eating the marshmallows had grown more socially competent and self-assertive and exhibited a higher degree of resilience in dealing with life’s frustrations. Those who had won the second marshmallow were still better at delayed gratification and had applied this attribute in pursuit of their goals. Those who had given in to their desire and had eaten the first marshmallow immediately without waiting, had grown into more stubborn, indecisive and stressed adolescents. The quality of self-control in avoiding eating the marshmallow at the age of 4 turned out to be twice as powerful a predictor of later success in life as compared to IQ. In this experiment, the ability to delay gratification of eating the marshmallow was seen as a master skill, a triumph of the reasoning of the brain over the emotions of the heart.

The conclusion derived from this classical experiment is that the capacity to put off rewards is a single skill that psychologists pinpoint as an indicator of success in life. Mischel’s study confirmed that emotional intelligence does not show up in IQ tests and needs to be viewed from an entirely different angle. The marshmallow experiment established that emotional intelligence, in which self-control plays a huge part, matters more than anything else in determining success in life.

Source: Emotional Intelligence at work, by Dalip SIngh

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Self Control

Self-control is the ability to refrain from knee-jerk reactions in response to your emotions. It is the ability to stop and think before acting, and to pause and consider the best course of action in the present situation. It involves knowing what is important to you, what isn’t, and how that will translate into your actions and behavior. It often has little to do with academic intelligence but it plays an equally important role(sometimes more) in achieving success.

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Exactly why David Pologruto, a high-school physics teacher, was stabbed with a kitchen knife by one of his start students is still debatable. But the facts as widely reported are these:Jason H., a sophomore and straight-A student at a Coral Springs, Florida, high school, was fixated on getting into medical school. Not just any medical school-he dreamt of Harvard. But Pologruto, his physics teacher, had given Jason an 80 on a quiz. Believing the grade-a mere B- put his dream in jeopardy, Jason took a butcher knife to school and, in a confrontation with Pologruto in the physics lab, stabbed his teacher in the collarbone before being subdued in a struggle.

A judge found Jason innocent, temporarily insane during the incident- a panel of four psychologists and psychiatrists swore he was psychotic during the fight. Jason claimed he had been planning to commit suicide because of the test score, and had gone to Pologruto to tell him he was killing himself because of the bad grade. Pologruto told a different story: “I think he tried to completely do me in with the knife” because he was infuriated over the bad grade. After transferring to a private school, Jason graduated two years later at the top of his class. He had taken enough advanced courses to raise his grade point average to 4.614- way beyond A+.

The brightest among us can founder on the shoals of unbridled passions and unruly impulses; people with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives.

Source: Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ, by Daniel Goleman

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Self regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation. It is the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed.

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Sometimes you might know exactly what you should do in order to get what you want yet find yourself doing the complete opposite as a result of emotional responses. All of us know that we should control our temper in order to communicate more effectively with others yet most of us lose control of our emotions and mess things up. All of us know that we should control our stress in order to be able to properly deal with life problems yet most of us lose control. Learning how to control your emotions in a relationship, at work and everywhere else is an essential skill that everyone who is serious about success must acquire. Just like knowing what to do is vital knowing how to control your emotions is important so that you can allow yourself to apply what you know.

Take for example the case of the legendary entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple. He is accredited with revolutionizing the world of personal computers and mobile phones. He also made people believe that “think different” was more of a life motto instead of a marketing slogan. For all his success and achievement, however, he was considered to be someone who was not nice to be around.

He was greatly feared throughout his Apple kingdom for his merciless, mercurial temper. The tales of his eccentric personality are famous and abound in numbers. One such story is his encounter with a young man in an elevator at Apple’s Headquarters in Silicon Valley. The young man in question had closed the door of the elevator not realizing that Jobs was approaching it. After realizing that he was in the company of the Apple founder, the young man tried to greet him pleasantly. Instead of returning the pleasantry however, Jobs questioned the young man as to what he has done for Apple recently. The young man replied that he has bought an iPad for his daughter on her birthday. The young man thought that he had given a witty answer but to his dismay, Jobs only got more angered and started screaming at him in the middle of the lobby. Jobs shouted at the man that he was fired. He told him to get all his stuff and leave the office immediately, The young man calmly replied that Jobs could not fire him. This made Jobs go berserk and he continued screaming at the man. Finally the young man said that Jobs could not fire him because he did not work for Apple. He was only there to fix the copier. This left Jobs red faced and embarrassed in front of everyone.

All these incidents led to people in certain circles having so much disdain for the Apple founder that there in 2010, a petition called “IhateSteveJobs” started online aimed at making him leave the organization. This goes to show that despite how much success or popularity you gain, you will not get the respect of the people if you do not exhibit control on your emotions and display them appropriately.

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Understanding emotions

One of the basic emotional skills is the ability to recognize different feelings emanating from within and giving a name to them. Knowing one’s emotional strength and weaknesses is of great help because the inner self has to constantly respond to the outer world. It is generally believed that if one cannot interpret one’s own emotions, he or she may not be able to identify the right path that might lead to success.

