(The following excerpt from Emotional Intelligence: Do Women Have An Edge? by Audrey Nelson, Ph.D., recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
It’s 8 a.m. Monday. The staff is gathered in the conference room, catching up on the weekend and attempting to warm up to the idea of another week at work. The boss, a woman, walks in and reads the group’s mood. Who has had a good weekend, and who looks like the dog’s dinner? Who is laughing easily, and who seems distant? Who appears pensive? Now they sit down to begin business.
She knows from her “read” of the group that she should gently ask questions to one member and that she can lean hard on another. The meeting goes smoothly because she has set the stage and made adjustments according to the needs of the individuals. Chalk up another successful Monday staff meeting to women’s nonverbal fluency. This is just another example of the social maintenance women do at the office. Unfortunately, this is rarely valued and often goes unnoticed.
Women should follow the female monitoring mechanism. You have the ability to read the environment. Now make adjustments accordingly. Your teammate looks discouraged, so you can check it out. You notice coalitions; now figure how you can use them constructively. Transform your ability to figure out the inside scoop into a benefit to your boss. Use your skills at reading the politics of the group to benefit your organization.
Author Daniel Goleman gave birth to the Emotional Intelligence movement that has Fortune 50 companies taking notice and getting on board. Historically, the American management world has been characteristically male: task and goal oriented with little attention to people skills. We suffered. So did the bottom line. Companies could not retain employees. Other countries were more successful at gaining employee loyalty. The ripple effect goes on.
With the influx of women into the workplace during the last four decades, you could hypothesize that the rules of work are changing. A feminization of the workplace has occurred. We’ve undergone a shift in our thinking about how we achieve and define success. We are beginning to value people and judge our managers by how they handle their employees. And in the spotlight are personal qualities, such as empathy and adaptability. Remember emotional intelligence can be learned; while it may be a part of women’s “conditioning,” many men have or can learn these behaviors.
What Women Bring to the Table
As corporate communication trainers and consultants for the last 35 years, we remember the day not that long ago when men bad-mouthed any training that had to do with so-called “soft skills” or emotional intelligence training. Often they told us directly that they thought it was a waste of time.
“Why do I need to get along with people? I am the lead on this project and the most knowledgeable,” one engineer claimed. “Why are we spending company money and my time on this touchy-feely stuff? What a waste.”
True, he was a bright engineer. But he had zero people skills. No one wanted to be around this guy. As a result, he alienated his entire team.
How It Impacts the Bottom Line
These soft skills are not a passing fad. Strong evidence shows that these skills benefit a business. Organizations such as FedEx, L’Oreal, and Volvo boast improved bottom lines after training employees and implementing soft-skill principles. Even the U.S. Air Force, a traditionally male bastion, testifies to bottom-line profits and savings from emotional intelligence. The U.S. Air Force used the EQ-I emotional intelligence test to select recruiters (the Air Force’s front-line human resources personnel) and found that the most successful recruiters scored significantly higher in the areas of assertiveness, empathy, happiness, and emotional self-awareness. The Air Force also found that by using emotional intelligence to select recruiters, it increased its ability to predict successful recruiters by nearly three-fold. The immediate gain was a saving of $3 million annually. These gains resulted in the Government Accounting Office submitting a report to Congress, which led to a request that the Secretary of Defense order all branches of the armed forces to adopt this procedure in recruitment and selection.
(The following excerpt from 10 Ways That Musical Training Boosts Brain Power by Christopher Bergland recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
Did you play a musical instrument when you were growing up? Do you continue to play an instrument today? Neuroscientists continue to find evidence that musical training tremendously benefits a child’s brain development in ways that can improve cognitve function throughout his or her lifespan.
As the father of a 7-year-old, I am grateful that my daughter is fortunate enough to have access to musical training and has developed a love of playing both the piano and violin.
Unfortunately, budget cuts have put music and art classes on the back burner for most of our nation’s students. Research from the U.S. Department of Education found that 75 percent of U.S. high school students “rarely or never” take extracurricular lessons in music or the arts.
Budget cuts that reduce music programs may backfire in the long run. Musical training lays down neural scaffolding that improves the brain’s ability to hardwire connections between various brain regions. Musical training improves brain power across the board and also nurtures one’s ability to be creative and think outside the box.
It’s no coincidence that Einstein was a master violinist and a revolutionary physicist. Albert Einstein’s mother was a talented musician who made musical expression a part of daily home life when her children were growing up.
Albert Einstein began playing the violin when he was 6-years-old. By the age of 13, he was playing Mozart’s sonatas. Einstein once said, “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.”
An October 2013 study (link is external) found that Albert Einstein’s brilliance may be linked to the fact that his brain hemispheres were extremely well-connected. The ability to use right brain creativity and left brain logic simultaneously may have been part of what made Einstein an incredible genius.
More and more studies are linking musical training with improved brain function and higher academic achievement. Practicing a musical instrument regularly engages all four hemispheres of your brain at an electrical, chemical and architectural level which optimizes brain power.
Musical training also improves focus, reduces stress, and could be an antidote for the pressure that children feel to do well on standardized testing as part of No Child Left Behind and the Common Core Standards.
