Coda: Daniel Goleman in Dialogues on Social intelligence, More Than Sound Productions (7 CDs),(http://www.morethansound.net)

October 2008 / Coda

Paul Ekman and Daniel Goleman, Knowing our Emotions, Improving Our World

Facial Action Coding System is a computer automated research tool for studying facial expressions and emotions. It is being deployed against terrorism in health care and a wide variety of other contexts, particularly through the identification of emotions related to lying. Six emotions have unique signatures. For example, anger and fear, each lead to blood flow and voice quality with the result that you can see them on the face. These signals help out compatriots recognize a challenge and opponents to see potential boundaries for choices about how to interact socially with aggression or otherwise. They prepare us to deal with issues important to us in seconds, without thought. The downside is emotional hijacking which points to the need for a corrective in modern life. Ekman says it is our responsibility to learn how to deal with regrettable emotional episodes, for example, is to identify the underlying script, reflection and then learning to become aware of emotions as they occur. It takes practices to learn the skills for responding from either/both Eastern and Western traditions. The hardest is becoming aware of the impulse of an emotion before it arises. Once we learn it, we need to keep practicing it to sustain it, because nature does not help us; we were not programmed to do this. An example is breath awareness which supports immediate discovery of the impulses.

Three kinds of empathy: cognitive, knowing how others feel (an easily acquirable skill); emotional, I feel physically what you feel; compassionate, the motivation to try to help the other. How do we develop compassion on a global level? Take a little learning to feel that toward your spouse (probably not your child). Unless this is extended to a global level the world itself will get our children or grandchildren. We cultivate such compassion with political leaders committed to that by short term reduction in material welfare. Realizing that if I do not place others’ welfare as high as my own, it will have negative consequences for me. The Dalai Lama’s solution is “one person at a time.” This involves building an understanding of our connectedness. The skill required is to move us to reach out and help. One approach is to work with this in schools over years so that it sticks; in Illinois where they implemented socio-emotional learning, SATs went up 18%.

Naomi Wolf and Daniel Goleman, The Inner Compass for Ethics & Excellence

Goleman’s niece is concerned with working with women on developing skills to become leaders. She became concerned when she saw young women who had the vision to creating new institutions, but did not know how to go about it or were not doing well. She seeks to train leaders on how to get power and make change. One particular obstacle is that women are socialized not to take risk. She has found it is possible to train young women to be courageous and take risks in harmony with their character, including being able to do what is not comfortable yet they know it is the right thing to do. This involves unlearning an over-learned response and strengthening the brain’s capacity for risk-taking.

They also provide emotional support and validation among women. They get “loved bombed” by the community. There are neuro-chemical responses that support this and may bring out peak performance among women. By implication the business school model of competition and challenge may not support women’s learning (possible men’s as well).

Outstanding leaders have particular capabilities in the emotional intelligence findings, particularly self-awareness, including self-confidence, managing your emotions. Wolf’s program in particularly focused on building these capabilities. She found that when you talk with women about leadership, women are afraid that they will have to be dominant. When you stress the democratic and nurturing (coaching) styles of leadership, they are very responsive to it. It liberates something in women.

Wolf cautions women and program designers to not go too far on the affiliative model, non-hierarchical women’s organizations that are dysfunctional. We also train women to accept that sometimes there are winners and losers; sometimes it is important to fight hard ethically; and accept that they have a bar of excellence. It is important not to let building an affiliative context ignore that.

It is not command and control, but ethical excellence. Building a vision on an ethical ground in an ethical style, non-degrading, loving and kind, the organization performs better. We train leaders in developing an ethical position. One, by creating a credo of commitment around kindness, dealing with conflict directly, honesty, being of service and so on. People do their best work and are motivated. Two, build an organization where people think about the value-added they are bringing to people’s lives, doing meaningful work and making a meaningful difference in the world, even in companies that that is not so apparent. Leadership embodies this.

One critical issue involves generating trust. Some women have a tendency to use a false voice, which, in turn, triggers a response that they are not trustworthy. This can change if they use an authentic voice. Is this a sexist stereotype? Cannot men also benefit from this? Women think it is counterproductive to show their strength. Both groups have developmental needs, for example, issues of empathy. Consequently, the benefits of ethical leadership offered in Wolf’s program might benefit men, as well. In both cases it involves people bringing their authentic selves into their behavior. Both need to find what Howard Gardner calls “good work.” Young people today are looking for this.

