The Emotional Intelligence Tools I Wish I Had in College

I began my summer internship at Emergent with little knowledge of Emotional Intelligence or personality assessments like Identity Mapping. Since learning more about emotional intelligence and Identity Mapping, I can't help but wonder what areas of my life would benefit from emotional intelligence development. 

I reflected on situations I've been in where I've had to deal with people with whom I had little in common with. The best example I thought of was my freshman year dorm suite.

 My roommate and I (someone I met only briefly on Facebook) shared a dorm with two other suitemates that were randomly paired with us. At first, everything went pretty smooth. But as we got to know each other better, it became clear that we were all from very different backgrounds and different lifestyles. With different majors and hobbies, our personalities were equally unalike. So when the stresses of college slowly crept up on us, these differences caused minor annoyances to become major frustrations.

Now, since learning about Identity Mapping, I now know that there are four Ways, which are four different perspectives through which people may perceive the world. Our differing personalities, or Ways, respond differently to varying living and working situations (a more in depth look at the differences between the four ways can be found here). 

I realized my roommates and suitemates main personality clashes came from these differences in perception, which had us all reacting differently to the same environment. Living in a tiny two bedroom dorm probably didn't help either. With a better understanding of personality and EQ, it's now clear to me that we had three main issues that resulted in friction amongst the group:

1. We handled stress differently

One of the aspects I find most fascinating about Identity Mapping is how it indicates our responses to stress based on the order of our four ways. If we impulsively react to a stressful situation, we will most likely over amplify primary way. However, reacting too strongly with traits of our primary way is generally an unhealthy response. My Primary Way is the Action Way, so my initial reaction when faced with a stressful situation may be to yell, become stubborn or aggressive.

 In order to respond to a stressful situation in a healthy manner, we should resort to the habits of our lowest way. My Lowest Way is the Logical Way, which means I'm generally bad at being analytical and emotionally detached. To be healthy, I need to put my Logical Way cap on and make lists of tasks I need to complete in order or importance or do extra research to ease my anxiety. 

My roommate has a different Identity Map, so her healthy response was different than mine. Her Lowest Way is the Action Way, so to blow off some steam she could do something physical like go to the gym or for a run, or make a quick decision without overthinking.

My roommates and I would have been able to help each other tremendously if we knew one anothers healthiest responses to stress. Instead, our differing personality traits and responses caused us to clash, creating even more stress in each others lives.

2. We perceived change differently

Each of the Four Ways deals with change differently. The first year of college is full of changes. From new friend groups to a new set of classes, the changes can feel never-ending. I personally thrive on change, and value trying new and different things regularly. I love to be in new settings or thrown into new situations. Looking back, I wish I would've taken a second to realize change isn't this exciting for everyone.

For many people change is incredibly overwhelming and only adds more stress to their plate. I recognize now that none of my roommates liked change unless they were able to directly see how it would benefit their lives. At the time, I couldn't see why they were getting so overwhelmed by it all and for the life of me, I could not understand how they were so content remaining stagnant.

If I would've been aware of their Identity Maps, I could have known what they needed to see for themselves in order to accept change. My roommate in particular (being primarily the Relationship Way) really needed to see the value in any change and how it would help her and those around her grow. It was hard for me to initially understand why she resisted change so strongly. Now I recognize that she needed the change framed in a different way to make it appealing than I did. 

3. We were sensitive to different things

It's no secret that different personalities have different triggers and sensitivities. Being the Action Way, I've always been able to laugh at myself and avoid taking myself too seriously. But if my dorm experience taught me one thing, it is that not everyone is able to do that. That is no fault on them or their sense of humor; it can just be the differences in personality traits leading people to perceive comments or jokes differently.

I learned to check myself before making a snarky comment to my roommate or one of my suitemates. I had to take a step back and ask myself, is this really worth saying? My Relationship Way roommate may take a comment I make to heart when I just intended it as a lighthearted joke.

I loved my freshman year of college, but with the tools I've learned I could've spent a little less time arguing over miscommunications and more time understanding one another's needs. Knowing our Identity Maps could have changed our living situation from a draining environment into a thriving one. Fortunately, I now have the tools to use Identity Mapping and EQ in my future experiences with others, both at college and beyond.

About the Author

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Maya Blacken is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is working towards her major in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and a minor in general business. She worked as in intern for Emergent summer of 2019.

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