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Total Emotional Intelligence: Inside & Out
By Ilene McDonough, M.Ed.
Published: 12/11/2006

Ei1206 01 Today's world offers us many challenges, yet, as we all know, far too often we hear about the not-so-positive rather than the positive. The tendency exists to view a person as being unfavorable or dysfunctional, rather than behaving being less than favorable or functional.

When we talk about Emotional Intelligence, we think about the learning skills that help us act more intelligently with our emotions, hence, Emotional Intelligence. What is often forgotten in the process, however, is what's behind those emotions with which we respond.

Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, we are products of our environment. We've learned all that we know either through observation or from being specifically taught. We often don't realize that television can also be an environment where many countless hours can be spent observing. We learn from what we observe, it being good or not so good.

Most of us also have experienced instant-gratification, especially when we live in a “must have it now” society and have technology, like computers and the Internet that can respond to such demands. But, how does this play out in real life? Unfortunately, many have found that doing whatever it takes to get what they want now, isn't always the way “real life” operates.

Computers, like television, entertain us. We learn from these inventions. They keep us company, and we feel good when we engage in these things. Much like eating, they can fill a void.

Understanding and Empathy

After trying to satisfy ourselves with food, computer games and televisions, just temporary distractions from what might be really be bothering us, we soon find ourselves wanting more. This means these activities aren't truly filling our voids.

Perhaps trying to fill our emotional appetite with understanding and authentic empathy can. One-on-one human interaction might also do the trick. It can gradually take us through the “gray” part of a process, instead of pushing straight through to an immediate black-to-white instant gratification solution. As with anything worthwhile, this takes time.

To understand and act with emotional intelligence means knowing, choosing and giving of ourselves instead of reaching for things that may temporarily satisfy us.

Entwined with this is the ability to perceive, define, use, understand and manage emotions in an appropriate manner.

Two Models

Daniel Goleman has authored works on emotional intelligence and speaks about the Emotional Competence Framework, stating that Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation and Motivation are considered Personal Competence, while Empathy and Social Skills are considered Social Competence. (A)

This means taking an action that will “medicate,” or camouflage something that doesn't feel good inside of us, but will help us temporarily feel gratified we fill the void.

I believe Emotional Intelligence affects a person on the inside and outside. It means being able to read my own emotions as well as of those around me. Therefore, I repeatedly utilize two models.

The Six Seconds Model (2) – know yourself; choose yourself; give yourself – so beautifully accommodates looking inward. On the other hand, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Model (3) – perceive/define emotion; use emotion; understand emotion; manage emotion –, so beautifully adapts to looking outside at others.

I like to think of these approaches as “Total Emotional Intelligence: Inside & Out,” and use them together since they complement each other so well. To do this, it is imperative to remember that not everyone has the same frame of reference. We all see things differently even we are looking at the same situation. We learn what we live and we learn what we experience.

Positive and Not-so-positive

Do you know this verse?

“Children Learn What They Live.

If a child lives with criticism…..he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility….. he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule…..he learns to feel shy.
If a child lives with shame….. he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance…..he learns patience.
If a child lives with encouragement….he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise…..he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness…..he learns justice.
If a child lives with security…..he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval…..he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship…..he learns to find love in the world.
Teach them to love.” (4)

In the days of Leave it to Beaver, the Brady Bunch, and the Partridge Family, we would see examples that related to the latter half of this poem. Today, though, more often than not, television and our society depicts more of the first four verses.

Our media can be full of the not-so-positive. (Notice the omission of the “n” word. You know the one; the opposite of “positive.” We hear all about terrorism, violence and anything that's not positive. Yet, if we are exposed to only those things, it would be hard to know anything else.

This should help us realize that the actions of those we encounter may not necessarily reflect what lies beneath. We haven't a clue as to what someone else might have experienced in the way of the above verse. We only know what we've learned, observed, and experienced.

Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It makes sense then to observe Emotional Intelligence from those around us so we can learn and experience it for ourselves. In fact, we need to be the change that we want to see in others.

Whatever programs, training or curriculum we follow, Emotional Intelligence can be integrated into existing material, just as it can be incorporated into the development of new material. By doing so, we reinforce the importance of living with a positive mind and developing an attitude that fosters optimism. Ultimately, each of us can Act With Emotional intelligence by creating Awareness With Education to achieve Authenticity With Empathy. We can do this by empowering ourselves to understand how emotional intelligence impacts our lives both inside and out.


(1) Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

(2) EQ Experts, Certified Associates, Ilene McDonough, M.Ed. (2006) Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network.

(3) Caruso, D., & Salovey, P. (2003). The emotionally intelligent manager. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

(4) Nolte, D. L.(1972). Children learn what they live. 11/4/2006

Ilene McDonough is a Doctoral Learner in the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, Ohio – USA, majoring in Psychology with Specialization in Emotional Intelligence. Ilene teaches at Brown Mackie College in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

For more information, contact Ilene McDonough, M.Ed.
Certified EI Assessment Administrator/Trainer/Consultant
Acting With Emotional intelligence
Phone: (513) 382-0360
Acting with Emotional Intelligence website
Email Ilene at info@actingwithemotionalintelligence.com


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