Emotional Intelligence: An Example During a Stressful Situation

Published: 03rd November 2010
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This past weekend, I observed emotional intelligence in action at my three-year old granddaughter's dance recital. A dance teacher demonstrated extremely high skills, managing her emotions during a difficult situation.

For over thirty years we've known the local dance instructor who teaches ballet tap and jazz to children in our small community. My wife took lessons there, as did my daughter. My daughter, who is now a dance teacher, has three girls who also take dance lessons. So this is a third-generation dance family. The annual recital is held at the local high school auditorium, and my wife and I have helped out backstage. After many years, the recital is very streamlined. People serving as "runners" (my wife is a runner), alert each act when it is time for them to go on stage. Thus as one act finishes, the next act is backstage ready to go on. I'm up front, selling tickets and then I go backstage to watch the performance and make sure the area is clear of those who are not supposed to be there.

The dance teachers stand behind the curtain, facing the children and dance along with the dancers. They help the dancers remember their steps should they forget during the performance. Each dance teacher takes her turn helping out her groups.

The 3 year olds typically steal the show. Dressed in their colorful tutu's and with their hair pulled into fancy buns or braids they look like little dolls. This year one of the dance teacher's three-year old daughter was performing for the first time. As the little girl stood in the wings, she spotted her mom and started crying. Nothing was going to get her to go on stage. Picking up her daughter, the dance teacher comforted her as the group on stage finished their ballet number. The little girl just cried louder and clung on tighter as other mothers tried to take her and comfort her so that the teacher could work.

The teacher's actions for the remainder of the program where inspiring. With a crying 3 year old clinging to her hip, the dance teacher remained calm and patient and managed to get the remainder of the acts on and off the stage and dance with them. She patiently, calmly and lovingly managed her daughter and the other dancers. By the end of the program, both the mom and the three year old daughter were smiling and happy.

On our trip to our house, my wife and I talked about what might have occurred if the dance instructor had not managed her emotions so well. If she had been impatient, irritated, angry, or had exhibited a number of other negative emotions her behavior and her relationship with her daughter could have become difficult. A negative experience such as this might have caused the little girl to refuse to dance in future recitals or avoid other stage performances.

Whether we strengthen or jeopardize a relationship with our family members or coworkers can often get down to a simple matter of choosing our emotions -- those we wish to express and experience. The impact of that choice can be both immediate and long-term. The example of the dance teacher shows us how a wise choice can result in a positive experience for all.

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