My 7-year-old's experience of emotional intelligence

My 7-year-old's experience of emotional intelligence

My daughter loves to dance! Ballet, Modern, Lyrical, Commercial, Acro-dance… you name it, she does it!

Recently, much to her disappointment, she was forced to miss a few weeks due to illness and the day had finally come to start back at her dance school.  As we were driving to her class, I turned to her and asked: “Are you excited to go back?”, sure that I knew the answer. But her response surprised me. “I know that I should be excited, but that’s not what I’m feeling…” she replied. I asked her to explain what she meant.  “My stomach hurts and I’m feeling really worried and upset. But I know that I should be excited because I love dance, so I’m trying not to listen to my stomach too much!”

My 7-year-old beautifully summed up emotional intelligence in that one moment.  She described the signals that her emotional brain was sending her- worry, fear, anxiety but then described how her thinking brain was choosing to react differently.  She used her emotional intelligence to notice but not focus on the emotions she was feeling and respond in a rational way:  I’m feeling scared but I’m choosing to face this situation and I know that it will be okay.

We are hard-wired to feel before we think.  This is an important survival mechanism which can quickly get us out of a tricky situation- it’s what we often call fight or flight mode.  But this quick emotional response is not always so useful, especially in the workplace. It can lead us to react in a way that is counterproductive.  Perceived negative emotions tend to narrow our thinking and the ability for our thinking brain to interpret an event and to respond.  We tend to become limited, problem-focused, and biased.

The fascinating thing about these emotions is that there is often not much we can do about them! Remember, these are quick firing emotions that happen throughout the day and they are just as present at work as they are at home.  Emotions absolutely do belong in the workplace, but what is important is how we help our teams understand them and react consciously.  If we can become more conscious of our emotions and those of colleagues, we can reduce the unhelpful responses we may have to certain emotions and therefore maximise a culture of collaboration, support, engagement and performance in teams.

In the case of my daughter, the understanding of her emotions and the conscious response to those was the difference between her refusing to go to her lesson and her turning up and having a blast doing what she loves.

If you would like to find out more about how Questline can work with your teams to make greater impact by focusing on the development of emotional intelligence through our unique programmes, Get in touch

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