The Conversation: Navigating the Nuances of Emotional Intelligence

by Diana Drake

Ryan Jenkins, a Gen Z expert, recently called emotional intelligence the most “in-demand skill of the future.” He said, “The Industrial Revolution required muscle from its workers. The Information Age traded muscle for mental capacity, which explains the rise of “knowledge workers.” The future will require workers to be emotionally intelligent.”

With so much riding on this key skill, the sooner you can understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent, the more prepared you’ll be for workplace success.

Sigal Barsade, Wharton’s Joseph Frank Bernstein Professor of Management, has long studied and taught emotional intelligence to students and top executives. She says: “Emotional intelligence is your ability to think intelligently about emotions and to use your emotions to think intelligently.”

‘A Sea of Emotion’

We called on Maurice Schweitzer, Wharton’s Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions and Professor of Management, to go a little deeper with how emotions make people better employees and business leaders.

Schweitzer’s research focuses on emotions, emotion regulation, and the negotiation process. Emotions, he says “drive so much behavior,” inspiring him to explore and write about topics like Anger and Lying, Anxiety and Advice, and how emotions Influence How Much We Trust Other People. His recent research looks at how the fear of embarrassment changes the way we act, and not in a good way. “Once we appreciate that we’re constantly experiencing emotions that drive so many behaviors, it helps us understand the world around us and certainly a lot of business concepts,” says Schweitzer, who has also taught in our Future of the Business World online course.

“Think about emotions as choices that you can make.” — Dr. Maurice Schweitzer, Wharton Professor

Emotional intelligence (also known as Emotional quotient or EQ), he says, has three main parts: the ability to recognize how you are feeling and how others are feeling; the ability to understand the triggers for those emotions in yourself and others; and the ability to change emotions, both in yourself through the choices you make, as well as by inspiring others to act a certain way (think of a great coach who leads his team to victory).

The connection between all of these is to acknowledge your emotions and the emotions of others – after all, emotion is what makes us human – and to realize your power over them. “We’re in a sea of emotion. Things are pushing us to feel one way or another constantly,” explains Schweitzer. “One thing is to recognize that the emotions shouldn’t be just pushing you around.”

As you think about becoming more emotionally intelligent, begin by looking inward, Schweitzer suggests. “Emotions change not just how you feel, but how you think and how you act. If you are happy, angry or sad, you will make different decisions,” he says. “When you’re emotionally intelligent, you first realize that you’re upset and agitated, for example. The next step is to realize what is making you agitated. Maybe it’s performing a certain task, or being with a person who is really critical, or listening to music that is changing how you’re feeling. Do a cognitive reappraisal and think about how you can change the way you feel. Then go ahead and take some action to change it. We can change our environment, we can change what we do, we can change where we go, and we can change how we think about things.”

Perspective and Empathy

Emotionally intelligent people must also learn to look outward to assess the influence that emotion is having on others, both in leadership roles and as members of teams. Picture this: You had a chance to score a goal in the big game and you missed it. Your coach pulls you aside and yells at you. In business, this might be that your boss is really upset with you because you didn’t land a big client.

Dr. Schweitzer suggests you start with these questions.

“When people express strong emotions, it’s natural for us to react,” says Schweitzer. “The emotionally intelligent reaction is to recognize it’s them, not you, and put it in perspective. [Rather than fall apart], think logically about the situation in a way that will ultimately change your emotion. Have the perspective to think that this isn’t really that big a deal and everything is going to be alright. By putting it in context, you can think about someone else’s emotional reaction and react to it differently. I feel badly they’re under so much stress to win games. Or, I wonder if there is a way to educate them or guide them to see a bigger picture and put things in a different perspective.”

An essential quality of outward emotional intelligence for business leaders is empathy. Empathy is the ability to communicate and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views and feelings. Edward Yu, a former PwC executive, talked with Knowledge@Wharton High School a few years back about the power of empathy.

“To better understand empathy, think of the African word Sawubona, which means “I ‘see’ you,” said Yu. “When you meet somebody, you really see them — not just because you notice them, but because you respect them and understand where they come from.” The more you understand people on an emotional level, like your employees and co-workers, the more likely you will be able to draw out the best in their performance.

Tony Hayward is an example of a high-profile executive’s failure to empathize. Hayward was CEO of oil and energy company BP when the company accidentally spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico during an explosion that also killed 11 people and injured 17. “When he delivered his apology, he said: ‘No one wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.’ He was pilloried for that,” notes Schweitzer. “It was self-focused, failing to appreciate the importance of emotions of others and those around him and how that was going to play out. He ended up losing his job.”

Whether aspiring to lead others or to be effective in any career position, success begins with your own emotional awareness. Ask questions and gather feedback from those around you, and observe how great leaders in your own life control and use their emotions.

“We can be deliberate about the kinds of experiences we seek out to improve our ability to recognize, use, and change emotions,” says Schweitzer. “Think about emotions as choices that you can make. Rather than letting the world change you, think about changing the world, whether it’s as small as changing how you’re thinking about something, going for a walk, going for a run, talking to a friend. Think about the choices you make as things that are going to change how you feel.”

Related Links

Conversation Starters

Does controlling your emotions mean not to express them? Explain.

How would you describe the power of emotions as you build your pathway to success in business and career?

What is your biggest takeaway from this article? Share in the comment section some ways you plan to develop your emotional intelligence.

21 comments on “The Conversation: Navigating the Nuances of Emotional Intelligence

  1. From this article I took away that emotional intelligence is not merely acknowledging your emotions and what resulted in you feeling that way, but changing how you feel as well.

    • Yeah, same here. I also really appreciate that the article explained that even though emotionally intelligent people employ methods of changing negative emotions into positive ones, they’re not AVOIDING or fearing emotion, but instead accepting emotion as a natural tendency in order to gain control over their own.

