Marc Brackett - On Building Emotional Intelligence

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 128

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“Just because you're developing your emotional intelligence doesn't mean everybody around you is developing it too.” - Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University

As a society, we are nowhere near as emotionally intelligent as we should be. 

This is apparent from the way we treat each other and ourselves…

We simply don’t recognize our emotional intelligence as something that can be trained and built over time. 

But luckily, times are changing, and our emotional well-being is becoming increasingly important. So much so that it has even found its place in schools, where children today are building their emotional intelligence using the RULER approach.

Here with me today to discuss this groundbreaking approach is none other than Marc Brackett, the founding director of the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. He is one of the academics who developed this approach, which is now being taught in over 5000 schools worldwide.

He has dedicated over 25 years to studying the critical role of emotions and emotional intelligence in various aspects of life, authored the best-selling book Permission to Feel, and co-created the award-winning app How We Feel to promote emotional skills and general well-being. 

Join us as we dive deep into the world of emotional intelligence and share some amazing tools for recognizing and managing emotions. 

Tune in! 




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Show Notes 


Intro (00:00)
Emotional intelligence and the RULER approach (01:40)
Tools for self-awareness (08:10)
Marc’s reflection process (14:46)
How does EQ impact various aspects of life (21:29)
Challenges people face in developing and applying EQ (26:29)
How to implement these tools and knowledge (33:53)
How can leaders implement and utilize these tools and knowledge (35:39)
The future of EQ (43:07)
On longevity (45:01)
Outro (46:48)


Intro (00:00)
Emotional intelligence and the RULER approach (00:58)
Tools for self-awareness (07:29)
Marc’s reflection process (14:07)
How does EQ impact various aspects of life (21:05)
Challenges people face in developing and applying EQ (27:15)
How to implement these tools and knowledge (34:42)
How can leaders implement and utilize these tools and knowledge (36:30)
The future of EQ (44:04)
On longevity (46:04)
Outro (47:47)

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“There's no such thing as a good or a bad emotion. Understanding that is so important. All emotions are information. They are data. That's one of our core principles.” - Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University

“Just because you're developing your emotional intelligence doesn't mean everybody around you is developing it too.” - Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University

“I grew up in New Jersey, in a middle-class neighborhood with mostly Irish Catholic white people. And that was my exposure to facial expressions, people, and culture. Then at 18, I got the chance to go to Korea. And it was like a different world. The way they communicate, touch, look at you, and think about emotions. It was really interesting for me to recognize that I was biased. For me, the world operated through Marc's lens. But Marc’s lens was a narrow lens, because Marc’s lens was from Clifton, New Jersey.” - Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University

“I always think of emotions as signals to approach or avoid.” - Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Marc Brackett 0:00  
Many other factors are involved in anxiety and depression, but I think a big piece of it is not picking up on the little emotions that are creeping in and not having really good strategies to manage them.

Claudia von Boeselager 0:12  
Are you ready to boost your longevity and unlock peak performance and welcome to The Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host Claudia von Boeselager, longevity, and peak performance coach. Each week we'll explore groundbreaking science, unravel longevity secrets share strategies to grow younger, and stay up to date with world-class health and peak performance pioneers. Everything you need to live longer, live better, and reach your fullest potential ready to defy aging, optimize health, and promote peak performance. Visit for more.

My guest today is Professor Marc Brackett, the founding director of the Yale Centre for emotional intelligence and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine Marc has dedicated over 25 years to studying the critical role of emotions and emotional intelligence in various aspects of life. And has delved into the influence of emotions on learning decision-making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. Marc authored the best-selling book Permission to Feel, which has been translated into 22 languages, and CO created the award-winning app how we feel to promote emotional skills and well-being. Please enjoy. Welcome to the Longevity Lifestyle Podcast, Marc. Such a pleasure to have you on today.

Marc Brackett 1:37  
Thank you very much. It's great to be here.

Claudia von Boeselager 1:40  
It's a real honor because this is multi-generational. My kids are also big fans in the school of their work as well. So I'm so delighted to be speaking to you today. And we're gonna dig into the topic of emotional intelligence. For everyone listening is such an important topic, but some may be more or some less familiar with what exactly emotional intelligence is. So Marc, can you can we start there? Can you expand on, like, what is emotional intelligence? And why is it so important to understand emotions and to transform our lives because of it, but that

