"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
In The Other Kind of Smart, Harvey Deutschendorf delivers on his promise to provide “simple ways to boost your emotional intelligence (EI) for greater personal effectiveness and success”. Filled with inspiring stories from companies who have tapped into the power of EI – along with profiles of people facing real-world dilemmas and easy-to-implement action plans – this important book opens our eyes to crucial (yet often ignored) life lessons.
The Big Idea
We Can Change
"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by changing the attitude of the mind."
First off, how good it is to know we can change what we’ve learned in the past and instead master better ways of interacting with the world around us.
Unlike our IQ, EQ is not fixed or only developed at a certain stage in life. It’s been shown that life experiences can be used to increase EQ. In other words, we can continue to develop our capacity to adapt as we grow older. In fact, emotional intelligence is a realm that actually rewards us for successfully having gone through the stages of our lives.
Further, by crafting better relationships in one area of our lives, our capacity and ability to build in other areas is increased. Thereby, we lead more fulfilling lives. Makes sense… And, the journey begins with us.
Boosting Emotional Self-Awareness
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."
The amount of work we’ll have to do, and the effort necessary for us to change our inner landscape, depends on where we’re starting from.
If we were raised to believe our emotions were bad and we needed to keep them under wraps at all times, we may have buried them so deeply that we have trouble accessing them. But access we must. Repressed emotions have and will continue to hurt us unless we bring them into our awareness and deal with them.
To increase emotional self-awareness:
- Take ten minutes every day. Close your eyes and concentrate on your feelings. Be aware of tenseness in your body. Re-create events of the day that generated strong emotions. Try to find the original source. For example, if someone made you angry, did they remind you of a person in your past?
- Force yourself to not respond for at least ten seconds. If you do find yourself reacting from anger, fear, shame or guilt, ask yourself afterward how you could have reacted differently. Next time, deal with it that way.
- Every day look for an opportunity to share at least one positive emotion. Tell someone if something they did made you feel good.
Building Healthy Relationships
"Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose they neighborhood."
While Emotional Self-Awareness deals with our inner world, Healthy Relationships concern our outer world. And, we don’t just mean partnerships. This dimension pertains work-wise and otherwise.
The common element is the relationship we develop with ourselves. Unless we’ve done the work necessary to make our inner landscape a good place to be, we’ve little to no chance of creating a strong outer world.
To bump up the solidity of all your relationships:
- Ask people questions about themselves. Don’t worry about getting too personal (within reason, of course), as people love to talk about themselves.
- When talking to others, pay attention to the amount of time you speak versus listen. If you find yourself “center stage” more than 50 percent of the time, make a conscious effort to curtail talking and spend more time listening.
- Do random acts of kindness. At the office, bring in treats unexpectedly. Give flowers to your partner (no, it doesn’t depend whether male or female) when there is no special occasion. Mark this in your calendar until it becomes second nature.
Such is the practical nature of suggestions Deutschendorf offers across all 15 categories of Emotional Intelligence dimensions – including The Inner and Outer World, Adaptability, Stress Management and General Mood.
Plus, the extras don’t stop there. I particularly found added value within the chapters on “EI in Your Life”. Getting real is all about giving up on being a victim.
As to where we begin, I love the notion that areas of our lives needing improvement should be seen as temporary indicators, not permanent. Instead, cultivating an attitude of gratitude will be an essential ingredient toward our ongoing success.
As Deutschendorf himself declares, the most powerful tool is the one people apply. Unlike the “dry tomes” dealing with emotional intelligence I’ve been exposed to, this one is highly relevant and therefore useful.