Ten Ways That Musical Training Boosts Brain Power
1. Improves Verbal Memory and Childhood Literacy
2. Babies Who Have Music Lessons Smile More and Communicate Better
3. Benefits Brain Plasticity Throughout a Lifespan
4. Trained Musicians Have Superior Multisensory Processing Skills
5. Improves White Matter Connectivity
6. Increases Blood Flow in the Brain
7. Improves Executive Function
8. Thickens Gray Matter of the Cortex
9. Reduces Academic Achievement Gaps
10. Orchestrates Coordinated Neuroplasticity in the Aging Brain
I compiled the list above in chronological order. There has been so much research on this topic in recent years. I wanted to create a timeline that shows the evolution of these findings in recent years.
(The following excerpt from Hunting With Wolves and The Whites Of Their Eyes: How Hunting With Wolves Helped Humans Outsmart The Neanderthals by Donald Sensing recently appeared on senseofevents.blogspot.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
A fascinating hypothesis that homo sapiens became the earth’s dominant species when we domesticated wolves as hunting partners.
Modern humans formed an alliance with wolves soon after we entered Europe, argues Shipman (in her book The Invaders: How Humans And Their dogs Drove Neanderthals To Extinction). We tamed some and the dogs we bred from them were then used to chase prey and to drive off rival carnivores, including lions and leopards, that tried to steal the meat.
“Early wolf-dogs would have tracked and harassed animals like elk and bison and would have hounded them until they tired,” said Shipman. “Then humans would have killed them with spears or bows and arrows.
“This meant the dogs did not need to approach these large cornered animals to finish them off – often the most dangerous part of a hunt – while humans didn’t have to expend energy in tracking and wearing down prey. Dogs would have done that. Then we shared the meat. It was a win-win situation.”
And the whites of their eyes?
Consider the whites of our eyes, she states. The wolf possesses white sclera as does Homo sapiens though, crucially, it is the only primate that has them.
“The main advantage of having white sclera is that it is very easy to work out what another person is gazing at,” added Shipman. “It provides a very useful form of non-verbal communication and would have been of immense help to early hunters. They would been able to communicate silently but very effectively.”
Thus the mutation conferring white sclera could have become increasingly common among modern humans 40,000 years ago and would have conferred an advantage on those who were hunting with dogs.
(The following excerpt from Praising Kids For Unimpressive Accomplishments by Jessica Grogan, Ph.D., recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on there link below.)
Last weekend my friend’s 4-year-old yelled repeatedly, “Mom! Mom! Watch this!” until she got her mom’s attention. Then she jumped one foot down from a step on the playscape. In the wake of such an unimpressive feat, I couldn’t help but recall the current buzz about praise and narcissism.
“Do you ever tell your kids you’re not impressed when they do unimpressive things?” I asked her.
My friend, who’s a teacher and thus hip to the praise-for-ability-versus-praise-for-hard-work debate, explained, “Sometimes I say ‘I saw you do that’ or ‘You did that’ without exclamation.”
I thought that was a smart response, attuned to the wisdom of play therapists who are successful in large part because they validate children, let them know they’re seen, and acknowledge what they’re trying to communicate. Also, like that of a play therapist, her response was nonjudgmental and nonevaluative, because even positive evaluations carry sometimes-intrusive emotional weight and expectation.
Clearly influenced by the research and theory about excessive praise, I have, at times, taken it one step farther. I’ve told my now 7-year-old that something she did wasn’t exceptional, but assured her that she had strengths in other areas. My hope has been that she’d make accurate self-evaluations rather than inflated ones, and that I could deliver praise when she’d really earned it, making it more meaningful.
My concern with overvaluing my children doesn’t actually stem from a fear of creating narcissists. In fact that term has been bandied around so much in the recent news that I’m unsure what people even mean by it. One of the researchers in the recent study on praise and narcissism himself claims that “people with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others (Reuters, 2015).” From a clinical perspective, thinking you’re better than others is hardly the definition of narcissism. It’s the definition of self-centeredness. But no matter the word choice, we can agree that we don’t want our kids to remain egocentric past the time when it’s developmentally appropriate, nor do we want them to be selfish.
Still, I’m not too concerned that overvaluing my daughter’s playground stunts or grades on worksheets will result in self-centeredness. There are other parental behaviors and qualities that mitigate this outcome. Brummelman, Thomaes, Nelemans, de Castro, Overbeek & Bushman (2015) also suggest that parental warmth correlates with children’s high self-esteem. Attunement and respect operate in similar ways. At their core, care for others and self-sacrifice are values that can be taught and modeled.
The reason I worry at all about protecting my children from excessive praise is that an overestimation of self-worth could get in the way of striving to be a better self. Various studies suggest that excessive praise of innate abilities (things kids didn’t really have to work at) could make them underachieve and feel less satisfied with their work. A meta-analysis of six studies found that praise for hard work improved achievement motivation, whereas praise for intelligence decreased task persistence, task enjoyment, and task performance (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). The conclusion of these and other studies seems to be that if we overvalue things that come naturally (including innate intelligence), hard work and striving may seem unnecessary.
There’s value in being at a deficit and facing a challenge. And there’s value lost if success is a foregone conclusion.