“Manage Emotions.” with Dr Shallimar Jones

Managing emotions are another way to have improved mental health. Emotions are not always accurate, so it’s possible you have may misinterpreted a situation. The only way to discern this is to manage the emotion in the first place.For example, if you are an anxious person and understand situations with conflict are triggers for you, […]

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Managing emotions are another way to have improved mental health. Emotions are not always accurate, so it’s possible you have may misinterpreted a situation. The only way to discern this is to manage the emotion in the first place.

For example, if you are an anxious person and understand situations with conflict are triggers for you, then using coping skills can regulate those feelings of anxiety. Emotional Intelligence assists by mitigating your anxiety by improving adaptive skills. In this way, it allows an individual to utilize rational thought and problem solving skills to resolve the issue.

What better way to improve mental health than understand how to interpret and respond to your changing environment!

As part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Shallimar Jones, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Researcher, Assistant Professor and Published Author. She graduated with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill and obtained her Master’s and Doctorate from Michigan State University. She continued her training at Minnesota Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and completed Postdoctoral training at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Jones specializes in Pediatric Health Psychology, Child/Adolescent Psychology and Women’s Issues (e.g., pregnancy and fertility). She recently published a book, “Transgender Identity and Gender Dysphoria: A Guide for Families and Professionals” and completed a board game, E-IQTM to teach Emotional Intelligence in children. She has almost 2 decades of experience working with families and organizations regarding issues of workplace Emotional Intelligence, diversity training and educational advocacy all around the world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Iam a product of my village. I was born in a town where I was related to most of the people. My grandparents were prominent members of the black community so even on the off chance I wasn’t related to someone, they knew my family anyway. I was also fortunate to have a very large extended family so I spent a great deal of time with them especially my grandmother, great-grandmother, and great aunt. I know for certain, I would not be the person I am today without the encouragement and support of my village.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Since childhood, I always wanted to be a doctor. I recall as a child watching Indiana Jones and hearing “Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones” and I could envision hearing it in my future. In college, like so many, my initial plans were medical school. However, after I took my first psychology class, everything just clicked. I wanted to learn all I could, so I volunteered for a research lab and started out by studying maternal behavior in lab rats. My initial thought was to become a Developmental Psychologist and study animals models of human behavior, but I eventually went on to graduate school for Clinical Psychology instead. I always enjoyed working with children and families so I initially specialized in that area. During that period I also discovered Pediatric Health Psychology, I was hooked and knew I found my area. A speciality that combines psychological and medical knowledge in patient care.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There were many people in my life that encouraged me along the way including my aunt, parents, extended family, friends, husband and now my children. However, I think the greater influence was actually my overall childhood experience. I had a happy childhood in parts, but like everyone there were many dark spots. These spots are various shades of grey and some were more akin to a black hole. Yet to me, these dark spots helped to develop my character and how I wanted to lead my life. It is the core of why I always wanted to help people in some way, because at one point, I was that child who needed support.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

