People who practice this controversial habit have very low emotional intelligence

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This is an article on three things: (a) emotional intelligence, (b) a controversial American habit, and (c) a new journal, based on neuroscience, showing why these first two things might not. very well go together.

First, let’s start with emotional intelligence. In my free ebook, Improve emotional intelligence 2021, I use a two-part definition of the concept:

“Emotional intelligence is the awareness of how emotions affect your communications and your efforts, coupled with the use of strategies designed to leverage emotions to help you achieve your goals.”

I like this definition because it makes it clear that emotional intelligence is both something you can work on and to improve (hence the title of my ebook), and that there is also a results-oriented reason for doing it.

Second, let’s talk about the increasingly popular American habit: frequent use of marijuana (cannabis). About 12 percent of Americans now say they use the drug regularly. This is up from 7% in 2013 (which in itself represents an increase of 71.4%), according to Gallup.

No judgment on my side. Use cannabis or not; it’s your call.

But, if people are going to tell me – as many readers do – that they are very interested in improving their level of emotional intelligence, it makes sense to compare this goal to the usual.

That’s point number three, so to speak: the apparent correlation between marijuana use and lower emotional intelligence.

Write in the journal, Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology Oregon State University researchers Alyssa MacKenzie and Anita Cservenka searched for existing studies that addressed the links between cannabis use and emotional processing.

They identified 41 of these studies and documented their findings, including:

  • high hostility,
  • lack of responsiveness to emotional stimuli,
  • difficulty with accuracy and response time when identifying and differentiating emotions (such as happiness or sadness), and
  • a mixed result regarding anxiety, with both increased and decreased effects

Again, I’m not suggesting that anyone should or shouldn’t use cannabis. There are also negative results associated with many other habits. (People who usually drink alcohol might want to think twice before suggesting that their habits are healthier).

Still, if you think about some of the strategies emotionally intelligent people strive to adopt, it’s hard not to notice how useful these results might not be. For example, here are three key habits that emotionally intelligent people learn:

They practice tactical patience.

Let’s start with tactical patience. Emotionally intelligent people find that if they react to things immediately, they are more likely to do things out of emotion.

So they wait a minute or an hour, or a week – whichever is appropriate. And that allows them to do three things:

  • Isolate negative emotional reactions.
  • Compartmentalize their responses by devoting the time really necessary.
  • Take back some of the power they would give up if they responded quickly and on time from someone else.

There is always room for at least some level of tactical patience, even if you think there may not be. Imagine, for example, that your first customer sends you an urgent text message on a Saturday afternoon.

You may want to respond as soon as possible. But, would a response delivered in minutes rather than seconds be sufficient?

Or, a first response designed to save time – “Thanks, let me check it out,” Where “I got it, I’m going to study this,“- can give you time to achieve the three objectives for which Tactical Patience is designed.

However, whatever the cause, you can imagine that it would be much more difficult if you experienced “high hostility” or potentially harmful effects on anxiety. Patience becomes much more difficult under these circumstances.

They imagine how others perceive things.

Perception often leads to emotion, and emotion is a two-way street.

  • First, there is the way you perceive things: your appreciation of any external stimulus, whatever it is, that causes you to respond with particular emotions.
  • Second, there is how other people perceive things, including things you do or say to them, and how that perception causes them to react with particular emotions.

On top of that, your perception of their emotional reaction influences your next move – and so on, and so on, and so on.

It’s hard enough when you precisely perceive how the other person in your conversation perceives things; it’s infinitely more difficult when you introduce misperceptions from both sides into the mix.

So when we talk about improving emotional intelligence, we include a wide range of good practices:

  • Choose the language deliberately, so you don’t accidentally send a message that conflicts with what you really want to say.
  • Not only by paying attention, but by acting as if you are paying attention, so that you don’t unwittingly telegraph indifference.
  • Remember to ask questions, both to gather more information and to send the right side messages: mostly attention and interest.

Imagine how much more difficult it would all be to achieve if you practiced a habit that can lead to “difficulty with accuracy and response time when identifying and differentiating emotions.”

They don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

Emotionally intelligent people try not to create problems where they don’t exist. What’s one of the easiest ways to do this?

This is to train yourself to assume the best until you see evidence to suggest otherwise. For example:

  • At a party, you talk at length about how obsessed you are with a silly TV show or unusual hobby. Obviously, nothing outside the bounds of social decency, but you feel embarrassed afterwards. Emotionally intelligent people stop there; they don’t automatically assume that everyone now thinks less of them.
  • Or, your boss text you on Friday night and you answer without hearing anything in return. Emotionally intelligent people assume this is the end of the matter, unless they hear otherwise; they don’t let their weekend spoil, wondering if they said the wrong thing or if they somehow failed the boss’s micro-test.
  • One more: you ask a question in a meeting, and then you realize that it was all based on a mathematical mistake you made, or a missing fact that you did not know. Emotionally intelligent people don’t worry too much about creating a bad impression among their coworkers.

it is always possible that the worst is really the truth: Yeah, they think less of you, well. Or, yes, you actually work for someone who likes to test employee control like that, that’s good to know. Or: Yeah, you made a fool of yourself, life goes on.

But, emotionally intelligent people don’t waste time on negative emotions or unproven issues until they have to.

It takes time. It takes effort. I’m not perfect for that, and I’m writing this article.

Again, think about how much more difficult it would be to perfect if you engage in habits that could make anxiety more acute or make it harder to accurately distinguish between other people’s emotions.

Emerging research area

One of the fun things about writing emotional intelligence is that I try to practice emotional intelligence by doing it.

This leads me to take time before writing. This brings me to thinking about how an article like this is likely to be perceived by readers.

It also leads me to try to write honestly and as best I can, without worrying too much about feedback. With that in mind I want to make two big points at the end

First, almost all of the research on cannabis use and the processing of emotions has been conducted in the last decade. MacKenzie and Cservenka say more than half of the studies they viewed were published in the past five years.

Second is that I really cannot argue for or against cannabis. I don’t use it myself; but then again, it’s not like I’m living a perfect life without bad habits or messes. I know some people need it medicinally, and others just take advantage of it.

Their business, not mine. And that also leads me to re-emphasize part of their concluding first line in their article, which has to do with parts of this that are an “emerging area of ​​research”.

There is a lot more to learn and a lot more to work on. And some good reasons to take the time to do so.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.


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