During my little granddaughter’s dance recital, I observed an excellent example of emotional intelligence in action. One of the dance instructors showed a high degree of skill as she managed her emotions during a tough incident.
For over thirty years we’ve known the local dance instructor who teaches ballet tap and jazz to children in our small community. My wife took lessons there, as did my daughter. My daughter’s little girls (ages 9, 6 and 3) now take lessons at the same studio, and my daughter teaches a couple of nights a week. The annual recital is held at the local high school auditorium, and my wife and I have helped out backstage for many years. My wife typically serves as a “runner,” letting the children know when their act is due on stage and making sure they are lined up ready to go. My role is to attend to the ticket booth, selling tickets to those who have not already purchased theirs. Then I get to go backstage and watch the program while I make sure the backstage is clear of people who are not supposed to be there.
To help the performers remember their dance, the dance teachers stand behind the curtain facing the dancers. The teachers dance along with the students as they perform their number. In turn, each teacher dances with her groups, modeling the steps.
In my opinion, the 3 year olds who are performing for their first recital are the most fun for the audience. They seem to draw the most, “Ooohs and Awes.” This year one of the dance teachers had her three year old daughter performing. As the little girl was waiting with her group in the wing to go on stage, she became anxious and started crying. She refused to go on stage — she just wanted her mommy. The teacher held her daughter and tried to comfort her and encourage her to go on stage. But the little girl was firm. She wouldn’t even go back with her group when they had finished their dance nor would she go with another mother who tried to help out.
What I observed during the next half hour of the recital was extremely heart warming. The teacher calmly and gracefully managed to hold her clinging, crying three year old all while getting the rest of her acts on and off stage and dancing with them. She was calm, patient, caring and loving with both her daughter and her other groups of performers. By the end of the program, both the mom and the three year old daughter were smiling and happy.
On our trip back home, my wife and I discussed what might have occurred if the dance instructor had not managed her emotions so well. Her daughter would have continued to cry and cause a commotion if the teacher had been irritated, angry or impatient. A negative experience such as this might have caused the little girl to refuse to dance in future recitals or avoid other stage performances.
Whether we strengthen or jeopardize a relationship with our family members or coworkers can often get down to a simple matter of choosing our emotions — those we wish to express and experience. The impact of that choice can be both immediate and long-term. Hopefully, we can all choose as wisely as the dance teacher in our above example.