The closing discussion was around increasing concern about ethical leadership and the quality of life. Young people are increasingly looking for careers and an ethical quality to their lives. Ethical leadership involves authenticity. The harder questions arise in the relationship between profits and ethics. Companies often discount their ethics of pay and treatment of employees in order to maximize profits. There are, of course, exceptions to this. Companies are doing work in ethical investment and ethical bottom line decisions while increasing profits, for example, Bill George’s work at Medtronics. Goleman senses that this is the direction companies are moving toward. Ethical leadership is the now thing.

Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman, Cultivating Emotional Intelligence

Davidson’s focus is on neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin.
Goleman has drawn on this work in his books, Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence. There are distributed networks that work together in the brain. In the case of self-awareness, there is a place in the brain that has a map of the body and its visceral organs. This is where we become aware of our responses. A second are involves our self-memory, autobiographical memory that involves other systems of the brain. Thus, self-awareness is a complex neurological process.

Holding a goal in mind, a component of motivation, is located in the prefrontal cortex, as well as the anticipation of the rewards. Empathy also is related here, but other neurological areas, e.g., parts of the brain involved in perception, are also important. Part of feeling empathic involves feeling what another person feels, a brain and body interpersonal connection.

Some are better at this than others. The most robust and striking characteristic of life are the amazing differences from one person to another in the face of an emotional challenge. One basic difference is rapidity of recovery in relation to a negative emotion. Some transient and emotion recedes; others the emotions can last for hours. We are in the early stages of research on this. The amygdale plays an important role, for example in identifying cues for danger and shifting the body state, e.g. heart rate; it is linked to fear. People differ in how people tune down the amygdale. One element of this is how people have patterns of stress hormones.

People tend to mate who have similar styles for dealing with emotions. However, that isn’t true for all characteristics. For example, this may occur around anxiety. However, there is not a great deal known generally about these matches based on scientific research. Differences tend not to be based on genetics, but on experience.

The world’s wisdom traditions can have a role in shaping out capabilities like empathy. Davidson’s work is in contemplative neuroscience. Left frontal activation corresponds to happiness and engagement to some degree. A Tibetan monk showed off the limit of left frontal activation. Meditators demonstrate expertise and they can be effective even in lab conditions; this is particularly true of people who are long term practitioners. Brain patterns in these subjects change radically virtually on demand.

Different meditation practices have different effects. A study focusing on meditators in a tradition that focuses on compassion showed that radical brain changes that occur. These changes occur in the activation of the insula that mediates emotions in the brain. This may be an important component of recognizing the suffering of others and in acting in response to that suffering. Sensitivity is increased and it is more likely that they will respond by helping those who are suffering. Thus, we can learn to change behaviors with the appropriate disciplines.

Another kind of meditation studies is focusing one’s attention. Should be effective in developing concentration. What is remarkable is that there still is considerable variation among long-term practitioners. Perhaps this is due to increasing effortlessness in focusing. However, among novice practitioners even short term practice can make a difference in the body and brain, e.g., shift the ratio of the right and left pre-frontal cortex in a move toward more positive emotions and to a boost in the immune system. Thus, benefits accrue virtually to anyone who comes to meditation practice.

Daniel J. Siegel and Daniel Goleman, Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People

Experience shapes the brain and how it functions, particularly in childhood. Siegel’s work has focused on showing how this relates to social intelligence, emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence. How people treat their own children is based on how they make sense of their experience. “Make sense of” means that you turn to your memories to understand what has happened in the past and allows you to free yourself from habit so the mind formed during those experiences. Only parents who have done this for themselves will do that with their children.

Mindsight is a term Siegel invented for the idea of insight into your own mind and empathy for understanding another’s mind. It is a combination of self-awareness and empathy. Mental language reflects the mind, emotions, dreams, feelings, etc. The question is, do families enter into dialogues involving mental language. As parents we focus the mind of the child on certain things, such as behaviors versus mental language.

We have the ability through deep bodily sensations, emotional experiences, ways our minds can think with language and tell stories of our life about how these stories have influenced us, make sense of what has happened and go on to let go of those adaptations to become freer of those prisons of the past. Therapy is one useful approach or other exercises. Whenever we bring to mind a strong emotional memory and make new sense of it, it changes the way the memory is imprinted and the impact on us when we remember it again. It is never too late to reconsider and reformulate.

