Research suggests that people with strong emotional intelligence are more likely to succeed than those with high IQs or even relevant experience in the world of work. Emotional intelligence is also the key to positive and satisfying relationships. And kids with higher emotional intelligence tend to cooperate more. So how can we help our children get stronger in the area of emotions?Read More
Two of the things that many of our kids find challenging are:
1. Knowing when someone is being a good friend to them (not mocking or being a bad influence intentionally).
2. Knowing how to BE a good friend. Offering reciprocal support, initiating get togethers, offering support.
I asked the high school kids about what made a good friend and what to avoid in someone when choosing who to trust. They mentioned:
- Negative all the time
- Down on themselves
- Non reciprocal
- Imbalance in friendship
We will be having a similar discussion in our groups this week. Please encourage your child to share their stories!
As children develop deeper friendships, they discover one of the joys of a secure relationship which is arguing/disagreeing with someone who's views they respect. Another scenario is that someone we care deeply about holds a belif that we feel is wrong and would like to guide them to change. In both of these scenarios it is difficult, but important to avoid the conversational pitfalls of sounding contemptuous, condescending, or dismissive.Read More
Sharing food is a social activity that brings people together, but the way we eat can be an obstacle to making connections. Last night in group we discussed hidden food rules (also known as manners). We had a great discussion about how food is an important part of any social gathering (think meeting for coffee and all of the meals associated with holidays), but once we get together over a meal, the eating should be less distracting than the conversation. Here are a few of the hidden food rules we identified:
1. Chew with mouth closed; talk with an empty mouth (this involves carefully following the rhythm of the conversation to know when to take a bite of food and when to wait.)
2. Ask for things you need to be passed. This becomes a chance to make eye contact and contact with people in the conversation who you might not have connected with.
3. Use utensils as expected. Unexpected behaviors like eating with hands becomes distracting to conversation and be isolating.
4. Prioritize conversation. Remember why you are there, and prioritize talking over eating.
People always like to feel heard. Often, they need to feel heard in order to move past a difficult experience or process something exciting or upsetting. Knowing how to ask the right questions is a way to show empathy and can a powerful tool for building trust and intimacy.Read More
A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads between people in a culture. One example of a meme is the arch in architecture, another is cat videos, or the question "would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses", currently circulating the internet, thoughtfully answered in the above video by Bill Murray.Read More
We have been talking in group about "reframing" the frustrations in our lives using a "but" or "and" strategy. When describing a situation we can add an "and" which brings an unexpected benefit into focus, or a "but" which means noting how it could have been worse but wasn't. New understanding of the science of neuroplasticity points to the importance of developing deeply ingrained habits of reframing.Read More
It's a challenge for children who have so many ideas rushing around their minds to know how and when to break into a conversation in a way that is not disruptive. They can become anxious about butting in, or conversely, disruptive to the conversation by contributing at an awkward or inappropriate time. But there is one trick for becoming a great conversationalist. Ready for this?Read More
Good morning Friends,
This morning i'd like to share a tip from Ben Franklin on how to turn enemies into friends. More about this can be found on YouAreNotSoSmart.com (http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/10/05/the-benjamin-franklin-effect/) . Franklin' rise to prominence in early American society and politics was due in part to his incredible acumen for decoding human behavior. This was no small feat during a time in history when a spat with someone could lead to a deadly duel (such as when the vice president shot the secretary of state to death after a disagreement). Ben had all sorts of things to say about social relationships that are still relevant today such as how to deal with negative letter writers similar to today's internet trolls, and my personal favorite, how to turn a friend into an enemy.
Franklin's technique was simple, ask an enemy for a favor to turn them into a friend. One time he turned around a hater just by asking them if he could borrow a book. This is based on a strange trick on the mind that causes us to experience our behaviors as a result of our attitude and not the other way around. In reality, our actions determine our opinions about people and not the other way around. In other words, cognitive science has shown us that the things we do influence the things we believe. When you help someone who is supposedly your enemy it causes cognitive dissonance because our brain must make sense of a friendly or helpful action toward someone we had previously considered dangerous or undesirable.
