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Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,

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Why is it important to have "emotional literacy" in communication and how does one improve their own "emotional literacy"?

Does everyone have emotional literacy?

I have recently been inspired by a persons' comment on Ted to initiate dialogue about "emotional literacy" in communication.

I personally have been plagued with a streak of misfortune when it comes to reading the emotions, intentions, and meanings of others during simple conversations. I view this as 'small talk', but I wish I could comprehend others who excel at this. I feel better equipped when it comes to talking about deep issues of larger proportions, but the small one on one interactions, I have been encountering, have lacked a lot of comprehension on my part. I have had difficulty connecting emotionally with the people around me. I constantly feel like an outcast, but it doesn't seem like I'm an outcast when I'm analyzing the situation from a third person point of view. I find that I never grew up with a high emotional intelligence, as in my ability to handle emotional situations, have gotten the better of me. I feel as though my experience with other people have been difficult because of my years of living in a shell, until 4-5 years prior. I didn't get much help from my family either.

I hope to improve my "people skills" through opening this dialogue. Are people born with a set level of emotional literacy or is it a scaffold that needs to continuously be built upon?

The bombardment of information is difficult to handle sometimes. I want to shut the world out at times. Paranoia riddles me from my experiences and my environment. Empathy causes me to feel others pains and joys. I want to develop a deeper understanding of these and other components that affect me.

"Life is like one big free write, and constant revision is needed."

Let's develop a template for the revision and pass it on.

Each Tedx 'below', represents a part of my life that has been affected.

Chris Anderson represents my Ted experience, and the rest is up for interpretation.

Thank you for reading my thoughts, and please leave a comment below. =)

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  • May 16 2012: Hi Derek,

    I strongly related to your metaphor - I too can feel bombarded with emotional information as soon as I walk out of my front door (or go online!)

    Here's my take on it: http://www.lionlifecoaching.com/0507%20EQ.3.pdf

    Excerpt: "I suggest that because the person with high IQ is actually hyper-aware of their world, they
    are not receiving the same information about any given situation as someone within the
    normal range. Because of this, they will react differently. They are able to discern more
    complexity in any situation, and social situations are the most complex systems humans
    encounter. Imagine being asked to play 50 games of chess at the same time – but some of
    them are re-enactments of past games, and some are premonitions about possible future
    games. A gifted person can be consciously “playing chess” of this type during group
    interactions, and not surprisingly can become easily overwhelmed or start to avoid social
    settings to minimize the stress."

    Love to hear your thoughts on these ideas.

    Best wishes,
    Joanna
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      May 18 2012: Hi Joanna,
      Very interesting read. I enjoyed the article and related to the article. I think the article had a lot of insight and the excerpt you chose lead me to believe it was "normal" to avoid social situations to minimize the stress, but after reading the article, I understood that the meaning was to learn to trust and be positive?

      The article writes about the idea to copy or create a template to follow in social situations, and I found that somewhat strange and not necessay. I did agree that people should learn to adapt to others personalities or differences, but I want to add that everyone should try to create a nuturing environment so trust will be easier.

      I thought of a theory today that there is a correlation between being gullible and being an honest, optimistic person. Though I found that people like to abuse others gullibleness to the extent where it turns those honest people to become pessimistic and honesty drops in their personalities. Do you comprehend my correlation and does it have any basis?
      • Jun 5 2012: Hi Derek,

        Apologies for the late reply - my post did not go through as I had assumed.

        The balance between openess and self-preservation is something I am always working toward. As a more-than-averagely-sensitive person, it's been my experience that even in environments that are explictly safe, I still need to maintain a certain distance in order to participate and show up. It's an interesting paradox.

        These days I know that people are not (usually) deliberately trampling on me any more than I am deliberately trampling on them; we just have different contexts to deal with. I advocate learning average or normative behaviours, not to necessarily conform to them, but to understand what other people are expressing, and be able to respond to them "where they are".

