Design Education Events

The Role of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in Design

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© Vinod Nair, Taylor’s University, 2019. Emotional Intelligence (EI) group exercise. Individuals in the group identify various attributes in reference to the EI questionnaire and make calculations to obtain scores that indicates various levels of EI.

Educational institutions and educators have begun to integrate emotional intelligence (EI) into the curriculum. They have begun to recognize that it helps to bring an understanding of the complexities of human interaction, partly because it allows practitioners (designers) to bring compassion, empathy, and wisdom to schools and organizations, and partly because emotional intelligence delivers impressive bottom-line results. This direction offers an opportunity for designers and design educators to recraft a direction in current design education which has been embedded for so many years. They now want to help deliver user-centred output that can be associated with design for social good/ social design/ design for people. This is an opportunity to enhance design so that it can become more concerned with the possible impact on all of society, not only the economic ones.

Recently, the faculty of Taylor’s Design School participated in a daylong workshop focusing on EI.  The workshop was led by Dr. Jenny Wong, an Emotional Quotient expert who serves as the Head of the School of Social Science and Business and for the School of Pre-University at one of the renowned universities in Klang Valley. She structured the workshop to allow and encourage each individual to learn about themselves and understand how they handled stress but more importantly, she helped them to bring awareness about themselves through a variety of questionnaires and indicators.

The design faculty discussed and expressed modes of changing/improving. Despite the seriousness of the workshop, there was a great deal of laughter and interaction throughout. Besides learning about themselves and establishing self-awareness, the faculty worked in groups, and then shared and explained their various results. Those who participated learned quite a lot about themselves and gained insight into their co-workers. This experience will also filter into their teaching and hopefully assist their students in developing their well-being and their ability to transfer this into their design thinking. The intention is to assist students to improve their personal happiness as well as their success in business and education. This Interface between the role and the soul attempts to present a case for the need to harmonise the two for mutual nourishment and continued relevance. Having this knowledge and awareness will enable the students to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately and then to use emotional information to guide their thinking.

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© Vinod Nair, Taylor’s University, 2019. Left: EI group exercise, in the foreground from left Diana Rosli, Martin and Jeffrey Patrick discuss results of the EI exercises. Right: On the left, EI workshop facilitator Dr. Jenny Wong and participant Aidatul Aida. Lecturer Aidatul explains the various words describing her mental state while at work.

Because stress is a necessary part of our lives, it can have both beneficial and/or negative effects upon ourselves and on others in our lives. Our stress response is primarily determined by our perception of an event, transition, or problem. We need to learn to find balance in our lives and manage our stress. How well do we do that?

In 1995, Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ whereby he identified and discussed in detail the five critical components of emotional intelligence (EI): self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Goleman analyzes how executives with strong EI skills make the best managers and CEOs.

Since that time, there has been a global movement to bring EI into practice in businesses, schools, and communities around the globe. Goleman has found that executives with strong EI skills make the best managers and CEOs. Thus, it would make sense that identifying and developing these skills would become critical to designers and design educators both in developing their creative ideas but also in working with others and improving communication with colleagues and clients.

EI encourages all of us to bring compassion, empathy, and wisdom to schools and organizations. Evidence has shown that emotional intelligence delivers impressive bottom-line results. Therefore, the significance of identifying, developing and understanding EI has begun to  play a significant role in education whereby students can learn more about themselves so that they can identify and develop these skills not only to enhance personal happiness but also to improve work performance. Employers are becoming more aware of the necessity for their workers to possess these abilities. Thus, educational institutions and educators have begun to integrate emotional intelligence into the curriculum. It brings an understanding of  the complexities of human interaction, partly because it allows practitioners (designers) to bring compassion, empathy, and wisdom to schools and organizations, and partly because emotional intelligence delivers impressive bottom-line results. This direction offers an opportunity for designers and design educators to recraft the direction embedded in the current design education to deliver user-centricity output that can be associated with design for social good/ social design/ design for people. It is able to enhance design to become more concerned with the possible impact on all of society, not only the economic ones.

“This is a worldwide movement, but people are isolated,” Goleman explains. “To everyone who is laboring in solitary circumstances — in a school, in a business, in a hospital, a university, wherever you may be: you are part of a community — a virtual community of like-minded people pursuing this important work. The chance to come together and meet others in your ‘family’ is enormously important.”

Emotional intelligence has been shown to help people shift away from personal gain and self-interest to instead begin to notice, care, and take action to do something about what needs to be fixed in the world. Designers who use, understand, and develop their emotional intelligence will be able to positively influence the world now and into the future. .

Design requires a good sense of self as well as the ability to clearly and sympathetically communicate in visual terms what the client’s wants/needs. In order to do this successfully, the designer has to be able to clearly communicate, sympathetically comprehend the project needs, and develop a solution that will speak to the target audience. All of this is based on EI, which unlike IQ, can be developed and improved.

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