Marc Brackett 2:12  
was a lot right there. So let's start with just kind of what is this thing we call emotional intelligence. And I think at the simplest level, and you know, I give credit to my mentor, Peter Salivate. And Jack Mayer, who were the original theorists. And, you know, what they talked about was the ability to reason with and about our feelings. And so that's why it's intelligence, right, because it's about our reasoning ability, and specifically around a motion. Now, to get more granular, the model that we've been working on here at the Centre for emotional intelligence at Yale, we call RULER. And so, the RULER is an acronym for five skills. The first is recognizing emotions. So I'm reading your facial expression right now. Are you interested? You know, Are you not interested? Are you excited? Are you calm, contented, happy, you know, whatever the word is, I'm trying to kind of pick up on the cues in your face, your body language or vocal tone, your behavior. You in roller stands for understanding emotion. So why am I having these feelings? Where are they coming from? What's the psychological difference in terms of anger and disappointment or stress and anxiety? The L is getting really precise with language. So what are the words that I want to use to describe my feelings? If it's anger, is it peeved? Is it irritated? Is it in rage? You know, getting really granular. The E and RULER are expressing emotions, knowing how and when to express emotions with different people across different contexts, and your audience is very culturally diverse. So understanding those cultural differences, you know, that, you know, in America, we do this, like a firm handshake, and in some parts of the United States and then other countries, we bow to each other. In some places, eye contact means one thing in other places, again, something else. So how do you express your feelings in ways that you can communicate them effectively? And then the final skill, which is the one that people think about a lot, and then when I'm writing my next book, is all about regulation. So what do we do to deal with our feelings? How do we prevent unwanted emotions and reduce the ones that are driving us out of our minds and, just mainly for having a good day? How do we savor that positive feeling?

Claudia von Boeselager 4:39  
beautiful. So I'm excited to dig into a few aspects there. And so with this framework, and I think for people listening in different contexts, what's beautiful is that at my children's school there, they've been practicing it and learning it, and you know, for people maybe unfamiliar, there's what they call a mood meter right but different colors for different quadrants. And the kids every day check in every to see how they are feeling. And then they express it. And I love it. Sometimes I mean my daughter, she's seven. But when she was four, she was even like, Mommy, I'm feeling a bit discouraged. Grid, and just expressing that. And when I was growing up, we didn't. And then, especially in my household, my mother was an eternal optimist, like Tomorrow's a new day, we don't really need to talk about this, everything's fine. to the detriment of mental health and things that are coming about. Can you talk a bit about the impact you're seeing that your work on emotional intelligence and teaching it is having on transforming people's lives?

Marc Brackett 5:38  
by we're delighted. And so cognitive, what you're referring to is the name of our program, or our approach to social and emotional and which is called RULER, which I'm proud to say is now in 5000 schools across 27 countries, we reached about 4 million children. So we're feeling really good about that, you know, that reach enroller is, you know, it's kind of different things going forward. First, it teaches adults and children these core principles, like one of them, is the one your mother didn't know, which is all emotions matter. Right? There's no such thing as a good or a bad emotion. I think that's so important. You know, that, you know, it's like, no, everything's gonna be fine. It's like, no, things are not fine. Right. Now. There's a pandemic, it's really weird. I'm anxious, and I don't think you should tell me not to be that way. And who knows what tomorrow is gonna bring? So the core of, like, a core principle is that all emotions are information, their data, that's one of our core principles. The second is that there are these tools, like the mood meter that you refer to. And the motivator is a tool that is based on a lot of science that says that how we feel one way to access that is through building deep self-awareness around what's going on in my mind. Do I feel pleasant? Do I feel unpleasant? Do I feel like approaching the day? Do I feel like avoiding the day? And in the y-axis, its energy? So do I feel energized? Or do I feel depleted? And then, we take those two axes and create our four quadrants, which is the elder rentable degree. And those represent different feelings? That's upfront. And there are other tools that we have to teach children? How to self-regulate, co-regulate, how to take on other people's perspectives? And so now, what does the research show? Well, the research shows that schools that adopt these practices, RULER, and others, have students who are healthier, have less depression, and less anxiety, perform better academically, so students have higher grades, and they're more focused, they spend more time on task. Teachers have the same better mental health but our well-being. And, then the schools are just generally more pleasant places to be; there's less bullying, and more positive interactions, among many other things. But those are the core kind of outcomes of our research and other people's research,

Claudia von Boeselager 8:10  
which has such beautiful benefits. I mean, this sort of win win win for everyone involved, as well. I'd love to touch on the topic of self-awareness, where it needs to start with as well. And maybe for people listening as adults interested in applying this in their lives. If we're untrained to have that self-awareness, especially in terms of emotions and thinking of adults here, what are some tools and strategies that you recommend people can start with?

Marc Brackett 8:40  
Part of the reason why I wrote my book, which is called permission appeal, was that you know, we had done all this work in schools, and you know, 1000s of schools are using RULER. But then there are parents, and there are aunts and uncles, and there are people who don't have children, and there are people whose kids are already gone. And, you know, people just it was like this, I think it was like, it's a concept that people think they know about when they hear it, but don't really get it. A lot of people think emotional intelligence, for example, is about being charismatic, right? Or having a good personality. It really has nothing to do with your personality. There are people like me who are highly neurotic, emotionally intelligent people, or very even-keeled at all fine, or emotionally intelligent people who are outgoing and emotionally intelligent and people who are shy. We want to separate personality from emotional intelligence given that, you know, most of us, including myself, didn't have an emotional education.