My first job out of graduate school I worked for an agency while I was also preparing to open a private practice. However, I soon discovered my very first professional job was the model for bad business practice and unethical behavior. For example, my office mate was fired for using office email to solicit prostitutes, I know because I was tasked with going through his emails to complete the jobs he did not. I could not believe the craziness I had to sort through! It was so bad that in the first month, I was willing to be unemployed rather than work for them. So I was desperate to quit and started to look for another job. To make matters worse, the practice was hitting some road bocks. I had done all the prep work including starting the business, marketing it and even picked out paint colors for walls, but through a series of equally crazy events (including a prospective business partner attempting to make under the table deals), it was clear this was no longer a good idea either. I was stunned and disheartened to know so many professional people could operate with such loose ethics. Luckily, in the midst of all this I did find other jobs and was even offered a position at a prestigious university. However I also saw a job posted for a child psychologist position…..in Germany. I loved Europe and always wanted to work there but never thought it was possible, so I applied. Much to my surprise I ended up getting the job and moving! This decision shocked everyone I knew. I was always the model child and student. I only took calculated risks where I knew the outcome. Yet, this was the single BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE. Leaving provided me with the opportunity to live and literally travel around the world. Moving away to a new place completely devoid of anything I was familiar with (e.g., family, friends, language, food, surroundings, social customs, etc), helped me shed fear and grow as a person and a professional. So I guess those mistakes worked to my favor.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I would say to them, be clear about what they really want to do in the future and why. Committing about 10 years of your life to something is a great deal of time and they should really know what that means and all of their options. When I went to graduate school, I had no idea that I would have to do an internship and later postdoctoral training if I wanted to get licensed and work clinically. I wasn’t the only person in graduate school who was surprised by this either! So it is important to talk with many people in the field and understand their roles in child mental health and the pitfalls. Mental health in general is poorly underpaid and many insurance companies do not reimburse at reasonable rates for services. You don’t get into this field to be rich, you must really enjoy the work! That said, I would recommend to volunteer and take as many opportunities as you can to learn. Also have a thick skin and visualize your dream even if others can’t see it. For example, before I went to graduate school, I attended a research summer program at a big university to gain experience. One of the counselors told me, “You aren’t ready and should not go to graduate school” and refused to even write me a letter of recommendation. She could not even clarify her reasoning behind such actions when I asked. Luckily, her letter was not even necessary and nor did I let this stop me from applying anyway. Not only did I get into a great program (Go Trojans) and excel, but I have a wonderful career and business. So boy was she wrong!

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are so many books, films and podcasts I have enjoyed which I felt left an impact on me. I think one of my favorites is actually “Spiderman Into the Spiderverse”. This is the first cartoon movie I can ever remember on the big screen with a black child as the central character. Not to mention that girls could also be Spiderman! The first thing my children said after seeing this movie was “Look mom, he’s brown like me!” To see a version of yourself reflected in such a positive light on a big screen is priceless, particularly as a parent seeing it through the eyes of your children. It resonated in such a special way with me because like all BIPOC kids of my generation, I never saw this image on screen as a child. However, this generation does. Plus they also see a loving family who supports their child. BIPOC children are now allowed to dream of something bigger by actually seeing themselves reflected in the world in a meaningful way. We have literally watched this movie repeatedly in my home and it never gets old to the kids.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

When I get stressed or feel overwhelmed I ask myself, “How much does this really matter?” This question helps me gain perspective to whatever problem I am facing. I learned the importance of this after volunteering to work with expecting parents on the Mother Baby Unit (MBU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). To clarify, the MBU can be divided into sections. One for mothers who deliver without complications and have healthy infants, mothers who had complications with delivery but a healthy baby, or high risk moms. High risk can range from moms experiencing medical complications which may pose a risk to themselves and/or pregnancy, delivered but the baby is in the NICU requiring further interventions, or they have lost their child before or after delivery. I have had the honor of being with many families in the moment as they faced each of these issues and struggled to process all the emotions you can imagine with the circumstances. There are no words for the joy of some parents or the depths of fears and/or grief with others. Regarding the latter, there is no way to make it better. Most times, all I could offer was just the comfort of a caring person willing to listen, be present and acknowledge their pain. Even though I have now moved on from the unit, my experience with those families has never left me. So, when moments arrive where things in my life seem really big and overwhelming, I think of those families and ask myself, “How much does this really matter?”

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I just finished my book, “Transgender Identity and Gender Dysphoria: A Guide for Families and Professionals”. I wrote it because I have a family member that identifies as such, and I saw the struggle of this person and my family over time. I work with families experiencing this issue and some are in support and others are not. Looking at the available resources, I felt there was not a good researched based guide to assist them in their journey. So I felt compelled to write the book to assist families and/or other professionals (no matter their side) who are struggling to understand the issue.

