English Challenge 12

I.  Article

A. Emotional Intelligence – The Social Skills You Weren’t Taught in School – Link / Full Article and Questions /

B. Excerpt to Read and Record

Instructions:  This article has FIVE green subheadingsSelf-Awareness, Self-Management, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills.  Pick any ONE of these subheadings to read as your “excerpt”.  Above, I have recorded all five subheadings separately to assist you in this effort.  I have bolded words that you should learn and underlined phrasal verbs and key collocations (phrases that are often used together.


You’re taught about history, science, and math when you’re growing up.  Most of us, however, aren’t taught how to identify or deal with our own emotions, or the emotions of others.  These skills can be valuable, but you’ll never get them in a classroom.

Emotional intelligence is a shorthand that psychological researchers use to describe how well individuals can manage their own emotions and react to the emotions of others.  People who exhibit emotional intelligence have the less obvious skills necessary to get ahead in life, such as managing conflict resolution, reading, and responding to the needs of others, and keeping their own emotions from overflowing and disrupting their lives.  In this guide, we’ll look at what emotional intelligence is, and how to develop your own.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Measuring emotional intelligence is relatively new in the field of psychology, only first being explored in the mid-80s.  Several models are currently being developed, but for our purposes, we’ll examine what’s known as the “mixed model,” developed by psychologist Daniel Goleman.  The mixed model has five key areas:

  • Self-awareness: Self-awareness involves knowing your own feelings. This includes having an accurate assessment of what you’re capable of, when you need help, and what your emotional triggers
  • Self-management: This involves being able to keep your emotions in check when they become disruptive. Self-management involves being able to control outbursts, calmly discussing disagreements, and avoiding activities that undermine you like extended self-pity or panic.
  • Motivation: Everyone is motivated to action by rewards like money or status. Goleman’s model, however, refers to motivation for the sake of personal joy, curiosity, or the satisfaction of being productive.
  • Empathy: While the three previous categories refer to a person’s internal emotions, this one deals with the emotions of others. Empathy is the skill and practice of reading the emotions of others and responding appropriately.
  • Social skills: This category involves the application of empathy as well as negotiating the needs of others with your own. This can include finding common ground with others, managing others in a work environment, and being persuasive.

You can read a bit more about these different categories here.  The order of these emotional competencies isn’t all that relevant, as we all learn many of these skills simultaneously as we grow.  It’s also important to note that, for our purposes, we’ll only be using this as a guide.  Emotional intelligence isn’t an area that most people receive formal training in.  We’ll let psychologists argue over the jargon and models, but for now let’s explore what each of these mean and how to improve them in your own life.

Self-Awareness

Before you can do anything else here, you have to know what your emotions are.  Improving your self-awareness is the first step to identifying any problem area you’re facing.  Here are some ways to improve your self-awareness:

  • Keep a journal: Career skill blog recommends starting by keeping a journal of your emotions. At the end of every day, write down what happened to you, how you felt, and how you dealt with it.  Periodically, look back over your journal and take note of any trends, or any time you overreacted to something.
  • Ask for input from others: As we’ve talked about before when dealing with your self-perception, input from others can be invaluable. Try to ask multiple people who know you well where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  Write down what they say, compare what they say to each other and, again, look for patterns.  Most importantly, don’t argue with them.  They don’t have to be correct.  You’re just trying to gauge your perception from another’s point of view.
  • Slow down (or meditate): Emotions have a habit of getting the most out of control when we don’t have time to slow down or process them. The next time you have an emotional reaction to something, try to pause before you react (something the internet makes easier than ever, if you’re communicating online).  You can also try meditating to slow your brain down and give your emotional state room to breathe.

If you’ve never practiced intentional self-awareness, these tips should give you a practical head start.  One strategy I personally use is to go on long walks or have conversations with myself discussing what’s bothering me.  Often, I’ll find that the things I say to the imaginary other end of the conversation can give me some insight into what’s really bugging me.  The important aspect is to look inwards, rather than focusing solely on external factors.

Self-Management

Once you know how your emotions work, you can start figuring out how to handle them.  Proper self-management means controlling your outbursts, distinguishing between external triggers and internal over-reactions, and doing what’s best for your needs.

