This recent article caught my attention: 4 myths about emotional intelligence, according to a psychologist. It is worth reading (5 minutes) and after you have read it you might find this critique provides some added value.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT REALLY AN INTELLIGENCE
I totally agree with the above premise. I do not agree with several of Art Markman’s subsequent comments under this heading. I do agree there is a general intelligence known usually as “g’ that can be measured. Very often now if you go for new job you are asked to do a battery of intelligence tests which then provide scores for your general, verbal and numerical intelligences.
I admit that I believe Howard Gardner’s model of multiple intelligences to be unconvincing and lacking in scientific validity. I am of a similar belief with regard to the concepts of “fluid intelligence” and “crystallized intelligence.”. The first is otiose and the second is adequately defined as knowledge and skills.
It is not a problem is that fluid intelligence is remarkably difficult to improve. It is a genetic reality.
Where I do disagree with the author is the hypothesis that the thing we call emotional intelligence does not have genetically determined factor. I believe your temperament (which I define as your genetic emotional bias) plays an important role in determining your level of emotional intelligence or what Markman calls people skills, And I do agree we can all learn to be more effective at dealing with others.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS NOT REALLY ABOUT EMOTION
Six seconds is the length of time an emotion lasts. We all under go 3-5 emotional shifts/minute or around 4000 different emotions/day. Moods, while more muted, lasts longer than an emotion; compare the emotion anger with a grumpy mood. Beyond moods there is temperament, which is your genetic driven readiness to evoke a given emotion or mood, such as someone with a choleric temperament. Finally, there are the outright mental disorders of emotion which can lead to insanity, such as someone with paranoid schizophrenia. Thankfully this only occurs in a small percentage of people.
Nearly all EQ experts constantly discuss emotions and occasionally moods. My new idea is to focus instead on temperament. I argue that main drivers in your temperament depend on where you are positions on the spectra of the seven most common mental illnesses: neuroticism, mania, depression, autism, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and psychopathy.
The secret to increasing your emotional intelligence is not to focus on emotions but on your temperament.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE WON’T NECESSARILY MAKE YOU HAPPY (NOR SHOULD IT)
“The concept of emotional intelligence gained prominence at the same time as a movement focused on well-being called positive psychology. So-called positive psychology is rooted in the recognition that a lot of research has focused on disorders and what goes wrong with people, but that there is a lot to be learned from people who are functioning well.
Indeed, individuals with great people skills are often attuned not just to the negative emotions of others but also to the factors that bring others joy or relief. Paying attention to other people’s range of emotions is crucial for really knowing how they are motivated.”
I totally agree with third premiss and the author’s statements but would add that a model of temperament based on mental disorders is even more powerful.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS IMPORTANT, BUT SO IS DOMAIN KNOWLEDGE
“There is no doubt that having good people skills enables leaders to manage both upward and downward more effectively. But it’s dangerous to prioritize emotional intelligence over a true understanding of the domain in which the business operates.
The modern business curriculum has isolated management as a core skill and function, which can lead to the belief that someone who is a good leader or manager in one context is likely to be effective in other contexts as well. Good leaders need to know the business in which they are operating.”
Never has a truer word been spoken. Contrary to the popular view, perhaps pushed by the recruitment consultants, successful general managers are not general. Typically the people who become managing directors do so by focusing their energy and avoiding wasted effort. They succeed by focusing their efforts in one industry and generally one company. I do like this idea that success is based on increasing domain knowledge.
This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 22 June 2023
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