Currently I am finishing up a board game to teach Emotional Intelligence or what I call E-IQ (also the name of the game). The goal of E-IQTM board game is to teach Emotional Intelligence in kids and adults! It is based on my years of experience working with kids. One of the first things I always gauge is their level of Emotional Intelligence and find that may really struggle in this area. So I designed a game to address this need but in a fun and non-threatening way. E-IQTM can be used for therapy, in the classroom and/or as a game families or friends play together. In the end, people can have a better emotion vocabulary and hopefully use this in their daily lives! I’ll also follow this up with a book on the topic for kids as well hopefully by spring ’21 and another game.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?

I am a licensed Clinical Psychologist with focused interest in Child/Family and Pediatric Health Psychology. I also have a particular speciality in school mental health, diversity issues (including Gender Identity) and women’s issues specifically fertility and pregnancy related stress and loss. I have almost 2 decades of experience in clinics and hospitals across the world. I also own Dr SJ Consulting, LLC which focuses on providing supports to parents regarding education advocacy for kids and trainings for businesses and schools to address diversity initiatives or Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. My line of work is directly related to Emotional Intelligence in terms of understanding it, recognizing it others and helping individuals or business entities to enhance it. I developed the game E-IQTM to help improve the skills in others.

For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or E-IQ) is also known as Social Emotional Learning in the education field. The definition may vary but it generally involves the ability to identify, manage and apply knowledge of emotions in self and others.

A good example of Emotional Intelligence represented in life is the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The majority of individuals with the diagnosis, struggle with emotional reciprocity and self awareness. These features are so common, they are considered key features of the diagnosis itself. If you have ever seen the show Big Bang Theory, it is a great depiction of Emotional Intelligence as it pertains to self and others. It shows characters that clearly have Emotional Intelligence and those that do not or have trouble with it. The show does a great of depicting how these characteristics influence individuals and relationships including interpersonal, romantic and in the workplace.

There are different markers to identify Emotional Intelligence in self and others.

In an individual, Emotional Intelligence can be observed via self awareness, emotional control and application of knowledge. Consider this example: Sam is driving in the dark when he sees a deer jump in front of his car. He slams on breaks and pulls to the side. As Sam sits there, he is shaking and breathing hard. He notices that he feels startled and uneasy. However, he takes a deep breath and reminds himself everything is ok and it is safe to keep going.

In this example, Sam displays Emotional Intelligence as it relates to himself by identifying the emotion (startled), managing the response (breathing to calm) and applying the knowledge (remind self it is ok to keep going).

Interpersonally, Emotional Intelligence is visible by the level of empathy and conflict management with others. For example, when Sam finally gets home, it is very late and his family looks worried. His family voices they are upset because he didn’t call. Sam didn’t notice the worried looks only the voices expressing how upset they were with him for not calling. So Sam snaps at them, “I almost hit a deer, leave me alone!” Then walks away as they look after him in disbelief.

In this example, Sam did not display E-IQ with others. He failed to identify the emotions in his family, provide empathy when they were upset and worried because he was late, and he did not manage the conflict. Instead he ignored it all, snapped at them and walked away.

With E-IQ, it can be so subtle that some people lack the awareness to know when it is present in themselves. However, when it is absent, others certainly will notice! In fact, E-IQ is something employers are noticing and looking for in the workplace. Being able to manage your emotions, work with others, manage conflict, function under stress, etc., are all key features in a working environment. So it is reasonable to want a gauge of that before hiring a new employee. Emotional Intelligence can have a far reaching impact on the daily lives of individuals on a personal, interpersonal and professional level.

How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?

The traditional concept of intelligence or (intellectual quotient or IQ) is commonly thought of as “how smart you are”. It involves logic and reasoning in specific areas such as verbal language, nonverbal (e.g., understanding patterns in puzzles) or academic prowess. It impacts how quickly one can solve math problems or answer questions after reading a passage. It is a predictor of future individual functioning in terms of school difficulty or even future earning potential. When it is present or absent it is easy to notice. However, when compared to Emotional Intelligence, there are some major differences.

First, IQ can be measured reliably by various testing instruments in children, adolescents and adults. Formal IQ measures are well established and were initially used in the army to assess fitness for duty for soldiers. It is now widely studied and utilized as a basis for most standardized evaluations in K-12, college or beyond. IQ assessment is also plagued with cultural bias as it does not consider other factors that may impede some groups from a fair assessment.