One key way to manage your emotions is to change your sensory input.  You’ve probably heard the old advice to count to ten and breathe when you’re angry.  Speaking as someone who’s had plenty of overwhelming issues with depression and anger, this advice is usually crap (though if it works for you, more power to you).  However, giving your physical body a jolt can break the cycle.  If you’re feeling lethargic, do some exercise.  If you’re stuck in an emotional loop, give yourself a “snap out of it” slap.  Anything that can give a slight shock to your system or break the existing routine can help.

Lifehacker alum Adam Dachis also recommends funneling emotional energy into something productive.  It’s alright to let overwhelming emotions stew inside you for a moment, if it’s not an appropriate time to let them out.  However, when you do, rather than vent it on something futile, turn it into motivation instead:

I recently started playing tennis for fun, knowing that I’d never become exceptional because I began too late in life.  I’ve become better and have a very minor talent for the game, so when I play poorly I now know and I get down on myself.  When up against an opponent with far more skill I find it hard to do much else than get angry.  Rather than let that anger out, I take note of it and use it to fuel my desire to practice more.  Whether in sports, work, or everyday life, we can get complacent with our skill and forget that we always have some room for improvement.  When you start to get mad, get better instead. 

You can’t always control what makes you feel a certain way, but you can always control how you react.  If you have some impulse control problems, find ways to get help when you’re feeling calm.  Not all emotions can be vented away.  My struggle with depression taught me that some emotions persist long after the overflow.  However, there’s always a moment when those feelings feel a little less intense.  Use those moments to seek help.

Motivation

We talk about motivation a lot.  When we’re talking about motivation as it relates to emotional intelligence, however, we don’t just mean getting up the energy to go to workWe’re talking about your inner drive to accomplish something.  That drive isn’t just some feel-goody nonsense, either.  As Psychology today explains, there’s a section of your prefrontal cortex that lights up at the mere thought of achieving a meaningful goal.

Whether your goal is building a career, raising a family, or creating some kind of art, everyone has something they want to do with their life.  When your motivation is working for you, it connects with reality in tangible ways.  Want to start a family?  Motivated people will start dating.  Want to improve your career?  Motivated people will educate themselves, apply for new jobs, or angle for a promotion.

Daniel Goleman suggests that in order to start making use of that motivation, you first need to identify your own values.  Many of us are so busy that we don’t take the time to examine what our values really are.  Or worse, we’ll do work that directly contradicts what we value for so long that we lose that motivation entirely.

Unfortunately, we can’t give you the answer for what it is you want in life, but there are lots of strategies you can try.  Use your journal to find times when you’ve felt fulfilled.  Create a list of things you value.  Most of all, accept the uncertainty in life and just build something.  Fitness instructor Michael Mantell, Ph. D, suggests using lesser successes you know you can accomplish.  Remember, everyone who’s accomplished something you want to achieve did it slowly, over time.

Empathy

Your emotions are only one half of all your relationships.  It’s the half you focus on the most, sure, but that’s only because you hang out with yourself every day.  All the other people that matter to you have their own set of feelings, desires, triggers, and fears.  Empathy is your most important skill for navigating your relationships.  Empathy is a life-long skill, but here are some tips you can use to practice empathy:

  • Shut up and listen: We’re gonna start with the hardest one here, because it’s the most important. You can’t experience everyone else’s lives to fully understand them, but you can listen.  Listening involves letting someone else talk and then not countering what they say.  It means putting aside your preconceptions or skepticism for a bit and allowing the person you’re talking to a chance to explain how they feel.  Empathy is hard, but virtually every relationship you have can be improved at least marginally by waiting at least an extra ten seconds before you retake the conversation.
  • Take up a contrary position to your own: One of the quickest ways to solidify an opinion in your mind is to argue in favor of To counter this, take up a contrary position.  If you think your boss is being unreasonable, try defending their actions in your head.  Would you find their actions reasonable if you were in their shoes?  Even asking the questions of yourself can be enough to start empathizing with another’s point of view (though, of course, getting real answers from others can always help).
  • Don’t just know, try to understand: Understanding is key to having empathy. As we’ve discussed before, understanding is the difference between knowing something and truly empathizing with it.  If you catch yourself saying, “I know, but,” a lot, take that as an indicator that you should pause a bit more.  When someone tells you about an experience that’s not your own, take some time to mull over how your life might be different if you experienced that on a daily basis.  Read about it until it clicks.  It’s okay if you don’t spend all your time devoted to someone else’s life, but putting in just some time—even if it’s idle thought time while you work—can be beneficial.

