Spirit of EQ Podcast – Enhancing Emotional Literacy
Eric: Hi everyone, this is Eric Pennington with the Spirit of EQ, and today’s podcast is on enhancing emotional literacy. The word literacy in many terms is considered to be connected with intelligence in many ways it is. But today what we’re going to do is focusing on how you can enhance what you probably already have and maybe don’t even realize you have. How about a basic definition of emotional literacy.
Jeff: Emotional literacy is to take the emotions that we all feel and to learn to, one, recognize them not only in yourself but in other people. And then dig a little bit deeper and try to figure out what that emotion is telling you. Emotions are there to help you identify what’s going on around you. So when you can do that it will help you interact with the people, it will also help you interact with yourself so that you really understand what’s happening. If you feel a strong emotion and you don’t know what’s causing it, you’re going to be all wound up or bound up and not be able to do anything. Or if you feel kind of a nagging not quite as intense emotion it’s still telling you something. There’s some situation that you don’t know what it is, more than likely, that you’re going to need to address.
Eric: Before the show, I was looking through some of your materials and you have something that is really intriguing to me. Emotions are chemical.
Jeff: Right. I’m not going to get into all the neurological mumbo jumbo because…
Eric: So my head’s not going to explode.
Jeff: No your head’s not going explode. Because I want I can’t pronounce most of the terms they use but the basic of an emotion is when you’re confronted with something your brain dumps some chemicals into your system. One of the ways describe it. There’s a kind of not really smart part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is there for protection. So when you’re walking through the woods and a bear jumps out in front of you that amygdala is going to dump a bunch of chemicals. You can always look those up it doesn’t really matter for our purposes to name them. They’re going to dump into your system. And what that does is get you ready to either fight the bear. Not probably a good idea. To run from the bear, flight. To freeze, play dead. Or flock, find a group of people to help you fight the bear. It also works the same way if you’re working in your office and somebody comes up and didn’t get a project complete. And it makes you angry because they promised that that would happen. That amygdala, because it’s not very smart, reacts the same way and dumps those chemicals into your system to get you ready to fight the person to avoid flight from the person. You know, freeze, just walk up and don’t do anything or flock, I’m going to go tell the boss.
Eric: So when you say that it almost sounds like I mean throughout the day we’re just we’re confronted with all these situations of fear and anger and all the rest. This is happening all the time?.
Jeff: All the time. You know you’re bombarded with all kinds of emotions and the one thing to remember about emotions are that they’re neutral. An emotion is not a positive or negative. It’s what you do with the emotion that turns it into getting a positive result or a negative result. With fear, once again, well let’s not talk about fear, let’s talk about anger. Very strong emotion. So you see a situation that makes you angry. So you have two directions you can go. You can choose to get into a fight to confront and you know have a very direct reaction to the whatever that situation is. Which is more than likely not going to turn out well. It might give you a little bit of satisfaction right when it’s happening. But in the long term, it’s not. Or you can decide to go down a response path to the anger. Ok, this is making me angry. What can I do to change that situation? If it’s something like you see a social injustice you know I can confront and fix this one little bit of the problem or I can respond and I’m going to get involved in finding a solution for whatever that social injustice is. So they’re both drivers. But it’s what you do with them and it’s the same way with all the emotions. Even like an emotion like joy can be turned into a negative or positive. So you know the negative would be this makes me really good so I’m going to gorge myself on whatever that is or to take it in moderation.
Eric: So kind of that too much of a good thing can be best too.
Jeff: So that’s why we really look at all the emotions as neutral.
Eric: OK. So in a minute here we’re going to go over some of the basics around this but there was something else that I saw. The job of the emotion. What does that mean?.
Jeff: It’s what we talked about. The job of the emotion is to give you information. It’s like when you’re little and you touch a hot stove and you feel that pain. That pain’s job is to tell you this is not something you should continue to do. And so hopefully you learn from that not to touch a hot stove. And that’s the same thing with the emotion. That emotion is just giving you information about what’s going on around you. Most of the time you really can’t, it’s not giving you exactly what it is. It’s just telling you there’s something there. And then by being enhancing your emotional literacy, you can figure out what the situation is.
Eric: OK, so let’s go over these eight basics. And are these competencies?
Jeff: They broken emotions down into eight basic emotions. This enhancing emotional literacy is one of the competencies that we work with. So there’s anger. We kind of talked about that and it’s there to help you with problems, to recognize problems and things like that. Then another emotion is anticipation. I’d like that. I’m looking forward to that. Then we have disgust. Disgust’s basic job is to tell you when something is unhealthy whether it’s physically unhealthy like you know drinking milk that went bad, or, you know, emotionally, spiritually unhealthy which is going to hurt you that way. Fear is to protect us from danger. Pretty simple. Joy is there to remind us about what’s important. When you feel joyful about something that’s something that is very important to you and it’s just a deeper thing. It’s deeper than happiness, joy and happiness are not the same. Then there’s sadness. It’s to connect with the things that you love. When you lose something, when something doesn’t go well for someone else or something doesn’t go well for you, it’s a connection thing. Surprise is there to tell us about a new situation, you know, or new thought or a new person or something about it somebody else. It’s to let us know there’s something new there that I want to explore. And then trust. Trust is a connection with other people where you can rely on each other. And there’s a lot of different degrees to these eight basic emotions.
Eric: There’s one thing I was going to ask you within that and obviously it’s not like we can pick and choose what emotions we have because we’re human beings, right? And I think about again, you know, the fast pac of life, the distractions the, you know, the “busyness” and this is really small but it could mean a lot to people. What would be one thing that you would recommend that a person do when they’re confronting any of these? Is it stop and think? Reflect? What would you say just one, little tidbit?.