  2. I have never been able to control my emotions. There have been a lot of instances where my anger would get the better of me or where I would just shut my emotions off. However, the year 2020 taught me a lot of lessons and the most important one being was how to take control over my emotions. I expressed anger in the right way and at the same time, opened up about my emotions when I needed to and I have never felt better. Emotions can be a very tricky concept but the moment you learn how to deal with and control them, you can make so many changes to your life and grow to be a better person excelling in everything you involve yourself in.

  3. Attending the Business Leadership Academy program, I felt nurtured by the exposure to core psychology concepts that are critical to a company’s success. However, especially with the pandemic and reflecting on the long, tedious conversations with my parents about emotional wellbeing and life, I realized that although I was partially conscious of my actions immediately after the dialogues or, sometimes, altercations, I have yet to develop the skill to accept frank and straightforward criticisms fully.

    A concept that the professor brought up during the program was the Johari Window, where there are four “selves” that one has, including the “open self,” “hidden self,” “blind self,” and “unknown self.” More interestingly, the field of “unknown self” would most likely be the biggest out of the four. Upon this understanding, it is perplexing to attempt to comprehend what “privatized” and unexplored characteristics there could be. Are they situationally based? Do they occur frequently but often missed? Are they trivial individually but significant when amassed together? Moreover, how can one become less blind without overcoming some self-pride or conceit in the “open-self” window? And how do these different panels interact, or if they work interdependently?

    These inquiries and evaluations merely break the surface for total self-understanding, like the ocean and space, with only an insignificant proportion explored by the human species.

    • I totally agree with what Max has commented. I believe that one of the most overlooked parts of business is in the emotions we hold. Growing up, I have only, for the most part, ever heard of the phrases “leaders are confident” and “leaders are organized”. It was never so much about what they acted like in professional or normal settings, rather what they could offer when forming decisions. The ability to take on both extremes: the feeling of euphoria and backlash is crucial to the development of a brand and overall environment of a company. Afterall, followers learn from the leaders. Personally, I relate to Max, I am open to feedback, yet still expecting some sort of praise for my efforts. This in return, has made me hard headed from time to time. Though, I identify with the “unknown self” as Max had mentioned since my reactions are based on my level of stress. When times are difficult, I sometimes just discard my ideas, and follow what I believe is wrong, but convince myself it is right. I am naive and often soft because of self doubt and take “living in the moment” too literally. For example, in times of success and accomplishment, I often forget the responsibilities and promises I still must uphold. I believe this would negatively impact my ultimate success in how I would outdo myself over and over again and the ones benefiting would be everyone, but myself. To put this into application, if I was the CEO of a company and I had made a large margin of profit, I may be too quick to reward workers with raises and outsourcing certain goods. In a more practical sense, when I am arranging a hang out with friends, I often offer to pay knowing my bank account has less than 5 cents in it. Yet texting in caplocks heats up the excitement and I do lose myself in the moment. Thus, I make impulsive decisions that end up hurting myself more than anyone around me. This is an issue that I have struggled with for most of my life. To address this, however, I have limited myself with the promises I make in conversations, and often pause to reflect on my actual abilities to fulfill these empty promises before I speak or reply back. My attempt in answering Max’s question of how the different “selves” work together would be that it depends on our ability to identify who we are in differnet situations. Rather than just asking how the different “selves” are related we should consider its application to each individual. Some are a lot more self conscious with their actions, some are more self centered with their motives. It honestly depends. I believe that a driving factor of what makes an entrepreneurer successful is not solely based on the knowledge attained, but also how you combine it with the mix of emotions: confidence, doubt, happiness, ambition.

  4. In answering the first question after reading this article, I believe that “controlling your emotions” has become synonymous with not outwardly showing them or becoming emotionless. However, I believe that controlling your emotions simply means keeping your emotions in check and not let them get out of hand. If I were a CEO and
    I “controlled my emotions” by becoming emotionless, I, in that way would not be a successful leader because I would not be displaying emotional intelligence and humanity. I would instead become cold and un-relatable. Being human and having emotional intelligence means having emotions, but being able to control how much of that emotion that you outwardly express instead of blindly acting upon your emotions in an animalistic way.

    • Also, I would like to add that there are some emotions that are stronger and therefore require more “controlling” such as anger, jealousy, etc. But even then, I believe it is important to display those emotions as well in a non-destructive way to truly display humanity.

    • What an insightful comment, Anjali! I completely agree with your definition of controlling emotions. Like you, I also believe that controlling your emotions means not suppressing them entirely by stashing them away and avoiding any public emotional reaction. There is a balance we can achieve. This coincides with my own definition of emotional intelligence. Not every emotion—especially those that are troubling to others such as anger or jealousy—needs to be on public display. But projecting an emotionless persona has its own problems. While you must control your emotions, you also must shift perspectives, understand others, show some vulnerability in the right context, and demonstrate empathy.

      While there is no question that a high EQ provides a better experience in the normative workspace for everyone, I believe the importance of having high emotional intelligence is displayed even better in extreme conditions, such as when we wade into the online environment. This is a difficult place to navigate emotionally. Oftentimes we find ourselves confined to our own bubble, such as a space where we only interact with peers, limiting outside perspectives. This is not anyone’s fault: we often find ourselves surrounded by like minded individuals, but it does make it difficult to communicate with those from other environments. In order to avoid being stuck in an ideological bubble, we need emotional intelligence to help us navigate other spaces.

      However, we must venture into environments such as social media that make us uncomfortable in order to gain a broader perspective of the world This requires emotional intelligence. We must be willing to shift perspectives and understand the circumstances other people face, many of whom live vastly different lives and possess identities and circumstances we rarely encounter. Of course, when we venture online, we may encounter the angry, the lonely, or the sick. These people need to be heard as well. And here is wher social intelligence is critical: we may be attacked, but we must display emotional intelligence in order to understand where these people are coming from. It’s not easy. I certainly am still trying to figure it all out.

