Getting Smarter: SJ enhances its emotional intelligence
By Tech. Sgt. Michael Charles, 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 24, 2019
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- A young lady sat in the back of the small auditorium with her eyes fixated toward the front of the room. She could feel every member in the room glaring at her. Each wondering how she would answer the question that was presented to her just moments before.
After her brief reflection, she took a deep breath and answered.
“Wanted,” she said calmly. “When I think of the best people I’ve been around; they’ve made me feel wanted.”
Suddenly, several different answers echoed throughout the room.
“Positive; open-minded; determined,” each answer coming from a different attendee sitting on opposite sides of the room.
The moderator, who at the front of the room has been writing each answer on the paper, suddenly stops. He looks at the same lady and presents a different question than he asked earlier.
“How do the worst people you’ve been around make you feel,” he asked.
The room suddenly turned silent.
Over the past few years, the military has demonstrated a concerted effort to strengthen the overall Comprehensive Airman Fitness of all Airmen currently serving. However, according to Chief Master Sgt. Eric Forman, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group superintendent and seminar moderator, the emotional pillar is often neglected due to the sensitivity and privacy that many members desire.
In an effort to improve the often-neglected CAF pillar of members on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, 4th Fighter Wing leaders invited Forman from Fort Gordon, Georgia, to lead and act as a moderator at an Emotional Intelligence Seminar Oct. 24, 2019 in the 333rd Fighter Squadron.
“Emotion stressors are inherently present in the atmosphere we operate in as members of the military,” Col. Joel Meyers, 4th Operations Group Commander. “If we can identify how to better take care of each other we can accomplish a lot more.”
Twenty Airmen across the 4 FW attended the all-day discussion to enhance their own emotional intelligence and identify ways to help those around them do the same. Emotional intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to recognize and understand emotions, and your skill at using this awareness to manage yourself and your relationship with others.
“Being in the military, we are well aware of the stresses both physical and emotional associated with a constant focus on the mission,” said Lt. Col Johnathan Bott, 333rd Fighter Squadron commander. “Being able to better identify how people are feeling through their non-verbal actions or engagement will help us bring the balance to the people we lead.”
During the seminar, members were able to share their own emotional stressors and identify how to recognize and cope with stressful situations. This was often done in groups aimed at encouraging members to talk about what affects them and developing strategies to engage others emotionally.
“Emotional intelligence isn’t always about identifying and knowing what to say in times of emotional stress of others,” Forman said. “It is also about understanding the behavioral changes associated with emotional stress within yourself.”
One of the group exercises involved having each member discuss an unspoken normality at the workplace and drawing the emotional consequence of those social norms. The exercise helped members identify commonalities of how they feel emotionally while doing their work.
“As humans when tend to deal with social norms that we have certain feelings about with toxic positivity,” Forman said. “It can come off ingenuine. This exercise was meant to showcase to each member that we have more in common than we think and that emotional empathy goes a long way.”
According to Meyers, the hope of the training was to further develop frontline leaders, who are capable of having deeper emotional conversations with those around them.
“It isn’t always easy to have these conversations, Meyers said. “However, it is very important in maintaining the wellbeing of our Airmen in this fast paced, military environment that we operate.”
At the conclusion of the seminar, each person was given an assessment. Its purpose was to highlight each attendee’s strengths and weaknesses based on four categories; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. By doing so, it provides tools necessary to improve how each attendee caters to the emotional fitness of those around them.
“These assessments will help identify blind spots and strengths for each individual who received one,” Forman said. “Most importantly, it shows the emotional fitness of those around you. Hopefully, we have given you the tools to make intelligent responses going forward.”