Emotional Intelligence: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.Definition of Oxford Languages
It often feels as if we, society, are losing our emotional intelligence, which then affects our humanity and the meeting of our basic needs.
Take something as simple as texting or e-mail. How often do you receive a text or e-mail without so much as a hello or howdy? Speaking for myself, I feel a bit cheated or distanced when I receive a message without a friendly salutation. Just those two short words can make all the difference to the person receiving the message and it takes less than a second to type them.
What about saying thank you? When ending an e-mail or when someone does something for you, the word thanks seems to be embargoed. Thanks is not a word that can be overused when said with a smile and with sincerity.
Remembering an employee or team member’s birthday and work anniversaries are other things that can go a long way. A quick e-mail, with a hello and a Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary lets someone know you are thinking of them and they are valued. It doesn’t matter if the boss has it as a recurring calendar reminder, the fact they took a moment to recognize and acknowledge your special day earns lots of drops in one’s bucket.
Even a card at the holidays, just with your signature on it, earns valuable “points.” Whether it is the same card for everyone, with a simple happy holidays message, personally signed by you, it shows the receiver you thought them worth a little of your valuable time.
A handwritten random thank you card, with a short note saying how much the completion of a task or project meant, with a recognition of how much time and effort it took to complete, earns waterfalls worth of drops in someone’s bucket.
Have I always practiced what I’m preaching. Not everything. Hello and thank you has always been a part of who I am. The other things mentioned above, and more, I learned when I started being seen as a leader.
When one is in education, the ability to give bonuses and raises is essentially non-existent. Because of that limitation, I had to develop other ways to show appreciation. Over time the salutations in e-mails became a habit. I would always try to remember birthdays, but it was harder to know work anniversaries. For Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I always gave a card, usually with a treat, to each staff member, even when a staff of 65+ people. There was almost always a special treat for custodian, school counselor, paraprofessional, and teacher appreciation days. One of the reasons I started baking and cooking more was to be able to take homemade goodies to school for staff was because I couldn’t provide extra monetary incentives. When possible, I would take some staff members to lunch, or for committee meetings, try to buy an outside meal of some sort.
I like to think those things helped, especially when there was so much placed on the plates of educators. My practice of these small things continued when I went back into the classroom, and now in my current role.
It is something I will continue because it feels right, and I do feel good doing it. Emotional intelligence can be taught and learned, but one has to be willing to take the time, and to be empathetic to everyone around us, regardless of their role in our lives.
Will you join me in taking at least one small step in bringing a smile to someone face, just by saying hello at the beginning of your next text message or e-mail? It matters, and it matters greatly.