Claudia von Boeselager 9:46  
Myself included. Yeah.

Marc Brackett 9:48  
I had the opposite of your upbringing, which was, you know, like, it was more like, everything was drama. You know, you lost you. We'll start again, I can't believe it, you know, everybody going nuts? Or, you know, I would I was a little bit, you know, of a troublemaker, you know, who do you think you get to your room, you know, wait till your father gets home, like, Oh, can't wait for that. And so, like, whether you have like the kind of like, call toxically positive experience where like, everything's gonna be fine, let it go, tomorrow's a better day, or you have like, the world's coming to an end. You know, it's like, everything's drama. Either way, you're not getting the education because there are no, like, actual skills being taught. Yeah, there are no words to teach you about how you're feeling being discussed. And so, it was interesting for me. Because, as a scholar, you know, I read a lot of articles for research, and you summarise, like, the theory of emotional intelligence in, like, three paragraphs. And then I was challenged with, like, writing a whole book on this concept. And it really was eye-opening for me just to sit back and like think, okay, so what do we know? About perceiving emotions? Like, what do we really know? Like, firstly, what is self-awareness around emotion perception? What are the barriers to that? How does it vary, you know, within individuals, whether it be gender, race, or culture? It was really just eye-opening for me and very satisfying to just, like, flesh it all out. And then, you know, provide people with a place to go to, to, like, have their little emotional intelligence dictionary around these skills. And it's very interesting because there's a lot to contain, for example, among, you know, for self-awareness around emotion perception. You know, I grew up in New Jersey, a very kind of middle-class neighborhood, mostly white people who are kind of Irish Catholic, just for whatever that reason is. And so, like, that was my exposure to facial expressions and people and culture. Then at 18, I got involved much earlier, but I'm 14, I got involved in the martial arts, and then at 18, I got the chance to go to Korea. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, like, this is a different world, literally, the way people communicate, the way they touch, the way they look at you, and the way they think about emotions. And it was really interesting for me to, you know, recognize that about myself that I was biassed myself, you know, in terms of the way the world operates is through Marc's lens. Marc's lens is a narrow lens, you know because Marc's lens was from Clifton, New Jersey. Then I went today and moved to New York City, and I'm like, Oh, my God, this is a whole nother world. And then. And then I've traveled to many other countries. And so, your question about self-awareness? It's a big, big, big question. Because then you're never fully self-aware.

Claudia von Boeselager 13:18  
Yet, because of the bias that's there, right? And

Marc Brackett 13:21  
it's like, you can be exposed to everything. And it's sometimes it is, it's a bias. It's not always, you know, a bias. That's an intentional kind of negative thing. It's just basically exposure. Yeah.

Claudia von Boeselager 13:35  
And even with exposure, there's exposure. And there's exposure. I mean, I was speaking to someone else who had an Italian exchange student who came to Texas and was complaining about everything. So she had the exposure, but she was like, you know, she didn't like it because the pizza wasn't like they have it in Italy. She was Italian. People were saying her name wrong, like all these different things. So it's being open, I guess, to the exposure and appreciating other perspectives. Would you say as

Marc Brackett 13:59  
well? Yeah, definitely. And, you know, honestly, when it comes to being a family member, of manager or leader, colleague, we got to spend time reflecting, you can just go Go, go, go, go, you know, which is what we do here in the United States. We just go, Go, go, go, go. We don't pause. We don't take a deep breath. We don't sit back, we don't reflect. And I think without that reflection, we're missing a lot of information about ourselves, about our behavior. You know about our relationships, our performance, and feedback that we might want to get. I'm a big fan of reflection.

Claudia von Boeselager 14:46  
I love this topic. Mike, I'm going to ask you for is your reflection process looks like and what are some of the questions you ask yourself when you are reflecting.

Marc Brackett 14:57  
Well, the big one is, How am I feeling right? So RULER where you can actually kind of ask yourself RULER questions, which are things like, am I pleasant or unpleasant in this moment? What's my energy? Like? What happened before I entered into the situation? What might be causing my feelings? What am I really feeling? Am I comfortable speaking and talking about my experience? Why might I not be comfortable? What's my strategy for dealing with the feeling? Let's say I'm irritable from something that happened in the morning. And then, I have to engage in a meeting or read something and give feedback. Just pause before I enter into that and say, you know, how are you feeling? Marc? And are you ready for this in the right place for this? All those kinds of reflections, I think, can be really important.

Claudia von Boeselager 15:44  
And let's say you have to go into an important meeting, or it's something that you need to get done. And you check in with yourself and like, Am I ready for this? And the answer comes up as knowing what to do. So what are practices that you do to overcome it?

