Joint Base Charleston


No More Knee Jerk Responses

By Master Sgt. Kristy Beaudoin | 437th Maintenance Operations Squadron | January 13, 2015

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Have you ever given an inappropriate hand gesture to someone who just cut your vehicle off in traffic?   Well, "Road-rage" or aggressive driving, is considered a ticketable offense.  To prevent knee jerk responses, we must have the ability to self-manage and control our emotions and to be self-aware.  By doing this, we are using emotional intelligence. 

According to Dr. Peter Salovery at Yale University, emotional intelligence covers a range of abilities including self-management, through self-awareness, social skills, self-confidence, empathy and emotional control even in the toughest situations (stress management).

In addition, emotional intelligence, when coupled with leadership, can assist in making level headed decisions, guiding people in the right direction, solving problems and communicating more effectively.  In other words, emotional intelligence can be adapted to improve work environments, family life and you guessed it:  Leadership!

Many resources available on the web refer to emotional intelligence as EI or EQ, and certifications in this field of study are available.  As a leader, it is important to improve EI/EQ, to facilitate/improve level-headed decision making skills.

The book, "Go Suck a Lemon" by Dr. Michael Cornwall discusses improving your EI/EQ and contains strategies on preventing knee jerk responses to emotions.  In the book, Dr. Cornwall elaborates on the importance of identifying and managing different triggers and chains tied to emotions.  Dr. Goleman provides many examples in the book, such as [...if you are angry you are less likely to express forgiveness or sadness without first stopping and changing your thinking ...]. In other words, this would be where Dr. Cornwall would suggest the individual should suck a lemon, but by changing thought processes, you will taste cinnamon, and thus improve EI/EQ.

Dr. Cornwall also asserts many emotions can be reshaped, analyzed, and brought down to a more manageable emotional state.  To do this, Dr. Cornwall proposes methods to control thoughts and behaviors, thereby resulting in better control of knee jerk responses, leading to more fact-based observations.  In other words, our emotions give us another source of thinking.  Level-headed cognitive skills are improved when reactions to emotions are controlled.

According Harvard Business Press contributor, Dr. Daniel Goleman, we have "Human Moments," which are when we make connections through being intelligent in the heart of emotions.  We are able to do this because we are paying full attention to, and are fully in-tuned with the boosted range of abilities that emotional intelligence brings to the plate. 

Pulling this all together, emotions are what connect us to each other, gives us the drive to succeed and should even give pause for thought.  Know your triggers and chains, and how to manage and guide them.  In doing so, you will better able to navigate social interaction because you'll have a handle on your emotional quotient as you project a professional demeanor.

Staying Connected