      As a teenager, I still find myself allowing my emotions get the best of me. For instance, back in the spring of 2020, I was incredibly happy, even as Covid-19 started marched through Canada like an invading army, the case numbers expanding exponentially, the societal fear palpable in parks, grocery stores, and movie theaters. I’d been given a week off from school. Like many of us, I thought Covid would soon disappear. But I was wrong. Soon, one week off turned into three, three weeks turned into three months, and the word lockdown became the definition of my daily life. I was overwhelmed. We were forced to learn online, our front doors locked, the government insisting on our very isolation. Soon, I was frustrated. No friends. No experiences. I was constantly bouncing between sadness, anger and fear. People saw me lash out.

      Although, I mostly kept my emotions in check, but even I understood that being a teenager meant I laced a level of emotional moderation. I tried. I worked on it and for a while I decided that “controlling” my emotions meant hiding suppressing them, ignoring them. It worked for a minute. But after weeks of frustration, emotions boiled over, resulting in tantrums and bad moods. It was difficult on my family.

      But here’s the thing about isolation and pandemics: eventually you have to deal you’re your behavior. And I did. I looked at the bigger picture, realizing I was not the only one suffering fro pandemic-induced anxieties and mental illness. It was common, not only amongst teenagers but also adults, many of whom were “emotionally intelligent.” If you don’t believe me, trust the WHO, which found a whopping 25% increase in the global anxiety and depression prevalence. Teenagers were the most susceptible not only to moderate anxiety and depression, but also suicide. I also realized how fortunate I was: few people worldwide have access to sophisticated mental health treatment. According to CAMH, 75% of children with mental disorders do not have access to specialized treatment services. It’s a tragedy.

      Emotional intelligence isn’t simply understanding and controlling your emotions: it’s about understanding that emotions are complex and that, collectively, we struggle with speaking about such heady issues. Maybe someday we’ll develop the language to do so.

      https://globalyouth.wharton.upenn.edu/articles/business/conversation-navigating-nuances-e
      motional-intelligence/

  5. One of the main conclusions that I made after reading this article is that for someone be emotional intelligent, they ought to know themselves deeply. As explained in the article, emotional intelligence is a result of controlling, understanding, and managing well your emotions alongside empathy for others. You can’t control something you don’t comprehend, therefore, to be emotional intelligent you must reflect on how your emotions behave (what makes you sad, angry, anxious, etc), and most importantly, know your limits.

    However, that made me wonder if it is really possible to control all of your emotions, when sometimes you may not know that somethings disturbs you until a certain situation happens, similarly to Freud’s theory about the repressed memory, in which he said the unconscious can completely erase a traumatic memory of a person’s subconscious since it could be too hard to deal with it, however, the ‘forgotten’ memory still influences on the affected person’s emotions and behavior.

    Nevertheless, is undeniable that, although being difficult to achieve it, emotional intelligence is a valuable characteristic, especially in environments that could cause stress, such as school and work. Being able to handle your emotions and knowing how to deal with others is helpful to be more productive and make right decisions. Therefore, I believe that emotional intelligence may be something not 100% achievable, but as we live and learn more about ourselves, we get more emotional intelligent each day.

  6. In order to fit in, or on a bigger scale to “survive” in our modern society, having emotional intelligence is certain as is becoming a high demand for Gene-Z in the future. As a Gene-Z myself, I do understand and experience how much advantage you can gain with this skill. For example, in a school setting keeping good relationships with everyone around you including students and teachers can simply give you the ability to create more opportunities, therefore more open doors for yourself in the future. One of the first steps toward having high emotional knowledge during certain situations from my own experience is to put yourself into other people’s shoes before making decisions or comments. Emotional intelligence is not new to us humans, people have been trying to comprehend and use emotional intelligence since time began. Read a good novel such as The Three Kingdoms in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang was an advisor for a civil state as well as its military commander. He explored and exploited other people’s emotional states, such as jealousy, greed, ambition, fear, as well as the desire for glory. What made him stand out the most was his usage of their emotions, as he turned manipulation of his allies and enemies into an art. He made harsh choices that people had to follow, and eventually turned it to his own advantage; his own game. He also had a lot of empathy on the personal level; he was kind, and thoughtful when he could be, but when it didn’t interfere with business. In order to relate to reality and to look at the bigger picture, by only understanding others’ emotions is not enough. We need “to improve our ability to recognize, use, and change emotions,” as Dr.Schweitzer said. With more thinking and innovation, we are forcing our brains to become more efficient. This will eventually be the best and most efficient way to shape our society into greater emotional intelligence.

  7. Emotional intelligence is the swiss army knife of our society’s toolbox. Swiss army knives are versatile, equipped with tools that can be applied to any situation. Similarly, emotional intelligence has many components. As stated in the article, there are three main components to emotion intelligence: the ability to recognize emotions in both yourself and others, the ability to understand the causes for those emotions, and the ability to change emotions in yourself and those around you. The key concept to mastering these elements is acceptance. By accepting your thoughts and emotions, you become mindful of your actions and the principles behind your thoughts. Acceptance is the first step to empathy, the skill that ties the aspects of emotional intelligence together. In recent times, the word “empath” has been thrown around to describe those with compassion. In the words of the article, “Empathy is the ability to communicate and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views and feelings.” Rather than feeling compelled by emotion, empaths try to understand the rationale of others’ thoughts before making a decision.