Marc Brackett 15:59  
Well, one thing one is trying to attribute whenever the reason that I'm not ready for the meeting. That language is going to be tricky. One thing that I like to do is attribute the feeling to whatever is kind of getting in the way. And so if I can say, like, if I'm in a meeting with a friend here, or a colleague at work, like this happened this morning, actually. And sometimes, you know, we call it, like, it's direct or indirect. So if it's indirect, it's like, you know, I have two dogs, and sometimes I love my dogs. But they sleep in the bed with us. And sometimes they're like, you know, licking my face at five o'clock in the morning. I'm like, why did we create these dogs? Like, why do we have this the worst have in the world? I have no sleep. These dogs, but it's like, I love that they love me unconditionally about, like, o'clock in the morning, or 630, not at five o'clock, and then tired. And then I go to work, and I have a meeting. And it's like, I'm irritable, and like giving someone kind of harsh feedback. And I had to be like Marc, like, this has nothing to do with this person. Like, they're fine. They're actually doing great work. This is all to do with the fact that you're annoyed that you didn't follow through on creating your dogs, and now you have a disaster at home. And so, like, that kind of attribution to his cause is really helpful. Yeah, so that's a big thing for me is trying to make sure I kind of categorize, you know, what I'm feeling and attributed to the thing. And then I can say, all right, Marc, like this person is not responsible for fixing your dog problem. You're their colleague, you're their boss, and your job is to be present. Now that I know that's why I'm irritable, I can take my breath and reappraise. And God, it really does work. Now, sometimes it happens in the moment, where you're with your husband, your wife, your partner, or your colleague, and they do something that drives you out of your mind or irritates you or whatever. And then you're, like, going back and forth about something. And that's harder, right? Because that's, that's in the moment, you have to be like, alright, Marc, your control issues are really coming out right now. Like, they didn't do what you want them to do. And you're angry about it, but you didn't even ask them to do it. So like, whose problem is that what I'm getting at, and maybe I sound like I'm a limit Tech, I don't know. That's kind of like, because I'm someone who experiences like strong emotions, and I'm very kind of all over emotionally. I have to really do this in order to be a role model. I mean, I am the Director of the Centre for emotional intelligence. After all

Claudia von Boeselager 18:52  
100% You need to practice what you preach. But I think there's so many of us that I mean, myself included, and if I have lack of sleep, if there's my kids are doing something, I need to like to check in, as well. So what are some of those? Do you count to 10 are counted 10 backward, Do you Take three breaths? Some people leave the room; what are some of the things you do to actually stop yourself, especially if it's in the moment thing that you were just saying, so that you don't react in the wrong way, but a place of higher emotional intelligence,

Marc Brackett 19:22  
you know, because I guess I'm an intellectual. I hate that term. But that's from an academic, you know, quite cognitive. And so that works for me. I mean, I do a lot of things. I'm really fanatic about exercise, you know, and eating healthy and just a thing that I really feel strongly about for myself. And it makes a difference, you know, so if I'm having a really like, I'm just like writing, and I'm like feeling stuck, I'll just go work out or go to the overclass or take a walk or, you know, make a cup of coffee and just sit back at the moment which is weird. You need to regulate oftentimes, it's the hardest. The go-to strategy I have one go-to one of many, but the one that will like to save me at the last moment is actually reminding myself that I'm the director of the Centre for emotional intelligence.

Claudia von Boeselager 20:18  
I guess that's your why, right? And, like, it's my

Marc Brackett 20:21  
use. And it's a visual that I create because the director of the Centre is actually someone who is like Yoda, you know, like wide, skillful, not like, you know, someone who just explodes and has no self-regulation. And it just works for me. I'm like, or I do sometimes, like, I'll say the littlest thing, it's like, Marc, take the high road, you can get through this bar, come on, take the high road. It's like, yeah, you know, and it works. I mean, these are things that research shows work,

Claudia von Boeselager 20:57  
for sure. And I think maybe you were given, you know, and brought up in this very emotional surrounding in order to achieve what you've achieved. Now, imagine you came from a very harmonious place, and you were trying to talk about how to regulate emotions, and you didn't have an idea. So clearly, this is part of your past. Yeah,

Marc Brackett 21:13  
you're making an important point of the witches that growing up in kind of all those departments, and then when bad things happen, or stressful things happen. You've had no preparation. Yeah, I feel very prepared.

