Emotions exert a powerful influence on our daily lives.  They drive many things that we need or want each and every day.  Emotions help us learn and make decisions.  Our creativity depends in part on our emotional experience and abilities.  Relationships develop, thrive, suffer, or fail as a result of our emotions and the emotions of others.  Finally, our health depends in great part on our emotions.
They all have feelings and emotional lives, and this post lets lawyers, judges, legal academics and law students, and leaders of legal organizations know about a program of emotional and social learning and one very simple tool.  This tool can help us learn more about our emotions and how they can facilitate our thinking.  Grade school children, the teachers and staff at their schools, and the parents and family members of the students all learn about and use this tool as part of a leading emotional and social learning program conducted by Yale University through its Center for Emotional Intelligence.  The program is called RULER.  One tool in that program is the Mood Meter. Law people can learn and benefit from this type of program, too.
RULER Program Four Branch Model of Ability Emotional Intelligence. RULER, Yale’s emotional intelligence research program, involves the four branch model of ability emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence combines feelings with thinking, and thinking with feeling.  Four related, but different, abilities comprise this model:

· Identifying Emotions- emotions contain information, or data, and this is the ability to accurately recognize how you and those around you are feeling.
· Using Emotions- the ability to generate emotions, and to use emotions in cognitive tasks such as problem-solving and creativity.
· Understanding Emotions- the ability to understand complex emotions and emotional “chains”, how emotions transition from one stage to another.
· Managing Emotions- the ability which allows you to intelligently integrate the data of emotions in yourself and in others in order to devise effective strategies that help you achieve positive outcomes.

Mood Meter – Energy & Pleasantness. Learning to identify and label emotions plays a critical part toward cultivating emotional intelligence. Using the Mood Meter, just like the students and educators in Yale Program, a person can become more mindful of how his or her emotions change throughout the day and how those emotions in turn affect their actions.

The colors of the four quadrants mean something.  Each quadrant represents a complex of emotions which result from amounts (self-rated experience scale range of -5 to +5) of energy (vertical, y axis) and pleasantness (horizontal, x axis).

Briefly, each quadrant of the Mood Meter means:

Red – high energy and unpleasantness, e.g. anger, frustration, anxiety

Blue – low energy and unpleasantness, e.g. boredom, sadness, despair

Yellow – high energy and pleasantness, e.g. excitement, joy, elation

Green – low energy and pleasantness, e.g. tranquility, serenity, and satisfaction

Mood Meter users can develop and build greater self-awareness.  We need this to better inform our choices about emotion. The Mood Meter can help one learn about and to expand our emotional vocabulary, replacing basic feeling words with more sophisticated terms. With practice and intention, one can graduate from using words like ‘ok’ or ‘fine’ to using words like ‘alienated’ and ‘hopeless,’ or ‘tranquil’ and ‘serene.’

By teaching subtle distinctions between similar feelings, the Mood Meter can empower users  to recognize the full scope of their emotional lives and address all feelings more effectively.  The greater self-awareness and better informed choices about emotions can include the following:

  • Expand emotional vocabulary – Discover the nuances in feelings
  • Gain insights about inner emotional life – Learn what’s causing feelings over time
  • Regulate feelings – Use effective strategies to help regulate feelings
  • Enhance the way emotions get managed your each day

Yale has developed a Mood Meter app.  Learn more about it here.

RULER Program Results. Yale’s program has research and practical learning and training orientations.  The program results have been found under sound empirical methods and reported in peer-reviewed scientific publications. The Ruler program participants have obtained favorable results in several areas.  One important area is academic performance.  School climates have also improved.  Emotional intelligence and social skills have improved. In some circumstances, anxiety and depression have decreased.  The youngest participants who use the tools, including the mood meter, have been less likely to bully others.  Better leadership skills and attention have been reported.  Faculty have better relationships with students, less burnout, better relationships with admin, more positive about teaching.

