Emotional Intelligence: This Is What It’s Like To Break The 4th Wall

The world as we know it is seemingly deteriorating, falling apart as the divisions between the groups of our fellow men, women and children continue to grow.

Or at least that’s the way it feels.

The world is made up of myriad beliefs, whether based in religion, politics, race or other demographics, which are in some cases viewed as uncompromising by their opposing sides as they all work in their own methods toward their own definition of a better environment and world.

So many of the interactions between the groups are based in off-putting opposition to the other. Emotions run high in interaction after interaction. It almost seems as if there’s no air left to breathe as diatribes of anger and dismissal continue.

“When it comes down to what needs to happen at the global level, the movement to improvement starts as simply as one partnership at a time at the individual level.”

Obviously, there’s a need for better understanding between the various groups. But when it comes down to what needs to happen at the global level, the movement to improvement starts as simply as one partnership at a time at the individual level. The high-running emotions need to be put aside or nothing will get accomplished.

With regard to the emotion that gets people in trouble as they try to make their case, they need to understand others’ emotions, and understand it’s not only about their own.

This is where Emotional Intelligence comes in. In this day and age, with all the happenings in the world and across the country, it is needed more than anything else.

If one did a Google search of Emotional Intelligence, they would find various interpretations and definitions of what it means. In essence, Emotional Intelligence (or “EQ” for “Emotional Quotient”) is one’s own aptitude for restraining or controlling their natural emotion in order to not react to a situation immediately with their basic emotional instinct. It allows one to avoid working off of, or reacting immediately to, what would be an initial impulse, and instead quickly and naturally survey the environment, take its metaphorical temperature, and decide what it is that would need to be done (or not) to either keep the temperature balanced or guide it in the right direction to be so.

“Emotional Intelligence, the goal is to keep one’s emotion out of reactions so as to not contribute a potentially difficult overall emotional state in the situation.”

Though called Emotional Intelligence, the goal is to keep one’s emotion out of reactions so as to not contribute to a potentially difficult overall emotional state in the situation. Instead of emotion–whether overheated, bitterly cold or anywhere in between–being expressed, rationale reigns supreme. One can keep a cool head and work to keep the conversation grounded.

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Some people might not have ever heard of EQ, whether or not they have been capable of it themselves. A good way to think of EQ is by looking at it as a 4th Wall.

The 4th Wall is a term which defines the angle from which an audience is watching a piece of entertainment–for instance, a play. There are four walls on the set–the first wall (the back portion), the second and third walls (on the sides), and finally the 4th Wall from which the spectators can survey the landscape of what they are watching in its entirety. This is why you may have heard it said in instances where a character is addressing the audience directly that the character is “breaking the 4th Wall.”

“Three basic parts to the 4th Wall mindset for Emotional Intelligence are Recognition, Processing, and Reaction.”

EQ can be compared to the 4th Wall if one thinks about how the audience is introduced to, surveys and understands each of the characters in a play. Throughout the play they are watching, the audience recognizes and identifies each of the characters’ demeanor, attitudes and expectations. So while watching a play or movie, the audience can, again, survey and understand the characters and how they interact with each other, always keeping in mind what each character’s drivers are. By doing so, an audience can always gauge the temperature in the room, whether it’s relaxed and calm, tense and heated, or anywhere in between.

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In the course of the experience the spectator, now understanding the personalities at play, can then dissect the interactions and even surmise what could have been done differently to achieve a different, or better, outcome based on understanding what each character wanted.

Now, granted, there will be insights that the audience can gain by seeing characters by themselves and without other characters in the same scene, giving them a different level of exposure to that character’s intentions, but much can be gleaned and gained by analyzing the interactions of characters.

“A little EQ can go a long way in increasing communication, refining understanding and moving collaboration forward.”

With regard to the characters, we can ask ourselves some questions to determine how things could have played out differently.

  • How did each character communicate or express their needs?
  • How clear was the communication between the parties?
  • What was the tone that was used in communication?
  • Did the character accurately reflect their true intentions?
  • What were their good and bad triggers?  What were the good triggers that opened up greater and more productive communication? What were the bad triggers that derailed communication, leading the characters to become more disconnected?
  • Most importantly, how did the character react to varying levels of communication from other characters?