Claudia von Boeselager 21:29  
Been? We have. We all have our journeys. Exactly. Mike, can you share a bit for people listening and trying to understand a bit better? Like how does emotional intelligence impact various aspects of lives, such as relationships or work performance, even rights, and even well-being,

Marc Brackett 21:47  
I like to talk about the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in five kinds of areas of everyday life. The first is attention and memory. You know, like the learning pieces, you know, how we feel drives what we attend to. Right. So when we're afraid, or feeling fearful, we're not in like, Oh, that's interesting. No, worrying. How do we get out of here? Right? That's what our brain is like, self-protective, fight or flight? Yeah, yeah. And so how we feel and how we deal with our feelings influences attention and memory. The second is decision-making. You know, we like to think that, you know, we're like, perfect decision makers. The truth is, I have made some pretty bad mistakes. That can be what, like, you know, knowing the research on, like, don't go into your stock portfolio when you're anxious, right? And then somehow another, like, so bad, and you sell it, when is that as low? You know, and then, of course, it goes back up. So I've learned like, Well, I'm not gonna, I'm gonna, like delegate my retirement to somebody else. But that's an emotional thing, right? Because you have this fear response that jumps in and says, you know, I'm going to save what I got; I'm not going to give up. It's not very well informed because I'm not a stockbroker or an expert in Marcets, and then everyday decisions, like, do I eat that? Do I not eat that I go to the gym? Do I not go to the gym, but do I say something kind of? I say something cruel; it's all emotions. The third, which is related to that, is relationships; I always think of emotions as signals to approach or avoid. And so the, how I feel on the inside, and how I perceive other people, right is a signal, it's like Marc, I don't feel I don't want to go to work today or see someone who's kind of looking like that, and I'm like, stay away from them, they're not going to be nice. That's a signal. The fourth is just mental health. You know, and that, you know, when we have emotions, especially strong ones, and we're not aware of them, and we don't know how to deal with them, they oftentimes take over, you know, it's how we have, we get to have anxiety disorders or depression. I mean, many other factors are involved in anxiety and depression. But I think a big piece of it is not picking up on the smaller little emotions that are, you know, that creep in and not having really good strategies to manage them. And then the final one, I just say, is like your performance, you know, you know, where I work? It's a lot of people who are high performers. You know, everybody's got the best grades or the best test scores; they all did great things. But the question is like, how do you deal with feedback? How do you deal with frustration and disappointment? How do you deal with the thing when someone actually is maybe smarter than you or, you know, gets things done faster than you or has more connections than you have, and you're feeling envious or jealous or angry? Can you deal with a bad feel? And I've seen in my research that if you can't deal with that aspect of your life, oftentimes you don't achieve the dreams you have,

Claudia von Boeselager 25:09  
because you get in your own way, or what's what's because, you know,

Marc Brackett 25:14  
you feel demoralized from the feedback. And you can't bounce back, or you get some anxious, you know, from the public speaking or something like that, that you don't actually get the chance to share your ideas. If you're going to be really creative and successful, and depending on the field you've gone to, you're gonna have to overcome a lot of strong feelings. Like, I always think about it, like, I've been rejected a lot in my life. You know, I write papers, like, we don't like that paper. You know, some people, you know, rejection is just part of the schools. Sometimes we're like, we don't want this in our school. Like, you don't want this in your schooling. Like, who are you? You know, like, You're weird. You're damaged children. And so, like, that's separate from, like, all my knowledge of RULER and all my knowledge of emotional intelligence, right? And my skill at writing curriculum and doing workshops and training and keynotes, like that's a skill. But the question is, when I'm doing that keynote, and someone says, like, you're a blank? Or who the blank Do you think you are? This is baloney. Do I crumble? Or do I have the resilience and strategies to deal with it? And so it's, you need

Claudia von Boeselager 26:29  
both and building that resilience? Muscle, I guess, as well. Speaking of which, what would you say, in your opinion, are the most common challenges individuals face in developing and applying emotional intelligence? And how can they overcome these?

Marc Brackett 26:44  
I think some of the larger challenges are that just because you're developing your emotional intelligence doesn't mean everybody around you is developing. There are very good points. And so like, You got to be really careful about that. The second, I think it's more layered than just learning the initial skill. For example, I made a commitment to be my best self. But I fail a lot. You know, and, and, you know, so what's my mindset around my failure? And mine is sort of like, I knew I was going to become my mother and father, you know, or do I say, Yeah, Marc, like, what was the reason that you failed? Can you go upstairs? Just take a little time. And think about it. And so now you need to work on the thing, you know, that got in the way, not just being your best up. But the thing that gets in the way of being your best self can be something as simple as getting more sleep. Sometimes we need multiple; there are strategies or a layered, yeah, like creating

Claudia von Boeselager 27:49  
learning to create dogs.

Marc Brackett 27:53  
Which is never going to happen. But so

Claudia von Boeselager 27:54  
the knock on the knock-on effect of that,

Marc Brackett 27:57  
we're getting blackout curtains, I think that's gonna be the new thing.

