Emotional Intelligence Skills involve brain fitness? According to Simon Evans, Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt, Ph.D., the answer is yes, and here is what they say.
“1. Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Your brain certification DISC controls your mood and your ability to handle stress and respond to challenges. It controls your ability to read the emotions of others and respond appropriately. Your emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the aspect of brain fitness that has a large impact on your self confidence, day to day mood and success in social environments, including career and family life. For the most part, a system in your brain called your cortico-limbic system is responsible for controlling your emotional intelligence, and like most systems in your brain, you can improve it with specific focus.”
First Emotional Intelligence Skill
So if we follow the Evans and Burghardt line of thought, the first emotional intelligence skill to work on is taking care of your brain.
That involves keeping your brain rested, fed, exercised, relaxed, and yet challenged with novel learning experiences.
When I routinely handle those basic health kinds of tasks, my brain, the master integrator of everything I do including emotional intelligence, will be very plastic, in other words, it will be constantly rewiring itself and creating new connections due to the changing emotional landscapes around me, and that brain will also be manufacturing new brain cells for my brain at the maximum daily amount allowed, which is called neurogenesis.
New neurons, according to my reading of the research, routinely end up at the hippocampus, which is part of the cortico-limbic system mentioned by Evans and Burghardt above.
There is lots of information in their book, Brainfit for Life, about the how to’s of nutrition, sleep, and physical exercise, and there is an excellent discussion of what novel learning experiences can be.
Emotional Intelligence Happens Internally and Externally
Once the brain is fit, now we can begin to discuss the discreet skills of emotional intelligence.
Once again, I must work inside me first, with self-talk.
As a domestic violence educator, I work with folks who are not committed to emotional intelligence, or they do not know how to to emotional intelligence, and I teach first, basic self-talk skills.
When I am heading into group, and I have done thousands of them, I need to reaffirm, with self-talk, inside my head, that I am going to listen respectfully, even though I have no idea how I will be spoken to. I suggest to my clients that they do the same, make some self-talk commitments to themselves.
When I am going home, I need to make another mental commitment to myself to listen to my wife, who will want to talk about her day and our children and her plans for flower beds and the deck, etc.
I know that I do not need to agree or disagree with anything she says, I just need to listen, which is a skill with discrete steps, and is very learnable.
When I listen, I give the Gift of Attention, which leaves my wife, and the people I listened to feeling a bit of contentment.