Emotional Intelligence however, is a difficult construct to measure for several reasons. In IQ, there are clear right and wrong answers (e.g., math problems). However with E-IQ the answers can be quite subjective and more difficult to capture, thereby questioning the validity of the instrument. Not to mention cultural factors that could also contribute to interpretation and generalizability across cultural and ethnic identity.

The definition of IQ and measurement is stable and widely accepted across the lifespan. Emotional Intelligence however, can vary depending whether it is referencing an individual or workplace qualities (some include social skills as an additional factor). Therefore the measurement of E-IQ depends upon setting (clinical and workplace), reporter (self/others) and definition, but only for adults. For minors, there are no self report measures only teacher report. More guidance on measurements (adult only) can be found with O’Connor, Hill, & Martin, (2019). Researchers reviewed Emotional Intelligence measures and divided them in to 3 groups based on the type of evaluation and provided recommendations about which measure to choose depending on your target setting.

Stability is also another difference between IQ and Emotional Intelligence. With IQ, it is generally consistent after adolescence unless there is an insult to brain (e.g., accident, dementia, etc). However, E-IQ, is more pliable. It can continue to develop and change over time. Emotional Intelligence is not a fixed entity but rather something that can grow or even shrink depending on the circumstances (self awareness vs traumatic experience).

Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?

E-IQ is an essential characteristic that is equally (if not more) than IQ in the opinion of many. Some of the early writings about Emotional Intelligence are from Dale Carnegie and his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” published in 1936. He was a salesman and did not have a formal education, but the knowledge he gained from his job are the basis of Emotional Intelligence. The book has sold millions of copies over the years and still remains relevant today! It covers fairly simple advice such as: smile, be genuinely interested in someone, remember their name, listen well, don’t criticize, etc. These are all attributes of displaying empathy. On the outset, it may even seem like these are very obvious things you do anyway. Yet, how many times do you ignore this knowledge even when you know it is not the right thing to do?

Have you ever been in a heated argument with someone and you said something on purpose just to hurt their feelings? You may have immediately regretted it (or not), but just couldn’t help yourself. Have you ever witnessed a bully belittle someone in person or even online? Have you ever been the bully? Or have you even seen politics lately!? There are numerous examples of people ignoring rules of etiquette on open display any day of the week from young/old, poor/rich, religious/not religious, and from any ethnic/cultural group. Parents even talk to their kids about not being a bully but may themselves model these behaviors when they get angry with their partner, see the neighbor they don’t like or hear an opinion that differs from their own. And guess what…. kids see it, even when parents think they don’t. Thus it is no surprise despite many campaigns against bullying, it continues.

According to the CDC, about 20% or 1 in 5, high school students report being bullying. The experience of bullying is related to poor mental health in youth and can persist well into adulthood. Harassment and bullying is such a problem in adulthood, laws had to be written to protect people from it in the home and in the workplace. Yet if social etiquette and E-IQ was regularly used, much of this could be avoided.

What happens if emphasis was placed on E-IQ for individuals and others?

One model for this is therapy. Someone once told me that therapy is the one place an individual can go where they are not criticized, valued as a person, listened to and have the undivided attention of another. These things are simple but missing in the lives of millions. I have found even when I think I’m not helping someone, patients report the contrary and have thanked me for “just being there”. The simplicity of E-IQ fosters change.

Another model for this on a larger scale are kindness projects in schools. Research shows that when E-IQ principles are present in the school and classroom (across grades, suburban/urban environments and in diverse communities) kids learn better, have fewer discipline issues, more positive prosocial behaviors, improved self esteem and attitudes towards others (Durlak et al., 2011; Elias et. al., 2004; Schaps et. al., 2004; Schonert-Reichl et. al., 2016; Zins et. al., 2004).

