Appreciate them because they are coming to you with courage. Digest what they are saying and avoid judging them. Recall their emotions as you play their experience in your head. Think about their circumstances and see the emotion. Feel their emotion and relate to their circumstances.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bina Patel.
Dr. Bina Patel is an Arbiter and an Organizational Health Strategist. Dr. Patel is the CEO, Transformational Paradigms, providing leadership executive consulting to C-Suite teams on establishing healthy workplace cultures. She also provides leadership and career coaching to upcoming leaders in organizations and millennials entering the workplace. Dr. Patel specializes in conflict management services, specifically consulting in how to reduce workforce turnover and workplace conflict, increase morale, and decrease costs in organizational systems to produce strong quality assurance. Dr. Patel works in emergency management. Dr. Patel is an author, public speaker, and consultant. She has published several case studies related to workplace diversity, multiculturalism, and racism in the workplace, as well as female suicide terrorism. Dr. Patel’s book on Female Suicide Terrorism: Understanding the Radicalization Process focuses on human behavior. She is due to publish her next book on female suicide terrorism, death, and cleansing very soon.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and grew up in Gainesville, FL. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandparents and parents taught us the value of appreciating people and cultures. From a young age, my mother always taught us, “always put yourself in the shoes of others and understand their circumstances”. Her intent was to always be humble and lead with integrity and humility. My parents and grandparents helped many families and they taught us to do the same. Caring for others is in our souls.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I learned about “corporate America” when I first entered the workforce well over 20 years ago. I was always that individual who was hired to replace someone older than me. I didn’t realize it until folks who were older than me were let go. In fact, I realized the concept of age discrimination when two of my mentors and friends were fired right before their retirement, specifically after serving + 25 years in this company. This was upsetting and made me angry. I decided that I would go into conflict resolution and apply what I learned in my classes to help people. This is what pursued me to get into this field. I did not like the way companies treated their workforce. And what really bothers me today is the loyalty companies expect from employees, and it is not reciprocated. I fell in love with the function of the ombudsman and truly used my strength, confidence, experience, and knowledge to help people speak up, do what’s right, and treat employees with equity and fairness. I believe in leading with personal values. No one is above the law.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I have to say that I found my strength, voice, and courage when I was going through my divorce. This was the turning point in my life where I found my strength and voice to speak up, help people out who were in my situation, and do what’s right. When my marriage ended, it was earth-shattering and I was deeply hurt. It was then when I truly graduated as a woman and became who I am today. In addition to my family, I have 4 unique mentors who have remained with me in life. I have been fortunate to have found mentors in every job and position. These 4 mentors have helped to be where I am today.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I was coaching an executive and referred to him by mistake with a name that belonged to a rival company. I remember faces and sometimes I do mix up the names. I was sincerely apologetic and did not mean to mix up his name. It was a true mistake. The good thing was that he did not hear it because I quickly corrected myself and went about the conversation. At that very moment, I truly wanted to “get away”….what I have done since then is write down the name of the individual and circle it before I call them. This way there is no mistake with the name.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Working hard should always come easily. When things get tough, keep at it. I have personally always had to study a little more and harder than my siblings. In this, I found that hard work came easily when I entered the workforce. I also learned that by working hard, with sincerity and ethical values, you cannot go wrong. Learn from your mistakes. They will happen and they are your path to success.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
COL Candice Frost’s podcast, Candid Leadership, she brings forwards leaders who lead with their values. I understand the world she comes from and leading with values speaks on integrity. Each of her podcast interviews are valuable. In fact, one of my recollections is having the opportunity to work for her. I provide consultative services on improving the climate through transformative leadership. She is a transformative leader who creates structure during times of chaos while normalizing change. In the Army, it may be challenging to create structure during times of crisis, she does it extremely well. She leads with her values and normalizes chaos. For me, this is valuable when dealing with high emotions, crisis, and chaos in grey environments.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good” Samuel Johnson.
This quote resonates with me because it speaks of action. It’s one thing to say something, and another to do it. The true character of any individual speaks through their actions. How one treats those who are less fortunate attests to the true character of who they are. No one is beneath us.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Right now I am working on research of female suicide terrorism and the notion of death across religions. This will help my readers understand why women enter the “world of martyrdom.” We often don’t hear of their circumstances and life experiences. Terrorist organizations dehumanize and use women as political weapons. They are women who have experienced postpartum depression, rape, and abuse by their families. Dying is the next best option. What does it mean to die? I explain the concept of death, planes post-death, and the continuous journey of the soul.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?
I study human behavior as a passion and interest. I study their emotions specifically when working with individuals who have personality disorders. I am not a psychologist by training, rather a conflict resolution specialist who understands the emotions of behaviors even in the worst circumstances.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the emotions of yourself and others below the surface.
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
When we understand our emotions and are aware of why we justify how we feel, we can better understand the same of others without judging or being critical. This happens when you put yourself in the shoes of a normal person and that of an individual who may have a borderline personality disorder. When we understand emotions, we understand how people, how they act, and their behavior becomes predictable. Emotions are quite complex and they can be weaponized easily. When we understand the emotions of an irrational human being, we understand how we can control our emotions and what we say to them. We grow and become more self-aware of our own emotions.
