By the end of the Module, the learners should be able to:
1. Understand what Emotional Intelligence is and why it is important
2. Understand the role of emotions in work and in dealing with others
3. Be able to communicate in an emotionally intelligent way
4. Be aware of how their emotions affect their behaviour and performance
5. Understand what Active Listening is and why it is important
6. Understand the role of Empathy
7. Understand how to detect needs
Introduction to the Module
Reading a Zen story: A cup of tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Western society underestimates the importance of fully understanding and dealing with human emotions. This tendency has spilled over both into human relationships within territorial communities and into the workplace, often even into social work. Emotions are often left outside the workplace and this causes unhelpful effects both on ourselves and in the workplace and on the people who experience the most vulnerable situation.
How does this happen?
Human beings are convinced that the only possible truth is their own. A truth that is nothing more than a product of the intellect. Let us look, for example, at the reality that surrounds us. This is perceived through ‘filters’, i.e. the senses. This ‘perception‘ is then processed by the brain on the basis of patterns acquired over time.
Where do these patterns come from?
There is a memory based on our own experiences, but before that there is a memory that is transmitted to us. Much of what we learnt as children has been instilled in our minds as a kind of ‘dogma’. The ‘frame’ within which we ‘paint’ the canvas of our thoughts and our lives is largely a product constructed by others (parents, teachers, the society in which we live, etc.). Moreover, the brain tends to focus on only part of what we perceive of our surrounding world. In fact, it would be impossible to constantly have 360° attention on everything around us. We would go mad!
Another characteristic of the brain is to acquire a behaviour and apply it to all similar cases. This obviously helps us to carry out daily activities quickly.
Imagine if, every time we open a door, we had to learn how to do it again.
The questions we have to ask ourselves are: Have we learnt to open the door to our emotions, to recognize them and to use them without getting overwhelmed? Are we able to ‘observe’ our own behaviour from another point of view? Do we understand when our behaviour has to be adapted to different contexts, to different human relationships?
The result of all this is that, in fact, the human being constructs his/her own existence, basing it on
- a partial perception of the surrounding world
- acquired and consolidated habits that are not questioned;
- patterns/dogmas inculcated in the mind, as a shared, social, historical memory.
So Nan-in, the Japanese master, wants the University professor to understand that, in order to explain Zen, it is first of all necessary to empty the mind of all opinions and conjectures.
When the cup of the mind is empty, it will become open, welcoming and receptive. Those who believe they have already acquired all the truths are almost never willing to question them.
Instead, abandoning pre-acquired intellectual truth enables access to training to change one’s perspectives.
The questions we have to ask ourselves are: Have we learnt to open the door to our emotions, to recognise them and to use them without getting overwhelmed? Are we able to ‘observe’ our own behaviour from another point of view? Do we understand when our behaviour has to be adapted to different contexts, to different human relationships?
Now let’s empty our minds and delve into the concepts of
- “Emotional Intelligence”: the particular kind of intelligence given by that set of fundamental skills to know how to cope well with life: self-control, enthusiasm, perseverance and the ability to self-motivate;
- “Self-awareness”, that is the awareness of one’s own thought processes and emotions, the ability to identify them by giving them a name.
Empty the mind
Open the mind
Changing one’s perspectives