Racial Injustice, Emotional Intelligence & Problem Solving

Black Lives Matter.

I stand with the Black community in my commitment to speaking up against systemic, institutionalized, and internalized racism. There’s a lot of work to be done (especially for non-Black people like myself) and actionable conversations to be had to unwind the harm caused by centuries of racism in the U.S. and beyond. This will not happen in one day, one week, or one month, but it’s a full-time responsibility we have to commit to.

Every week for the past ten weeks I have been writing about Emotional Intelligence and how it relates to the Coronavirus. This week I will continue the trend of writing about Emotional Intelligence, but I have shifted my gear from coronavirus to the much more important issue of racial injustice in our country.

The tenth element of emotional intelligence is problem solving. Problem solving as an element of emotional intelligence can be quite confusing at first. It doesn’t seem like an element that easily fits into emotional intelligence, but it certainly does. Problem solving is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency both to solve problems that involve emotions and to use emotions as an effective problem solving tool.” Problem solving is rooted in collaboration & compromise, engagement, discussion & negotiation, and difficult conversations.

As it should be, coronavirus has taken a back seat to the movement around racial injustice and black lives matter. Our most recent racial injustice reminders – George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Amy Cooper, Omar Jimenez, and many others have shined a spotlight into the horrific and despicable racial injustice going on in our country. There are major problems in this country that involve a ton of emotions, and it is our job as citizens to use those emotions as an effective problem solving tool and go towards the change that we want to see.

I wanted to share three things I’m committing to as it relates to problem solving with emotions and racial injustice:

  1. Step into the difficult conversations and be okay not being comfortable with a certain conversation. We are pushed to our growth edge when we get uncomfortable.
  2. Identify and acknowledge the emotions – both my own and others – when having conversations around racial injustice. Ask myself things like, “where is this emotion of frustration and sadness really coming from?” Do the inner work to understand myself and learn from others.
  3. Research, read, understand, and listen more about racial injustice. The more I can educate myself, the more I can be a strong ally and help our society become better from this incredibly emotional and important issue.  

Contributing to the Greater Good – Social Responsibility & the Coronavirus

The ninth element of emotional intelligence is social responsibility. A lot of people when first getting acquainted with EQi 2.0 model think that social responsibility means doing good related to taking care of the environment, but this isn’t the case. Social responsibility is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to cooperate and contribute to the welfare of a larger social system, to have and act in accordance with a social consciousness and to show concern for the group of the greater community.” Social responsibility is rooted in caregiving & support, sacrifice, and cooperation.

               Everything going on with the coronavirus requires us to utilize social responsibility. By staying inside, wearing masks, and keeping 6 feet away from other people, we are doing things that contribute to the welfare of the greater good. For some people, this may be really easy and for others, it may be really difficult. Our ability to do these things probably comes down to how we view the importance of social responsibility and our experience in flexing this “muscle.”

               With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on social responsibility during coronavirus:

  1. Initiate a conversation with your team about what the group wants as new norms or collective goals.
  2. Find one group or local business and commit to helping them however you can through this pandemic.
  3. Give in or give up in an argument if you are the one person from preventing the group from having harmony.

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus – Leaning into Empathy

The eighth element of emotional intelligence is empathy. Empathy is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and willingness to take notice of and be sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings.” Empathy is rooted in our caring & sensitivity, sympathy, responsiveness, and seeking to understand.

               There has perhaps never been a greater need for empathy than right now as we are all experiencing this pandemic in different ways with differing levels of anxiety. It’s in our best interest to take a step back and understand that each person is entitled to have different feelings and needs related to the coronavirus. Perhaps that person on your team has a family member that is sick with coronavirus, or they are a single parent taking care of 3 kids while also having their full-time job, or they just haven’t been able to see their grandparent or parent in over 2 months – everyone is dealing with something. The more we can be empathetic with other people during this crazy time, the better off we will be as a society.

               With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can be more empathetic during coronavirus:

  1. Express curiosity for the way someone else is feeling – ask them what they are feeling and pay attention to their reply without judgment.
  2. Pay attention to non-verbal communication – eye contact, gestures, posture, and tone of voice.
  3. Before placing judgment, think of reasons that person may be feeling or acting a certain way. 

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus – Improving Our Relationships

 The seventh element of emotional intelligence is interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal relationships is my highest component of the EQi, and an element that I highly value in both my personal and professional life. Interpersonal relationships is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to give and receive trust and compassion and to establish and maintain mutually satisfying personal relationships.” Interpersonal relationships is rooted in compassion & trust, vulnerability, and personal connections.