By definition, empathy means getting in the emotional dirt with someone else.  Allowing their experiences to resonate with your own and responding appropriately.  It’s okay to offer advice or optimism, but empathy also requires that you wait for the right space to do that.  If someone’s on the verge of tears, or sharing some deep pain, don’t make light of it and don’t try to minimize the hurt.  Be mindful of how they must feel and allow them space to feel it.

Social Skills

Summing up all social skills in one section of an article would do about as much justice to the topic as if we snuck in a brief explainer on astrophysics.  However, the tools you develop in the other four areas will help you resolve a lot of social problems that many adults still wrestle with.  As Goleman explains, your social skills affect everything from your work performance to your romantic life:

Social competence takes many forms – it’s more than just being chatty.  These abilities range from being able to tune into another person’s feelings and understand how they think about things, to being a great collaborator and team player, to expertise at negotiation.  All these skills are learned in life.  We can improve on any of them we care about, but it takes time, effort, and perseverance.  It helps to have a model, someone who embodies the skill we want to improve.  But we also need to practice whenever a naturally occurring opportunity arises – and it may be listening to a teenager, not just a moment at work. 

You can start with the most common form of social problems: resolving a disagreement.  This is where you get to put all your skills to the test in a real-world environment.  We’ve gone into this subject in-depth here, but we can summarize the basic steps:

  • Identify and deal with your emotions: Whenever you have an argument with someone else, things can get heated. If someone involved is emotionally worked up, deal with that problem first.  Take time apart to vent, blow off steam on your own, then return to the problem.  In a work environment, this may just mean complaining to a friend before you email your boss back.  In a romantic relationship, remind your partner that you care about them before criticizing.
  • Address legitimate problems once you’re both calm: Once you’re in your right headspace, identify what the conflict is. Before you jump to solutions, make sure you and the other person agree on what the problems really are.  Propose solutions that are mutually beneficial and be sympathetic to any concessions the other person may be unwilling to make (but be sure to stand firm on your own).
  • End on a cooperative note: Whether in business or pleasure, relationships work best when everyone involved knows that they’re on the same page. Even if you can’t end on a positive note, make sure that the last intention you communicate is a cooperative one.  Let your boss/coworker/significant other know that you want to work towards the same goal, even if you have different views.

Not every type of interaction with another person will be a conflict, of course.  Some social skills just involve meeting new people, socializing with people of different mindsets, or just playing games.  However, resolving conflict can be one of the best ways to learn how to apply your emotional skills.  Disputes are best resolved when you know what you want, can communicate it clearly, understand what someone else wants, and come to favorable terms for everyone.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that this involves every other area of the emotional intelligence model.

C. Comprehension Questions

  1. What is emotional intelligence?
  2. What is “the mixed model” in this context?
  3. What are three ways in which you can improve your self-awareness?
  4. As a self-management technique, the author suggests changing your sensory input.  How does he suggest you do that?
  5. How does the author define motivation?
  6. How does the author define empathy?
  7. Give at least three examples of what the author calls “social skills”.

D. Grammar Analysis

  1. There are several bullet lists in this article.  The author appropriately used parallelism in these bullet lists.  How does the parallelism used in the first bullet list differ from that of the second one?
  2. Every bullet list is introduced by a colon ( : ) at the end of the preceding line.  Why?
  3. Under the “Self-Awareness” heading is this line:
    “Before you can do anything else here, you have to know what your emotions are.”
    What rule requires the comma here?
  4. In the expression “funneling emotional energy into something productive”, what word could be used to substitute for “funneling”?
  5. In the first paragraph under the “Social Skills” heading is the phrase “wrestling with”.  What is the object of the preposition “with” in that sentence?
  6. The last bullet item uses the idiom “they’re on the same page”.  What does this mean?

