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Fredric Mitchell
Fredric Mitchell

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Zen Buddhism Inspired EQ: Shoshin

The key to developing your emotional intelligence (EQ) is continuous practice and iteration. Similar to learning a new coding language, books and Stack Overflow can only take you so far. Most learning happens by doing.

A simple, yet difficult, mechanism to practice that will help build up your EQ is something called shoshin.

According to wikipedia:

Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner's mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

The “beginner’s mind” philosophy is exactly what it sounds like: approaching things like you are beginner. When you are beginner, what do you typically do?

  • Slow down to make sure you understand all points
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Practice a concept, then show your steps to make sure you haven’t missed anything

    Repeat your interpretation of a concept back to the person speaking to you

Why is this difficult?

What makes shoshin difficult to master is it can feel like it’s in direct conflict with your career and reputation.

You’re paid to know, right?

You’re likely a subject matter expert or team leader. You’re likely depended on within your team to know the answers.

If your goal, however, is to improve your team culture and your personal emotional intelligence, you need to practice asking questions even if you know the answer. Asking questions unlocks the “beginner’s mind”.

Asking questions develops EQ

If shoshin is all about beginner’s mind, and beginner’s ask questions, how can asking questions help develop my EQ?

Glad you asked! Let’s break it down.

Read the rest over at EQ for Devs.

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