The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! An emotional intelligence lesson on equity

September 17th, 2020

What’s hot?

The need to become aware of inequities and unconscious bias.

So what?          

I was talking with Alex, a high school teacher, who shared a significant personal “aha.”  She had a student in her class that looked very much like another student from a few years ago who was a real handful.  Alex realized that she was attributing behaviors to the new student based on her exchanges with the look-alike.

What to do?       

Recognize that everyone is prone to the internal bias highlighted above. It’s part of our emotional wiring.  Here’s what happens:














  • You experience something (a new student)
  • Your brain tries to figure out what the new experience means – it searches its data banks and determines the degree of threat and identifies an emotion (this new kid looks/is just like the old kid, “beware this kid is trouble”). FYI: This is a process the brain has been perfecting for millennia.  It happens without conscious knowledge.
  • Your brain sends signals to your body based on its catalog of past experiences (if paying attention, you notice something, a feeling, as your guard goes up)
  • You act/react

The entire process above takes less than one second.  Those with high-degrees of #emotionalintelligence have the ability to stop that process, i.e. to reflect before acting, to catch errors in judgement and perception before they drive behavior.

If only we were all so aware!

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