There are four patterns (vary by culture in percentages). One, a secure attachment to primary caregiver with ruptures (attunement) those ruptures are repaired—and the children grow up being “healthy functioning” individuals. Second, avoidantly attached child. This is about the relationship with the parent. The parent offers experiences that are not focused on the mind, but on external experience. Parents have self-perception that relationships don’t matter, they don’t have much recall of childhood and that what happened was not problematic (they had not attached to their own childhood; they are not in touch with the world of the mind in themselves or others). They don’t use the capacity for mindsight. This is a dismissing attachment status that is addressed by gradual work on getting in touch with the internal world and learning to engage with nonverbal signals. The anxious ambivalent attachment relationship occurs when parents respond to children with high levels of anxiety, with doubt and fear. This leads the child to develop a sense of insecurity and as adults they will have a preoccupied adult status. In response to questions about childhood the adult cannot focus there, but on the present. This will also be projected onto one’s spouse and other relationships with an uncertainty about relying on others. The fourth is unresolved trauma, disorganized attachment, when children see or experience terror from the actions of the parent, the source of the terror. This is fear without solution and leads to disassociation. These parents have unresolved trauma and grief that can be treated.

No one knows how the brain is related to the mind. When you add in relationships it increases our need for humility for what we understand. Interpersonal neurobiology is the field that looks at this relationship. It is important not to diminish any of these three. Relate to empathic relationships, a coherent mind and neural integration, which involves separate parts of the nervous system being linked together.

From the study of attachment, we know that relationship patterns (patterns of communication) and how they relate to the mind that is coherent. To look at the brain, if we have wellbeing, what correlates in the brain. The mind uses the brain to create itself. But this is not complete. It is a two-way relationship. In Siegel’s model it is tri-directional. A resilient mind correlates with wellbeing. A secure relationship seems to promote the integration of the child’s brain.

Socio-emotional learning helps people to reflect and choose whether to take action or not on emotions that arise. Everyone should be taught reflective skills, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and chi gung. Research suggests that this helps the prefrontal cortex grow. This results in improvement in keeping the body in balance, attuning to others, keeping emotions in balance, response flexibility, empathy for others, insight into one’s own internal workings, modulating fear, being in touch with one’s intuition and morality; these are the nine functions of the prefrontal cortex. In education at all levels we need to add a fourth “R”. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Reflection!

George Lucas and Daniel Goleman, Rethinking Education.

Yes, George Lucas, creator of Star Wars! It seems that the two grew up; near each other in the 1950s in central California. Education then was mostly memorization. In college George Lucas found more of an opportunity to discover and pursue areas of knowledge that were interesting. In working with high technology in schools, Lucas and his foundation promote integrated studies and project-based learning that meet a set of criteria. The projects are done at school and the learning is done at home. Children look for the information they need for their project while they are at home.

Abstraction in education doesn’t work well for most kids. They want to have a practical focus on what they are doing. Multiple disciplines are built in by having students work as teams where they develop socio-emotional skills required in the world of work. The qualities of great team members that Lucas has found in his work are not just being a “genius” but know how to work with people. In most science these days is experimental and it requires a team. Educational institutions are starting to adopt these methods to promote learning about content, as well as the socio-emotional skills that are required. These skills are essential to success in business.

Creative processes require thinking, not learning. Educational systems most interested are those in Asia and elsewhere who are concerned that their students are not learning to think. This involves in the world of science critical thinking and not just accepting information on its face value. This includes learning to evaluate the source of the information. Singapore has mandated socio-emotional learning in their schools. George Lucas’ foundation has also supported programs like this in schools. Academic achievement of these students goes up about 15% and are better behaved in schools and more curious. They also encourage students by being available to help, but even more important, to encourage students to find the information and provide positive feedback and an opportunity to reflect on how they are going about their work. The teacher becomes more of a mentor than a teacher. And laugh! This creates a productive and creative environment, just as in a corporation. This works well with teachers who want to get down with the students and enjoy the process of learning.

All of this is about learning to change, access new information, evaluate, let go of old information. You are always questioning what is going on and respect others who are questioning. And dealing with this questioning and ideas in a way that is mutually supportive, rather than destructive of process or psyche. There are many examples of how this is being successfully implied. This includes bringing the idea of team building out of sports into the classroom. This supports social and emotional learning, as well as cognitive.

There is also a discussion of the ways that technology can and will enrich the educational experience through multi-media that show how programs such as Star Wars and Young Indiana Jones relate to the real world. There are many ideas and new practices being implemented. Through Lucas’ online George Lucas Educational Foundation has many examples of these, including videos of classrooms using these techniques including music, graphics, cinema and movement, mathematics and, ultimately the word.

Howard Gardner and Daniel Goleman, Good Work: Aligning Skills and Values

Emotional intelligence does not predict the use of these skills toward positive ends. Gardner’s recent work is on “Good Work.” Whenever we are working in our fields of interest we run into the prescription/description values line. Good work is a pun on the word good which has three aspects:

  1. Excellent in quality
  2. Engaging, personally meaningful, and
  3. Ethical with concern for the broader community.

This is a triple helix of qualities. Gardner is studying good work in a global context. Students, particularly from Asia, point out the requirement a fourth “e”, empathy.