               Covid-19 has made creating and developing relationships a bit more difficult as we haven’t been able to get together in-person. A lot of relationships are built and advanced by having that physical connection and being able to look someone in the eye, give a handshake, and sometimes even hug. Getting together may be impossible during this time, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t create and enhance our relationships. A big part of changing the misconception around relationships in Covid-19 is the verbiage we use and therefore switching “social distancing,” to “physical distancing,”

               Given this, I wanted to share three ways we can work on our interpersonal relationships during Covid-19 when we can’t get together in-person:

  1. Consider expanding some behavioral elements (listening with compassion, regularly checking in, asking about family/friends) that you may only do with a small group of individuals to a few additional people. This will help you grow your circle.
  2. Tell a friend, family member, or co-worker why your grateful for them. Acknowledging and expressing appreciation will in turn strengthen the relationship.
  3. Reach out to one person a week that you haven’t talked to in a while and just ask how their doing amidst all of this.

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus – The Power of Independence

The sixth element of emotional intelligence is independence. Independence is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to be self-directed in your thinking, feeling, and actions – to go at it alone when needed.” Independence is rooted in our autonomy, self-determination, and self-sufficiency.

              Independence is playing a big role in our current Covid-19 life whether we like it or not. For the individual that is used to working and collaborating on projects constantly with their co-workers who sit near them, life has been turned upside down. We no longer have the opportunity to ask a quick question to a co-worker who sits next to you or have a quick discussion about the current project at the coffee machine. It’s in our best interest to identify opportunities where we can develop our independence so that when it is forced upon us, we are better prepared.

              With that being said, I wanted to share three ways we can work on our independence:

  1. Engage in a project, effort, or make a decision without first seeking affirmation, guidance, or permission from someone else.
  2. If there is an opportunity for someone on your team to work alone or make a solo contribution, volunteer to take this on.
  3. Note to yourself – at least 3 times a day – how and where your ideas and opinions differ from others’ around you.

Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus – Improving our Assertiveness

The fifth element of emotional intelligence that I’m going to talk about this week is assertiveness. Assertiveness is by far my lowest score of the 16 elements of the EQi 2.0, and not an area that comes naturally to me. Assertiveness is the defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability to put your needs, thoughts and opinions out into the world – even when doing so invites opposition or conflict or causes you to take a stand.” Firmness, strength, argumentation & debate are all rooted in assertiveness.

               Assertiveness can be incredibly necessary in the coronavirus situation we are all experiencing throughout the world. We all have thoughts about everything going on right now and it’s important to stick up for your opinions and what you believe in. Too little assertiveness tends to yield feedback that you are withholding, uncommitted to your point/position, easy to convince, and possibly can be taken advantage of. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, and it takes utilizing our assertiveness muscle to show this.

               With that being said, I wanted to share three specific ways we can work on our assertiveness:

  1. Take a specific position or express a certain idea and stick to it even if you don’t think it’s going to be harmoniously received.
  2. Practice saying “no,” to something that you are not interested or able to do.
  3. Actively plan to approach someone with whom you disagree on something with, and discuss that disagreement. You can do so non-confrontationally, but clearly state your opposition. 

Emotional Expression: Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus

The fourth element I’m going to tackle in this week’s post with regard to improving our emotional intelligence is emotional expression. Emotional expression is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the degree to which you share, communicate, and remain transparent with your feelings and emotions.” Transparency, authenticity, and openness are all rooted in emotional expression. Someone with low emotional expression tends to not share or communicate their emotions which can yield feedback that they are emotionally unaware, distrusted, or detached.

                Emotional expression plays a big role in our new reality of the coronavirus. No doubt we are all facing an incredible amount of different emotions throughout the days, weeks, and months that this continues to go on. If you are somebody that keeps all those emotions in, it can come off like you are unaware of the broader situation we are all facing. It’s important during this time to be transparent about those feelings, naming them, and understanding it’s okay to have those certain emotions.

                With that being said, I wanted to share three specific ways we can improve our emotional expression:

  1. Verbalize your feelings in conversations – “I’m acting this way because I’m really afraid that this project isn’t going to work out.”
  2. Make a concerted effort to reflect your emotional state in your face (happy, nervous, frustrated, etc.)
  3. Make sure that when you are sharing your emotional state that your tone matches that same emotion you are claiming to have.

Emotional Self-Awareness: Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus

The third element I’m going to tackle with regard to improving our emotional intelligence during coronavirus is emotional self-awareness. Emotional self-awareness is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “the degree to which you are in touch with your feelings and emotions, are able to distinguish one emotion from another, and understand why that emotion has resulted. Mindfulness, self-consciousness and reflection are all rooted in our emotional self-awareness. Someone with low emotional self-awareness can come across as emotionally immature, in denial of their own feelings, and often being misunderstood and misunderstanding others.

