I want to share an experience that helped me learn Emotional Intelligence.
You know how tailors, in fact, artisans generally can test you, how they can test your patience, test your tolerance, in short, test your salvation.
So, there was this tailor guy I worked with some years ago (I’ll call him Kojo for the sake of this post). He is probably Ghanaian or Liberian, but I am sure he is not Nigerian.
Kojo had designed some clothes for my Aunt, so she recommended him to me. Besides, I could tell from the quality of his work that he was good at what he did.
I gave him some fabrics to make dresses for me, and as per our agreement, they should have been ready within weeks. But time was running into months, and they were unfinished. Kojo had quite the excuses – either his generator got faulty, or the transformer in the area got spoilt. There was always something.
I stayed at Surulere at the time while his shop was at Chevron, along the Lekki expressway. So you can imagine the distance and my frustrations each time I visited his shop and had to leave without my clothes, either because there was an adjustment or he was in traffic on his way from other clients. There was always something.
It got worse, so I explained the situation to my Aunt, who had recommended him, and she promised to speak with him. Then one day, out of the blue, he called to say that my clothes were ready. I couldn’t care less as I was no longer excited about the clothes. Especially as it was months past the occasion for which I needed them. Still, I was going to collect my clothes.
This time, however, I suggested we meet on the Mainland because I wasn’t going to travel all the way to Chevron. While on the bus to meet him, I started rehearsing how I would say my mind and give it to him hot-hot! I was going to blast him, call him a liar, let him know how he lacked integrity and whatnot. I was going to tell him how disappointed I was in him and how I would stop patronizing him.
And then the Holy Spirit stepped in, and here is what followed.
For every nasty word or statement, I had in mind, He responded with the opposite. For instance, when I said, “you are a liar” He responded with, “he is not a liar”. I said, “you lack integrity”, He responded with, “he does not lack integrity”.
When I tried to justify giving Kojo a piece of my mind, He insisted that I reframe my words. He explained that speaking my truth the way I felt it, could damage his morale and possibly escalate matters. And I was reminded of the power in our tongue and how not to define people by their mistakes.
It was hard, but I eventually calmed down and started reframing my thoughts.
By the time I got off the bus, I was in better head space and could relate with Kojo gracefully.
That experience left a profound impression on me, and I have since learned to consider the impact of my actions on others. I have learned to guard my liberties and explore them without trampling on the freedoms of others.
Here is what Emotional Intelligence speaks to – the ability to understand and navigate your emotions positively.
I once read that,
“Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to blend our thinking and feeling to make optimal decisions – being smarter with our feelings. Our emotions precede our thoughts. Therefore, when our emotions run high, they change how our brain works, diminish our cognitive abilities, decision-making powers, and even interpersonal skills.”
That is why we are advised not to make decisions when offended because, in those moments, our emotions are likely to influence our choices.
It is the same as when we are overly excited because, in those moments, we tend to feel more than we think.
Now let us consider Emotional Intelligence in light of the woke-ism and cancel culture in our times.
Many of us want to soro soke (soro soke is Nigerian parlance for speak up or speak out) and express how we feel on matters that concern us.
We want to exercise our freedoms and liberties, which is fine. Sadly, not everyone bothers to consider how their actions impact others.
They say the late 20s/early 30s is when we typically start to discover ourselves, care less about public opinions, and focus more on our choices and what makes us happy.
I believe it is also around this time that some of us begin the conscious journey of self-discovery and renewal.
We develop a level of self-awareness that transforms us inside out, begin to understand our personality and unique wiring, question existing beliefs and traditions, and even challenge the status quo when necessary.
As we evolve, we outgrow self-sabotaging beliefs, toxic attitudes, limiting mindsets, unhealthy relationships, and toxic environments.
We develop a sense of responsibility to promote and protect our wellbeing, evaluate present realities (where we are) vis-à-vis desired realities (where we hope to be), define our values, lifestyles, environments, and relationships, and set boundaries in line with our desired realities.
However, while exploring our liberties, we run the risk of trampling on the freedoms of others.
Sometimes, in a bid to guard what is ours, we unknowingly damage what is not ours and offend the sensibilities of others.
For instance, when we shut down conversations that appear to threaten our mental health, do we consider how our actions impact the mental health of others too?
When we cut ties with people who disagree with us, do we consider what it feels like to be on the receiving end of our action?
When we speak our truth, do we consider the truth of others?
Imagine if we all went about speaking and acting our truth without any thought for the others. How would it be?
Therefore, while exercising our liberties, we must stop to think beyond ourselves in consideration of the next person.
As we aim to evolve into our highest selves, we must learn not to live for ourselves alone and resist the impulse to cancel persons and perspectives that threaten our position.
We must understand that the journey to our highest selves would be incomplete without the curveballs and experiences that challenge our patience and tolerance because these experiences test our growth and maturity.
This conversation is not to indulge toxicity or excuse toxic people but to promote emotional intelligence and the virtues that make us more humane, to extend grace to everyone, including those who offend our sensibilities.
Therefore, by all means, guard your liberties, and exercise your freedoms, but do so from a place of emotional intelligence. Ensure not to trample on the liberties of others while protecting what is yours.
Whatever you do, do it from a place of emotional intelligence.
If you would like to share your experiences or thoughts on this, you can share them in the comments. I am happy to hear from you.
You can read more on Emotional Intelligence here.