A study by Chacellor, Margolis, Bao & Lymbomirsky (2018), evaluated the benefits of giving, receiving and watching it happen the workplace. They found that engaging in giving and receiving prosocial behaviors was beneficial in the long term and short term for individuals. The receivers also paid it forward to others. Even those not directly involved in the behaviors were able to benefit from the environmental change.

Therefore using the principles of Emotional Intelligence really does make a difference for individuals and others in and out of the workplace.

Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.

I have always felt I had a good level of E-IQ. I use it on a daily basis in my personal life and very much so much as a psychologist. However this was tested after the birth of my youngest child. I started to feel a great deal of postpartum anxiety related to job discrimination I experienced when I was pregnant. At the time, I thought the position was my dream job. I applied, interviewed and got the job. I was told “you are perfect” for the position. However, after the employer discovered I was pregnant the offer was rescinded overnight. They literally sited my maternity leave in email as a reason to not hire me! I told my OB about it and she told me that was illegal. You see, I was naive and had no idea this was even a thing, let alone illegal. It’s not like pregnancy is a permanent condition. As a woman of color, I was prepared for racial discrimination but not gender discrimination. After seeking legal counsel, I decided to fight back to at least prevent this from happening to other women. I felt confused, crushed and angry especially when I discovered that by speaking out about it, the individuals in question got angry with me and retaliated by illegally revealing this to other potential employers. It caused me to lose those jobs too despite being the most qualified candidate. I literally couldn’t believe this happened to me and in a field that was supposed to be understanding of parents! Luckily, I did eventually win the case but the toll it took in that crucial postpartum period was great. I started to withdraw from things I loved, I couldn’t finish a movie, it was hard to focus, and sleep was difficult. We lived on a beautiful island at that time, but I could hardly go out and enjoy it anymore. I also worried. I worried if speaking out about a wrongdoing had ruined my reputation. I worried if I could ever find another job. I worried if I made the right choice by speaking up. I also worried about being a good wife and especially if I was being a good mother. With the energy I could muster, I was able to be there for my patients, but it was EXHAUSTING. I was exhausted! My husband tried to help as best he could but was at a loss about how to do it. Eventually my milk supply decreased and I experienced a panic attack.

You see, I missed all the obvious signs in myself that are so clear for me in others. I was aware something was off, but until the panic attack I didn’t know the extent of it. Luckily I sought help and was quickly able to regain my balance. Afterwards, I was able to look past the physical attributes of my stress (e.g., lack of sleep, panic symptoms, withdrawal, etc) and see my connected emotions. I was then able to manage my feelings with coping skills and regain my balance by applying this knowledge in my daily life. In the end, recovering emotionally and improving my E-IQ also helped me to have a stronger marriage and bond with my children. It has also improved my clinical skills. I now understand from a patient perspective about the importance of asking for help. I gained an understanding of E-IQ on a deeply personal and professional level.

Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?

Emotional Intelligence is now a cornerstone in the workplace. In the past, many companies would look for candidates just based IQ. These individuals could crunch numbers but may not have been the easiest to get along with and thereby, could negatively influence the workplace. In the 90s, Daniel Goleman published the first book directly about Emotional Intelligence and how it applies in the office setting. Since then, it has gained more traction.

According to Goleman (1998), when comparing differences in leaders of over 200 organizations, IQ only accounted for about a third of the difference between them. E-IQ was the deciding factor accounting for two-thirds of the within group difference. Think of it another way. Let’s say there is a group of people all applying for a high level management position in robotics. They are all well educated so it can be assumed they have similar levels of IQ. How they get along with others, interact with the team and handle pressure are all leadership qualities that absolutely make a difference and set them apart in a working environment.

Consider, have you ever had a coworker or supervisor that could be rude (especially when project deadlines approach), never apologize for their mistakes, be generally unapproachable, overly critical, ignore or cause office conflict and/or even push everyone to work through lunch or stay after hours? This person may be smart and even good at the job, but were they respected or even liked by those around them? Some of those characteristics may even be considered part of a hostile working environment. These behaviors actually lead to employee burn out, HR problems, poor retention or even inconsistent and/or poor productivity. So bottom line, it’s bad for business!

