I was recently in Langley out on Whitby Island in Washington. A beautiful area, and they had all of the Whale spotting that have happened in the last week. Multiple grey whales have been spotted along with a few orcas as well. While strolling through the Whale Visitor Center, they had a display on the brains of whales, and that whales and humans share in one trait for out brains structure: the presence of Spindle Cells. In fact, it appears that Whales have a concentration of spindle cells three times larger than humans do. In their display, they equated that feature to the understanding of music and emotional connection.
A little more research uncovered that Spindle Neurons are considered the 'air traffic controllers' for emotions. When a person hits a situation of extreme emotion (anger, mistakes, self judgement, danger) then the ancient parts of the brain fire up. They can flood the brain with feelings of fight or flight, and the spindle neurons take the information quickly out to the newer portions of the brain that deal with rational thinking and higher decision making processes. They help to understand self awareness and emotional connection.
In theater, we are trained to understand how a character in a play feels. We study what motivates their decisions to do something, and what tactics they take to achieve their objective. Even though the action a character does might not be anything remotely close to what we as a person would consider, we find ways to understand the motivations, desires and thought process of that character.
By continually practicing this craft, we build up that skill to help understand why someone does what they do. We may not agree with their actions, but we can see why the character is lead to make them. This process allows us to recognize the emotional stakes of others, and to see their point of view.
So if you are ever confused why and employee of yours does that they do, put yourself in their situation: What are their motives? What are the tactics they take to try to achieve their goals? What could be their objective? By understanding and building up our understanding of how someone else thinks, we can help to build our own emotional intelligence. We can develop our Emotional Intelligence.
And maybe someday, we'll figure out what whales are thinking.
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