While there is cultural variation, empathy comes in many varieties: perspective taking, cognitive level; feeling with, sensing in own body what is going on in another’s; empathic concern, wanting to help others. It takes all three to be fully there for another.

Three tests of good work:

  1. It fits your values
  2. You feel competent and
  3. You feel joy.

People who work will not reflect without the sense that the work has meaning to the individual. The connections among these must be forged. It is important to build in supports and rewards to support this. One can become good technically without this, but this is not ultimately good work.

It is important to begin work choices with the question of what do you really enjoy doing. Look for flexibility in the contexts of pursuing that. Think also about who you admire. Third, if you have any choice about where to work go there and talk to people and ask if you see yourself in this place or yourself in the people who work there. What kind of worker do you want to be? One of the most distressing findings in studies of young workers is the emphasis on earning money first, and then doing what is important to them and to the rest of the world. The market way of thinking is so dominant that most young people find it difficult to think in any other way.

There is a life cycle dimension to doing good work. The last stage of work is the trustee who is not pushing his own agendas, like John Gardner who cared so much for the whole society. The great mass of workers are getting by; when their kids are out of the house there may be a modal path to good work where life and its obligations have kept many people from attending to good work.

There is no profession that is naturally aligned with good work. Historically, alignment is temporary. If it is permanently aligned, it disappears. Gardner did a study of memes and genes—journalism and genetics. Discovered that genetics was well aligned at that time. Journalists were unhappy campers, but found that their work was owned largely by capitalist firms that limited information and many of the other realities of the field. It hasn’t died, but print journalism is being displaced by other media.
Time to reflect is essential to good work.

Philanthropy is helping others do good work. This is a roiled field. Philanthropists look like other people in business. They just don’t get good advice because we are all potential recipients. When you ask people who work in these organizations they do not talk about their organization, but their skills, e.g. artist or journalist, etc. They do not identify with their organizations.

Models of for profit work that are good work include organizations like Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s. Gardner found the business interviews to be the least convincing because the spin is held so deeply. It is harder to do good work in business today because of the unrelenting push for profits and the focus on quarterly results.

Does good work take work? It has to be on the radar screen 24/7, articulated and modeled, and rewards need to be structured around good work. Even reward whistle blowers, despite the tendency is to pretend problems didn’t happen. Universities are a mixed bag, but the emphasis in the management of universities is at variance with what students value about their educational process.

Program development requires attention to local conditions. There are variations in the problems: excellence, engagement and/or ethics. The remedy is eternal vigilance. What does it mean to have a president, when asked if he had made a mistake, couldn’t think of one?

The ethical mind is challenged to realize that sometimes you have to go against what your heart says and against the interests of your friends. Role goes against self-interest. It is important to attend to who are your mission and your clarity about that, models whom you respect, the mirror test (look at self with open eyes are you proud about what you see, as well as looking at your profession as a whole.)

Clay Shirkey and Daniel Goleman, Socially Intelligent Computing. (available only as a download from www.morethansound.net )

Shirkey teaches a seminar on the intersection between social networks and computer networks. He is also interested in the development of software to facilitate social interaction. He was concerned that the Internet was doing this badly. By reading Goleman’s Social Intelligence, it made the problems more apparent. There is no channel for the social brain to engage on the Internet. The web optimizes the potential for flaming. This is most severe in groups than interpersonally.

Video conferencing should make a difference, according to Mitch Kapoor. Other ideas involve reverse engineering the Internet. Opening up the channel for communal awareness would be a big opportunity. Instant messaging has shown that presenting in real time makes a difference. People are looking at can this be made more general? There is some chat software with red, yellow and green buttons. Red means disagree, green agreement, and yellow questionable. This makes the interaction more social. This would be a way to correct blind spots.

Internet tools currently will not generate the emotional connection to keep people together in the decision making process. To make good decisions we need to tune into our emotional centers. Consequently, with distributed organizations and teams, it is essential to strategically have face-to-face meetings with social space as well as time for work. It is not necessary for everyone to know everyone. It is important for each group to have at least one individual who knows another in the other group.

Goleman sites a leader as an essential role in a group that keeps the group on focus and on target and task and making sure that we are having a good time and working well together. He then outlines other roles according to Bales—rebel, facilitator, nurse, flamer, etc. It would be possible to observe this on the web by keeping tract of interactions and having designated leaders deal with individuals off line. The dilemma according to Shirkey is individual autonomy and effectiveness in moderating this is limited. The interaction of roles one finds in face-to-face groups does not show up online. Also, asynchronous communications de-energizes the process. Also, the web lacks a channel for empathy.