Now consider a boss or coworker who acknowledges their mistakes, knows your name and bits about you and/or your family, encourages others when the work is difficult, critiques not criticizes, calmly approaches deadlines and are generally easy to work alongside. This type of person is respected and generally well liked by others. Characteristics like this separate great leaders from just “ok” or “terrible” ones.

Research shows when high Emotional Intelligence is present in the workplace job satisfaction improves, burnout decreases and productivity increases (Carmeli & Josman, 2006; Kohman & Wolf, 2008; Hosseinian et al., 2008; Mohamad & Jais, 2016; Pekar et al., 2017). Good leaders are able to harness the power of a team and leverage the diversity of their network to foster group cohesion, not division. Therefore, mastering these qualities can be the difference between not just getting the job, but whether you perform ok or actually excel! For businesses, employees like this are a great bonus for the company and the bottom line.

Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?

E-IQ in relationships can create deeper bonding with friends and family and/or intimacy with a partner. Being able to understand the emotions of self and others allows a pathway to provide empathy, reduce conflict interpersonally and foster better communication. Since communication is mostly nonverbal, Emotional Intelligence allows for those subtle forms of understanding to be identified in romantic, parent-child and even friendships.

For example, younger kids especially look to parents to model how to manage emotions. They spend their first years in a primarily non-verbal state and must rely on parent response and interpretation of their needs. Young children use this knowledge to build upon how to react in situations. So teaching them at an early age how to recognize their emotions can make communication much easier as they grow. It can mitigate tantrums and get their needs met sooner plus foster a stronger parent-child bond. Children who can communicate their needs and wants are less likely to experience negative mental health, bullying or even toxic friendships because they can recognize their feelings and have tools to then do something about it. This is especially important with teens when romantic relationships, friendships or workplace interactions start to take up greater importance in their lives. Being aware of their feelings for someone, how their emotions impact others and effectively understanding and responding to the emotions in others can allow them to identify positive or toxic connections early on and make good choices about it. Imagine if you were able to use this knowledge as your younger self, I’m sure you could have avoided some pitfalls!

Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?

One of the core aspects for better mental health is self awareness. There are many ways to build this quality and one way is with therapy. The entire basis of therapy is assisting individuals in recognizing their own emotions, manage them and apply this knowledge in life for self and others. It eventually leads to increased rational thoughts and better problem solving because individuals can see how their emotions impact decision making.

To recognize emotions, one needs an emotional lexicon to convey feelings. It may feel good to yell or avoid at a certain moment, but will it resolve the issue or just compound the problem? By increasing the lexicon of emotions from just mad, sad, happy, etc., it helps people more accurately identify what they may be feeling and then communicate that emotion to others.

Managing emotions are another way to have improved mental health. Emotions are not always accurate, so it’s possible you have may misinterpreted a situation. The only way to discern this is to manage the emotion in the first place.

For example, if you are an anxious person and understand situations with conflict are triggers for you, then using coping skills can regulate those feelings of anxiety. Emotional Intelligence assists by mitigating your anxiety by improving adaptive skills. In this way, it allows an individual to utilize rational thought and problem solving skills to resolve the issue.

What better way to improve mental health than understand how to interpret and respond to your changing environment!

Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.

1- Increase emotion lexicon or vocabulary.

Many adults don’t have words for feelings beyond mad, sad, happy, confused or worried! Many were taught not to show emotions, they don’t matter and/or ignore them all together. This same message is also conveyed to children. Without a broader lexicon, how can you even convey or identify what you are feeling? Therefore, the first thing I would recommend is pick a feeling category (e.g., mad, sad, happy, worried, confused, etc.) and find 1 new word to express a day. For example, with happy perhaps choosing to learn about exuberant, cheerful or pleasant. The next day, pick a new category and find a word. It sounds simple but truly expanding this simple thing can be a BIG change in your life.

2- Use this lexicon with others.

Now that you have a bigger lexicon practice doing this in others. For parents, when you see your kiddos exhibiting these feelings, acknowledge it for them. A simple way encourage the skill is buying or making an emotion chart and point it out when you see that emotion exhibited in the child. It can be fun to see their silly emotion faces depicted on the wall!

