Emotional intelligence is one of the most important characteristics that employers look for, but it is often the most over looked in education. Emotional intelligence, or soft skills, is a person’s ability to connect and work with the people around them in an emotional and effective way.
Front Range Community College students can learn more about emotional intelligence by joining the Leadership Book Club on the Westminster campus. Students can join for just one or for all of the books, depending on their desires. The topics help students evaluate themselves more critically. Five dollars gets students a copy of the book and a place in the group discussion.
According to Dan Balski, the staff coordinator for the club, “The Book Club is really an interesting and self-selected process by students who vary greatly in age and identity and who are intrigued by the book and the process of discussing the book. It’s really interesting that we get such diverse educational, gender, and identity backgrounds.”
One soft skill, interpersonal communication, teaches students to have genuine conversations with people of different viewpoints, making them important parts of teams in future jobs.
Beyond the actual diversity of the book club, students can gain soft skills through through contemplation of the material. “When you’re reading a book to ‘understand’ the content of a class, you’re doing it in a way that is all connected to how well you do on tests or retain information. While this can be personally developing for some students, its not a way for everybody. When you read a math text, you’re not really thinking about bettering your life; you’re not really reflecting on ‘What am I doing with my life?’ However, when you read some of the books we’ve read, they’re geared towards bettering yourself through personal reflection. These books speak to you in a different way vs. academic reading,” Balski said.
Different ways of thinking challenge people, and those challenges are difficult to overcome. The Book Club is a fun and easy way to step outside of the academic realm and into the emotional realm. Thus, students can attain a better understanding of one another.
Employers are looking for employees who have an emotional awareness and an ability to communicate well with others. For instance, Google hires systems engineers frequently, and they need managers to work their teams. Soft skills are not emphasized in science, technology, engineering and math, and when Google promotes an engineer to a managerial position with no soft skills, they fail and are either let go or demoted.
In order to survive the modern job hunt, one must be competitive on all levels. While a terminal degree is worth a lot, but not as much as being able to talk on a human level to other humans.
Balski credits his success with the ability to balance both academic and personal reading. “When I’m reading a text book there’s no pause, but when I read for fun or for personal growth I pause and I think about my life and how I can make things better. There’s a different energy that comes from this kind of reading rather than forced academic reading,” he said.
Not only will the text open you up to new ideas, but interacting with other people will help you learn to communicate and engage with more diverse people. On a macro and micro level humanity needs this. The world will get better when people start to communicate on deeper human levels, and FRCC students can expedite the process by joining the Book Club.
Written by Christopher Kemp
Photo by Kayla Klein