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Zachariah: Emotional intelligence is too important not to teach in schools

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Emotional intelligence is a well-known concept. Some people exhibit this well, others have yet to develop these skills. Wherever one may fall on the spectrum, emotional intelligence is becoming more and more essential in everyday life and it’s a skill that all of us can learn.

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According to Psychology Today emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. These are transferrable skills such as strong social skills, high levels of empathy and the ability to read body language. EQ not only supports us in our professional lives, but also in our personal lives. To teach and raise children that are confident, clever, capable and creative, schools and universities should implement more EQ courses.

Personality tests are beyond popular in our world. People love to be told what’s wrong with them, what’s right with them, which character they most identify with and what their future will look like in 10 years. People love to get to know themselves on all kinds of levels, but they rarely put in the time or effort to do just that. In our society, quick and easy answers are preferred over thoughtful and time consuming ones. Emotional intelligence at its core is simply a strategy that encourages people to take the time to learn more about themselves and those around them.

EQ is considered a soft skill. Soft skills are preferred by the majority of employers, but are rarely taught in schools. The expectation is that if you want to have certain soft skills, you develop those on your own time. Schools are here to teach and prepare us for the world after graduation, so they should they be equipping us with soft skills as well as the hard ones. A lot of people subconsciously know what emotional intelligence is, but have no clue where to start when it comes to applying it to real life.

EQ courses are currently being taught in schools across the country, but these schools are small in number. The importance of EQ is extremely under appreciated and underrepresented in schools. If younger generations were being taught how to perceive and control emotions, maybe we wouldn’t need emotional support animals or emotional support programs at all.

Transitioning to college is an emotional process on so many levels, but these programs aren’t treating the source. There are other ways to help people develop emotionally. These programs, especially animal therapy, are nothing more than an excuse for people to stay disconnected from themselves. Emotional support animals are a simple and temporary solution. To be emotionally sound, the only solution is to peel back the layers, uncover the issues and deal with them head on with courage, confidence and fortitude. On the other hand, emotional intelligence encourages and promotes ­­­­­­­critical thinking, a curious spirit and a strong mind.

If schools and universities don’t take the lead and teach these skills, who will? People who have high EQ are emotionally sound. These individuals are able to handle problems better when they arise. They can read people and meet needs, including their own, easily. They listen, talk and act in ways that allow them to know themselves and know others in ways that a personality test will never justify.

Five starter tips to develop your emotional intelligence: Get to know yourself like you haven’t before.

  1. Pay attention to your emotions throughout the day. What causes them? How long do they last?
  2. Pay attention to your body and how it responds to your emotions. Ex. Sweaty hands = nervous.
  3. Observe how your emotions and behaviors are connected. When you feel something do you always act on the feelings?
  4. Avoid judging your emotions. You feel everything you feel for a reason, don’t diminish these emotions to where they seem unimportant. Every feeling is important.
  5. Notice patterns in your emotional history. How often do you experience anger, joy, hope, peace?

Tianna Zachariah can be reached at letters@collegian.com and online @TZachariah20.

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  • K

    KGLevineMar 27, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    The teaching has to take into account age and stage. Critical teaching skills develop slowly, but some skills can be taught be parents as soon as the child learns to talk. Goleman demonstrates this with his video on Breathing Buddies. Because my work has been mainly with families and emotionally disturbed children, many who could not think critically or control their feelings well I have tried to develop exercises that promote some of the skills involved in EI. Feeling awareness and measurement are two, self-soothing exercises the third.

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