    Empathy can be applied to situations in all walks of life, from negotiating a contract to resolving a street fight. Examples of empathy can be found all around us, as it is integral for communication. However, if emotional intelligence is important, why isn’t it taught to children? Put simply, emotional intelligence cannot be taught. It is a skill that is learned through trial and error, not by studying from a textbook. Reading articles about empathy can teach us about emotional intelligence and its importance. However, empathy is only truly developed when we are faced with new situations. I think that everyone should develop their empathy, by being mindful of their actions, no matter how small.

    I think that emotional intelligence is crucial in understanding others’ thoughts and actions. By becoming empaths, we can learn to accept each other and celebrate our experiences. As a jack of all trades, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be applied to any problem.

  8. I found out that stress and pressure have a significant influence on EQ. Normally, I would have no problem acting accordingly to others’ emotions, but when I feel under pressure, I lose my self-control and dismiss all emotions, but the task I am working on. Same with many capable CEOs, I believe they are shown as heartless not because of their unsympathetic nature, but due to the overwhelming stress, they are going through every day. However, I wouldn’t simply pardon all CEOs in the past with uncaring behaviors but would like to seek a solution for the industry to ease the stress and let them catch up on their breath to understand their surroundings and customers.

  9. One year ago, emotional intelligence had changed the way how I viewed the outer world, but it rarely changed the way I act.
    I was able to realize my overdue actions right after some chats or phone calls, but I still could not change them. Just last year, I was quite of a lovebird. I was a slave of emotions: whenever we had a conflict or a quarrel, I supposed the entire world turn its back on me. I could not keep working on my goals; I was distracted from my studying; my mind was overwhelmed by the word “love.”
    It was not until we ended up everything that I realized I was genuinely controlled by feelings. I acted emotionally; I thought impulsively; I decided everything with a FOMO (fear of missing out). I started to change myself with some more specific goals.
    On that path, I figured out the three things: first, mering at sympathy requires putting yourself into others’ shoes; second, as long as you still have a FOMO, you will hardly ever succeed in many aspects of your life (especially the business and the stock market); lastly, being the slave of emotions is to be attributed to your lack of mature thoughts and serious goals.
    I realize that emotional intelligence won’t make sure you can change the world, but at least it is sure that you will succeed in changing yourself with good EQ. Perhaps, that might be the foundation for you to become some great people on Earth, who knows?

  10. I am a perceptual person, I admit. But at the same time, there’s also enough rationality in me for me to slam the brakes before I say or do things I know I’ll regret. I often think it is harder to intermingle with myself than it is to deal with others, where you simply step in their shoes, show sincerity, and behave with etiquette. But to interact well with other people, we need to first learn how to live with ourselves. Comfortably, with acceptance and embracement. When we can’t get our own emotions under control, many variables appear: a habitual bad temper can sweep us into a tornado of gloomy depression. In his definition of emotional intelligence, Dr. Maurice Schweitzer discusses identifying personal emotions alongside recognizing emotions in others.

    When facing our stark-naked selves, we are looking at what we’ve never revealed to others or even denied and ignored internally. We are forced to swallow defects: the two inches of extra fat on our waist, or the five pages of work we can’t finish, or the trembling body when facing a crowd. In the article, this quote from Dr. Schweitzer is emphasized in bold font size 28: “Think about emotions as choices that you can make.” When facing others, we typically restrain ourselves and control our emotions, giving automatic responses that follow etiquette, requiring no courage. But outward interactions are unavoidable unlike internal reflection, where we can demonstrate true courage: facing our real selves when we have the option to avoid it.

    Before I tell my story, I want to clarify that I am not a person who lets my emotions fly all over the place. Many have told me that I’m good at communicating and understanding people’s feelings; some have even said that I would succeed in a career in public relations. But inside, I have waves of losing it; I can feel it in my genes, inherited from my dad. Otherwise, I would call myself flexible and gentle. That’s why I feel qualified to discuss, based on my personal experience, the three characteristics that Dr. Schweitzer assigns to emotional intelligence: how I recognize my emotions, how I find the root of my irritations, and how I rationally work myself out of them.

    Let me begin. I was sitting there, just me and my broken pieces of emotions. My whole body was shaking. But I was eerily relaxed. At least I looked relaxed. The rise and fall of my chest made me feel present. “Thump, thump,” the sound of my heart beating–the only thing I could possibly hear. But the noises in my head were endless, biting my nerves. My breath sped up and my nails dug deep into my palms. I knew “it” was back. The first time was an argument in the living room. The second time followed another argument beside a car in pouring rain, wild screams and hail. This time it came out of nowhere on a bright morning with no one but me and my emotions. I stared at the noise and tried to find peace in it. I know what this is, I told myself. I stood up and tried to hug it, but the tingling and numbness made me tremble back into my chair. My eyes watered. Every time “it” comes, I bawl, I shatter, I quiver, I weep, I slap, but nothing helps. All I can do is sit there and stare, into seemingly eternal seclusion.

    I lay curled up in my gray sofa chair, sunk into the piles of softness. Calmly reviewing everything that happened this morning. Somehow I could think calmly in the midst of such extreme rage. I found an endless peace, where outside noise ceased, and only the burning fire within me remained. In my anxiety, I stroked the tongue of the flames until they dimmed in my hands, fading away. I counted the little things that could have made me so miserable. Was it the high C that cracked even when I sung it countless times? Was it getting dressed to go out for Covid testing only to be told to cancel? Was it the dress I set out in advance and suddenly couldn’t find? At this point, rationality had found a foothold in what Dr. Schweitzer likens to an ocean of emotions; I prefer to call it a sea of fire.

    I buried my face in the pillow and squealed. I grabbed the softest thing I could find and threw it on the floor. I stood on the bed and stomped furiously. All to muffle the venting I need to release my emotions without unnecessarily disturbing my family downstairs. In my most emotional moment, rationality is like a silver thread, hanging tight to the nerve that helps me calm down. Then, I talk to people who love me and accept my flaws. At times like this, their unconditional support provides boundless hope and courage. I went to my mother. Her hugs contain infinite energy, but I was on a rollercoaster. Maybe I was at my most vulnerable when I called out for her, but full of thorns by the time she answered. But I gradually calmed down and found peace amid waves of anger.