RULER, the Mood Meter, Emotional Intelligence, and Lawyers. Lawyers, judges, law students, and other legal services providers should develop greater emotion regulation skills, enhance their emotion knowledge and understanding, and develop and improve their overall emotional intelligence.  Unfortunately, few legal firms and organizations, courts, law schools, and bar association and other legal leaders have embraced these goals. But hope exists, and law schools, law firms, and legal organizations who have goals to develop people with higher social and emotional skills will do well to consider the evidence-based* RULER program and adapt accordingly.

This post has identified a social and emotional learning program and one of its related tools used by school systems throughout the world. Using this simple tool can help legal professionals achieve those important goals.  Many opportunities to develop and increase emotional intelligence exist in the legal services realm. Researchers associated with world-leading Yale University research and teaching program dedicated to emotional and social learning have developed several tools which facilitate emotional learning.  Solid science shows that with practice, a person can expect to increase his or her emotional  intelligence and can stand to gain many benefits in several areas of life, learning, decision-making, relationships, and health and well-being. Beginning in law school, and continuing in their careers, lawyers can learn and apply these things, and gain many benefits.

Hopefully, by reading this you have learned enough about a simple tool, the Mood Meter, to spark your interest. You will want to learn more about your emotions and the emotions of others and also how you can begin to better manage your relationship with your own and others’ emotions. Start your emotional intelligence journey.  Use the Mood Meter. Think about your emotional energy and its pleasantness when you do your work. Check out Feelings Around the Mood Meter.

Thank You.  Thank you very much. Dan DeFoe JD MS – Adlitem Solutions | Organization Development for Professional Services Firms and the Legal Profession: People. Projects. Practices |Web – www.adlitemsolutions.com | Email: dan@adlitemsolutions.com | Blog – www.psycholawlogy.com | Services – Organization Development Practitioner combining and leveraging 25+ years of diverse legal experience, 7+ years of allied health training and work experience, a Master of Science in Organizational Development Psychology, and educationally qualified or earned certifications in industry-leading normal (Myers-Briggs MBTI) and special business (Hogan Assessments) personality; ability (MSCEIT) and self-report (EQi 2.0 [derived from Bar-On model]) emotional intelligence; leadership (Certified Intentional Leadership Coach); and stress management assessment and tools (ARSENAL best practices system for stress resilient emotional intelligence) to partner with client organizations, their leaders, and member to discover needs and opportunities for growth and to design, develop, deliver, and evaluate custom interventions for individual, team, project, or organizational solutions. | Mission:  “America’s leading resource for normal personality and emotional intelligence assessments, and related coaching, continuing education programs, training, and workshops for judges, lawyers, law schools, bar associations, healthcare, medical, and other professional services providers and their organizations and leaders.”  Please visit Adlitem Solutions and Psycholawlogy again soon. Thank you very much.

Complimentary Assessment: Contact me via email at dan@adlitemsolutions.com to arrange a time for a no obligation discussion and assessment of your firm’s or firm members’ interests or needs regarding emotional intelligence workshops, training, continuing education, or coaching. See this related post at PsycholawlogyEmotional Intelligence Memo to Management: EI as a Buffer of [Lawyer] Stress in the Developmental Job Experience – for more information about taking first steps.

Visit Psycholawlogy using this link, and access posts about the ability-based emotional intelligence model as measured by the MSCEIT emotional intelligence assessment.

Reference: * Nathanson, L., Rivers, S. E., Flynn, L. M., & Brackett, M. A. (2016). Creating emotionally intelligent schools with RULER. Emotion Review, 8(4), 305-310 (copy currently available here). See also Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., & Salovey, P. (2011). Emotional intelligence: Implications for personal, social, academic, and workplace success. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(1), 88-103 (copy currently available here).

Image Credits and Source Material: Visit Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Dan DeFoe

Owner and Lead consultant at Adlitem Solutions
I'm an attorney with 20+ years of experience and have an MS degree in organizational development psychology. I provide normal personality and emotional intelligence assessments, assessment interpretation and feedback, and professional development planning and training activities for lawyers, judges, other legal services providers, and their organizations.

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