Outreach: emotional intelligence

Graphic about the heart connecting with the brain.

Today, in our ever-changing, fast-paced, technology-based society, we face a new set of challenges with communication and how we connect to our world. Over the last decade, a shift has taken place in how we relate and socialize with one another.

From the advent of cell phones, computers and social media, there are so many portals to connect to our friends and family; yet are we really communicating effectively?

Teenagers most naturally come to mind when discussing this topic. However, communication skills affect our younger kids as well. How do we accomplish effective communication as parents, educators, counselors, and mentors?

One way is to demonstrate positive ways to navigate the world through accessing emotional intelligence skills. EQ removes barriers to success by giving us a “road map” with tangible skills to turn to when making difficult decisions.

There are five facets of emotional intelligence:

Self-awareness gives us a great advantage when we can step back and change our ways to adapt to new surroundings. One way to become self-aware is thorough mindfulness which paces our thoughts, feelings and actions through the lens of forgiveness, non-judgment, non-striving, compassion and acceptance.

Self-regulation means not being swept away by our feelings and reacting out of anger, fear, or frustration. It’s being aware of our emotional state and asking ourselves “is this emotion serving me?” It’s recognizing how we feel and being able to let it go.

Motivation is what we think of when working towards a long term goal, and believe it or not, motivation is not always sustainable over time. We can stay motivated by thinking of how achieving this goal will change our life. What will life feel like and look like when you achieve this goal? This can add necessary drive to get to the finish line.

Empathy is not just being friendly or kind to others. It gives us an opportunity to show up as our best selves by imagining what it might be like seeing the world through the eyes of someone else; this is especially helpful when we don’t agree with that person. This ensures that you will learn from this experience no matter what happens in the end.

Social skills are more than just a means to make friends and become popular. It’s about learning the art of good eye contact, understanding facial expressions, using the appropriate tone of voice that matches your intention. It’s about building rapport and influencing people not with what you have or own but through your genuine compassion and concern.

Practicing the skills of emotional intelligence allows life to unfold in a much richer way by making the most of our opportunities for growth and change!

Outreach is celebrating 50 years of providing mental health counseling and wellness programs, positively impacting children, teens and families! Join us in Wonderland at our upcoming Connections Gala on April 26 at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel! Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families in a welcoming environment. 412-561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.