Claudia von Boeselager 28:02  
We try whatever it takes them. But sleep is so important, as everyone in my audience knows as well. I wanted to ask you a question about something I've been digging into for the past year around decision fatigue, the concept that there is a certain amount of decisions we can make in a day. And so we should choose our decisions wisely, wisely. So is there something similar around emotional intelligence? Like, are there certain practices we should have in place so that we can ensure a higher level of emotional intelligence and flex the positive muscle versus draining ourselves and then automatically ending up in a more negative emotional intelligence and intelligent place? Does that make sense? My, my,

Marc Brackett 28:42  
going clean it up a little bit? Yeah. I don't think your emotional intelligence changes that quickly. Right. So like, it's, it's an intelligence, right? It's gonna be, you know, it'll grow incrementally if you work on it, just like cognitive abilities grow up to a point, right? But what happens is that, like life, as I said earlier, like when I get up too early, and I don't exercise, and I eat a crappy breakfast, it's hard to exercise my emotional intelligence. Right? So even with all the, you know, emotional intelligence in the world, you know, I'll make poor decisions. And I see that happening, like when I travel. I've gotten much better at this over the last couple of years. But previously, I remember there was one time I went, I didn't know where it was going. And I ended up in a hotel that was, like, in Nowhere Land America. For me, anyway, it was like, I didn't know where I was actually. I was, like, literally in the middle of nowhere. And there were no, and I say that because there were no restaurants. There was no place to eat, and I was starving. Because I got off the flight and gotten, you know, kind of car to go to the place with nothing open. I got to the hotel. And I remember being wired, tired. turning on the television, watching the news at midnight, eating a bag of gummy bears

after like half the bag of, like, what is happening right now? And it was just, you know, I don't know, I don't eat that kind of stuff in general. But I was like, I was feeling kind of desperate, that was probably not so positive; I was exhausted, tired. And all my habits that I had been working on for years, just were like, by my, and so those are moments of like, you know, that's, you know, for me, because, you know, being healthy is important, you know, and, and I say that, because, you know, I had a mom die young of cancer, and a father die of heart disease, and, you know, the people, my parent, my family did not take care of themselves. So I'm trying not to be obsessive about it. So I have a heart attack being successful. But I'm trying to, you know, you know, I want to live a long life, and I want to be healthy when I grow old. But, you know, I've learned bad habits. And I'm breaking those as I grow older and practicing, and the point related to your question is that the skills of emotional intelligence are always going to be expressed in an environment, a personal environment, you know, where if you're like, life is really stressed out, and you're in this trip, and it's, you know, you're just wired and tired and overwhelmed. Or you have all the potential as a child, but you're growing up in a violent neighborhood. Now, and, you know, there's a lot of gun violence, or there's a lot of poverty, and the or, you know, or neglect, we can't negate the fact that we're going to work on all aspects of the system. If that I hope that resonates. It's so like, if it's in a workplace, that culture and climate influence your ability to be emotionally intelligent in that environment, in a school setting, right? The cultural climate of the school matters, right? How teachers treat each other, and how the principal takes this. And being in communities, I worked with a school district recently, where there were lockdowns, because of, you know, the horrific thing is happening once or twice a week, your nervous system will be affected by that. And that's going to make it harder for you to apply the skills and emotional intelligence. So I want to, and I just want to say this last piece right now, which is that we often put the onus on the individual to figure it out. And I think that's the wrong way to go. We have to work together and create emotionally intelligent communities collectively.

Claudia von Boeselager 32:51  
And would you say that starts with the schools and the educators, which then filter onto the

Marc Brackett 32:56  
parts at home? I think it starts at home from birth, you know, what kind of empathy, compassion, warmth, support additives? supportiveness? Do you provide that child? Right? Are you cultivating those, you know, the environment where that child can explore? You know, you know, in many ways, reflection is a privilege, right? You know, because I have the time and space to do that in my life. I didn't have as a kid, you know, as you may know, you know, I was abused as a child. And I had horrific abuse. And I had, you know, a lot of bullying. And so my reflection was not reflection; it was more survival. And that's not the kind of reflection I'm talking about. You know, I'm talking about the, you know, the space to examine things kind of.

Claudia von Boeselager 33:53  
Yeah, and so sorry to hear that, Mike. Yeah. I think for perhaps some, like maybe teenagers or parents with children, where this is old for some that they're hearing this, and they're like, Okay, how can I implement this? Or, you know, how can I bring this into the home but also share this with the school? What are ways that people can begin to implement this in a home environment, but also, you know, share with their school to get them to start doing this too?

