Critical Reflection with EQ

EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
Reflection time is critical to cement learning, and creates an opportunity to reflect on the areas that are most meaningful to you.

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning. [Brad Henry]

Reflection time is critical to cement learning, and creates an opportunity to reflect on the areas that are most meaningful to you. Some key points you may find helpful as a reminder of the basics of emotional intelligence are:

Emotional Intelligence is about being smarter with our feelings.

We need to create a safe space for our people – remember we can only learn and accept change when we feel psychologically safe.

We need to navigate our emotions and learn to use our emotions as data. So, when we experience emotions like anger, rather than dismiss it as bad, we need to consider what the anger is telling us and then we can use it effectively.

Anger is not bad – it is how we react or respond to it that is critical. Remember if you are getting stuck in one emotion, that you have the power to shift or transform your emotion as therein lies your power. 

Learn to respond rather than react.

Think before we act and use the VET method of Validate, Explore and Transform to manage ourselves out of the emotional hijack. For children, remind them of the ‘Name it to Tame it’ method.

We need to listen more and speak less. Communication is key to developing trusting relationships and always remember the words of Carl Beuchner: “People may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel”. So, ask yourself how you will make someone feel before you speak.

Use emotional contagion positively.

This created an environment that is conducive to learning and creativity. The emotions you carry with you will impact the people around you and, as a teacher or leader, you have a large impact on this contagion as you hold the most positional power.

Adopt an optimistic approach

Find the opportunities in situations – remember the TIE Principle and reframe struggles as opportunities. 

Be empathetic

Seek to understand others without judgment, and use active listening to really hear them, understand their perspective and then show that understanding. Human interactions are like an iceberg, meaning that the visible behaviors are above the surface but to really understand others we need to go beneath the surface to understand the more subtle drivers of behavior.


I challenge you to be curious and not jump to conclusions about people’s behavior. Try and understand what could be going on for the person and be aware of your own cognitive bias which can distort your perception.

 Remember, exceptional leaders go deeper emotionally to connect with their people.

 Six Seconds gave this tip to go deeper for real connection: Instead of ignoring tension when you sense it, bring it up in a neutral, curious way.

“I’m noticing a little tension, is everything alright?”

Or “Something seems off, is that just me or do you feel it, too?”

As hard as it may be, going deeper gives us clarity and builds connections. We can’t ignore emotions or expect them to not come into the workplace, classroom etc. So rather than making assumptions which are affected by our own perceptions, seek to gain clarity.

I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. [Albert Einstein]