Jeff: Like we said about the emotions being chemicals. There’s a very interesting, this is scientifically proven, that those chemicals do not last long in your system. They last about six seconds. And if you can control your response to an emotion, or excuse me, control your reaction to an emotion for six seconds then you’ll be able to respond in a more suitable way.
Eric: So maybe it’s 1001, 1002?
Jeff: The counting to ten. If you count to 10 that’s about six seconds. Lynette, one of the ladies that I work with, she names the dwarfs in alphabetical order. You know, the dwarfs from Snow White? Because she has to shut down everything else and concentrate on that. So if you can get through that six seconds then you can respond in a thoughtful rational way rather than reacting in a most likely negative way. Six Seconds, the company that we work with that provides all our assessment tools, that’s why they’re named that. And then the main assessment tool we use SEI, which is 6 in Italian. So that’s a very basic thing to think about.
Eric: That’s a powerful tip, Jeff. You know I think about it in my own life and some of the examples that I can even, just recently, where I’m going, you know what either I did take a moment to just I’m going to take 10 breaths or there are times certainly where I’ve said charge on in I’ve got to fix. And then you know face some of the consequence.
Jeff: My wife and I are dealing with this right now we have a new dog. And she’s a great dog. But she’s still a big puppy. She’s just being a puppy. OK. I got to count to 10 just to be fair. I really didn’t need that pair of shoes anymore!
Eric: I’m going to butcher, I’m going to just forewarn you, I’m going to butcher this guy’s name or this gal’s name. Plutchicks Model of Emotions. OK, I did butcher it. So tell us a little bit about it.
Jeff: What it is, they take those eight basic emotions and kind of put them into categories and then rank them. So let’s look at Joy. Joy is kind of in the middle but in that same thing is ecstasy, which is joy, times 10.
Eric: It’s almost like that euphoric feeling.
Jeff: Yes, a euphoric feeling, and then you go outward. In this chart and you go to serenity, which is just I’m content, I’m happy. Life is good. And it does the same thing like with disgust. Disgust times 10 is loathing. Disgust is one thing but loathing is almost an action, you loathe someone.
Eric: It does have that connotation.But
Jeff: But then you go one out from disgust. Then you have boredom. I just didn’t really care about this it doesn’t interest me. That’s what the Plucheck model is. And then people can look that up. There are all different kinds of these models but just the Plucheck model for emotions.
Eric: So if I were to ask you, Jeff, I know I have some thoughts in my head, why would that be important for the listeners to know, these, not only eight emotions, but that model?.
Jeff: To understand that emotions can have degrees and have strengths. OK and so you know you might be feeling this. OK, I need to know what the root is. What is the basis of this emotion? So being able to do that, that enhances your emotional literacy. You know most people think there are 15 or 20 emotions, but depending on what study I’ve seen up to 10,000 emotions.
Eric: So I’m getting it really. You’re saying this increasing our literacy, our knowledge, of the emotions that are running through us gives us a better chance on a daily basis to manage them right?
Jeff: Yes. Well, one of the competencies we’ll get to in the future podcast is something called navigating emotions. Being able to work through emotions. But the thing about navigating is no matter what, whether you’re navigating with your GPS in your car or the map at the mall, you know you want to go to the Starbucks, you have to know where you start from before you can navigate.
Eric: That’s that’s a great insight.
Jeff: So that’s why this is the first competency. You can’t go any place until you know where you’re starting from.
Eric: Got it. So it’s completeness. OK. So let’s talk about a word that some people really cringe when they hear it. But I think it’s important. So if we wanted to give the listeners some kind of a homework assignment, just to do on their own. Maybe something, you know, just a quick and easy or whatever. Throw something out there Jeff.
Jeff: All right. One of the things I’ve had people do that that maybe are struggling with this is as you go through your day, keep them on your phone, you can write a piece of paper, just try to write down the emotions that you’re feeling. What emotions did I feel today? It’s best if you do it as you go through the day and then try to dig a little bit deeper and figure out what is causing that emotion. Why am I feeling longing? You know you’re longing for something which you might not know what it is.
Eric: Well, let me throw this out to you. So let’s say I’m in the office and I came in at 8:00 and I typically take my lunch at noon and there’s a bunch of things that happened between the 8 and noontime. So maybe I take a little time after a conference call to go “felt anger” at another division VP who is saying things that were not exactly accurate. Boom. Go into a staff meeting. “Felt surprised” because they’re talking about bringing in a new consultant to help us get better at X. So maybe you’re just jotting that down because again everybody is moving at lightning pace. Could lunchtime be that period of time where you maybe delve into what you wrote down?
Jeff: Like the surprise for somebody new coming into the organization. You’ve kind of, you know, that emotion is kind of run its course you know chemically and physically and all that kind of thing. But now you can rationally go, “why was I surprised?” “What is the outcome going to be?” “Is this person going to help the organization?” You know, “What is the truth behind this?” rather than me just feeling threatened or you know, anxiety. “Are they going to replace me?” or you know that kind of thing. And all these things also work, we need to remember, in your home, life your social life. Every part of your life, so you just don’t want to separate out work life.That’s
Eric: That’s a great insight because I imagine that there’s a number of people that because work is such a dominant part of living that they may think those other things, “Well I’ll get to those later” or something. But you can do this at home with your son, your daughter, or your wife or be a neighbor or whatever. It does not mean just, you know, in that 8-hour window that we call work, right?
Eric: OK great. Well, Jeff thanks again for joining us. I had a great time. This is Eric Pennington with the Spirit of EQ, and I’m with Jeff feast of the Spirit of EQ. Hope you guys have a great day.
Contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about Spirit Of EQ.