Enhancing Communications through Emotional Intelligence with Yale Professor Dr. Marc Brackett

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Walker & Dunlop hosted the latest episode of our Walker Webcast series, “Enhancing Business Decisions through Emotional Intelligence” with our CEO, Willy Walker, and renowned Yale professor and emotional intelligence expert, Dr. Marc Brackett.

View "Navigating the Markets"

Willy provided an update on the CRE market and current economic landscape, prior to his discussion with Marc about the importance and power of emotional intelligence. They covered:

  • The weekly update on market liquidity and spreads within the CRE market
  • Insights into forbearance trends and the impact of unemployment rates on rent-rolls
  • The importance of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions
  • Specific techniques for managing emotions in times of stress

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A bit about each speaker:

Willy Walker
Willy Walker

Willy Walker is chairman and chief executive officer of Walker & Dunlop. Under Mr. Walker’s leadership, Walker & Dunlop has grown from a small, family-owned business to become one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. Walker & Dunlop is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and in its first seven years as a public company has seen its shares appreciate 547%.

Marc Brackett
Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett, Ph.D., author of Permission To Feel, is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine at Yale University. His grant-funded research focuses on: (1) the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationship quality, and mental health; (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence; and (3) the influence of emotional intelligence training on children’s and adults’ health, performance, and workplace performance and climate. Marc has published 125 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning and an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College. He also is a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and on the board of directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Q&A Transcript

Given that each one of us is being challenged in this current environment, can you give some thoughts on how to process overwhelming demands on us to wearing different hats at this time and regulating our emotions?

MB: It’s a great question and a serious challenge we are all facing. A lot of the way we regulate has to do with the stories we tell ourselves. So, what I would ask is, this is all going to be temporary but can you frame the story to “wow, I am super talented, I can be a teacher, I can be a parent, I can be a janitor, etc.” Then you really laugh about it. It is a really, powerful strategy to dealing with emotions. So, A) give yourself permission to be overwhelmed and feel those feelings, but B) tell yourself a different story around it.

It is all about shifting away from the self-sabotaging way of thinking and moving towards thinking that supports yourself and being the most present you can be.

Every morning when the markets open up, the stocks being traded are in either the green or red. If when you wake up and you realize your moods are in the red or even in the blue, how do you move your moods to in the green or in the yellow?

MB: The first thing is if you are activated in the red, you are anxious or feeling overwhelmed or panicking then you need to ask yourself some questions. How much control do I have over this? Really evaluating the unnecessary worry, that we might have about things we cannot control is seriously important to help us. If we are ruminating in that, our health gets sacrificed, our relationships get sacrificed. Another piece of it is - limit the amount of information you take in. Setting yourself up for success like managing your life smartly and being a preventionist and managing your thoughts.

Anger, worry, stress - how are those associated with unhealthy behaviors? How do those play into long-term health ailments? What can we do today to arrest some of those bad behaviors?

MB: It is not the experience of these feelings; it is what we do with these feelings and the way you think about the feeling. It’s not about the experience, it’s about how we modulate those feelings. When we feel or experience chronic stress, like unfortunately many people who live in poverty or who are in abusive relationships are experiencing, this is when our neurobiology can start shifting. Think about the cycle, you feel bad about yourself, then your brain goes to catastrophic thinking, your neurochemicals are released, you make poor choices about being sedentary when you really should be getting up and exercising, you crave sugars because insulin levels are shifting around and it just creates a vicious loop. We want to break that cycle by A) being a preventionist, by trying our best, by setting up our lives so we aren’t activated as much and B) by having the helpful strategy of reframing and distancing.

You talked previously about a study you had at Yale, by dividing into two teaching groups by one having a positive classroom and one having a negative classroom. Then by grading the same essay and finding that there was a full point less in the ones in the negative classroom then those who were in the positive classroom. Given when we are in offices, there is some environmental control, mostly the environment is controlled. How can we think about running our lives and businesses when every one of us are in different environments dealing with our emotional biases of having (example) a child running into a conference call and not understanding that we don’t want them to do that? Any thoughts how it relates to emotional biases?

MB: You might do an exercise of all the people you work closely with and think about each person and ask when I think about that person how do I feel. Do I feel like wow, I want to work with that person for the rest of my life or do I feel anger, disgust or love? So, I would take a moment to reflect on the people and those feelings are probably driving the ways you interact and work with them. Second, pause and reflect. If you don’t pause and reflect on your feeling, it leaks into the next meeting. It is important to pause and attribute those feelings to what it is. My recommendation is to take a breath and check your feelings and attribute those feelings to what you are actually feeling.

WW: So my final question to you, in a world, that isn’t filled with a lot of comedy right now and people are carrying feelings of anger, stress, etc. would you A) conclude that there is very little creativity taking place in the world today, and B) what can we do to jumpstart those good emotions that people have that are creative?

MB: The good news is you can be creative with all feelings. Feeling despair can cause you to write a beautiful poem. What I think is my last advice for everyone, is that we think that our creativity comes from sitting in a room and trying to get a whole lot of ideas but when we do something that is fun and relaxing, then boom, that is when all the ideas start coming. Give yourself permission to enjoy life. Allow your brain to be deactivated in that space and then beautiful things can happen.

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