Handling Life’s Challenges: Emotional Intelligence in the SAIS Community

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The recent months have been eventful ones for SAIS Europe’s class of 2017. Much of this has been positive – European excursions, Bologna’s chocolate show, an unforgettable Halloween bash and a memorable Thanksgiving dinner with fellow classmates and faculty – but some has also been negative for much of the community.

In the past month, SAIS students have had to respond to multiple earthquakes, the aftermath of Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidential election, the rise of populism, the European migration crisis and Italian train strikes. On Dec. 4, Italy will vote on a constitutional referendum.

To be a global citizen is to understand how to react to and solve crises. But how can a SAIS student, or anyone for that matter, maintain a positive attitude or a calm demeanor when the world around them may be inching closer to chaos?

SAIS students are, by virtue of our chose degree, global citizens. However, this does not necessarily mean  we are required to separate our emotions or values from our perspective on the world.  Especially now, it’s important to have emotional intelligence when responding to negativity or shock.

One can define emotional intelligence, or emotional self-management, as “being able to keep distressing emotions under control”, and “to be able to remain effective in stressful situations,” according to Daniel Goleman, a journalist who wrote about emotional intelligence in the aftermath of the U.S. election in a LinkedIn 15416166_10157983083460094_903159789_n.

“Emotional intelligence in our lives is fundamental,” said Linda Moffa, an Italian-American counselor living in Bologna. ”How we handle life’s challenges and potential opposing forces is dependent on how calm we can remain in stressful situations.”

Emotional intelligence is not just important for our personal lives, but for our professional lives as well. Handling our emotions in the workplace will affect how we handle conflict that arises and the future of organizations.

Moffa recommends focusing on personal emotional intelligence and health in the aftermath of the US election.  

“SAIS students [need] to reinforce the concept that things to do not always go as we’d like them to go,” she said. “If we are reminded that setbacks of varying degrees are part of life, we can aim for greater acceptance with regards to disappointments and work towards inner peace…”

So while it is important to handle one’s emotions and channel them into today’s politically-correct and rational world, these are the same tools that help a person face their setbacks and be resilient in their lives, both political and personal.

“In today’s tumultuous world, a leader or world-changer needs to be well informed and careful about addressing the needs of the society”  concluded Moffa. “This implies understanding who makes up the society and making sure that no sectors are left out when needs are trying to be met.”

Note: If you are seeking a counselor or just someone to talk with about emotional intelligence, Linda Moffa is readily available to all students. She is an English-speaking, licensed counselor in Bologna, and you can reach her by email at lmoffa@hotmail.com.

Chloe is a staff writer for the SAIS Observer. She is a second-year conflict management concentrator at SAIS Europe.

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