Sunday, September 22, 2013

Emotional Intelligence or The Dangers of Imbecility

Lately I have been receiving a fair amount of emails (annoyance via electronic medium) explaining the need for emotional intelligence in the workplace. Some world-class organizations are offering cutting edge coaching and even certification.  Learning this essential skill (you may already have it and are unaware) will set you apart from the run of the mill competencies and send your career sailing toward extraordinary success… or maybe just sailing.

EI happens to be just another buzzword being introduced or re-introduced and presented with the promise that you will have unbelievable success in your organization if you just learn these simple concepts whatever they are. There are hundreds of business buzzwords to choose from but as I mentioned, my business buzzword bingo marker has been landing on emotional intelligence quite a bit lately so let’s explore that.

What is emotional intelligence? From what I have learned it is a two-fold process of controlling your own emotions while also being able to understand, interpret and respond to the emotions of others.  

Suggestions I found on wikiHow to control your emotions include some deep breathing, taking a walk, meditating or just talking about how you feel. Your dog won’t mind listening if you have enough treats in your pocket. These are all good suggestions but they are much too mature for my nature.

I have developed my own methods of dealing with emotions through the years like throwing raw eggs in the shower. The clean up is pretty easy. Sometimes whipping a chain link fence with a wet towel does the trick or maybe you’re the type of person who likes to drive out onto a deserted road and scream in your car until you are hoarse. Accompany this with trying to rip the wheel from the steering column, works for me. I promise if you practice these exercises regularly, you won’t have the energy to respond emotionally at work.

As far as perceiving emotions, body language can reveal much.  Posture, gestures or speech patterns are clues. A curt, “I’m fine,” response can and often does mean otherwise. There is something known as emotional leakage, another buzzword phrase. But I must warn you, you gotta be quick. It’s that flash across a person’s face within 1/15 of a second of feeling an emotion. Often when someone is trying to suppress a feeling they will paste a contrived expression on their face like they’re posing for a photo. If you are alert you can detect the moment before they do this and it will aid you in exposing lies or perhaps to avoid a quick rabbit punch to the ocular region on your own face.

When I spend a good four hours or even a full day in a seminar I want to have ‘key takeaways’, mainly because most of what I learned has no bearing on my job. This would be a list of topics that I would remember if I had been paying attention but you really don’t have to attend a class or seminar to be certified in emotional intelligence. 

To save you some time and trouble here is the key takeaway: Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s called The Golden Rule and has been a practical buzzword for centuries.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My First (And Last) Movie Review

I have reviewed books on many occasions and am very careful not to include spoilers.  As a writer, I feel it is more important that you recommend a book based on your reading experience not by disclosing the plot.

It was without premeditation that I decided to review the movie my husband had sat down to watch today, I need to warn you that there are spoilers in this review. My husband will attest to that. In fact he would probably say that I was the spoiler. Nevertheless, if I want to improve my writing skills, and I do, I must not recoil from autopsying a screenplay. 

Since I had enjoyed the lightning Wing Chug, Aikido type moves Liam Neeson performed in Taken, I thought Taken 2 would be just as good. I sat down next to my husband, Bj, and settled in with my notepad and explained what I was about to do.  After I rewound the movie a few times, he dropped his head back to take a nap.

The movie opens with Bryan Mills (Liam) going to pick up his daughter to take her to the DMV for her driving test. Lenore, the former ex wife, answers the door and tells him that his daughter is with her boyfriend of several months. He didn’t know she had one. Obviously disturbed by the news, she invites him in for a drink and opens a bottle of wine.  She ends up telling him that her marriage is on the rocks and her husband is a dirty rotten bastard for cancelling a trip, credit cards, bank accounts and such.

Since Mills is going to Istanbul on assignment for three days, he invites Lenore and Kim, his daughter, to join him when he has finished, mostly to get away from falling marriage rocks and probably the boyfriend.  He leaves, does a little investigation of some kind that was never explained and irritates me a lot to locate his daughter’s boyfriend’s house and picks her up.

That was not the only scene that irritated me. It seems the rotten men who had abducted his daughter in the first movie had family members that want to seek revenge. They track him to Istanbul and coincidentally arrive at the same time the daughter and former ex show up. A cavalcade of vans and the sound of evil drums announce the arrival of the bad guys.

Okay, this is taking too long. Let’s just go over the unbelievable parts. Like when Liam realizes they are being followed, he gives his former ex instructions to escape.

“Focus,” he says, “get out of the cab and go into that fabric shop, go through and exit at the back to the right, at the first street turn left. You will be in a red corridor, go all the way to the end, it exits at a cabstand. Take a taxi back to the hotel to get Kim and go to the American Embassy.”

First of all, in a situation like that, especially in her emotional state about her second failed marriage, being in a foreign country and chased by men with guns, how on earth did she retain those instructions? And how did he know what was behind the fabric shop? Did he frequent it? Is that where he spent is down time? Anyway, he forgot to mention there could be a locked gate at the exit so she didn’t get away.

Wow, this is taking way too long.  I hate long blogs. Okay let’s just touch on the things I learned from the movie.

* If you are abducted, have your head covered with a black burlap bag and you’re thrown into the back of a van…count. That’s right, you will later be able to trace where you were by how far you counted and the sounds from the street.

* Always carry a spare cell phone in your sock. Don’t worry, your abductors will wait patiently while you make a necessary call but they will crush your phone after you hang up.

* When your hands are tied to a pipe and you need your spare cell phone, just use the heel of your shoe to work it out of your sock, balance it on your instep and raise it up high enough to get your hand on it (this may take a couple of tries) and then make your call. Don't worry, you will have service. 

* A shoelace can be used for navigational purposes. The circles you make intersect Taken and Taken 2.  Grenades can be used for judging distance but only if you throw it where no one will get hurt.  

* There is only one vent with steam coming out of it on the rooftops of Istanbul and if you throw a gun down it you may save someone’s life.

* The best place to practice for your driving test is on the narrow streets of Istanbul being chased by thugs and police. Roundabouts are dangerous and littered with crashed police cars.

* You can always be sure that smoking a cigarette or watching sports on a portable television with a wire hanger fashioned as an antenna will distract your abductors. Take advantage of it.

* It is possible to bleed to death from a shaving cut if you are hung upside down for any length of time.

* If your second marriage fails consider revising the first.

* Always leave room for Taken 3 which I understand is in the works. 

Okay, that’s enough. I doubt Taken fans will appreciate the plot holes it’s still exciting. I think I’ll stick to reviewing books. Bj will be glad too.