May 16, 2023 By Glenn Mangurian
Dear High School and College Graduates,
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!
Congratulations on reaching this milestone in your lives! Your hard work, dedication, and mental toughness have led you to achieving this great accomplishment. Commencement speakers, teachers, family and adult friends will offer advice as you start your transition to adulthood. It will be good counsel. My advice is a little different - continue to develop your emotional intelligence (EI). It will be one of your keys to lifelong success.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
While your academic achievements are undoubtedly impressive, they are not the only skills that will help you create a successful life. In my experience, much of my success has been a result of nurturing professional and personal relationships. Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to understand and manage your emotions, as well as be sensitive to the emotions of others around you. Developing EI involves mastering three essential skills:
We think of empathy as deeply feeling the emotions of another person. Cognitive empathy, sometimes called perspective-taking, is a little different. This type of empathy seeks to understand what another person thinks as well as why they think that way. I have found cognitive empathy an important skill in discussing topics with people who hold a different view than I do. What makes them have a different perspective? How can I communicate with them in a way that respects their opinions and allows us to engage in a generative conversation? You will find cognitive empathy an important skill when leading or participating on a team.
Self-awareness, the second skill, is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions and how they influence your actions, as well as the impact they have on others. You might start by taking an inventory of your strengths, limitations, what makes you happy and what makes you stressed. Sense how others experience you. What signals do you send them? Pay attention to how your mood and emotions change during the day. What actions or comments from others trigger your negative feelings? That leads me to the third component of emotional intelligence – impulse control.
3. Impulse Control
Finally, you need to learn how to regulate your own emotions, as well as helping others regulate theirs. While we may not be able to eliminate our “buttons”, we can work to have them not get in our way. Know your triggers and when they typically get pushed. It is also important to recognize what your instinctive responses are. Learn to create a pause to collect your thoughts before retaliating and making the situation worse.
Think about your daily lives and how the three skills influence your relationships, achievements and happiness. Some of you have already developed a good foundation of EI. Your friends and peers experience you as a good listener and “go to person” in challenging situations. Continue to develop your Emotional Intelligence. It will not only open new possibilities
but also make you make a better person.
Remember – you are no longer who you were and not yet who you are becoming. The world needs your enthusiasm and optimism more than ever. Be courageous and go with Godspeed,
PS Feel free to share this letter with your parents.