I have been learning about emotional intelligence for some months now. At an event recently, I saw 1st hand just how important it is in our daily lives. Emotional intelligence has many definitions but one of my favorites is this “It is the ability to recognize and manage emotions in yourself and others”. There is a gift called empathy. When you step into the shoes others or try to see things through their eyes, you not only win them over, they will even defend you.
I was invited to give a health talk to a group of professionals as a panelist along with 3 other health care professionals. Before we were called up, a lady spoke on etiquette. I missed the beginning of her speech but I just got funny vibes from her. She probably did not mean to but she came across as combative and judgmental rather than engaging. I put it down to her personality type but what happened next was shocking. Questions were requested from the audience and a lady came forward and took the microphone to speak.
“Please Ma, you said that we do our jobs ‘anyhow’ because we know that we will be paid whether or not we come to work. That is not true because some of us love our jobs and do it with all our hearts,” she said.
The lady who was giving the speech looked shocked. I could not believe my ears as well but there was more to come. The MC asked politely, “What is your question?”
“Ma, you mentioned magic words. Could you use your magic word and say ‘I’m sorry’ to us?”
By this time my mouth was hanging open. A couple of audience members were shouting that the speaker had not generalized but said “some people do their jobs anyhow” while others were demanding the apology. It was brutal. The speaker explained that her statement was misquoted but went ahead to apologize (which I praise her for). The audience then applauded.
This lady had given a well-researched and delivered speech but a lack of empathy ruined it for her at the end. I bet so many will remember her for the gaff rather than the pearls of wisdom she dropped earlier.
Let me narrate a 2nd story. A number of friends of mine were complaining about their husbands’ lack of attentiveness to them. They felt their husbands were not spending as much time as they would have liked listening to them or talking with them. Rather they brought work home or watched TV. I decided to get my husband’s perspective. He said my friends were right about needing attention but were going about it the wrong way. In his opinion their husbands were under pressure trying to meet up with societal and family obligations and the more my friends demanded attention the more they alienated their men. He said their husbands would feel they were under attack and also lash out. If they attempted to be supportive, their partners would see them as confidantes i.e. part of the solution not part of the problem. This ensures that you have a partner who rushes home to tell you all about his/her day because you will listen first and empathize.
Even with friends of the same sex, no one likes a griper. I am sorry to say there are people whose calls I avoid because 15 minutes with them will rob me of my peace of mind.
Today, give someone the benefit of the doubt, a long rope, a break, name it
See through the eyes of others.
Be the 1st to forgive.
Listen without making assumptions.
I have learned that only God promised to always be there for you even until the end of time. Others can be busy or unavailable. Next time you can’t find anyone to unburden yourself to, look up and say “Hi, Jesus! Are you up for a chat?”
And do write me to share what He tells you.
When I was in my fifth year of medical school, I had a very interesting encounter. I was reading in class one day when a classmate walked up to me and told me that a man was calling me outside. Since I was sitting close to the door, I peeped but did not recognise the man standing there. Out of politeness though, I got up to see what he wanted.
“Good afternoon, Sir”, I greeted. “Are you looking for someone? ”
“No, I just want to speak to you. If you can spare 5 minutes”, he pleaded.
He was a middle-aged man, tall, slightly overweight, sweating profusely, in dark pants and a tucked in shirt. I felt he wanted to make some sort of enquiry, but wondered why he singled me out.
“What exactly is the matter?”, I asked. “I don’t think we’ve met”
“I am sorry. Please just spare some moments. I really want to discuss something important with you. I know we haven’t met before but, I just saw you and felt you are a nice girl. Even the way you answered me proves me right. If there is a nearby eatery, we can go there and have a chat while you get some lunch”
He appeared harmless and I was in my territory so, I agreed. Besides the law of diminishing returns had set in and I needed a break. I told my friends where I was going and boarded a bike to the closest fast food joint. He followed on another bike. When we got there, he bought lunch, which I devoured while he told his story. (Don’t judge me. Students don’t reject free lunches. Lol. )
He said he was a law student in America, in his 40s and in need of a wife.
“I want a medical student because it is easier for them to get work over there and they are highly paid. Together we can build a life for ourselves and our children. I just see you as a nice, well mannered girl. Not every girl will follow a stranger out or even listen to him. I promise you that I will take care of you”
I kept nodding, pretending to be interested while wolfing down my rice and chicken. No way would I blow him off before eating. He went on to show me his ID, even his passport and visa. Then he claimed he would be granted citizenship the following year. He had been in America for a number of years and only went to school having worked to save up.
After listening to his sob story, I told him that his business module was wrong. To tell a woman outright, that you want to marry her because of her profession, is a fail. I mean every woman wants to be wooed, to be chased, to be courted, to know she’s worth more than her pay check. Sleeping beauty woke up to the kiss of a prince not a wanna be “princess’ husband”.He was not convinced by my polite explanation so I asked him to take another walk round the school. It was possible he would bump into another “candidate”.
On another note, his ID card indicated he was studying some sort of law-related course, not Law. I mean, his story just had so many loop holes. Well, I returned to my books, thanking God for sending a raven to feed me. I tell you, He’s an awesome God!
This is to all ye fraudsters, get your act together. As my dad says, if you must eat a frog, eat a big one. Lol.
Cheers, Dr. N