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Emotional competence refers to a person's competence in expressing or releasing their emotions. It implies an ease around emotions which results in emotionally competent people being relaxed about other people being emotional.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Description[edit | edit source]
The concept of emotional competence is rooted in the understanding of emotions as being normal, useful aspects of being human. Anger is a reaction to aggression and gives a person the strength to repel the aggression. Grief is a reaction to abandonment or feeling unloved and it has the effect of eliciting sympathetic responses from others. Fear is a response to danger and has a clear physiological effect of heightening our senses and speeding up our reactions.
From this it can be seen that the suppression of emotion is not useful and that teaching people to suppress their emotions is part of trying to control them. Emotionally competent people will express emotion appropriate to the situation and their needs and they will not seek to suppress emotions in others.
It is fairly widely believed that if appropriate emotions are not expressed some sort of memory of them becomes stored. [How to reference and link to summary or text] Later events may trigger off the old emotions resulting in inappropriate emotional responses. This particularly applies to emotions that children are prevented from expressing. Releasing these old emotions is a key feature of co-counselling.
Emotional competence can lead to improved health through avoiding stress that would otherwise result from suppressing emotions. It can also lead to improved relationships since inappropriate emotions are less likely to be expressed and appropriate behaviour is not avoided through fear of triggering some emotion.
The concept is distinct from emotional intelligence which, while recognising the importance of emotions, gives emphasis to controlling or manipulating them.
Assertiveness and emotional competence[edit | edit source]
Humanistic approaches to assertiveness, as for instance outlined by Anne Dickson (Dickson, 1982) emphasise the importance of working with emotions. In particular it recognises the need to address manipulative or passive (the person does not say what they want) – aggressive (they try to force the other person to do what they want) behaviour in which the manipulator exploits the feelings of the other to try to get what they want. Building up emotional competence is a way of learning to handle such behaviour.
Another aspect is learning to be assertive when feeling emotional. Assertiveness training involves learning a range of ways to handle any situation so that a person is able to choose a way which seems appropriate for them on each occasion. With respect to emotions, people are encouraged to notice and accept what they feel. They then have choices from handling the situation calmly through doing so and saying how they feel to letting the emotion out, all of which involve emotional competence.
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes and References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- The EmotionalCompetency.com website describes many emotions along with options for responding to each.
- The Swedish Empathy Center Organizes knowledge about empathy across disciplines
- de:Emotionale Kompetenz
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