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Top Ten Emotional Intelligence Moments of 2012

This is the fourth consecutive year for this list, and 2012 had no shortage of moments that exemplified emotional intelligence (in some cases, a lack of it). The bright minds behind TalentSmart have narrowed down this year’s events in the 10 most memorable displays of EQ. Some are shining examples of EQ in action, and others illustrate how quickly trouble finds those who lack EQ.

EQ Moment #10:

Monkey See Monkey Do

Ever heard of mirror neurons? They’re spread across the brain and serve as a kind of social awareness Wi-Fi, allowing us to remotely plug into the feelings of people around us. There's even one type of mirror neuron whose sole purpose is to detect smiles and laughter, stimulating return smiles and laughter.

There's no better illustration of this biological mimicry than the twin babies above. Each time one sees the other dancing, she can’t help but smile and join in. When we sense the emotions of another person, our mirror neurons reflect those emotions to create a shared experience. This survival mechanism bonds people to each other.

It's no different at work. Our mirror neurons can pick up on someone's bad mood in a meeting, and suddenly, everyone starts to feel miserable. Don't be the Debbie Downer in your department. Give yourself permission to smile and laugh more, and you'll find that you're the one lifting the spirits of everyone around you.

What? You want more hilarious babies? Check out these twins mimicking their dad's sneeze.

EQ Moment #9:

Hockey Coach Trips Opposing Players

The adult in this video is none other than Martin Tremblay, the 40-year-old junior hockey coach of the UBC Hornets, who has been on thin ice ever since this horrific tripping incident was caught on camera and uploaded to the Internet. The two victims of this unsportsmanlike conduct were 12 and 13-year-old Richmond Steel hockey players, and according to CTV News, one of the players suffered a broken wrist and needed to seek medical attention after attempting to brace himself for the fall.

After watching this clip, most would assume Tremblay is a sore loser; however, his team actually won this gold-medal match. Outraged and “disgusted” with the coach’s actions, witnesses called the police. Tremblay was apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and could face two assault charges. “Coaches are supposed to respect the game and teach their players about honor, respect and sportsmanship . . . it's obvious that this coach should receive a lifetime ban from all levels of hockey and also go to jail," said a bystander.

Tremblay succumbed to an emotional hijacking—his emotions took complete control of his behavior with no regard for the consequences of his actions. If you're like most people, you have moments when your emotions get the best of you. Knowing who or what pushes your buttons and how it happens is critical for taking control of these situations. To remain in control, direct your attention away from your emotions and back to the task at hand. This will help you remain flexible and open-minded in spite of strong emotions threatening to overwhelm you.

EQ Moment #8:

Giants Fan Celebrates World Series Victory

All baseball fan would agree that the World Series is one of the most emotional times of the year. If you’re lucky, your favorite team takes you through the roller coaster of anticipation, ninth-inning nail biting, Game 7 heroics, and the excitement of your team winning it all.

The 2012 World Series was no different as the San Francisco Giants took on the Detroit Tigers and won a second series in three years. While the Giants’ players showered each other with champagne in Detroit, 2000 miles away the citizens of San Francisco took to the streets. Many fans celebrated peacefully, but others vandalized their beloved town by setting a bus on fire, flipping over cars, and lighting bonfires fueled by couches.

Thanks largely to social media, police identified one rowdy fan (pictured above) as 22-year-old Gregory Tyler Graniss. According to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), Graniss was charged with two felony counts of vandalism and willful tampering with a passenger transit vehicle. Graniss pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. Graniss reminds us that our emotions can get the best of us not only when we are in a bad mood but also when we are in a good mood. He lacked the self-awareness needed to prevent foolish choices (Self-Awareness Strategy #9). His lawyer said it best; “The San Francisco Giants’ victory was amazing, and it really brought out the best in San Francisco and, unfortunately, the worst in Gregory.”

EQ Moment #7:

Michael Phelps Reviews His Final Olympic Games

(Click the image to view the video)

When the 2012 Olympic Games kicked off, all eyes were on Michael Phelps, as fans wondered whether he could break the all-time record for career Olympic medals. The Games started off slow for Phelps who finished fourth in his first race, the 400 individual medley. Spectators grew anxious: Had he lost the special touch that had made him so successful in the 2008 Games? Then Phelps rebounded, winning four gold medals and two silver medals, making him, with 22 medals, the most decorated Olympian of all time.

After the Games sportscaster Bob Costas met with Phelps and asked about his performance. Like most spectators, Costas wondered what had helped Phelps turn around his fourth place finish to multiple podium finishes. Phelps shared that he had started the Olympic Games tight and tense, and he hadn't felt comfortable in the pool. After he failed to medal he started relaxing more, smiling more, and trying to have a good time. He had already announced that 2012 would be his last Olympic Games, and in his words, he wanted to “. . . just have fun, you know, that’s really what this is all about.” Once Phelps was able to relax, he started adding medals to his collection.

He might not have known it at the time, but Phelps was using Self-Management Strategy #7 from the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book (Smile and Laugh More). When you laugh and smile, the muscles and nerves in your face send signals to your brain conveying your positive emotion. Phelps was under immense pressure, and his body reacted by tensing up. Although this reaction is completely understandable, his body needed to relax to perform. Michael Phelps taught us that when you are nervous, angry, or stressed smiling will trick your mind into feeling the mood you need to excel.

EQ Moment #6:

Oblivious Chef Touches Romney’s Face (Twice) at Campaign Stop

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stopped at the Tin Fish restaurant in Port Sant Lucie, Florida for some seafood last October, a routine photo opportunity turned into an awkward moment of epic proportions. Owner Joseph Melluso took it upon himself to wipe the rain from Romney’s face so vigorously—and without warning—that Romney reeled back in shock. Romney’s surprise did not deter Melluso, who tried to go back in again for another wipe after spotting a bit of napkin stuck on Romney’s mouth. This time Romney saw Melluso coming and took care of the problem himself.