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When it comes to being successful and a figure that is revered around the world, few can match up to the eccentric Portuguese footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo. He is a man who has become a role model and has inspired millions across the world. Today, he is a household name and makes more money in a week than the annual budget of many third world countries. Few sportsmen, if any, have managed to achieve as meteoric a rise as Ronaldo.

That Cristiano Ronaldo is a gifted footballer and a master of his arts is beyond question. However, when one speaks about emotional intelligence, Ronaldo was in the lower spectrum early in his career. When he started playing in his youth and especially after signing for the legendary football club Manchester United, Ronaldo was seen as someone who liked to show off more than produce; an arrogant young lad capable of little more than dancing on the pitch.

This can however be said of many famous sports personalities, the glaring light of fame often blinding young men and women to become arrogant versions of themselves. Sooner or later, this behavior comes out and starts impacting not only their play on the field but also their popularity off the pitch. How all of them react to the criticism faced because of these actions of theirs however is usually very different. How Ronaldo reacted, for example, was elegant.

When he started garnering intense criticism for his frequent outbursts and needless showing off on the field of play from both fans and his manager alike, he could have very easily ignored it and carried on with his arrogant self; instead Ronaldo embraced the criticism. Game after game, the manager, the fans and the media could all see a change in Ronaldo’s attitude. He started becoming lot less pretty and a lot more beautiful, producing more and more results rather than flashy skill shows. Not only did he become someone who the young football fans looked up to more and more, his play on the field also progressed by leaps and bounds. He became more athletic, more focused and more productive till the point that he is now one of the top goal scorers in football history. A few incidents every now and then, he is now considered as one of the most matured players of the game and is often revered as an icon for the youth.

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Self Awareness

“Know Thyself” said Socrates. Self Awareness is the key to success no matter what your definition of success might be. Only by knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses can one reach the peak of success. Along with knowing and accepting your weaknesses and working on them, what is also important is to know your strength and have belief in them. History abounds with tales of experts who were convinced that the ideas, plans, and projects of others could never be achieved. However, accomplishment came to those who said, “I can make it happen.”

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The Italian sculptor Agostino d’Antonio worked diligently on a large piece of marble. Unable to produce his desired masterpiece, he lamented, “I can do nothing with it.” Other sculptors also worked this difficult piece of marble, but to no avail. Michelangelo discovered the stone and visualized the possibilities in it. His “I-can-make-it-happen” attitude resulted in one of the world’s masterpieces – David.

The experts of Spain concluded that Columbus’s plans to discover a new and shorter route to India was virtually impossible. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand ignored the report of the experts. “I can make it happen,” Columbus persisted. And he did. Everyone knew the world was flat, but not Columbus. The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria, along with Columbus and his small band of followers, sailed to “impossible” new lands and thriving resources.

Even the great Thomas Alva Edison discouraged his friend, Henry Ford, from pursuing his fledgling idea of a motorcar. Convinced of the worthlessness of the idea, Edison invited Ford to come and work for him. Ford remained committed and tirelessly pursued his dream. Although his first attempt resulted in a vehicle without reverse gear, Henry Ford knew he could make it happen. And, of course, he did.

“Forget it,” the experts advised Madame Curie. They agreed radium was a scientifically impossible idea. However, Marie Curie insisted, “I can make it happen.” Let’s not forget our friends Orville and Wilbur Wright. Journalists, friends, armed forces specialists, and even their father laughed at the idea of an airplane. “What a silly and insane way to spend money. Leave flying to the birds,” they jeered. “Sorry,” the Wright brothers responded. “We have a dream, and we can make it happen.” As a result, a place called Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, became the setting for the launching of their “ridiculous” idea.

Finally, as you read these accounts under the magnificent lighting of your environment, consider the plight of Benjamin Franklin. He was admonished to stop the foolish experimenting with lighting. What an absurdity and waste of time! Why, nothing could outdo the fabulous oil lamp. Thank goodness Franklin knew he could make it happen.

You too can make it happen!

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing emotions

Recognizing and identifying emotions is a prerequisite for developing emotional intelligence. There is a major difference between experiencing emotions and recognizing them. We all experience emotions but only a few among us can actually recognize them. Recognizing your emotions is the ability to use the analytical capabilities of your brain. People who can identify and recognize their emotions have higher levels of emotional intelligence. Being clear about your emotions is necessary for living with a purpose. In the process, you will learn how to improve your EQ (Emotional Quotient) by controlling a particular emotion.

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Let us diagnose a high profile career woman working in a nationalized bank. She always feels that nobody cares for her. She is smart, conscientious, well organized and industrious. She really cares about other people. But whenever there is a function and invitations are sent out, she invariably does not get invited.

At office she hears of lunch plans in the making, but ends up eating alone at her table. There is a reason why she is not on anybody’s guest list. She is an angry woman, but she does not know about it. Nor does she want to admit that she gets angry on trivial issues. Perhaps, she is angry because she did not get promoted, or her mother loved her sister more than her, or her boyfriend had cheated on her. There is no need to explore any more reasons. But whatever the reason(s), she does not want to acknowledge that she gets angry.