    The point I’m trying to make is straightforward. What I want to say is this: It’s important to learn to control your emotions and get along with others intelligently, but what comes before is learning to self-express and self-accept. One who cannot understand their own emotions cannot fully understand the emotions of others. Learning to control your emotions does not mean learning how to self-suppress, but learning to embrace them, to find peace in the face of turbulent emotions.Trust me, when you face overloading tasks and desperately need orderliness, thought, and calm, a trace of irrational temper will drag you down into an abyss, full of darkness and feebleness.
    External interaction may be the way to success, but self-reflection is the way to climb out of the abyss and find emotional equilibrium. Ending with Dr. Schweitzer, “When aspiring to lead others or to be effective in any career, position, success begins with your own emotional awareness.”

  11. Emotional Intelligence

    Intelligence is a word that has caught my attention in many ways since I was a child, mainly because being intelligent or being considered intelligent is usually synonymous with someone being special or important. But what is intelligence, really? For my child version, it was probably someone who is good at math or can understand difficult things faster, which was the most important thing and also the main goal in my life, but as I grew up, I realized that there are other, more important issues that I need to actively deal with that also involve intelligence. One of them is emotional intelligence, which, as the article says, is an important topic to develop and actively address because it’s part of the process of developing as a person and getting to know yourself better.
    At the beginning of my elementary school years, I was a very involved student who was always interested in scientific competitions, but one caught my attention: the Brasilia Scientific Fair, a regional Olympiad in Brasilia (Brazil) where you have to present your projects with a group to the judges and the audience. I was so excited that I immediately formed a group with my best friends, but I did not know how difficult it would be to deal with and understand others. In the first week of preparation, I decided to do an Arduino project where a wheel spins forward and then backward, but I did not give my team a heads up about what I was going to do, so many of them called me selfish. That was my first experience with emotional intelligence, dealing with others’ feelings about me and with my feelings. At that moment, when I was almost crying, I told them that the project was really good and did not need to be changed, but they did not accept the idea. When I came home after school and told my mother how angry and sad I was at the same time, she told me that sometimes people do not like things they do not understand. The next day I presented the project in front of the whole class and explained every single detail. After the presentation, they finally understood how great the project was. In the last week of preparation, I organized the explanation of the group, that is, what each member should say on the day of the presentation. For a moment I thought that nothing could go wrong, everyone knew exactly what to say, the project was working normally, I was really sure that we would win the fair, when I received a message from my best friend Kaio who had a really important part of the speech saying that he would not go to the fair. When I heard that, I cried almost at the same moment, but I did not understand my feeling because my head kept buzzing, “Why did he leave us? Why did he betray us! Why am I so sad? Why am I so angry? Why?”. With all these emotions at once and my inability to deal with them, I smashed one of the wheels on the floor. When I got home, I told my mother how selfish Kaio was and that he had betrayed the whole school, and at the same moment she told me that I was the one who was selfish because I was responsible for the team not having a chance to win the competition just because I could not control myself well. After that, I tried to fix the bike, but I was too late. In the end, we got praise from the spectators and the judges, but we did not win anything.
    Later I apologized to the team for my mistakes and said that I was the selfish one all the time. I thought that everyone had to be like me and do everything I said, but everyone has their own feelings and ideas. After this experience I started to understand more people and myself.

  12. The words that we all live in a “sea of emotions” made my heart resonate with my past experiences and memories. Reading this article made me understand that it is important to be brave enough to face our emotions in order to learn how to control them. I believe that I have been ignoring this message for way too long, hurting and neglecting myself without even knowing it. But now, as a high school student, I have resolved to face how I feel and be more honest with myself because expressing my emotions does not mean that I am uncontrolled or inexperienced.

    My story only takes us back a few weeks.

    It is June 7, 2022, just 3 days before the end of school. I am sitting in the corner of my English classroom. I am dazed by the thought that my first year of high school is about to be over. Nothing feels real anymore as I clutch at a book I’ve borrowed from the library to read over the summer, hoping that the day will be over soon. This is the last day that I will be in English class, maybe the last time I will see my favorite teacher, who will be leaving next year. Yet, I feel nothing; no sadness, no nothing. It’s as if I’m shoving my emotions aside, hoping that I will get back to them later sometime.

    I am awoken from my trance when Ms. G, our English teacher, stands up in front of the classroom. She says that she’s made some special gift for us before she leaves. She hands us each a mysterious scrap of paper, folded up carefully so that all the writing inside is covered, only leaving our names sticking out. I receive mine and look inside.

    The paper reveals the printed lyrics of “Jump” by Cynthia Erivo. The lines “You must fight just like her / the one who knows your worth” are highlighted in yellow and underneath are some words scribbled in purple marker. It’s a simple message from my favorite teacher. In my mind, Ms. G’s voice reads out the short but heartfelt letter, letting me know that she appreciates my hard work this year and that it was a great year together.

    While the music plays in the background, I let my tears flood my eyes first then drip down my face, wiping hastily now and then to hide the fact that I am being a crybaby… in front of the whole class.

    That was the first time that I cried in school since elementary. I, the tall, aloof girl who always speaks politely but formally and has a quick but broad(and sometimes a little tired) smile for anyone, was out of control. I felt all sorts of emotions: bounding joy at receiving such a kind message, regret at how I did not reach out earlier to say a proper goodbye to my teacher, and shame at how vulnerable I could be. It took a while for me to stop crying, but afterward, I felt a sudden calmness of mind that surprised me.