Melluso’s colossal lack of social awareness is evident in more than his willingness to touch a stranger’s face without warning. The Secret Service travels with presidential candidates for a reason—crowds can pose real danger for public figures. Melluso’s uninvited reach in wasn’t just socially awkward; it was also likely a bit scary for Romney, at least until he realized what was happening.

EQ Moment #5:

End 2012 with Maria Shriver's "Power of the Pause"

If we can offer one EQ “to do" for you as we head into the holidays, it’s trying what Maria Shriver recommends in her 2012 commencement speech at USC's Annenberg School of Communication: "Have the courage to press the pause button."

She characterizes adeptly how to handle the 24/7 nature of our plugged-in world and the many questions thrown at us about our future plans that can make anyone constantly feel anxious, nervous, or scared about "what's next." She also comments on the out-of-control nature of how people fall so easily into faultfinding and nay saying.

She would like us to stop worrying about what's next and notice what's happening right now. Take a breath and be in the moment. She states, "Whenever you are in doubt, pause; take a moment, look at all your options, check your intentions, have a conversation with your heart, and then always take the high road." This includes stopping every so often to turn off your tech devices, look around, and spend a moment with yourself. She also pushes us to express gratitude to everyone who helped us get where we are, and even write actual thank-you notes.

Maria's "Power of the Pause" provides a wonderful approach to what we call self-managing. Any time you stop to take stock of what you're feeling and doing, you raise your self-awareness, enhance your relationships, and increase your ability to make a positive difference in your life and the world around you.

EQ Moment #4:

Elderly Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Hearing Music from His Era

Henry has spent the last 10 years in a quasi-vegetative state in a nursing home. He was depressed and unresponsive until familiar tunes made him light up like the Fourth of July. When they placed the headphones over his ears, Henry became animated and alive again. They say music is a “quickening art.” Henry felt the same energy, pleasure, and passion that he had before his illness. Music took him back to a time when he felt strong and well. Music had the power to excite him as he returned to an era when music made sense to him. It boosted his senses.

If music can do this for Henry and his hibernating mind, imagine what music can do for you on a daily basis. If you’re feeling a little under the weather or if you need a little rejuvenating before a big meeting or presentation, put on that special tune that evokes emotions that will put you in the right mood.

EQ Moment #3:

$50,000 Bail for Man Accused of Crushing Cop Cars

After getting arrested and released for possessing marijuana, Roger Pion fumed until his anger got the best of him. According to police, the resident of Newport, Connecticut hopped into a massive farm tractor and drove it like a monster truck over seven police cars.

Pion was charged with 14 offenses, including felony aggravated assault on a police officer, which alone can put someone in prison for 16 years. You see, when Pion came into the lot two officers in a cruiser pulled up behind him and turned on their siren. In response, he backed over their car with the tractor as they jumped out of it safely.

Pion then left the lot and initially no police officers pursued him because all of their vehicles had been destroyed. Eventually state police, county sheriffs, and deputies in a borrowed civilian vehicle tracked down the tractor and apprehended the suspect.

EQ Moment #2:

No Complaints about This Traffic Cop

We’ve all been there or at least have had that feeling of paranoia while making our dash to work. We’re always a little late. We periodically check our rear-view mirror to see if we can make out a car with a light rack on top. The first reaction to getting pulled over is denial. I wasn’t going that fast. I was moving at the speed of traffic. Was I going that fast?

If it’s L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Elton Simmons pulling you over, you won’t find the air of superiority so typical of some police officers when they write you a ticket. When Deputy Simmons approaches your car, something magical happens. He cracks a smile and asks you how your day is going. It’s the kind of smile and greeting that you can trust, like an old friend you invited over to your house for dinner. You’re stumped. He then chats about your favorite basketball team. Your “Lakers #1” bumper sticker gave that one away. You two criticize the coaching staff and analyze each player while he writes you a ticket.

Deputy Simmons’s emotional intelligence and social skills have produced zero complaints from citizens despite the 25,000 tickets he has written over his 20-year career. Simmons’s emotional intelligence shows in how he deals with people during a traffic stop. "I'm here with you," he says, “I'm not up here . . . one thing I hate is to be looked down on⎯I can't stand it⎯so I'm not going to look down at you."

2012's #1 EQ Moment:

 California High School Football Star Cleared of Rape after Ten Years in Prison and Realizes Dream of Playing Pro Ball


What would you do if you were accused of a crime you did not commit, spent years in prison, and were permanently labeled a sex offender? This is exactly what happened 10 years ago to Brian Banks, then a 16-year old from Long Beach, California, who was accused of raping a classmate. A promising football star, he had a bright future and a scholarship to a prestigious university. Then it was all taken away. After years of prison and probation, Brian’s accuser reached out to him and admitted (on tape) that the rape story was a lie. Since then, he has been legally cleared of wrongdoing.

What impressed us about Brian Banks is how he handled himself once his name was cleared. He was quickly thrust into the limelight, interviewed by national media, and asked about his feelings about his accuser and his future. His response was sincere, poised, and wise beyond his years. Brian was not focused on revenge or time lost. Instead, he was calm and focused on his goal of playing professional football.

He talks openly about his feelings, saying that he was angry at one time, but realized that anger wasn't going to help him move forward with his plans. After the interview in May 2012, Brian received offers to try out for several professional football teams, and in September, he joined the Las Vegas Locomotives, who play in the United Football League. 


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