        I think we are both talking about the necessity for respect. And to me, trust is another word for that.

        Best wishes,
        Joanna
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          Jun 6 2012: Hi Joanna,

          Thank you for that thoughtful response. I would also like to add, it is better to be late than to not respond at all. =)

          Respect, yes, respect is very important, but sometimes it can be the lack of awareness you are disrespecting another individual. The situation usually proceeds the other individual to perceive your disrespectfulness to be deliberate, and they find no reason to discuss about their disagreement. I wish people would just talk about their emotions more and express their thoughts because that is the best way to connect with the world.

          Thanks for reading my thoughts. =)
  • May 16 2012: If one is not a selfish sort that thinks the world revolves around him, emotional literacy is the life of communication.
    Emotional literacy improves relationship.Nothing destroys it like selfishness.
    I believe that an exemplery social being is the one that communicates effectively. For communication to be achieved,a message has to be sent and then recieved by the intended reciever and acted on or kept in awareness.
    An effective communicator needs to earn the audience's trust; this can not be done by manipulation.
    This can only be done by letting the audience know in sincerity that one cares. It comes easily when one humbly acknowledges that one's point of view may not be appealing to everyone.
    If one understands her/his emotions, manages them excellently, and have a sense of emphathy; then one would be able to improve personal power and quality of living in one's community.
    Nelson Mandela is an example of a man of great emotional literacy.
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      May 18 2012: How do you improve your ability to trust?
      • Jun 10 2012: You just have to take a leap of faith.

        When you meet someone new and you like them and you get a good feeling from the interaction share a small bit of info about yourself. Don't tell them anything too personal. Start small. See how it goes. If, over time they prove to keep your confidence or respect your boundary/ privacy, trust them with a little more. Build slowly.

        Don't forget, its a two-way street. People look for cues that the person they are meeting has good judgement (aka trustworthy). Hence the starting small.

        Ideally, small talk is how people with good judgement gauge whether the person they are talking with is someone with whom they can trust and engage with in 'big' talk. That, or they're space cadets. The difference is easy to spot.:)

        Start with small social settings. Ask (open-ended) questions, but don't just ask questions. Listen as much as you talk. Smile. Make eye-contact. Breath.

        Oh, and if you start to feel overwhelmed its perfectly okay to excuse yourself and step outside for some fresh air. As you know, once a person feels flooded or overwhelmed they shut down and that's the opposite of what you're going for, so if you feel it happening take a time out.
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    May 17 2012: It's for doubling the acceptance from and to others that is relevant to the purpose of emotional literacy itself, and also for doubling our sensitivity to be able react kindly to other things (not only human), so we will have a good relationship that increase caring each other.

    The easy way to behave easily as mentioned by emotional literacy, by lowering our ego.

    Once we can lowering our ego while interact with others, we can easily capture other emotional signals and we can adapt nicely with an increasing empathy.

    That's from my experience, even more when we do lowering our ego continuosly while doing something like writing or responding to others, we could have an empathy output or any other as several already mentioned on emotional literacy.

    Technically (directly and we can activate by now easily), by lowering our breathing. We can try this by making our breath cycle (up-down) more often at the down side a little bit longer than while breathing at the up side. At first, while practicing this, we were running out of oxygen on our breathing. Soon we can maintain this practice without running out of oxygen and breath smoothly. Or if it's still difficult, try meditating seriously, then we can get this expertise as side effect easily. There is connection, well connected, directly and instantly, in doing this with the ability to implement emotional literacy.

    We shared this technique very limited to our friends, and although this technique rather old, but it gave result instantly, from egocentric people converted to empathy personality dramatically. It gives us an added value (sensitivity) to our leadership that dominating (dominate in a sensitive way). It's like pushing the button of emotional literacy.

    This is a unique way in collaborating within ourselves to have nice relationship. We used to call this "low vibration" (although it gives a higher vibrational energy in the field of spiritual).

    Less or more ...
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