    At first, I did not understand why I was so emotional all of a sudden. But feeling all those mixed-up emotions made me realize how void of feelings I had been throughout this year. As Dr. Schweitzer mentioned, we must first learn what and how we are feeling before we can proceed to understand ourselves in a deeper sense. I was doing the exact opposite.

    To tell the truth, I had a pretty tough year. As a freshman, I wanted to do my best: I wanted to get the highest grades, impress everyone, turn in perfect work… and the list continues. There were times when I felt burned out after working on a paper way past midnight. There were times when I wanted to take a break. Sure, I spent time looking through my phone and painting to de-stress, but I never stopped to consider how I was feeling. I was like a pressure cooker, keeping all my emotions down only to burn myself from the inside.

    Ms. G’s message was honest, but short and simple. Why had it touched my heart? Made me cry like a toddler in front of everyone?

    All I really needed this whole year was a pat on the back: this note I received was the pat that pushed me through the film that shrouded me from my true feelings. No one before had told me that I was doing good, that I was appreciated for being who I was. But most importantly, I wasn’t there to tell myself that simple message.

    This article made me reach back to all the tough times I had this year and how I felt. Anxiety, anger, fear, fatigue… these were emotions that I must have felt often but never thought to sit down and assess. There were various reasons why I felt these negative emotions. Sometimes it was because I just had too much work and too little sleep, sometimes because I was feeling too pressured to do my best. The next step will be to change, to take action: I am sleeping more now and taking better care of myself. It’s only been a few weeks, but I am feeling much better mentally. I am more in control of myself, but that’s only because I let my emotions surface: when I feel like it, I listen to sad music and cry a little in my room. When I feel upset, I write about it in my diary and talk about it to my parents. When I feel happy, I chat with my friends and laugh, the way I want to. But I never get caught up in that endless whirlpool of feelings. After a deep dive to the bottom of my heart, I will always resurface, break the waves, and breath the fresh air, happy to be who I am.

    It takes a great deal of courage to express your feelings, not to mention identify them and think honestly about the reasons why you feel the way you do. But this is the first step on the path to understanding who you really are. The only way to control your emotions is to realize them, understand why, and change your lifestyle, even if it means making small changes. Because you are your biggest fan and the best person who can understand you and help you.

    Thank you for giving me that gentle pat, Ms. G.

  13. When your mood is in a melancholic state, studying to prepare for a science final exam can be like trying to set fire on a stone. Setting fire on a stone is impossible, and when I am in a curmudgeonly spirit, I would be the stone that would not budge to any blazing urgency of studying. I would then allow my emotions to consume a good moment of my life.

    As a high school student, I believe I am not alone. This difficulty of volatile emotions ruining one’s decision-making prowess is universally known.

    Before reading this article, I never thought of emotions as a “choice” I could make. However, I learned that that is not true. Recognizing my emotions and their causes, then guiding myself towards healthier thoughts can help control my emotions, and ultimately my actions. This versatility can help one adapt to different situations more easily.

    I learned through personal experiences how I can be more emotionally intelligent inward and outward. To begin with inward emotional intelligence, I will definitely have to acknowledge my lack of proficiency in the beginning. Overcoming internal factors that influence my emotions, such as discouraging thoughts, was challenging for me as a teenager. While reading the article, I was able to radically resonate with Maurice Schweitzer, who stated that emotions “change not just how you feel, but how you think and how you act.” For instance, during months when I felt motivated, I geared up on my discipline and limited any wasted time. I felt like I could conquer all things that would confront me. Yet, at other times, my emotions would get ahead of me abysmally. My mind would fill with censorious thoughts, including shaming myself for my consistent inability to follow my planned schedule, or lambasting myself for needing a nap every day to physically function. At the worst times, I would wait until 12 am when my parents went to sleep and release my tears in front of my computer, the bright light shining through my tears in hexagon forms. My world felt upended because of the lethality of my emotions.

    In these situations, I presumed culling my emotions through the sheer force of logic and rationality would be impossible because my emotions would never seem to subside against anything. Instead, I tried telling myself more hopeful messages. I would tell myself that it is okay to feel this way; that the struggle is part of the process; and that no one has achieved success without struggles. Many times, choosing this shifting of mind helped me lessen the quantum uproar of my emotions. I cannot say that this was a magic spell to mitigate negative thoughts every time, but it undoubtedly worked on several occasions, especially for temporarily distressing ones.

    Personal experiences also taught me outward emotional intelligence — overcoming external factors that influence my feelings. As an illustration, beginning in middle school, a few of my friends started being ungenerous and fractious with their responses. When I asked one of them if she wanted to hang out, she would bark, “I thought I was being clear but apparently not… And please just be patient.” I first questioned myself if I had hurt their feelings. Yet, I eventually realized that everyone has their own struggles they are going through that I cannot grasp. I discerned that their frustration from other situations could have been displaced on me, so I acknowledged their position and prevented the aggravation of my mood. However, if I had failed to recognize that my friend’s anger was due to her individual circumstances, I may have been irritated and projected my negative emotions onto someone else. This would lead to a cycle of negative feelings being displaced. Yet, I can stop the cycle. By acknowledging other people’s own circumstances and putting effort to apply this train of thought in these situations, I can prevent my emotions from igniting into a blaze.

    I definitely have a long way to go to crack the Rosetta Stone for inward emotional intelligence. I find myself to be a little better with outward emotional intelligence, but I still have much to work on. More importantly, knowing to choose emotions that support healthier, more encouraging views as well as opting to empathize with others’ situations can help with emotional intelligence — a commodity in life. This means a single individual, like me and you, can change how we feel, how others feel, and ultimately how we act and shape our community.