So try it! Smile at the people who annoy you. Ask favors from the folks who seem to have it out for you.
This week in groups we were discussing the important contextual information that can be gathered by listening to voice inflection. One of the high schoolers shared this great example. Try saying the sentence above, emphasizing a different word each time. Notice how inflection can completely change the meaning!
One of the items on our Better Communication Challenge is to smile at someone. Here is a moving example of the power simple acts of kindness can have. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td-II-4uStY
This week I took my son to see The Lego Movie. We loved it and as I watched it I couldn't help but see some archetypes that will be familiar to many of the kids who participate in Kids Cooperate social groups. [Possible Spoiler Alert] The pantheon of bad guys is headed by President Business who, frustrated with the disorder of lego land devises a plan to freeze them all in place using his army of micromanaging machines led by Bad Cop, one of the most three dimensional and interesting characters who struggles with wild mood swings. Starting to sound familiar?
The hero of the story is Emmett, a lego guy who struggles to fit in and be accepted despite his best effort to listen to what his peers are listening to, watch what they are watching, and talk about what they are talking about. His attempts to fit in are perceived by his peers as something less than authentic, and he is ostracized in a way that is all the more painful because he is "doing everything right". Starting to sound familiar?
In the end it is, ironically, Emmett's willingness to accept the ways he is different which reveals the way he is the same as everyone else in that each character harbors unique quirks of character that compliment each other. This should sound familiar if you have ever heard me talk about the Kids Cooperate philosophy of practice.
Our curriculum is built around the dialectic idea that a person has to unconditionally accept themselves as they are before change is possible. That is the principle behind the way curriculum is developed to support a space where the group members can share and find community in their idiosyncrasies, while gaining greater awareness of their social emotional strengths and challenges and learning tools to reach across what separates them from their peers in order to make connections.
Empathy is about making an emotional connection. One of the greatest roadblocks to gaining a greater sense of empathy is knowing the right questions to ask. Until kids learn how to ask questions that elicit an emotional response, other people's thoughts and feelings can seem locked in a black box. This is especially true for children and adolescents who are on the autism spectrum.
Beyond being the kind of quality we want to posses because it makes us good, empathy has immense pragmatic value as well. It allows a person to understand and anticipate the needs of friends, family and co-workers. It makes it possible to process and ameliorate the anger and aggression of antagonists. It makes it easier to negotiate and persuade.
In social group we have been working on understanding and reading body language, asking open ended questions, and demonstrating empathetic listening. This week we will bring it all together in a talkshow/game format. It is going to be fun. Instead of our regular connected conversation time where the kids share news from the week, each child will have an interviewer who will work to draw out and understand the feelings behind the stories. An important skill to practice will be recognizing the signs of the discomfort that comes from pushing the boundary of how much a person is comfortable sharing and then honoring that boundary.
Here are a few tips for effectively persuading parents generated by the middle school group.Read More
Behavioral change requests are the "abracadabra" of the magic word game.Read More
Dude is a fun way to teach eye contact, which is important because it is a social marker for a wide variety of expressions including trust, respect, interest, and understanding. Eye contact also creates an ineffable human connection which is difficult to quantify or describe, and lack of eye contact makes it difficult to trust someone.Read More
There are pragmatic benefits to discussing the news in social group. Top news stories serve as a kind of socially appropriate filler conversation similar to the weather, but with greater gravitas. Another important pragmatic benefit is that by hearing the stories in a calm and supported context, they are less likely to cause distress when they are heard or seen on television or radio.Read More
The trick when teaching the reading of facial expression is that while each person expresses happiness, gratitude, anger, and frustration uniquely, there is an almost ineffable element of commonality just below the surface which can be difficult to identify.Read More
Joinin a group of people already engaged in an activity is one of the most difficult things to do. I'm sure that you've been in a social situation and recognize the feeling of looking around the room and seeing everyone already gathered into groups, discussing work, sports, and politics.