Educating the Heart

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This morning, I was at my daughter’s school and noticed written in big letters in the reception area – “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”. While I liked the quote, I did not quite grasp it fully. Isn’t all our education especially in our schools all to do with our head? It’s about facts of science, history etc. and being able to answer the questions in the question paper. Where is the place of the heart in all this?

I promptly googled it once I was home. Various interpretations exist for this quote from Aristotle.

Educating the heart entails an understanding of the meaning and use of the knowledge gained through educating the mind. It requires grasping a wide array of knowledge and the subtle ways they are connected.

It can also be interpreted that the cognitive part of education is as important as the affective (or emotional) part of education. The cognitive domain, as we all know, is more about reasoning, knowledge, analytical and tangible. The affective domain is intangible, unmeasurable and intuitive. It deals with meaning and values. 

In other words, it is the balance of IQ and EQ. While EQ as a concept has emerged only in recent times, Aristotle was giving us that message over 2000 years ago!

#FC2E #EQ #EmotionalIntelligence #SumanInsights

Emotional Contagion

It’s 9am on a Monday morning. You’ve had a nice relaxing weekend and are fully charged for the day and week ahead. You walk into the conference room for the weekly staff meeting and find everyone is smiling, joking and talking about how their weekend went. As others stroll in, they instantly feel the energy in the room.

Then, the inevitable happens. The boss walks into the meeting looking down and tense, and even before he says a word, his body language itself is enough to suck the life out of the room. The conversation that was in progress comes to an abrupt halt. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the world of emotional contagion.

Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. Neurologically speaking, emotional contagion is explained by means of mirror neurons which are involved in empathy. It is as though this neuron adopts the other person’s point of view.

Emotional contagion has huge implications in the world of business. We often come across managers who complain that their teams have all the resources, tools and database, but appear to lack energy. What they fail to realize is that the team’s energy is a direct reflection of the manager’s energy, thanks to emotional contagion. And leaders, because of the position they hold, exert a disproportionate impact on the moods and feelings of their team members.

So, if you are a leader or in a leadership position, remember, your emotions and behaviours can lead to tangible ripple effects in your teams and organizations.

#FC2E #EQ #EmotionalIntelligence #SumanInsights

Merit in EQ

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The present education system was based on the needs of the Industrial Revolution. The world has changed tremendously moving into the Information Age and then into the Creative Economy. But changes in the education system move at a glacial pace. I would go to the extent of saying that it is totally broken.

At the undergrad level, the problem starts with how colleges recruit candidates. While it is supposed to be based on ‘merit’, that word has come to mean only academics, narrowly defined as marks and grades. It eliminates other promising candidates who may have high creativity, grit, determination, positivity and provide service to society.

The good news is that there may be changes coming soon. According to a recent study in the US, “…handful of colleges are planning experiments using alternative ways to measure student potential. One hopes to enable applicants to demonstrate their “emotional intelligence,” or E.Q., to showcase their ability to work with others…”. Read more about it in this New York Times article - https://nyti.ms/2z4qoQx

So happy to see EQ finally making its way into the education realm…

What constitutes a great leader

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This one caught my attention. For one, the research findings were very interesting and goes against most conventional thinking. And it was done by Google, undoubtedly one of the world’s most powerful companies today.

The study (https://www.inc.com/michael-schneider/google-did-an-internal-study-that-will-forever-change-how-they-hire-and-promote-.html), on what constitutes a great leader, found that employees appreciate managers who care for them both professionally and personally.

Did you say ‘personally’? Oh, but for many of us, that’s a complete no-no in a professional setting, right?. We are trained to take care of our people professionally, by 1:1 sessions on Personal Development Plan, appraisal meetings, identifying trainings and what not.

But if it comes to connecting with them personally, being genuinely interested in their well-being is something that we don’t think is necessary or even appropriate in an office setting. And this is where emotional intelligence plays a critical role in a manager who is able to make the cut to a great leader. Because having EQ gives one the ability to better understand and empathize with people around them.

An empathetic response

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A dear friend of mine was going through a rough patch. Many a times, we would chat and I would try my best to give him the right advice. Our other friends would also do the same. But often I felt, all that advice was falling on deaf ears. Maybe he was too troubled and unable to think clearly and make sense of it all. But then again, was the issue only with him and was there something I could do differently?

I realised I felt for him and I was being sympathetic. Sympathy by itself is not a bad thing but it does not build emotional connection. Clearly, I was lacking in empathy here. When we are sympathetic, we often try to improve the situation. When a friend shares something that is very painful, we try to put a silver lining around it. We try to make things better. However, it can have the opposite effect. The fact of the matter is, if someone shares something really difficult with you, he or she would rather you say, ‘I don’t even know what to say’ than ‘Don’t feel bad’, or worse, be judgemental by saying, ‘You should not feel that way’. 

Rarely can a response by itself make the situation better. What makes it better is connection. And that is what makes empathy so powerful.