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The importance of Emotional Intelligence in Teaching

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It is said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. To a great extent, our future depends on our emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of and manage one’s own emotions, and the emotions of others. Managing emotions is not only incredibly important in one’s own life, but is also critical in the class and training room. A trainer’s or teacher’s emotional intelligence has a direct impact on his or her students’ ability to assimilate information and successfully it in their daily life.

There are many practical things a trainer or teacher can do to train the emotional intelligence of their students. One of the most important things is to be a good role model, when people come to learn, they unconsciously will replicate the attitude and behaviors of the trainer, this is a normal learning mechanism that humans have. Someone who is in control of his or her emotions and who expresses emotions in a positive, constructive way is teaching their students by example, which is one of the most powerful ways to teach.

In addition to being a good role model, a trainer/teacher can explicitly teach emotional intelligence skills. This is where the learning platform SESKAT comes in handy. We are creating short and engaging exercises that will help you and your students to train their emotional intelligence and assimilate information much easier in the process.

But until the platform is ready, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some easy-to-use exercises to firstly become aware of your emotions or help your students to do so, and then another few that will help you and your students to better manage their emotions and express them in a healthy positive way.

Becoming aware of emotions:

  1. Naming

It is much easier to identify emotions if there are some common words that people can use in the training or class room. For example, an easy starting point will be to just pick 4 or 5 basic emotions and ask people to name what they are feeling when talking on a certain subject. They can be: Sadness, Anger, Fear, Happiness and/or Disgust. Having this common ground will give people space to explore themselves and fit what they are feeling in these categories. Of course, emotions are more complex than this but it is much easier to start small and gradually add more emotions such as: regret, revenge, melancholy, despite, euphoria and others.

  1. Tracking

Taking moments in the day when to write down what you feel is also a good way to become aware of how different emotions feel and how they influence your state. Emotions don’t have to be explosive; we can also have just a bit of them. Take time 2-3 times a day at a specific time to write down what you feel. The best way to do this is to put down 4 or 5 basic emotions that you settle on and write how intense you experience that emotion at that moment, for example:

20.11.2022 10:00 AM – after breakfast

  • Happiness: 40%
  • Anger: 20%
  • Fear: 5%
  • Sadness: 2%

Do this for a week and then come back to your entries and reflect on them, this will give a lot of awareness on how you function and how the events in a day influence you.

  1. Asking for mirrors

The last method for becoming more aware is to ask others what you are feeling. I know it is a bit counter intuitive, but we are very good at perceiving emotions in micro-gestures of the face, slight voice changes and other seemingly unobservable ques. This is because we are social beings so we have developed this fine sense to interpret how others are feeling. You can use this to your advantage.

Make it a practice in your training or class room to have people be open about the emotions they perceive in others. Set a standard phrase for people to use so you make it as neutral as possible, in order to create a safe space. For example: “I am perceiving some (…name the emotion) coming from you. Is this true?“This will help people become more aware. Ask people not to push with the answer or to challenge the answer in any way. If the answer is no, let it be a no, trust the person’s answer; they will think about it later and will become more aware in time, especially if this is a common practice.

Expressing your emotions:

  1. Feeling Cards

This is a fun way to be aware of your students’ emotions. Each person creates some colored cards based on 4 or 5 emotions that they can use during the sessions. From time to time, you ask them to update their emotional cards, this will help them to express their emotions in a non-judgmental way and it will also help you to be aware of your students emotions. If you want you can ask for clarifications about certain cards. Do not be very pushy with exploring this will make the students be less open in choosing some emotions rather than another, specially if you are constantly asking about a certain type of emotion.

  1. Create space

Another good method will be to give a specific time when people can just express what they are feeling. They are free to express any emotion in any way they can. Your answer to each will be “thank you for expressing your emotion” this will help keep the space safe and non-judgmental and will encourage people to be more open. This type of activity will also give people a chance to practice expressing their emotions in a more assertive way. At the start it might be less assertive but with practice everyone will get better and better. This will help them in their regular lives as well, to be more skilled at expressing what they feel without blaming others for their emotions, and you will give them a good model for how to answer someone expressing themselves.

  1. Facilitate conflicts

Another way to help students develop emotional intelligence is to provide opportunities for them to resolve conflicts in a constructive way. When conflicts arise, you can facilitate a discussion between the parties involved and help them to brainstorm possible solutions. It is important that you remain neutral and do not take sides in the conflict.

The development of emotional intelligence skills is a process that takes time and practice. However, the effort is well worth it as it will create a safe space, better equiped people and healthier relationships.

Students who are emotionally intelligent are more likely to be successful in life so consider making emotional intelligence part of your practice.

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