II.  Song

A. The Last Farewell – Song Video / Lyrics and Questions /

B. Story

This song is about a British naval officer (or perhaps a sailor) who must leave his sweetheart to go fight in a fierce war from which he may never return.  He loves her dearly and is telling her how much he will miss her.  His country, Great Britain, has gone to war and his ship has been ordered to return to England to fight the enemy in naval combat.  His ship sets sail tomorrow.  He is unafraid of war, however, because he has experienced it before and knows exactly what to expect.  He recalls a previous war in which his ship sailed into enemy gunfire with explosions blasting all around him, yet he somehow survived that war.  He knows that this time he may not be so lucky.  He tells her that even if his ship should be blown apart upon the seas, in his final moments in the roiling ocean waves, his last thoughts will be of her and her beautiful islands.  He implies that if he should return safely to England after the war is over, he will appreciate his life on land even more.

C. Lyrics

  1. There’s a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbor.
  2. Tomorrow for old England she sails,
  3. Far away from your land of endless sunshine
  4. To my land full of rainy skies and gales.
  5. And I shall be aboard that ship tomorrow
  6. Though my heart is full of tears at this farewell,
  7. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  8. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
  9. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  10. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
  11. I heard there’s a wicked war a-blazing,
  12. And the taste of war I know so very well.
  13. Even now I see the foreign flag a-raising —
  14. Their guns on fire as we sail into hell.
  15. I have no fear of death; it brings no sorrow.
  16. But how bitter will be this last farewell,
  17. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  18. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
  19. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  20. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
  21. Though death and darkness gather all about me.
  22. And my ship be torn apart upon the seas.
  23. I shall smell again the fragrance of these islands
  24. And the heaving waves that brought me once to thee.
  25. And should I return home safe again to England,
  26. I shall watch the English mist roll through the dale,
  27. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  28. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.
  29. For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly,
  30. More dearly than the spoken word can tell.

D. Questions for the Students

  1. In Lines 1 through 6, compare their two home countries.
  2. What do Lines 1 through 6 say about the ship in the harbor?
  3. Why is the speaker leaving his sweetheart?
  4. How does he feel about leaving?
  5. Is the speaker afraid of dying in a war?  Explain.
  6. Does he accept that he may die in the upcoming war?  Explain.
  7. If he should die during battle, what does he say his last thoughts will be about?
  8. How much does he love her?

E. Grammar Points

  1. In Line 8, what word could be substituted for “for”?
  2. In Line 25, what word could be substituted for “about”?
  3. In Lines 13 and 15, what do you think the slang prefix “a-” means?
  4. In Line 16, what does “guns on fire” mean?
  5. In Line 16, what does “sail into hell” mean?
  6. In Line 26, what is the present tense of “torn”?
  7. Line 5 uses the word “shall”, and Line 28 uses the word “thee”.  How would you describe this style of speaking?
  8. In Line 30, what does “mist role through the dale” mean?

