We say in the education field that we have truly learned something when we are able to teach it to others. I had the experience of teaching something to someone else that I have only just this year begun to understand myself. Thanks to the programming in PSEL, I was introduced to “EQ” or emotional intelligence. While I always had a surface understanding of EQ, I think this is one of those topics that you don’t truly grasp until it is applied to you.
While in the past I have always understood that people are emotional and have baggage that stays with them throughout the day, I never really “got” how difficult it could be at times to separate work and life stress. It wasn’t until I experienced some major life changes myself this year that I really started to see and feel how much personal stress can creep into your day, especially if your work happens to be a bit monotonous at times. I am lucky enough to work with a great team of experienced individuals who have plenty of practice working within this bleed, and we take care to care for each other’s non-work stress during our eight hours together each day.
While I was at the conference, a colleague asked me during a “reverse mentoring” session what I think is important for managers of millennials or young professionals to remember about people in this age category. I was surprised at what I heard come out of my mouth, but sure enough, it was caring about the emotional baggage factor. I explained that experienced employees had mastered this aspect of working life, but for us young professionals, in a lot of cases EVERYTHING in life is new. I drew on my experiences at my first real job, where I moved away from home and into a major city, away from my support system and into an environment that was completely new. That was a huge life change, and even now in my second job of my career, I am still navigating big changes that come with being in one’s late twenties. Boiled down, my advice to her was just to respect the emotional baggage that young people may carry, because although in her shoes and with the benefit of experience, she may realize that her young employees will come out on the other side just fine, for us in the moment, it feels like we’re on tightrope.
As I was explaining it, I was fully aware of the “full circle” nature of the statement. Like I mentioned in the beginning, we know our learners have mastered a skill when they can explain it to someone else, and I think that although EQ is something that no one ever has completely mastered, I’ve definitely got the foundation under my belt to be more sympathetic to other peoples’ stressors.