You might not ask all these questions for all the characters you’ve watched in plays, movies, and other forms of entertainment, but that’s because overall we’ve become accustomed to instantly reading characters, dissecting and giving them a label or understanding them in certain ways because of their intricate and diverse nuances.

Based on this interpretation of EQ, one can transfer this approach to the workplace to understand EQ and put it to work.

Can you break the 4th Wall and step outside of yourself? By doing so you can get a feel for the workplace or environment in its entirety to understand the participants–their drivers, emotions, and personalities–so as to not react solely to a moment or situation in time, but instead acting in a fashion to keep things moving forward.

“…this is to say that no one can react with opinion but instead only seeks to demonstrate that a major step in great communication is not what you say but how you say it.”

There are three basic parts to the 4th Wall mindset for Emotional Intelligence. The first is Recognition, which is the understanding of the characters or players. The second part is Processing—interpreting the nuances, registering and breaking down what is happening with the person. The final part of EQ is what our Reaction is to the person and situation at-hand.

  1. Recognition – Through everyday awareness and studying of the workplace or any environment, one can learn to understand others’ approaches to the situations. Understanding a person’s personality and what kind of work environment it is in which they do their best work allows you to be prepared for anything that might arise in interactions.
  2. Processing – It’s not enough to say “I know this person is timid,” or “I know that person is hard-charged”; beyond knowing people’s quirks, how are you going to process that information? What do you know, from watching them, about their underlying needs to keep things running smoothly?
  3. Reaction – Reacting in the right manner is what allows continuity in the mission, your workplace or group. It’s not enough to recognize a person is timid or hard-charging and process it correctly without responding in such a fashion which allows smooth continuity in the environment.

So EQ encompasses all of these steps and can happen quickly and naturally with some practice. It is a matter of understanding that, at first, it has to be a concerted effort to gain that awareness of others in the workplace and through trial and error, or sorts, understand how to work with those various personalities in the workplace.

“It is not a blanket solution; in order to cover the variety of workplaces and diversity of personalities around us, adjustments will need to be made from situation-to-situation.”

EQ can come in handy, but nothing is perfect and so there are also a few caveats with EQ.

First, none of this is to say that no one can react with opinion but instead only seeks to demonstrate that a major step in great communication is not what you say but how you say it. It doesn’t mean to silence the EQ practitioner, at all. We all want to limit any emotional and irrational reactions in order to maintain the right balance to allow continuity in the productivity of the group.  But there is no reason why someone should need to suppress their ideas or concerns. This is about how one expresses those concerns.

Second, like anything else, EQ will not work with everyone. Some people, honestly, are very hard to work with no matter the level of consideration, acknowledgement or support provided.

Third, this illustration of EQ as a 4th Wall just serves as a guide to take into consideration when dealing with others. As with any other piece of advice, one has to measure and reconcile it to his or her own circumstance and environment. It is not a blanket solution; in order to cover the variety of workplaces and diversity of personalities around us, adjustments will need to be made from situation-to-situation.

“It all comes down to communication. So much is lost between us because of the way we might talk to each other and express ourselves.”

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So when it comes to your own professional or personal development and environment, think back to instances where a situation was elevated by emotion when, in hindsight, you now know it could have been steered to a different result by making minor tweaks in how people addressed each other.

In the end, it all comes down to the need to take into account the list of bulleted questions above. It all comes down to communication. So much is lost between us because of the way we might talk to each other and express ourselves. We act naturally in what we need but might not take into account how our expressions, tone and needs might be received.

“EQ can be practiced by both the person who is speaking as well as the person who is listening.”

EQ can be practiced by both the person who is speaking as well as the person who is listening. The person who is speaking uses EQ to understand how they should address a person and the person on the receiving end can use EQ in how they react to communication by others.

A little EQ can go a long way in increasing communication, refining understanding and moving collaboration forward.

So, again, isn’t this what the world can use a little bit more of? It starts with us as individuals. It starts with you.

So…What About You?

  • How refined do you believe your Emotional Intelligence is?
  • Can you imagine your workplace from the outside, pretending to watch the various personalities at play?
  • Knowing this process now, how might you have dealt with people in certain situations differently?

 

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