The open school: on emotional intelligence

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By Sylvestre Phillip MBE

Welcome students, in this new year, to another Open School lesson on emotional intelligence. The school is open to parents, guardians, teachers, students and members of the public. This is the fourth in a series of classes held at the open school every two weeks. I hope that students will acquire knowledge and skills that will enable them to help children and students to be emotionally intelligent.

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to (a) explain, in a simple sentence, the meaning of emotional intelligence (b) students will be able to list two types of emotional intelligence…

At the end of the lesson, we will reflect on all that we have learned through a simple assessment.

Ave Maria Girls Elementary School recently held a staff development workshop on “emotional intelligence”. I take this opportunity to congratulate the director and the staff for this initiative.

Many more teachers could greatly benefit from such an initiative in all schools across St. Lucia school districts.

But what is emotional intelligence, and why is the subject so critical in the life of our nation today? Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage one’s own emotions and those of others in a positive way.

Many individuals and families face many crises or difficult situations in their lives. This may be a direct result of the Covid-19 situation, crime or criminal activity in our territory or family and community issues

But what is Covid-19 doing to our people? Doctors, nurses, police officers on the “front line” could explain better. The people they care for, some of whom are relatives and close friends, die before their eyes, even they do their best to save their lives.

In the school environment, teachers are losing parents who are very supportive of their children and the school in general. They are also concerned that high-potential students are losing teaching time due to school closures due to the Covid-19 virus. The situations are confusing!

Not only that, many families, women and men alike are in tears because their loved ones are shot and killed, in some cases, in their very homes. And we are required to handle the situation positively.

Certainly, emotional intelligence helps us to adequately manage these situations. Here are four ways emotional intelligence could help: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Now let’s deal with these four types of emotional intelligence separately.

Self-awareness. It is the ability to focus on yourself and how your thoughts and actions do or do not measure up to your internal standards. Simply put, people who are fully aware of themselves can interpret their actions, feelings, thoughts, and desires that are unaffected by their personal feelings and opinions. This is difficult and painful but can be achieved.

We now come to self-management. It is taking responsibility or control over your feelings and behaviors. It also means dealing with your feelings and behaviors in a healthy way; take initiatives; honoring your commitments and your ability to react positively to changing circumstances or situations.

I heard a mother who lost her son in tragic circumstances recently say, “You took my beloved away from me, but you did not take away my love for my son.” It was dealing with his feelings in a very positive way. If you don’t, you can easily lose your mental faculties.

We now come to social awareness. It primarily means acknowledging the strengths of others, caring about the well-being of one’s own family and other family and friends, the school, the community, and the greater good of all. Social is derived from the root word society. And a society is people living together.

The fourth way to manage your feelings and behaviors would be through relationship management. Individuals and organizations recognize their customers and customers in very tangible and meaningful ways.

Most recently, the Bank of Saint Lucia and other organizations have also recognized their clients, customers, helpers, resource persons who have contributed to the development of their business or organization in general. Acknowledging people is a safe and meaningful way to build and maintain a good relationship with customers, clients, and people in general.

Relationship management is also about improving one’s own interpersonal communication skills. By this I mean improving your ability to send positive messages to each other through verbal or non-verbal cues.

Relationship management also includes the romantic relationship. This aspect is so important in dealing with human nature. People like to be loved and appreciated. Love must be real and not pretentious.

Finally, emotional intelligence drives leadership performance in families and organizations. Parents, teachers, organizational managers, parishes, community groups, formal or informal in all areas of human endeavour, emotional intelligence is essential.

Now here is a short evaluation exercise:

(a) In a very simple sentence, explain what is meant by emotional intelligence.

(b) Name at least two types of emotional intelligence.

I hope that in some way I have helped you understand the very complex issue of emotional intelligence.

Expect another lesson at the open school in two weeks.

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