This week, Life Training Online is reviewing Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, by Daniel Goleman, the eleventh of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.
The Master Aptitude
What seems to set apart those at the very top of competitive pursuits from others of roughly equal ability is the degree to which, beginning early in life, they can pursue an arduous practice routine for years and years. And that doggedness depends on emotional traits — enthusiasm and persistence in the face of setbacks — above all else.
There’s definitely no question to the importance of discipline, persistence and enthusiasm in one’s success in life. It’s not uncommon to see those who are less gifted or talented rising above others with more facility because of a strong will to overcome their supposed inherent weaknesses. In effect turning those weaknesses into strengths.
IQ isn’t the end-all be-all in determining your ultimate outcome in life. But in my opinion, neither is emotional intelligence. If one simply lacks the mental aptitude (their IQ is say under 120), I don’t think they’ll succeed in becoming, say, an accomplished physicist, no matter how determined they may be.
The Roots of Empathy
In tests with over seven thousand people in the United States and eighteen other countries, the benefits of being able to read feelings from nonverbal cues included being better adjusted emotionally, more popular, more outgoing, and — perhaps not surprisingly — more sensitive. In general, women are better than men at this kind of empathy. And people whose performance improved over the course of the forty-five-minute test — a sign that they have a talent for picking up empathy skills — also had better relationships with the opposite sex. Empathy, it should be no surprise to learn, helps with romantic life.
In keeping with findings about other elements of emotional intelligence, there was only an incidental relationship between scores on this measure of empathic acuity and SAT or IQ scores or school achievement tests.
I’d have to agree with Goleman on this one. One’s empathic ability is totally independent of IQ.
I had a friend in college who, although very intelligent (high IQ), had no clue what it meant to “walk in someone else’s shoes.” Their overpowering logical mind reminded me of Spock from Star Trek — showing little emotion or understanding when it came to others sensitivities. It was simply “not logical.”
In this chapter, Goleman covers the role of emotion between the sexes and in marriages. It reminded me a lot of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Being recently married myself (2 years ago), I found this chapter to be very informative.
The differences of the sexes in handling emotional are very telling. Take this excerpt explaining how these differences are developed:
Boys and girls are taught very different lessons about handling emotions. Parents, in general, discuss emotions — with the exception of anger — more with their daughters than their sons. Girls are exposed to more information about emotions than are boys: when parents make up stories to tell their preschool children, they use more emotion words when talking to daughters than to sons; when mothers play with their infants, they display a wider range of emotions to daughters than to sons; when mothers talk to daughters about feelings, they discuss in more detail the emotional state itself than they do with their sons — though with the sons they go into more detail about the causes and consequences of emotions like anger (probably as a cautionary tale).
At age ten, roughly the same percent of girls as boys are overtly aggressive, given to open confrontation when angered. But by age thirteen, a telling difference between the sexes emerges Girls become more adept than boys at artful aggressive tactics like ostracism, vicious gossip, and indirect vendettas. Boys, by and large, simply continue being confrontational when angered, oblivious to these more covert strategies. This is just one of many ways that boys — and later, men — are less sophisticated than the opposite sex in the byways of emotional life.
These differences in handling emotion are carried with the individual into their marriage — especially during confrontations with their spouse.
Because women, in general, tend to “wear their emotions on their sleeve” they are more comfortable expressing their discontent with the marriage. This benign attempt to actually improve things is interpreted by the husband to be a direct attack on him. He reacts by oftentimes stonewalling her in order to keep from going over the edge and blowing up. This lack of emotion and empathy is then seen as a blatant disregard for her feelings, further stressing the relationship — and the cycle continues.
Goleman instead suggests “mirroring” as one of the best ways to understand and empathize with your spouses concerns. It goes like this: If one partner expresses a problem or complaint, the other repeats it back in their own words, “trying to capture not just the thought, but also the feelings that go with it.” Done effectively, not only does your spouse feel understood, but more importantly, has the added sense of being emotional in sync with you.
Emotional Intelligence is the eleventh of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.