Finland’s self-confessed “emotion evangelist”, Camilla Tuominen spoke from the Live Studio at day two of the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki. The author, entrepreneur and illustrator stressed the importance of recognizing our inner feelings.
“I try and teach the idea that everyone can learn to recognize and lead their emotions. We can really use that knowledge if we want to. My company uses the Emotion Tracker – the app that we developed – along with my books, lectures, training and visualizations, to train people to do this,” she said.
Tuominen encouraged us all to stop and identify the emotions we feel when moods creep in or overwhelm us. She said that one of the main components of emotional intelligence is the ability to name what we are feeling.
“Once you give an emotion a name, it is a concrete thing. Then you can look at it from a more distant perspective and analyze it,” she said. “After all, when we go to a doctor, we have to be able to tell the physician where we are hurting. It is the same for emotions.”
Her app and training material relies on leading research on this field.
“My work is reliant on research from people like Brené Brown – particularly on the topic of vulnerability – and Dan Siegel’s brain scans, for example. It has been shown that if people can identify their emotions, the brain activity in that area calms down, so it really does help,” she said.
But how does her work interface with Artificial Intelligence? Tuominen said that AI is coming, and it will soon handle the linear things on its own, so we “had better get better” with our emotions.
“We should implement all of the things in AI that can benefit us, but at the same time, emphasize the things that are difficult for AI, such as arts and creative thinking, in ourselves,” she said.
So how can companies create a better atmosphere for identifying emotions?
“Create an environment where it is okay to share your emotions. There is no quick fix; you have to foster a culture of continuous respect and presence. Have the hard conversations to create a kind of atmosphere where it is okay to show how everyone feels,” Tuominen said.
Without one specific quality, however, companies will not be able to tap into the human emotions and social intelligence that AI can only dream of:
“It all comes down to trust. Without it, we don’t have the ability to say the difficult things and suggest our crazy ideas,” she said.
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