Marc Brackett 34:23  
So a couple of things. I mean, the first is, you know, without being a shameless self-promoter, you know, read my book permission to feel it's a great beginning. You can listen to it if you don't like to read. But the other thing that we have also is I have the honor and privilege to work with the co-founder of Pinterest on a new app called how we feel, which is available for free on iOS and Android. And it's that mood meter tool with 144 words to describe your feelings but 36 research-based strategies to help you regulate your emotions. So go download the app and play with that because it really is a nice, accessible way to build emotional self-awareness and healthy regulation. Those are my two recommendations. And then, obviously, you can read other things. But I do think that before you can start building your skill, you do have to learn a little bit, you know, and some people just don't understand the science. And so I felt it was important to write about the science so that when people like, I don't think this is important, like, I'm glad you don't think that way now, but read this, and maybe I can share your thinking.

Claudia von Boeselager 35:39  
Exactly. And let's talk about the workplace; you've touched on it before, but how can employers and leaders create an environment that supports and encourages emotional intelligence among employees or among all employees and leadership as well? And what are some tangible steps that they can take to promote emotional well-being at work?

Marc Brackett 36:01  
It's funny you asked that because I've been asked that a lot over the last couple of years. And I get invited to do presentations at a lot of these big companies. And then there was like, Well, what's next? And I was like, I don't know. And so I started this company called OG Lifelab, which is for the business world. And what we learned in building on our modules for the corporate space was a people don't have time; nobody wants to go through this six-hour 10-hour two-week training. And so what we decided that was going to be helpful, we've now shown that it is, is bite-size kind of modules like a 10-minute module on why emotions matter. What is emotional intelligence? What is emotional labor at work, so giving people those bite-sized pieces of education. And then the reflection piece is important, where they get some coaching, to talk about like, well, where have you been living on the motivator? And why? And what are your goals? Let's work through your goals. So if you people can go through that training, which I think is really, people love it. We work with companies like Amazon and Kohler, and St. Jude's Children's Hospital, the app is a great thing. Because if you can just spread it throughout your organization, then you can actually do sharing function where you can see how each other is doing. And then I think, importantly, you know, as managers as leaders is, I mean, you've got to be one step ahead. I asked myself all the time, you know, how can I be the best possible role model for emotional intelligence, and oftentimes, it's finding the things that I want to do in that moment cuz I made a choice to be a leader to be a manager. It doesn't come naturally to me; what comes naturally to me is like sitting in a coffee shop and writing, you know, that's, you know, or like thinking about a new study, and like collecting the data, that's what I love. But I knew I needed an organization to do this work. It wasn't just about me, it was about building a team to help make the world a better place. And so, you know, when you're in that kind of position, selflessness is a big factor. And oftentimes, it's like, Marc, you're doing just fine. Like, yeah, you're neurotic. But whatever. Like, what is your teammate? How do they feel when they come to work? You know how they feel. And so we at our center, we do this, we ask people not only to have a feel, we ask them how they want to feel. And then we ask them, Well, what would help you to feel those emotions and things that are reasonable? Like getting a 20%? Raise? I'm sorry. But what are the, like, realistic, attainable, kind of behaviors that we can all do for each other? We can experience that. So part of the reason why after this recording, I have to go into our cafeteria is that today's is like the first day we're making our little one once-a-month breakfast for everybody. And I have to show up for that because I'm the one. Well, I didn't. It was somebody else who designed it. But that's something that people felt was important, like, just even once a month, having breakfast together.

Claudia von Boeselager 39:09  
Yeah. I'm, I'm curious to hear what your feedback sessions are for your team. Like, what do you talk about? What do you plan? Some companies have a 360-degree feedback review. Do you guys like special emotional reviews?

Marc Brackett 39:26  
Feedback is important. It's a gift. And with the emotion piece that I was referring to, we do pulse check-ins. So every quarter, we give our staff a survey. We also want them to feel that you'd appreciate it connected, etc., scale from one to five. Have you been feeling that way? What's working? What would you like to see more? And so it's just a continuous feedback loop. You know, working toward creating the best possible emotional climate for people to work in.

Claudia von Boeselager 39:56  
Yeah, I mean, again, you have to be the role model in this sense. Well

Marc Brackett 40:01  
hear things that you don't want to hear, you know, sometimes they want to see more of you, sometimes they want less of you.

And that's okay. It's like, that's more of me for what, less of me for what, let's talk it through, and you want more autonomy here, that's fantastic. Let's just make sure you're going to be successful. You know, I think that we're not brought up learning how to listen and be nonjudgmental and empathic. And so, like, just taking this, you know, like, oh, I mean, I'm rad, I feel fabulous. If someone wants more autonomy, you know, how do I support you in that, as long as you're going to be successful? I'm fine. And, you know, maybe it's my need to control that needs to be managed, as opposed to anything else, you know, maybe. And so I don't want to impede someone else's success because of the need that I have. You know, they have to live their life, and I have to support them in their life. And that's what I think leadership and management are about.