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
It is a tool for helping others, being empathetic while recognizing individuals who are malicious and abusive. We can safeguard ourselves and not allow others to hurt us, if we understand emotions and how they are weaponized by others to hurt us. One of the most important elements of EI is be empathetic and that is to understand others and feel their feelings. EI cannot be learned. There are individuals who are not born to feel and take advantage of others. If we recognize this because we understand EI, we can truly help ourselves not get hurt. A good example: 1 in 4 people that we work with or know do not have emptions. They cannot feel. Yet, they gravitate to people like you and me who have feelings, care about others and can relate with their issues because we understand their feelings. My ex-husband used to shed fake tears, make me feel guilty for caring about others such as my family. I didn’t realize it until our marriage broke that he was manipulating me and has a borderline personality disorder. He used fake tears and emotions to manipulate me. It was then that I realized the value of EI. I couldn’t be more grateful that I can truly feel my emotions. And he cannot. I felt sorry for him.
Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.
Yes, when I went through my divorce, I experienced a roller coaster ride for years with my feelings. I was sad, angry, hurt, disappointed and every day was a different emotion. I was sad with grief that someone I loved so much could be so deceitful. The pain was unbearable for a long time. I went to therapy and that didn’t work, so I tried past life regression. I realized through my session that not only was this divorce meant to happen, but it was meant to happen to set me free in this life to be independent. The feeling of liberation really helped. I wasn’t angry anymore but grateful that this happened because I became free! I help other women today who are going through something similar with their emotions and the cycle of emotions to come. I normalize this for them so they can heal.
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?
Knowing when emotions and feelings are sincere vs not. In the workplace 1 in 4 people we meet have a personality disorder (or borderline). Such individuals weaponize emotions of others through manipulation. By learning about emotions and the level of sincerity we can protect ourselves from getting hurt, while helping individuals sincerely who are like us.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
BP: Feeling happiness, excitement, and love from our partners, family and friends can help strengthen relationships. By understanding how people think and feel, giving them space as they need it strengthens relationships. When we understand and connect with people at an emotional level, we can strengthen our relationships and grow internally. We become understanding, less judgmental, and appreciate them for who they are…we love them and create space for them in our hearts.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
Never give up on understanding your own emotions. If you are feeling sad, and cannot figure out why, dig deeper. Think about it, talk it out loud to a friend or yourself in the shower. Speak to a stranger about what you are thinking. And sometimes that stranger will help you see and feel clarity to increase your mental health. I have an example. Yesterday, I was at a Banana Republic shopping for a blazer. I needed it for a meeting with a client. I had to ask the attendant who was half my age to not only help me, but what he thought about the possible conversation I would have with my soon to be client. The gentleman gave me some very good tips that made me feel confident and see things from a different perspective. He made me realize that individuals from his generation are a little more emotional and identified what that meant. It was a very healthy conversation.
Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.
Emotional intelligence is something you are not always born with. And if you want to increase your EI, here are 5 tips:
- Listen to the individual who is speaking. Listen to listen and watch their body language. This is a skill that develops with practice and not overnight.
- As you listen, put yourself in the shoes of this person. Take on their emotions, feel what they are feeling, and take in the information with their voice. Listen to their voice.
- Ask them clarifying questions — learn their thought process and listen well. DO NOT make judgments about the situation, their feelings, or actions.
- Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would have reacted if you were them in this situation.
- Appreciate them because they are coming to you with courage. Digest what they are saying and avoid judging them. Recall their emotions as you play their experience in your head. Think about their circumstances and see the emotion. Feel their emotion and relate to their circumstances.
When you start to see and feel the emotions of others without truly judging others, you will become more empathetic about people and their circumstances. You will begin to understand their emotions.
Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
YES!! By teaching children to think of others and put themselves in the shoes of others is a good way to start EI. The foundation can be set if EI is taught in school. Teaching children to speak of their emotions with the use of the EI chart can help kids to understand what it means to be happy, sad, excited, etc. Teens are quick to say they are depressed when they break up with a boyfriend or they do poorly on a test. What does it mean to be depressed? It’s not that they are depressed, they are disappointed or sad. Terms are used interchangeably today and we can reset this course of action by teaching emotions at a conceptual level. I truly believe that starting in kindergarten is the best course of action. If we ask kids why they are happy and share with them in the simplest terms what that means, by helping them identify what happy means through their experiences, by the time they become young adults, they will be healthier emotionally.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to inspire teaching emotional intelligence in kindergarten. I am a huge advocate of education and believe every first world country should give free education, including quality university education to all. By teaching EI, we can teach kids how to question racism or something that they hear that is hurtful to others while treating everyone with equity. We can teach children to question racist acts and see them as unethical and immoral while learning to use their voice to speak up for what is right, which is combatting institutional racism and sexism. In order to end racism in this country, it has to start with education.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
Dr. Jill Biden. She is an amazing superstar who believes in education and continues to teach in her capacity as First Lady. She is my guru and I want to meet her. I have not seen anyone as passionate about education as she is. I believe in her.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Mostly by Instagram: @binapatelphd; Twitter: @binapatelphd and LinkedIn: email@example.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.