Most of the time she concentrates on pushing away her emotions—something she is really good at. She convinces herself through constant mental chatter: ‘No one ever gives me a chance…they’re so unfair…it wasn’t my fault.’ She pushes these feelings out of her system but projects them on to everyone else. Since she is unable to recognize either her own emotions or those of others, she is often caught off guard and hurt by any direct confrontation. She is therefore always on her guard and defends herself at every turn. If, for example, the room feels warm, she will say that she was nowhere near the thermostat. When something upsets her, and most things do, it comes as a complete surprise to her, and her knee jerk response is ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’. People sense the anger and try to avoid her. Rather than experience the pain of constant rejection, she is endlessly obsessed about how unfairly she is being treated and so perpetuates the cycle of emotional hurt.

Have you been able to diagnose our high profile career woman? She changes her mood, rationalizes and rehearses, and in doing so, changes the emotion she experiences from internal hurt to poorly concealed rage. If only she could learn to recognize all her emotions and not be caught off guard, she would definitely be able to develop the ability to manage her anger. And this would enable her to hear unpleasant things without becoming angry or bear hurt without expressing the hurt as hostility. She could become a much more desirable person to interact with and be noticed and welcome by all.

Source: Emotional Intelligence at work, by Dalip Singh

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Building self awareness

In moving towards the goal of emotional intelligence, they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, and that’s true in every aspect of life. Self-awareness and introspection have the ring of a self-help guru’s empty promises, but they are the starting point that leads to every improvement.

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Self-awareness (sometimes also referred to as self-knowledge or introspection) is about understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs.

Take for example the famous story about the circus elephant. Do you know what they do to keep a circus elephant from running away? They tie a metal chain onto a collar around the mighty elephant’s leg – and tie it to a small wooden peg that’s hammered into the ground. The 10-foot tall, 5,000 kilo hulk could easily snap the chain, uproot the wooden peg, and escape to freedom. But it does not do that. In fact it does not even try. The world’s most powerful animal, which can uproot a tree as easily as you and I can break a toothpick, remains tied down by a small peg and a flimsy chain. How come?

It’s because when the elephant was a baby, its trainers used exactly the same methods. A chain was tied around its leg and the other end of the chain was tied to a metal stake on the ground. The chain and peg were strong enough for the baby elephant. When it tried to break away, the metal chain would pull it back. Sometimes, tempted by the world it could see in the distance, the elephant would pull harder. But the chain would cut into the skin on the elephant’s leg, making it bleed, creating a wound that would hurt the baby elephant even more. Soon, the baby elephant realized it was futile trying to escape. It stopped trying!

And now when the big circus elephant is tied by a chain around its leg, it remembers the pain it felt as a baby. And it does not try to break away. So even though it’s just a chain and a little wooden peg, the elephant stands still. It remembers its limitations, and knows that it can only move as much as the chain will allow. It does not matter that the metal stake has been replaced by a wooden peg. It does not matter that the 100 kilo baby is now a 5,000 kilo powerhouse. However, the elephant’s belief prevails.

We are all the elephant. All that stops us from escaping to our freedom is ourselves. All we need to achieve freedom is to realize our strength and our weaknesses. And once we do that, all we need is to break the chains and stride away.

Series on Emotional Intelligence: Building relationships

Building relationships and managing them is a driving factor for achieving success. Knowing the needs of your colleagues and your subordinates is what makes you a great leader and inspires people to follow you.

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There were about 70 scientists working on a very hectic project in the town of Thumba, Kerala. All of them were really frustrated due to the pressure of work and the demands of their boss but everyone was loyal to him and did not think of quitting the job.

One day, one of the scientists came to his boss and told him – “Sir, I have promised my children that I will take them to the exhibition going on in our township. So I want to leave the office at 5:30 pm.” His boss replied “OK, You’re permitted to leave the office early today”.

The Scientist started working. He continued his work after lunch. As usual, he got involved to such an extent that he only looked at his watch when he felt he was close to completion. The time was 8.30 PM. He suddenly remembered the promise he had given his children. He looked for his boss, He was not there. Deep within himself, he was feeling guilty for having disappointed his children.

He reached home. The children were not there. His wife was sitting in the hall alone and reading magazines. The situation was explosive; any talk would boomerang on him. His wife asked him “Would you like to have coffee or shall I serve dinner straight away?” The man replied “If you would like to have coffee I will have it as well, but where are the children?”

The wife replied “You don’t know? Your manager came here at 5.15 PM and took the children to the exhibition”. What had really happened was…. the boss, who granted him permission, was observing him working seriously at 5.00 PM. He thought to himself, this person will not leave the work but if he has promised his children they should enjoy the visit to the exhibition. So he took the lead in taking them to the exhibition.

The boss did not have to do it. But once it is done, loyalty is established. That is why all the scientists at Thumba continued to work under their boss even though the stress was tremendous. By the way, can you hazard a guess as to who the boss was????????

He was none other than Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.