For no light matter is at stake; the question concerns the very manner in which human lfe is to be lived.
"Only through your heart can you touch the sky"
Jalal ad-Din Rumi
Emotionally Competent Stimuli
Co-creating meaning since 2001
"The moment an idea has meaning for you - that is, it suddenly 'makes sense' to you - it becomes yours, a part of what you are"
"By substituting images for claims, the pictorial commercial made emotional appeal, not tests of truth, the basis of consumer decisions"
Neil Postman in 'Amusing Ourselves to Death'
Everything in our experience speaks to us emotionally - listen.
Your workplace is an emotionally competent environment - how does it make you feel?
An email from the boss contains emotionally competent language - how do you feel when you read it?
A classroom recalls emotionally competent memories - how will a pupil feel as they walk in?
Most professionals fail to consciously recognise, design or exploit the emotional competence of the language used in their organization. This is the principal unrecognised failure of most 'professional' communications
Fanatics are picturesque; mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reason
What is an Emotionally Competent Stimulus?
An Emotionally Competent Stimulus (ECS) is a stimulus or perception that triggers an emotional response.
Such a stimulus may be external or internal or recalled from memory. The stimulus may be brief or subtle and not impinge on consciousness, but will nevertheless initiate a chain of events leading to the emergence of a feeling.
ECS vary in their nature and the sense through which they are accessed; they are central to all human interaction, communication, learning and development.
Soul-Chaplain place designed use of such stimuli at the heart of everything we do.
Emotionally Competent Stimuli and Attention We notice and pay attention to what is, or might be, important to us. It is our emotion and feelings that lead us to direct attention at, attribute significance to and create meaning from the plethora of sensory stimuli that would otherwise overwhelm our mental processing capacity.
Antonio Damasio says "Emotion is critical for the appropriate direction of attention since it provides an automated signal about the organism's past experience...and thus provides a basis for assigning or witholding attention" (from 'The Feeling of What Happens').
When ECS are missing Our brains and our senses are so attuned to seeking and interpreting ECS that we are consrtantly searching for them everywhere. When we fail to find them we attribute significance to their absence. This means that all messages and all communications have emotional significance. There is no such thing as an emotionally neutral message - the short, curt and impersonal memo or email will, by its very lack of a clear emotional message, generate a negative feeling in its reader.
Examples of ECS
Emotionally Competent Stimuli are everywhere and our principal interactions with our world are through them - things which are not emotionally competent tend not to gain our attention.
Contrasting examples of ECS - in terms of their effect on most people perceiving them are:
Emotionally competent images- photograph of Gandhi; swastika
Emotionally competent behaviours - rising to speak; running away
Emotionally competent language - congratulations; abuse
Emotionally competent gestures - open hand; shaken fist
Emotionally competent environments - riverside glade; dentist's waiting room
Emotionally competent experiences - winning race; being punished
Emotionally competent memories - puppy at Christmas, classroom bully
All of these can contribute to creating an emotionally competent text or message.
Most of us experience evocative memory recalls triggered by smells and sounds - fried onions at summer fairs, bonfire smoke in autumn, birdsong in sunshine, the cry of a gull, church bells and school bells in childhood.
All these are Emotionally Competent Stimuli, provoking an emotional response and the emergence of feelings. This process precedes any secondary reasoning, thinking, or articulation of the emerging memories, thoughts and feelings.
If our ideas make sense to you - make them yours.
You may not be interested in neuroscience, but neuroscience is interested in you