Technology and SEL

Q: In the digital age, students are making connections both socially and emotionally through technology. Are there opportunities for schools to use technology to help improve their students’ EI and if so, what specific tech tools do you think would work best to accomplish this—apps, mobile devices, laptops, Web sites, social networks, computer games, etc.?

I’ve never seen a computer-based SEL lesson, though they may exist (and I’d love to know about it, if so). While these skills are traditionally learned in the thick of life, there is no reason this learning could not be complemented by tech-based lessons, particularly in vivid simulations of learning opportunities (like trying to work out a disagreement, say).»

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Meditation: where to begin

Q: With the aim of becoming more aware of my actions and understanding underlying emotions, I want to learn how to meditate. I was wondering what type of meditation you recommend I begin to practice and where is the best place where I can go to learn.

A: Meditation is an excellent way to enhance emotional intelligence skills, especially self-awareness. There are many effective methods. Meditation was developed within the framework of religions; every major world religion has its meditation methods. I surveyed meditation paths in my first book, The Meditative Mind, recently released in a digital version. But now these meditation practices have been taken out of the religious context and their benefits made available to anyone, regardless of religious beliefs.»

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The emotionally intelligent salesman

Q: Do you plan to write about sales, a methodology? There are lots of books on the topic but none with your perspective. What does an emotionally intelligent sales person look like?

A: Effectiveness at sales certainly reflect emotional intelligence strengths in empathy (especially understanding your customer’s needs), relationship-building, and influence. I’ve described this in my book Working With Emotional Intelligence,  and go into those EI competencies in my new book, Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence.  When it comes to sales the difference in types of empathy matter.  Cognitive empathy lets us understand how a person thinks, and so lets us talk in ways they understand – but this can become manipulation, especially in high-pressure sales tactics. »

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The feedback loop

Q: What are the advantages of 360 degree feedback?

A: 360 degree feedback works best if you ask people whose opinions you value and trust to evaluate your emotional  intelligence anonymously – that is, they use a measure they can fill out and give to a neutral third party, who will aggregate the date so you only see averages, rather than the ratings from any one person.  This information is immensely valuable for developing further strengths in EI, because is gives you a view of yourself you can never get on your own. You see yourself as others see you.

Then you can use this feedback to find which aspect of EI you will focus on in your development plan.»

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Kids these days!

Q: It seems many of the younger generation care more about pop culture instead of serious societal manners — some may call it brain dead. Are today’s young people lacking in emotional intelligence?

Older generations have been decrying the loss of seriousness and manners in young people since at least the time of Aristotle, several centuries B.C. Today’s older generations – particularly the Baby Boomers, born in the decade or so after World War II – are a case in point: their parents despaired that this generation would shred cultural norms. Didn’t happen. Like other generations, the Boomers matured, married, had kids and careers.»

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What makes a good leader?

Q: What qualities make a good leader?

A: Besides emotional intelligence, every leader requires a certain high level of cognitive intelligence and technical skill. The specifics vary with the particular organization and position, but in general high-level executives need an IQ of around 110 or so to handle the cognitive complexity of their jobs. Beyond that a leader may need to have a high level of competence in particular technical skills – not because they use them in their work, but because they lead people who do, and need to have their respect.»

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Emotional intelligence in the classroom

Q: Is EI also crucial to a student’s success in the classroom? And if so, why?

A: EI is crucial for all life success, including for students in the classroom, because of the basic design of the brain.  Our emotions evolved as a tool for survival, and today emotions have a privileged position in the brain.  When we are upset the emotional centers can hijack the thinking centers, rendering us unable to think clearly, focus on the task at hand, perceive in an undistorted manner, and even make it harder to remember what’s relevant to what we’re doing (instead we remember easily anything about what’s upsetting us).»

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Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence

Q: What is your 2000 model of leadership all about?

A: My model of leadership has evolved over several years – there is no “Goleman 2000” model, but rather an evolution of my thought. The best source my thinking on leadership is my recent book Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. There you can read my earliest ideas, the chapter “Managing with Heart” from my 1995 book Emotional Intelligence, my 1998 and 2000 Harvard Business Review articles “What Makes a Leader” and “Leadership That Gets Results,” straight through to last year’s The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights.

As I continue to follow the emerging data from neuroscience and psychology, my understanding of the human qualities that allow outstanding leadership has changed.»

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Timing SEL

Q: At what age can students begin to learn skills that can help them improve their EI?

A: Children begin to learn these skills from the moment of their first interaction with another human being. The mirror neuron system, which mimics in our own brain what we observe in another person’s movements, emotions and intentions, lets infants map on their own brain what they see others do – they start learning how to be a human being. With language toddlers get another key tool in learning social-emotional skills – and gain the ability to talk to themselves about it. By the time a child enters school she is a master at learning these basic human abilities.»

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Enhancing emotional intelligence

Q: You explain that emotional intelligence has four parts: self-awareness, managing emotions, empathy and social skills. Is it possible to enhance them, with practice or training?

A: Emotional intelligence competencies are learned – and can be improved at any point in life. But first you have to be motivated – ask yourself if you really care. Then you need a well-structured learning situation where, for instance, you have a clear picture of what you want to improve, and can practice specific behaviors that will help you enhance the targeted competence.»

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