May 01, 2017

You Have 90 Seconds to Become Emotionally Intelligent

Is it just me, or is there a surge in articles and posts in the media about Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?  My LinkedIn newsfeed seems to have more information on EQ than ever before.  It could be that some of my LI connections are deeply involved with EQ, such as Debbie Muno, Jeff Summers, Elizabeth Lions, and Deiric McCann.  Whatever the reason, I believe developing EQ is an important part of becoming the best person each one of us can become.

Interestingly, I also believe that we are all born with a naturally high level of EQ.  We are born with the natural desire to love and be loved.  We are born with the natural ability to feel empathy for others and ourselves.  We are born with the innate ability to form varying levels of relationships.  Allow me to share with you the science behind this.

Within our brains are what Neuroscientists have labeled “Empathy Neurons”, or “Mirror Neurons”, and they have an amazing ability to help us live life with meaning for ourselves and with others.  How do these work? 
Have you ever watch someone fall down and you automatically “feel” their pain? They land on their elbow and you automatically reached and grabbed your own elbow?  Maybe you’ve watched someone receive a shot at the doctor’s office and you grimaced and said “ouch!”  Those were your Empathy Neurons firing.  We are born with these neurons, which means everyone has them.  And, we have varying levels at which these function.  Recent studies suggest that whether we empathize with another person’s pain depends on how that person had behaved in the past, and, more important, whether we like or dislike them.

These neurons also have the capacity to predict future movement, behavior, and even thoughts.  How so?  Imagine yourself standing in close proximity to another person.  All of the sudden their arm starts swinging upward.  How do you react?  You may move away quickly.  You may raise your arm up to defend yourself.  You may squat down to avoid being hit.  But, what was the person really doing?  Reaching up to scratch the back of their head!  However, based on your relationship with that person, you felt threatened and made evasive moves.  Had the person been someone whom you had implicit trust, you would have reacted differently.

What’s even more amazing is that this Predictive Coding has three distinct time frames:
Immediate: Behaviors and action
Mid-term: Beliefs
Long-term: Preferences and personalities

Another interesting tidbit is that the only thing keeping you from actually feeling other’s emotions long-term is an area in the brain called the Insular Cortex.  It’s what isolates you and reminds you that you are you and you’re not the person with whom you felt empathy, or some other emotion.

Where does the thought of 90 seconds come into the picture?  Circa 2006, neuroscientists discovered that we have only up to 90 seconds between the time we first feel an emotion and that emotion forming a neural pathway in our brain.  This means that you have a very short time frame to decide what, if any, emotion or behavior you will display after receiving input.  (You can read more about this in detail in my book The 90-Second Mind Manager) 

If you’re familiar with Mindfulness, then you know you have three choices you can make within those 90-seconds.  But, with the unconscious mind able to function at 40,000,000 bits of information per second, that’s not a problem!  Of course, your unconscious mind has to be predisposed to the outcome you want, but that’s another topic in itself.

So, to keep this post fairly short, what does all of this mean?  We are born with a naturally high level of EQ with all the tools already inside us to make EQ alive and well.  We have been taught to deaden it.  We have been taught by our parents to feel less emotion when they told us, “Stop crying!”, “Toughen up”, “Don’t be a baby!”, etc.  The same is true of peers, teachers, and others who have influenced our lives.  Some even credit Darwin with his “Survival of the Fittest” philosophy for the current lack of EQ.  You can read more about this on LinkedIn by clicking HERE.  The point is, what we have been taught and what we have deadened can be untaught and made alive again!

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on EQ and it’s place in business and elsewhere, so please feel free to comment and share this post.

+++++++++++++++About Dr. Edward Lewellen++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Edward Lewellen an expert in creating methodologies for people to learn to use their mind; their beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and put them back in control of their lives and become top-producers. He is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

Author of The 90-Second Mind Manager