13. How emotionally intelligent is Father Christmas?

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. Author of "How to build your emotional resilience and manage your emotions", accredited user of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT).

Emotional intelligence might not seem to have anything to do with Father Christmas but Father Christmas has asked me whether he is emotionally intelligent at work. It is a question we can all ask ourselves too.

So, I thought you'd like to eavesdrop on my conversation with him. It's a fun way to learn about emotional intelligence tests and seven emotional intelligence competencies.

You can always apply the questions to yourself. How emotionally intelligent are you?

Our conversation is going to be based on the original seven levels of emotional intelligence as described in the Genos emotional intelligence model. It makes an interesting variation on the 12 days of Christmas!

Emotional intelligence competency 1: Emotional self-awareness.

"Santa, I've been trying work out how much awareness you have of your own emotions and how you feel about issues. How do you feel about Christmas?"

"Excited, very excited."

"That's good Father Christmas. Is that the only emotion you are aware of? I've been having a chat with Dancer and Prancer and they've been thinking you've been a bit grumpy of late."

"Oh never, always excited, I have to be excited."

"So your general mood is excitement?"

"Yes, yes, yes. I have to be excited. I'm Father Christmas, aren't I?"

"You asked me whether you are emotionally intelligent at work. I'm thinking you could have more self-awareness of how you feel and how your feelings influence your reindeer."

"Now I do feel grumpy" he muttered. "I must be excited and happy, happy, happy."

"Father Christmas you are allowed more than one emotion. It's what you do with your emotions that matters most. That's what shows whether you are emotionally intelligent or not. And there is far more to being emotionally intelligent than just being happy."

Emotional intelligence competency 2: Emotional expression.

"Santa, it's a bit hard to clearly express your emotions if you don't know what they are, isn't it? I have noticed you do say 'Ho ho ho' a lot though. Is this an effective way to express your optimism and excitement?"

"Of course it is. 'Ho ho ho' is a universal emotion at Christmas. Everyone knows that it means 'Get excited kids, Father Christmas is having such a good time bringing you presents'. Ho ho ho. Always excited. Happy, happy, happy."

"You're right. Ho ho ho does mean happy, happy, happy. If you were to be top notch in emotional intelligence at work Santa, you could expand the number and type of feeling words you use. It doesn't seem that emotionally intelligent to me to say 'Ho ho ho' or 'I'm excited' when you're really cheesed off at Rudolph, does it? And what about when your work load feels overwhelming, or you're frustrated by the lack of snow, or find a chimney too tight? What will you say then?"

"How about blow, blow, blow", said Santa.

"Great one, Santa. Now you'll be able to express how you feel about work issues more effectively. That's being emotionally intelligent at work!"

Want to do the MSCEIT to measure your emotional intelligence? It is the gold-standard ability measure. To find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green. Click here.

Emotional intelligence competency 3: Aware of others' emotions.

"Do your reindeer ever get stressed by the weight of their workload? They have a lot of dancing, prancing and pulling to do?" I asked.

"I get on so well with them all. I love my reindeer."

"I'm sure you do, but do they love you?"

"I don't know. Do reindeer even have feelings?"

"They're your staff. There's a good chance they do. Did you know that how your reindeer feel about you and their work can affect how well they pull your sleigh?"

"But they get paid to work, don't they? Are you saying that I have to worry about their feelings as well as be in one million places at once?"

"It's a good idea if you want to be more emotionally intelligent at work, Santa."

"Ho ho ho."

"Was that ho ho ho or blow blow blow?"

Emotional intelligence competency 4: Emotional reasoning.

"This gets a bit difficult to understand for some people Santa, but you're a bright fellow, let's give it a go."

"Emotional reasoning, according to my friends at Genos, is the skill of using emotional information, from yourself and others, in reasoning, planning and decision making."

"Why would I need to take emotional stuff and nonsense into the decisions I make when I'm approaching a chimney? What about when I did the MBA for Father Christmases. They told us to leave the emotions out of it and just be rational and logical. They even showed us the best formula for beard length but it wasn't to do with how proud I was of my hair."

"Yes, I know", I said with a sigh. "Other Father Christmases have said that too."

"Excuse me, there is only one real Father Christmas" he exclaimed.

"I'm so sorry Santa. I was just meaning those fake ones who pretend to be you in the shopping centres."

"Oh, those rascals. I'd do away with them if I could."

"That sounds like a decision to me. How would you do this dreadful deed of doing away with them?"

"I'd steal all their presents."

"But stealing is an offence Father Christmas. How would you feel when we all find out that our lovely Father Christmas is in the police lock-up?"

"Oh, that would be a big blow. I'd feel so miserable, very miserable and lonely."

"There you are Santa. A perfect example of how, if you realise in advance how utterly miserable you'd feel in jail, you might decide not to steal their presents."

"Is that what you mean by emotional intelligence at work?" he asked.

"It certainly is. When you factor in emotions as one piece of information into your decision making, your decisions could be even better and you will be even more emotionally intelligent. You'd stay out of jail Santa!"

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Emotional intelligence competency 5: Emotionally self-manage.

"I'm good on this" says Santa before I've even explained it's about how well he efficiently manages his own emotions.

"Every Christmas I manage to be happy, happy, happy. Day, after day, after day. No child has ever seen me grumpy. It's hard work you know."

"What, delivering presents or managing your emotions?" I asked.

"Both" he chuckled. "Some mornings I wake up and think 'not another sleigh ride', but I can turn it around by singing Jingle Bells at the top of my voice in the shower and I'm excited and happy again."

"Wow! Santa, you are so emotionally intelligent on this competency. I wish all people I worked for could manage their emotions so well!

EI competency 6: Emotional management of others.

"Once you've had your shower and gone to work, how are you influencing the moods and emotions of your reindeer? You've got a lot of them after all. How do you get them to co-operate or feel better if they've been fighting amongst themselves?"

"I don't. I expect them to be self-motivated reindeer. Surely they should take responsibility for their own emotions?"

"Oh Santa. I wish it were so easy. Do you know that you are the leader and that Vixen, Comet and Cupid all look to you for direction? What you do makes such a difference to how well they work."

"Silly reindeer. They should just stop worrying about such minor things and just focus on the job."

"Santa, you might need to pay more attention to their emotions if you want to be even more emotionally intelligent at work. How about you all sing Jingle Bells together?" Just think, a happier team of reindeer could mean they fly even faster."

I stopped, suddenly curious. "They do fly, don't they? I put a search into Google today and asked if reindeer have wings but I couldn't find a decent answer."

"Ah! Trade secrets. Google doesn't know everything. Their algorithm certainly isn't emotionally intelligent at work!" he said laughing at my surprised look that Santa would know about algorithms!

Emotional intelligence competency 7: Emotional self-control.

"Do you ever yell at the reindeer Santa?"

"No, never. Why would I do that? I learnt years ago they'll work much faster with a carrot than by my yelling at them."

"So you use your emotional intelligence at work to feed them carrots and rewards. Do you praise them too?"

"Of course I do. There is no point in shouting at them and getting angry at them. I am emotionally intelligent you know, was there ever any doubt? I'm always so excited about Christmas. Ho ho ho. Happy, happy, happy Christmas."

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