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At NUS and the world at large, the relevance and importance of cultivating EQ continues to grow. To increase awareness and prompt discussion among our readers, we are pleased in this issue of CDTL Brief to present several informed perspectives on the subject of EQ.

March 1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Summary of Chan Cheng’s EQ For Youths For You
Ms Neo Chee Szu
Administrative Officer, CDTL

EQ For Youths For You (Singapore: SNP Publishing Pte Ltd, 1999) is a book written in Chinese by Asst Prof Chan Cheng from the Department of Social Work & Psychology, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, based on his experiences working with the Juvenile Court and various youth organisations in Singapore. Targeted at teenagers, the book aims to help young people to understand the concept of Emotional Intelligence (also known as Emotional Quotient or EQ) and how it relates to their lives.
The book has three main sections. The first explains the concepts of EQ. The second consists of eleven local case studies that highlight teenagers who ineffectively exercised their EQ and include the author’s suggestions on how to better manage their problems. The third section contains some useful tips on EQ training methods for teenagers, youth workers, and teachers. Also included in this section is a locally formulated EQ questionnaire with local norms for comparison.

I. The Five Underlying Concepts of EQ

Studies have shown that a person with high EQ has a higher chance of success compared to a person with high IQ (but low EQ), as a high-EQ person is better able to manage his emotions appropriately and overcome his problems. There are five underlying concepts of EQ (For further elaboration of these 5 qualities, please see box on following page): -

  1. Self-knowledge: A lot of people do not know themselves and therefore are unaware of their true feelings, often making them regret their actions or words. With self-knowledge, one is better equipped to cope with life. Especially when faced with negative emotions, self-knowledge can help one overcome and gain control over such negativity.

  2. Control of Emotions: The emotions the author mentions here are the negative ones such as anger. Like temporary insanity, an emotional outburst prevents one from thinking clearly. By learning to control their emotions and keep calm when faced with problems or conflicts, teenagers are then able to handle the situation and maintain friendships.

  3. Self-motivation: From his counselling experience, the author considers that self-motivation is what often differentiates a good from bad student. The former is able to set his own goals and push himself to achieve his targets. In contrast, the latter lacks self-control, makes no self-demands and is unable to accomplish anything when lacking external supervision.

  4. Impulse Control: Many students always lament that they are unable to finish their schoolwork during the holidays despite good intentions, blaming the fault on the many activities that entice them away from the schoolwork. But the main problem is their inability to exercise self-control over their impulses for immediate gratification. Teenagers must learn to defer short-term gratification to achieve long term goals.

  5. Social Skills: Empathy is the basis of interpersonal relations. In order to develop good social skills, one must first be able to see things from another person’s point of view, and understand their feelings. With a sense of empathy, one will be able to choose the appropriate actions to take when dealing with problems.

II. Case Studies

To illustrate the need to apply each of the five EQ qualities mentioned above, the author presents several real life case studies. One example of the importance of developing self-motivation is as follows:

A boy who did very well during his primary school years was regularly rewarded by his school as well as by his parents for his excellent grades. He subsequently entered into a local elite secondary school. The new school did not have the same reward system the boy was used to. The boy soon find himself resenting the school for not acknowledging his performance. He lost interest in his study. His initial internal motivation (i.e. curiosity to learn and explore new knowledge) to study was replaced by external motivation (i.e. rewards by school and parents) to perform. He incorrectly attributed his attitude towards school to reinforcement from external sources rather than to the sense of accomplishment from within himself. The constant external rewards have effectively murdered the boy’s intrinsic drive to self-improve.

III. EQ Training Methods/Questionnaire

The final section of the book contains topical exercises and training methods that readers can use to improve their EQ. For instance, one important aspect of effective communication is the ability to process and express non-verbal bodily or facial expression. Readers are given guided instructions to practise their facial expressions of the different emotions in front of a mirror to make themselves more aware of their non-verbal expressions. Teachers, parents, counsellors and youth workers can also help develop youngsters’ EQ by discussing with them the various concepts of EQ and how to apply it in their daily lives. Last but not least, the book comes with an EQ inventory checklist for each of the five components of EQ; readers can take a short test and compare their scores with the normative data to see where they stand. The aim of this questionnaire is to promote active introspection and improve self-awareness among readers as well as for readers to determine if they have grasped the concepts of EQ.

The book also includes interesting cartoons to illustrate important concepts. The foreword is written by Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Hang Chang Chieh. The book has been endorsed by the Curriculum Planning and Development Division of the Ministry of Education as recommended reading for students. The author is currently working on an English version of EQ For Youths For You that will be published by Longman Wisely.

The Core Qualities of EQ

In a workshop on EQ that Asst Prof Chan Cheng gave at CDTL on 6 March 1999, he explained EQ as follows:

  • Self-awareness: Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, knowing your life goals and potentials in achieving those goals are keys to a person’s self-concept and self-confidence. Without which, one will be floundering in life and may find success and life satisfaction to be remote entities.

  • Mood Management: While self-awareness helps us to know our potentials, mood management skills help us to handle negative life events. Successful people can see new opportunities (e.g. start a business, revamp company policies) in the face of negative encounters (e.g. retrenchment, lose a contract). The skills help us to avoid unnecessary conflicts in life and have more positive drives to focus on important life goals.

  • Self-motivation: Ever wonder why some people just have that extra time and energy to do the things they set out to do? Well, self-motivation is the answer. A motivated person knows how to plan and manage his time in a productive way. He is willing to leave his comfort zone of life style and venture into risk zone where he is likely to experience some stress. However, his purpose in life gives him the strength to overcome the anxiety associated with stress. Self-motivation differentiates a proactive from a passive individual, a doer from a procrastinator, an achiever from a failure.

  • Reward Delay: Shakespeare once wrote, “What win I, if I gain the thing I seek? A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy. Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?” He was talking about sacrificing one’s future for a brief moment of joy. In real life, are there not many of those who cannot resist momentary impulses to buy a minute of happiness (mirth) for a week’s worth of pain? A sheep gets lost and separated from the herd because it nibbles at the juicy grass that meet the eyes but forgets to look up to see the whole green lawn ahead of him. So, be it for school, career, or other life aspirations, the ability to control impulses to get immediate but insignificant gratification in the interest of long-term life goals is the crux to many great successful life stories.

  • People Skills: One quality that characterises successful people is their social aptness. They have good social networks, are pleasant to be with, and win support. Successful people tend to get things others find difficult or even impossible done. Do they do the tasks themselves? The answer is often “no”. They get things done because they can mobilise their friends and associates to help them achieve the tasks at hand. The skills involved are categorised under the notion of people skills in EQ.
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Inside this issue
Nurturing Emotional Intelligence in University Students
Summary of Chan Cheng's EQ For Youths For You
Emotional Intelligence and Careers