What's the Key to Joyful Learning? Emotional Intelligence

Posted by Katelind Hays on Mar 30, 2017 12:36:28 PM
Katelind Hays

BYTE Session Recap 

58228241_s.jpgWe live in a VUCA world. We manage a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous environment every day at work. How do we motivate ourselves (and our learners) to build our skills when we feel stressed about the certainty of our jobs, teams, and organizations?

Marjorie Derven of HUDSON Research & Consulting argues emotional intelligence holds the key.

BYTE session attendees agreed, having seen the evidence during Marjorie’s recent live learning event. This blog defines emotional intelligence and how we can leverage it for improved learning.

Watch Marjorie’s entire BYTE session recording for guidance on identifying personal stress triggers, the impact of emotions on us professionally, and a five-step process to navigate change.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ, refers to the “ability to recognize and understand emotions.” Marjorie explains that from a biological perspective, “We respond to things happening to us on an emotional basis first, not with our rational brain.” Neuroscientists call this our reptilian brain. It sits at the base of our spinal cord and reacts to stimuli. Ever experienced fight or flight? That’s your reptilian brain dealing with a stressor.

Emotional intelligence allows us to see and feel what’s happening around us, empowering us to better react to our circumstances and environment. According to Daniel Goldman, EQ includes four components:

  • Self
  • Others
  • Understand
  • Act

When combined, these four elements create the traits “self-awareness,” “self-management,” “social awareness,” and “relationship management.” Those with high emotional intelligence possess all four traits.

Our current problem, Marjorie pointed out, is the chronic stress of the VUCA world. Our brains can’t tune it out. It acts like an alarm clock constantly ringing, distracting us from other important things.

Improving EQ gives us the power to combat this stress-based phenomenon. At its core, Marjorie noted:

“Emotional intelligence is a disciplined way to understand how we’re moving throughout the world and what’s happening with others.”

Enjoy Learning in Four Steps

The 70:20:10 model proposes that only ten percent of learning takes place in formal learning environments. In the real world, we learn on-the-job, in-the-moment, and from our peers. When we face challenges and work to navigate them, we create new skills.

Marjorie asserted:

“Learning really is, even though it creates vulnerability, it’s a joyful process. It makes us feel the possibilities to grow. It’s exciting.”

Emotional intelligence gets us to focus in on the key parts of learning in the face of VUCA conditions.

Emotionally intelligent people take four steps to get the most out of modern learning opportunities. Marjorie explained:

Step 1. Identify benefits. “If we’re not motivated to learn something new, we won’t do it. It’s too hard to change. Start with the end goal. What will we be able to do? How will we benefit from this new skill?”

Step 2. Control for risks. “How can we manage the learning process so we don’t fall flat on our face? Can we practice or prepare? We want to do both to have the confidence to learn.”

Step 3. Break learning into manageable segments. We can’t set ourselves up for failure by trying to do too much at one time. If we want to learn French, for example, start by learning conversational phrases or basic vocabulary.

Step 4. Stay open to joy. Learning can be an exciting, invigorating, exciting experience if we allow it. Believe it’s going to be great. Work through the difficult moments. If we manage our expectations and emotional response to stress, and look forward to applying what we learn, it can be a joyful process.

Additional Resources

Topics: BYTE, Emotional Intelligence