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WARNING: Emotional Intelligence Not in Use

     This past week we've heard revelations of some pretty harsh language being used in reference to people of other countries not being allowed into this country.  That language apparently came from the top leader of the most powerful country in the world.  Whether true or not is unclear.  Some in the meeting where it allegedly occurred say they heard the comments clearly.  Others say they don't recall hearing them.  Some refused to comment.  And the accused--the President of the United States--denies it.  Regardless, people were hurt when the claims were made.  People from those countries were distressed upon hearing them, some even brought to tears.  The rejection and denigration cut like a hacksaw.  Many from our own country were appalled and angry.
     Recognizing how words impact others calls for the use of emotional intelligence.  This means being smart and intuitive about other people's feelings, especially in sensitive matters.  We do this by getting outside of ourselves and considering how the words we choose will affect how other people feel.  Whether directed toward someone in particular or in earshot of others, how and what is said can sting or uplift.  As a simple yet largely unpracticed truth, choosing words that uplift will get you farther than those that don't.  Of course you can't always choose the best words.  But checking in with ourselves when it comes to highly emotional matters can help us avoid using words that bite.  Ask:  Will these comments alienate or malign people?  Can they be perceived as racist or prejudicial?  Can these words be divisive in their interpretation?  When other people have said similar things, what was the reaction?  
     We don't always stop to think about how the words in our heads will sound when they come out of our mouths and enter the ears and minds of other people.  There's so much that happens in that split second; so much that can go wrong.  Therefore, we shouldn't take what we choose to say lightly.  Since our words are generally left up to other people's interpretation, we have to be intentional about minimizing those that can be misunderstood.  Sounds like too much preparation?  A little unrealistic when you can't determine how people are going to hear you?  I admit, it takes some thought.  But the headache and heartache it saves on the back end is certainly worth doing a little bit of work on the front end.  If other people are going to feel pain from your words, then taking a bit of time before you use them isn't unrealistic.      
     Case in point:  if the President indeed trashed nations of people using expletives as well as racist overtones to degrade them, and he did it in a room full of other people, he should have first considered how those people would feel about his choice of words.  Too often people think that if the words are okay with them, then they will be okay with others.  Emotional intelligence makes us more aware of the detriment wielding words carelessly can cause.  Emotional intelligence doesn't ask us to ignore our own feelings, but not to ignore the feelings of others.  Feelings matter.  So do words.  Practicing emotional intelligence is an essential leadership skill.  Those who don't use it are destined to bring a lot of heartache not only to others, but to themselves as well.
     If you need help learning emotional intelligence, we can help.  Contact us at to learn more.

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