Claudia von Boeselager 41:01  
Yeah. And that reflection, like, where is it coming from? Right? And the answer is, well, what role does reframing and the concept of reframing play in emotional intelligence and naming emotions? Because we were discussing, you know, childhood, and we have childhood beliefs. So sometimes we'll be triggered by something that's coming from some childhood situation. And so the power of sometimes reframing it being like, well, you know, taking it from another perspective can be powerful. So, what is your view on reframing in order to see emotions from a different perspective?

Marc Brackett 41:37  
Yeah, I think it's fantastic. I think it's one of the most well-researched strategies for dealing with difficult feelings. And there are many forms of it. I use it a lot, you know, personally, and that I'm part of, like, Marc, you know, you're the director of the Centre for emotional intelligence is a reframe, right? I'm looking at the situation from the lens of that person, as opposed to the person who has been activated at the moment, which is a form of reappraisal or reframing. I think, you know, my colleague Robin talks about this, and it can be a slippery slope only when you're being manipulated. You know, and so you want to be mindful. Like, are you being forced to reappraise? Or is this, you know, done? You know, I think, yeah. You know, like, if someone is telling you to reframe, you know, like, Marc, you know, you shouldn't, you know, you should do this, or Marc, you're too sensitive. It's like, like, I'm not sure it's your job to tell me; I'm too sensitive. Yeah. Maybe I'm just a nice guy, and maybe you're trying to get something out of me, you know, or the reverse, or someone tells you that you're not a kind person, it's like, well, is this a projection on your part? Or is this the truth about my behavior? Like, that's where all that reflection comes in. And that self-awareness in that kind of, like, finding those trusted friends for feedback becomes really important.

Claudia von Boeselager 43:07  
Yeah. And I think also having that reflection time to have not to really know yourself and have that confidence in yourself so that you can see it as a projection versus making it mean something about you, I guess, as well. Right. Mike, looking ahead, what do you see as the future of emotional intelligence research and its impact on society?

Marc Brackett 43:26  
I have my own research right now, I'm trying to learn two things. One is I'm very curious about people who have had or don't have feelings, mentors, nonacademic mentors, you know, had mentorship about how to do research, but like, the mentorship on kind of emotional intelligence. And then the second is, you know, given that I'm working on another book on regulation, I'm really trying to figure out, like, what are the top strategies, you know, that are helpful for most people. And, then, kind of other profiles of strategies that work for different people. So that we can have, you know, learn about ourselves and have, you know, go to strategies, you know, like, whether it be social support, whether it be journaling, whether it be reframing, whether it be breathing, whether it be Yoga, you know, what are the ones that are working the best for the most amount of people

Claudia von Boeselager 44:25  
have you looked into the biohacking Space Mike? V heat?

Marc Brackett 44:30  
Yeah, it's very interesting. I actually do that now. This morning, I'm like, hold water for 10 minutes. I was ready to, like, blow my mind. It really does make a difference. So biohacking is it's all good. I'm not sure it's going to change the way I speak to my partner. But it's one, you know, like, again, we need to know the repertoire, you know,

Claudia von Boeselager 45:01  
yes. 100% okay, exactly. Yeah. Just before we finish up here, Mike, if you could live to 150 years old in excellent health, how would you spend your time?

Marc Brackett 45:13  
Well, I have a feeling talking about emotional intelligence; by the time 100, is gonna get a little old. And so if I'm in good health, you know, I really like being in other cultures and countries, you know, so I imagine myself not in big cities, like, with traffic. But I imagined myself transporting myself on some magic carpet from a little village in Spain to another village in Italy, to then a little village in Japan and China, and then South America, Central America, and just kind of like, observing the world. Beautiful.

Claudia von Boeselager 45:47  
That sounds nice. You can teleport yourself.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we're always welcome. Let me know for people interested in following what you're up to, and your work and research, where would you recommend they find you and keep up with you,

Marc Brackett 46:07  
I think just going into my personal website, which is, is the best place. And then from there, you can learn about the app, my book you can learn. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter. You know, I'm pretty active there. I only use it for good. And yeah, delighted for people to stay in touch by running the virtual book clubs over the summer for people to join to learn more about this stuff. They're free. And, you know, my hope is that we just get people involved in the work. So whatever it takes

Claudia von Boeselager 46:48  
for you to vote, so we'll link everything in the show notes for people listening, live a final ask or recommendation or any parting thoughts or message from my audience to them,

Marc Brackett 46:57  
because of that, I've been writing about which is permission to feel is something that I don't think we should take lightly. And so my hope is that your listeners will not only give themselves the permission to be their true fulfilling selves but give everyone they work with they live with that permission as well.

Claudia von Boeselager 47:23  
Mike, it's been such an honor and pleasure to have you on today. So much for your time. I know you're dashing to your important events. We'll finish up as well. But thank you. Pleasure when you finish your next book. I'd love to have you on, and we can discuss that as well. So thank you so much, Mike.

Marc Brackett 47:41  
Thank you. Good to see you.

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Longevity Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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