I have practiced this with my own children everyday and have been surprised by their grasp of emotions over time… “Mom I’m frustrated that your aren’t listening to me”. You see, knowing what you are feeling helps you to convey your needs and be a better communicator. For children this means fewer tantrums, greater self efficacy and more resilience when they are met with challenges.

3- Practice 1–2 relaxation strategies daily.

Managing emotions is a key factor in Emotional Intelligence. Therefore, incorporating a daily practice of stress management is important. It can be as simple as practicing deep breathing and/or visualizing a special memory or something you are looking forward to doing. There are a plethora of apps or websites to assist with this practice. I would suggest combining them so when you are visualizing the memory also engage in deep breathing.

4- Practice being present.

Many people think they can multitask well, but research shows this far from the truth. There is a phenomena called inattentional blindness, which means even when something is fully visible, it goes unnoticed because attention was engaged on something else. So the next time your partner, child, friend, coworker, etc., come to talk while you are doing something practice active listening. To do this, pause and either allot a time to talk them later or engage them with undivided attention for a specified time. Look them in the eyes, listen to what they are saying, nod your head in understanding and paraphrase what you heard back to them. This assures the individual you are listening, acknowledging their thoughts, and they are valued. It also helps you to recall that information. It’s a great tool of Emotional Intelligence!

5- Promote self care in the workplace.

Does your staff take an actual lunch break away from the desk or are they eating at the desk or having a “working lunch”? The latter is not a break. Eating while working is a good way to increase burnout and decrease employee retention. One simple way to promote this is emphasize the importance self care in the workplace. A way to send this message is a lunch break away from the desk and actually close the office if possible during this time. Management can keep snacks, fun games or neutral tv channels (never the news) in the break room to improve office camaraderie and offer a mental separation from work. The importance of this stress management strategy paves the way for greater productivity, decreases burn out and improves overall employee happiness.

Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?

Yes, our education system fails to consistently place emphasis on E-IQ. Like other environments, the focus in school is on academics. Emotions are more likely to be managed with disciplinary action or ignoring. Yet, data clearly shows that school shootings, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, self harm, etc are all increasing in children. Unfortunately with budget cuts, outlets such as extra curricular activities and mental health supports are often on the chopping block. So now, there is a great shortage of counselors and school psychologists in the education setting. Outside schools, the same is also true with a shortage of child mental health care providers. So one thing any parent or individual can do is lobby state and federal legislators for increased funding towards child mental health.

Other things schools can do is promote an environment of self awareness, emotion identification and how to manage it. For young children, post emotions around just like the alphabet or number line in places kids can see them. It provides a visual for kids to assist in identifying their emotions. Have an emotion word of the day the entire school participates in where kids can earn small prizes when they are caught showing the emotion or seeing it in others. Schools can also utilize aspects of yoga or mindfulness to provide avenues where young and older kids can learn to manage with coping skills. Schools should also consider partnering with licensed mental health providers so services can be rendered in the building where the child goes to school. I have seen how these systems work and it is very beneficial to all. In fact, part of the services I offer is to assist with creating these environments in the school!

Any of these changes can help decrease discipline issues in students and help kids learn to self regulate and improve Emotional Intelligence. This in turn, increases their ability to learn and propel their IQ.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

This year has been particularly difficult for everyone and so we could all use some kindness. So I would say give 1 genuine compliment to a stranger each day. You never know who may really need to hear it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love the opportunity to speak with Chrissy Teigan. She seems charismatic, open about sharing her life and how she manages the emotional changes in it. I also love how she works to instill E-IQ for her children.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I can be found on the following platforms where I provide services but also information for everyone about Emotional Intelligence, my upcoming game, books and services for business and individuals:

website: www.drsjconsulting.com

Twitter: @drshallimar

Instagram: @drsjconsulting

Facebook: Dr SJ Consulting

LinkedIn: Dr. Shallimar Jones

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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