Letters & Opinion

The Open School: On Emotional Intelligence

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

Welcome students, in this New Year, to another lesson in the Open School 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 lessons which is done in the Open school every two weeks. It is my hope that students will acquire knowledge and skills which will enable them to help children and students to demonstrate Emotional Intelligence.

At 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 how much we have learnt through a simple evaluation.

The Ave Maria Girls Primary School held a staff development workshop on the topic “Emotional Intelligence” recently. I wish to take the opportunity to commend the principal and staff for this initiative.

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

But what is Emotional Intelligence, and why is the topic so critical in the life of our nation currently? Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions and that of others in positive ways.

Many individuals and families face many crises or difficult situations in their lives. It may be as a direct result of the Covid-19 situation, crime or criminal activities in our land or family and community problems

But what is Covid-19 doing to our people? The doctors, nurses, policemen in the “front line” could best explain. The people in their care, some of them relatives and close friends, are dying right before their eyes even them, they do their very best to save their lives.

In the school environment, teachers are losing parents who are very supportive of their children and the school generally. They are also concerned about very promising students losing instructional time because of closure of schools due to the Covid-19 virus. The situations are brain-racking!

Not only that, many families, women and men too 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 in a positive way.

Certainly, emotional intelligence helps us to manage those situations adequately. The following are four ways in which emotional intelligence could help: Self Awareness, Self-management, social awareness and Relationship Management

Let us now deal with these four types of emotional intelligence separately.

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

We come now to self -management. This is the taking of responsibility or control for your feelings and behaviours. It also means managing your feelings and behaviours in healthy ways; taking initiatives; following through on commitments and your ability dealt in a positive way with changing circumstances or situations.

I listened to a mother who lost her son in a tragic circumstance recently say: “You have taken my loved one from me, but you have not taken away my love for my son”. That was dealing with her feelings in a very positive way. If you don’t, then you can easily lose your mental faculties.

We come now to social awareness. Mainly, it means recognizing the strengths in others, caring about the well-being of your own family and other families and friends, school, community and the greater good of all. Social is derived from the root word society. And a society means people living together.

The fourth way of dealing with your feelings and behaviours would be through Management Relationship. Individual and organizations recognize their clients and customers in very tangible and meaningful ways.

Just recently the Bank of St. Lucia and other organizations too, recognized their clients, customer, helpers, resource persons who have contributed to the development of their business or organization generally. Recognizing people is a sure and meaningful way of building and maintaining a good relationship with clients, customers and people generally.

Relationship management is also about improving one’s own interpersonal communication skills. By that I mean improves your ability to send positive messages one to another through verbal or nonverbal cues.

Relationship management also includes love relationship. That aspect is so important in dealing with human nature. People like to be loved and appreciated. Love must be real and not pretensive.

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

Now here is a brief 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 am hoping that in some way I have helped you understand the very complex issue of Emotional Intelligence.

Look out for another lesson in the open school in two weeks’ time.

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