III. TED Talk

A. The Secret to Great Opportunities – Link / Excerpt & Questions/

B. Read and Record – Excerpt

  1. I started teaching MBA students 17 years ago. Sometimes I run into my students years later.  And when I run into them, a funny thing happens.  I don’t remember just their faces; I also remember where exactly in the classroom they were sitting.  And I remember who they were sitting with as well.  This is not because I have any special superpowers of memory.  The reason I can remember them is because they are creatures of habit.  They are sitting with their favorite people in their favorite seats.  They find their twins, they stay with them for the whole year.
  2. Now, the danger of this for my students is they’re at risk of leaving the university with just a few people who are exactly like them. They’re going to squander their chance for an international, diverse network.  How could this happen to them?  My students are open-minded.  They come to business school precisely so that they can get great networks.
  3. Now, all of us are socially narrow in our lives, in our school, in work, and so I want you to think about this one. How many of you here brought a friend along for this talk?  I want you to look at your friend a little bit.  Are they of the same nationality as you?  Are they of the same gender as you?  Are they of the same race?  Really look at them closely.  Don’t they kind of look like you as well?
  4. We all do this in life. We all do it in life, and in fact, there’s nothing wrong with this.  It makes us comfortable to be around people who are similar.  The problem is when we’re on a precipice, right?  When we’re in trouble, when we need new ideas, when we need new jobs, when we need new resources — this is when we really pay a price for living in a clique.
  5. Mark G, the sociologist, had a famous paper, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” and what he did in this paper is he asked people how they got their jobs. And what he learned was that most people don’t get their jobs through their strong ties — their father, their mother, their significant other.  They instead get jobs through weak ties, people who they just met.  So if you think about what the problem is with your strong ties, think about your significant other, for example.  The network is redundant.  Everybody that they know, you know.  Or I hope you know them.  Right?  Your weak ties — people you just met today — they are your ticket to a whole new social world.
  6. The thing is that we have this amazing ticket to travel our social worlds, but we don’t use it very well. Sometimes we stay awfully close to home.  And today, what I want to talk about is: What are those habits that keep human beings so close to home, and how can we be a little bit more intentional about traveling our social universe?
  7. So let’s look at the first strategy. The first strategy is to use a more imperfect social search engine.  What I mean by a social search engine is how you are finding and filtering your friends.  And so people always tell me, “I want to get lucky through the network.  I want to get a new job.  I want to get a great opportunity.”   And I say, “Well, that’s really hard, because your networks are so fundamentally predictable.”   Map out your habitual daily footpath, and what you’ll probably discover is that you start at home, you go to your school or your workplace, you maybe go up the same staircase or elevator, you go to the bathroom — the same bathroom — and the same stall in that bathroom, you end up in the gym, then you come right back home.  It’s like stops on a train schedule.  It’s that predictable.  It’s efficient, but the problem is, you’re seeing exactly the same people.  Make your network slightly more inefficient.  Go to a bathroom on a different floor.  You encounter a whole new network of people.
  8. The other side of it is how we are actually filtering. And we do this automatically.  The minute we meet someone, we are looking at them, we meet them, we are initially seeing, “You’re interesting.”   “You’re not interesting.”   “You’re relevant.”   We do this automatically.  We can’t even help it.  And what I want to encourage you to do instead is to fight your filters.  I want you to take a look around this room, and I want you to identify the least interesting person that you see, and I want you to connect with them over the next coffee break.  And I want you to go even further than that.  What I want you to do is find the most irritating person you see as well and connect with them.
  9. What you are doing with this exercise is you are forcing yourself to see what you don’t want to see, to connect with who you don’t want to connect with, to widen your social world. To truly widen, what we have to do is, we’ve got to fight our sense of choice.  We’ve got to fight our choices.  And my students hate this, but you know what I do?  I won’t let them sit in their favorite seats.  I move them around from seat to seat.  I force them to work with different people so there are more accidental bumps in the network where people get a chance to connect with each other.  And we studied exactly this kind of an intervention at Harvard University.  At Harvard, when you look at the rooming groups, there’s freshman rooming groups, people are not choosing those roommates.  They’re of all different races, all different ethnicities.  Maybe people are initially uncomfortable with those roommates, but the amazing thing is, at the end of a year with those students, they’re able to overcome that initial discomfort.  They’re able to find deep-level commonalities with people.
  10. So the takeaway here is not just “take someone out to coffee.” It’s a little more subtle.  It’s “go to the coffee room.”   When researchers talk about social hubs, what makes a social hub so special is you can’t choose; you can’t predict who you’re going to meet in that place.  And so with these social hubs, the paradox is, interestingly enough, to get randomness, it requires, actually, some planning.  In one university that I worked at, there was a mail room on every single floor.  What that meant is that the only people who would bump into each other are those who are actually on that floor and who are bumping into each other anyway.  At another university I worked at, there was only one mail room, so all the faculty from all over that building would run into each other in that social hub.  A simple change in planning, a huge difference in the traffic of people and the accidental bumps in the network.

C. Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the main point of this TED Talk?
  2. According to the speaker, how do most people get their jobs?
  3. In Paragraph 4, explain the point of the “precipice-clique” anecdote.
  4. When the speaker says in Paragraph 9, “We’ve got to fight our choices”, what does she mean?
  5. In Paragraph 10, the speaker used a mailroom analogy. What was her point about the mailrooms?
  6. In Paragraph 6: “…we have this amazing ticket to travel our social worlds…”.
    What is this “ticket” that the speaker is referring to?

D. Grammar Analysis

  1. In Paragraph 1: “…a funny thing happens.”
    What does this expression mean?
  2. Paragraph 2 uses “diverse”. Paragraph 5 uses “redundant”.  What is the difference in meaning between these two words?
  3. In Paragraphs 1 and 5 through 10, I have highlighted certain clauses that define a certain kind of sentence. Can you recall the name we give to this kind of sentence?

 

 

 

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