As the world becomes increasingly automated through machines that replace human labor, there still exists something that robots can and never will be able to replace – emotional intelligence (EI). EI is the key thing that differentiates us from robots; it is the ability to feel, understand, and manage emotions and behavior within ourselves and amongst other people.
Humans are social beings at heart, and EI understands this by helping us to see the best in others as well as ourselves. This can prepare you for managing any difficult situations that come your way. Investing in your EI therefore ensures longer term success in all aspects of your life. The good news is that EI can be learned no matter how old or young you are, and putting it into practice is completely up to you. Here are eight top picks from TED talks to kickstart your EI growth journey:
Who: Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston
How it helps: Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness by many; something we should strive to hide from others whenever we feel afraid or incapable. In fact, Brown’s research and experience on vulnerability shows quite the opposite – how being vulnerable helps to enforce an attitude of kindness and gentleness towards yourself and others, and to prevent the blame, addiction and judgement that can arise from the tendency to hide one’s imperfection.
Who: Daniel Goleman
How it helps: In this classic TED talk, Goleman shares his insights on compassion, one of the main factors that determines your emotional intelligence. Through engaging stories, he notes the inherent motivation behind being compassionate towards others, explains how empathy separates us from becoming sociopaths, and touches on examples of compassion that truly make the skill worth practicing.
Who: Andrew Solomon, Writer on Politics, Culture and Psychology
How it helps: Solomon explains the fine difference between unconditional love and acceptance, and describes his understanding about both concepts from his interviews of numerous families and their children. The touching stories that he shares shows how this is a choice, and will give you fresh perspective on what unconditional love and acceptance does for ourselves and society.
4. On Smiling
Who: Ron Gutman, Founder and CEO of HealthTap
How it helps: Smiling doesn’t cost us anything, but according to Gutman, is also worth the equivalent of receiving “16,000 British pounds in cash”. In this talk, Gutman takes us through studies on smiling – from our inborn ability to smile without being taught to wide reaching effects of smiling on ourselves and others. Well worth a listen to understand and use the power of a smile.
5. On Stress
Who: Kelly McGonigal, Health Psychologist
How it helps: In a fundamental shift of perspective, McGonigal shows us how stress can help rather than hinder. All too frequently, we get stressed when being unable to cope with our own emotions, or being affected by those of others. However, McGonigal suggests reframing our thoughts into using stress for the better, and we can apply this to how we deal with everyday stressors. A big part of improving EI is also learning to shift your perspective using positive psychology, making this talk incredibly relevant.
Who: Dr. Laura Trice, Counsellor and Coach
How it helps: In just over three minutes, Trice reminds us of the act of saying thank you and why it means so much. When said a certain way, this simple trick we were taught since we were young can boost your EI in no time.
Who: Margaret Heffernan, Management Thinker and Former CEO of 5 Businesses
How it helps: Disagreement sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially when it comes to inter-personal relationships, but Heffernan shows how disagreement can lead to improved and outcomes through communication. A vital tool for anyone looking to boost their EI in an assertive and productive manner.
8. On Listening
Who: Julian Treasure, Sound Consultant
How it helps: Listening – the skill of paying conscious attention to sound – is becoming increasingly unused as loud and attention grabbing noises continue to overwhelm our world. Treasure speaks of the risks associated with greater noise distraction, such as being more desensitized and less empathetic. Throughout the talk, he gives the audience several methods of improving ways of listening, which are certainly worth trying out. Although featured for businesses, we can take a leaf out of Treasure’s book by remembering to listen and to do it well, in order to increase our sensitivity to others and the environment around us.
Featured photo credit: Athletic Man Jumping Between Rocks In Outdoor National Park by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com