    • I really resonated with your example of your friends’ increasing “ungenerous and fractious” responses. During elementary school, I was the epitome of someone falling on the lower end of the emotional intelligence scale. Whenever engaging in a conversation, or even just a casual two-sentence exchange, anyone who offered anything less than a cheerful response was met with my annoying question: “Are you mad at me?” This even became known as my catchphrase for a while, which unfortunately correlated to me having fewer friends that year. Thankfully, I eventually realized how self-absorbed that thought process was. As you put it, others’ less-than-enthusiastic responses could be due to struggles in their own separate lives and had nothing to do with me. Although not as serious, my natural response sounded like the example given in the article where former BP CEO Tony Hayward gave a self-centered reply about a deadly oil spill and explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. He ended up losing his job over his “failure to appreciate the importance of the emotions of others.”

      Despite my growing awareness of my emotional insecurity as I moved into middle school, I didn’t learn how to increase my emotional intelligence quite as quickly as I would hope. Growing older entailed dealing with more complex situations, and this problem regularly got in the way during those instances. Thankfully, my mom recognized what was happening, and she began to constantly remind me to not let my emotions affect my actions. She saw that I worried too much about others’ reactions during social situations and often had talks with me on how to deal with this. Out of all the advice she gave me, the most memorable and useful had to be that “the world does not revolve around you, just focus on dealing with the problem.” The somewhat cliché saying frequently reminded me during conversations that I should not let others’ emotions affect my emotions, which would in turn affect my mental clarity.

      This didn’t mean I remained rational during all types of situations from then on, but I did stop randomly asking people if they were mad at me. However, I still often jumped immediately to the worst conclusion whenever I received a doubtful response. For example, I once tried to set up a playdate between my younger brother and my friend’s sibling. However, my brother being the little brat that he is, canceled at the last minute, and my friend had gotten to me before I had the chance to inform her about this sudden change in plans. She told me that she understood after I explained the situation, but as I walked away, I thought to myself, “Oh well, I guess I have one less friend now!” A bit of a strange case, I know, but I think this situation really shows the effect stressful conditions had on me. In hindsight, my friend was obviously not going to abandon me forever due to a miscommunication, but instead of letting the situation go like she did, I continued to dwell on our interaction and the emotions she expressed, leading me to some inaccurate misinterpretations of the future of our friendship.

      In the complex communications we manage daily, it’s so easy to misinterpret and take things personally. One of which, as I’m sure many can relate, is texting. Entering high school, my screen time had increased significantly, and texting made up a big portion of that time, whether it was for chatting with friends or working on school projects. Regardless of the purpose, whenever someone gave a one-word response after I sent them a long message, or if they responded after a long period of time, I started to doubt everything again. Thus, a whole new genre of “are they mad at me” developed once more, showing how I continue to struggle greatly with maintaining emotional intelligence today. Reading this article is a great reminder of how important it is to be aware of the many factors that influence people’s actions that have nothing to do with us. By being aware of this, it allows us to become more emotionally intelligent because we “recognize it’s them, not [us], and [are able to] put it in perspective. [Rather than fall apart], [we] think logically about the situation in a way that will ultimately change [our] emotion.”

  14. “In life,” my mother always said in fluent mandarin, “having IQ means nothing if you do not also have EQ.”

    I think she would agree with Dr. Schweitzer’s thoughts on emotional intelligence. Schweitzer focuses on both the importance of regulating emotion and understanding empathy as both a person in a leadership role and a person working in a team. While this certainly applies most obviously to business, it also applies to teamwork in general and personal life.

    In middle school, my art teacher split us up into groups to work on a project that was to span several weeks. We were given the task of making a sculpture out of paper plates. My group chose to do a palm tree, with rolled up plates acting as the trunk and folded plates acting as the sprawling leaves.

    After I finished stabilizing the base of the trunk of what we did have, too flat to be considered roots, I asked my classmate in charge of the stapling if there was anything else I could do to help. She told me to help out with the hot-gluing instead. I went to our classmate in charge of the gluing, once again asking if I could help out. He told me no, I should help out with the stapling. I obliged and walked back to the first group leader, who immediately got annoyed at my presence and started yelling at the other group leader. It quickly became a conversation of who would have to deal with me; both of them kept pointing at me like I was the problem plaguing the two, as though I wasn’t even there to hear it.

    By this point, I blew up, yelling loud enough to halt the conversation between my two classmates and silence the whole room. Embarrassed, I quickly grabbed the hall pass and ran out of the classroom, heading to the bathroom to try and cool myself down. I’m not sure if much work was done after that.

    I still remember this incident very clearly because it was the first time I really considered the impact my emotions made, in that moment and in the moments after. Success in business (or in life really), depends heavily on being able to properly communicate and control your own thoughts and feelings. Being able to relate/connect with others is important to any type of relationship, as is maintaining logical thinking and healthy emoting key to achieving success and goals in all areas of life.

    This situation is a prime example of how understanding emotions and empathy could’ve resolved the issue. On one hand, if my two classmates had communicated to each other and the group as a whole about individual roles in the project, it’s unlikely the conversation would’ve ever gotten that intense. They probably also wouldn’t have referred to me as the problem, and we all would’ve been able to handle the situation calmly. On the other hand, if I had been more aware and regulated my own emotions, putting the circumstances in a more logical perspective, I wouldn’t have exploded in front of the whole room. Instead, we ended up not only disrupting the flow of our group, but also that of the entire class, and negatively impacted our relationship with each other.

    As Schweitzer says, “Think about emotions as choices that you can make. Rather than letting the world change you, think about changing the world, whether it’s as small as changing how you’re thinking about something, going for a walk, going for a run, talking to a friend.” The way you express your emotions affects the world around you as much as it affects you. It is you, and all of us, who will be changing the world, and it starts with emotions. Now that I am in high school, these same lessons about emotions and consequences still apply.