               Emotional self-awareness and the coronavirus are incredibly well linked. We are all experiencing a ton of different emotions through this pandemic – scared, worried, frightened, tense, stressed, and even sometimes happy (to be spending extra time with loved ones) or grateful (for having good health). It’s important to be aware of these different emotions so that we do not go on auto-pilot and let them hijack our lives. Taking time to understand our emotions, why we may be feeling them, understanding it’s okay to feel a certain way, and differentiating these emotions can be incredibly beneficial during a time like this.

               With that being said, I wanted to share three tips you can implement immediately to work on your emotional self-awareness:

  1. Begin to explore and then reflect/note down what your emotional triggers are. If there’s a certain person or expression that gives you a certain emotion, become aware of that and make note of it. Understanding that someone or something is causing you to feel a certain way can help you make adjustments in your life.
  2. Take a journal and spend 2-3 minutes three times a day writing about how you are feeling at that moment. Become curious about your mood and feelings. Perhaps there are certain times in the day when you’re feeling one way vs another. When we are aware of our feelings and why they are caused, we are less likely to ignore them.
  3. Before a conversation or group event, identify at least three things that could happen to make you feel happy, frustrated, and proud. 

10 Thoughtful Things You Can Do For Others While Quarantined

A typical Saturday in quarantine; We were weighing the options of clicking “continue watching” on the Apple TV, going for a second walk of the day, or starting happy hour a little early. Our conversation shifted and my fiance and I started discussing thoughtful ways we could connect with our loved ones also stuck at home. 

Wouldn’t our time be much better spent bringing a smile to their face? These days, its the small gestures that make all of the difference. Ironically, these actions also tend to make ourselves feel gratitude and lift our own spirits.

I searched online for creative inspiration and outside of keeping yourself and your children occupied, there was very little on kind acts for loved ones — while maintaining social distance of course. I took the task on myself to create such a list.

So here it is, 10 thoughtful things you can do for other people during coronavirus:

1. Create a mask using a personalized fabric – My future mother in law made us Washington Nationals masks and my nieces pink polka dot masks.

2. Write an email/letter with 5 things you’re grateful for to an individual – This could be a family member, mentor, mentee, or friend.

3. Create a picture book for someone you love – My fiancé has done this for me and I know they are time-consuming but they are amazing! She uses shutterfly.

4. Create a video series of 15-30 second clips for someone you love – Have all the grandchildren send you their favorite grandparent story and put them all together for one special video. 

5. Get someone you love a random gift of something you know they’d love – I just ordered my fiancé a puzzle from our honeymoon spot.

6. Organize and create a virtual game with friends over Zoom – one of my buddies has created a music and trivia game using Zoom and google forms that we play every Friday night.

7. Send a video/picture of a fun time to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while – Send them a pic/video of a great time together and just check-in to see how they are doing through this craziness. My buddy recently sent me a video of us celebrating the Caps winning the cup in 2018 and it brought a big smile to my face.

8. Organize a weekly dinner with someone who you know is quarantining alone – My grandma is quarantined alone so we’ve decided to do Wednesday night dinners with her every week.

9. Offer your expertise for free for individuals in need – I am offering (and have seen other coaches offer) free coaching sessions for those in need.

10. Write a review about someone who has impacted you on LinkedIn and/or endorse them for a specific skill – LinkedIn is the powerhouse of workforce social media and taking the 2-3 minutes to endorse someone for a skill or even writing them a review can go a long way.

Please share this out and let me know what you think! Is there a specific one that resonates with you?



Self-Actualization: Emotional Intelligence & Coronavirus

The second element I’ll tackle with regard to improving our emotional intelligence during coronavirus is self-actualization. Self-actualization is defined by the EQi 2.0 as “your ability and tendency to want to grow, stretch and strive – to see your potential, set meaningful goals and work toward your betterment and fulfillment.” Our aspirations, ambition, and drive are all rooted in self-actualization. Someone with low self-actualization can come across as unambitious or underperforming, lazy, and bored.

There’s a lot about self-actualization that can connect with what we are all experiencing with the coronavirus. There’s a good chance that at some point throughout the last several weeks you have felt unmotivated and frustrated by everything going on. There’s even a good chance (assuming that you’re human) that you’ve struggled through days where you felt like you accomplished almost nothing. These are normal and everyone is going through these, but even under these circumstances, it’s important to do everything in our power to continue to improve as individuals.

With that being said, here are three tips you can implement immediately to work on your self-actualization:

  1. Engage in learning something new or trying something out with the extra time you may have on your hands. Use this time to work on a new skill or gain an online certification so you come out of this a better version of yourself.
  2. Set interim goals. Your goal may be to lose X amount of weight over 3 months during this coronavirus, but instead set weekly goals that are easier to track toward.
  3. Ask your boss for a stretch project at work, or think of something you can take on in addition to your current role. This will give you something to strive for and continue working on if you’re in a position where your role is interrupted by telework.