    Recently, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, which means abortion is no longer protected federally, and states determine their own abortion laws. I found an outpouring of posts on social media from many different accounts. Regardless of whether the person was male, female, younger, older, incredibly informed about today’s politics or not, people all over the nation used their emotions – disappointment, fear, anger – to attend protests and rallies, inform the public, recommend resources, and more.

    In the face of injustice, we need EQ to work for practical change. We need to understand empathy because this isn’t just a movement to support women; it is a movement that involves everyone to fight for human rights and liberties. It is a movement that shows us what we need today to ensure a better tomorrow: emotions, empathy, and awareness of how both affect the world around us.

  15. Emotional intelligence, or street smarts, “is your ability to think intelligently about emotions and to use your emotions to think intelligently.” According to Diana Drake’s article, “The Conversation : Navigating the Nuances of Emotional Intelligence,” emotional intelligence is the key to the future of business. Drake writes that the EQ consists of three portions : emotional receptiveness towards one’s own and others’ emotions, understanding the root of those emotions, and finally, altering those emotions.

    Just a few weeks ago, my family and I completed the famous Myers-Briggs personality test, also known as the 16 Personalities test. After rating myself from most to least likely on a plethora of questions, a bright yellow screen revealed my personality : ESTP-A, also known as the “Entrepreneur.” After scrolling through the result pages, I concluded that this little online exam basically knew my whole soul. E stands for Extroverted, S stands for Sensing, T stands for Thinking, and P stands for Perceiving. Given the combination of Sensing and Perceiving, ESTP’s such as myself are notoriously adept at reading people – the Myers-Briggs website even notes that ESTP’s have “people powers.” However, ESTP’s are notoriously low on emotional connection or sympathy, due to their logic-based nature and ability to speak their mind on any occasion. I can recall multiple occasions on which a friend either sobbed in happiness or despair, and I just sat there like an extinct volcano. My subpar reactions aren’t because I don’t care, but because I don’t know how else to react.

    The factors judged in the 16 Personalities exam align with the three components of EQ, and I see myself reflected in these measured traits. As an ESTP, I feel confident in my “ability to recognize how [I am] feeling and how others are feeling; the ability to understand the triggers for those emotions in [myself] and others; and the ability to change emotions.” According to these guidelines, I would be destined for a future in business, something that the Myers-Briggs website fervently agrees with.

    However, my apparent lack of emotions, the ESTP’s aforementioned mortal enemy, can paint me as unempathetic. Empathy, a trait Drake emphasizes in the path to a high EQ, is identified as “the ability to communicate and lead by understanding others’ thoughts, views and feelings.” Although I understand the thoughts, views, and feelings quite well, I am quite awful and demonstrating my understanding. Dr Sweitzer states that “when people express strong emotions, it’s natural for us to react.” For me, the opposite problem applies, forcing me into a quandary – Do I have a high EQ? On the surface, my perceptiveness seems perfect for reading others, and in a “strictly business” sense, it is. However, if I am blunt and strictly facts, then will others see me as unkind or inconsiderate?

    Ultimately, through this self-exploration roller coaster, I hope to consider the advice my Myers-Briggs result page has fed me, but not live by the website. I understand my ESTP tendencies as both a pat on the back and a means for improvement. I can use my perceptive ability to make others feel at rest, or to energize them when they are unengaged – especially in a business-like setting. One’s emotional quotient, like one’s emotions, can be changed for the better over time.

  16. Emotions have accompanied my years in this world, and, quite luckily, I benefited so much purely from understanding them. We always talk about how much we change, beneficially, in our decision making process, which is absolutely true and crucial, but, more importantly, ensuring that we understand our emotions is the basis of that.
    To this day, I remember that summer in 2019 where I gave up a major competition in rhythmic gymnastics because I couldn’t sort out my emotions. All I knew was that I am quitting this situation. I excused myself by simply stating that I want to have a break, but, even though I don’t understand exactly what I am thinking, I know that it is not just ‘to have a break’. That summer, until the next competition, I felt weird about my decision, and the variety of reactions from my decision, my coaches, my parents, and my friends. I knew that something was wrong, but I took myself away from it by putting myself in random classes, such as flute playing, which I never got anywhere nor found true interest in. Luckily, I was only 13, on my large journey of growth. Also, luckily, my emotions told me that I belonged to the competition and should not hide away from realizing that desire.
    In the pandemic, I faced similar emotions that I couldn’t explain at the time. Given that conclusion, that I should belong in the competition, I forced myself to continue. However, the same emotion accompanied me for so long, so long that I cannot hide from it. I can no longer pull myself out of it by shoving pointless work down myself to distract my attention. I started feeling these uncomfortable emotions randomly, in any situation – I was forced to face it. I kept attempting to think myself through, to talk to myself late at night, but crying myself to bed is the only tangible outcome. I started harming myself, experiencing hindrance in daily life due to my emotions, and living in struggles.
    Under such stress, I started with dancing my emotions out, making art work, trying to express myself. I felt better but nothing has yet been solved.
    One evening, I started writing out my emotions. I spent so many evenings, each few hours, writing out my thoughts of the moment to calm myself down. Thus, I was able to find my personal goals, which led me to figure my situations out and not only put my emotions away but find the sources of emotions and be able to analyze what emotions I face.
    Personally, I experienced fear of both success and failure, self-devaluation for both hard-work and idle-time, and hope for the dream that I know I want. I am lucky to know my dream, and I have to work sanely for that.
    For those who have various emotions blocked in their way to achieving and finding their true-selves, figuring out their emotions and working sanely.
    These are the basis of exercise of emotional intelligence, but are rarely discussed. I wish others can start trying to explore themselves by expression and analyzing themselves like any other piece of literature or art work by not only thinking but using actual action like writing or creating. I appreciated this journey of understanding myself, considering the growth and exploration, but it could be much more efficient and painless if one were to analyze their emotions before they are in such pain and absolutely forced to.

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