Thursday, June 09, 2011

Are we too old to acquire Emotional Intelligence?

I just finished reading a book on Emotional Intelligence by the famous psychologist Daniel Goleman. In the book he questions whether EQ (Emotional Quotient) is more important than IQ (Intelligent Quotient). He sites many studies which show that people with average IQ but high EQ have outsmarted (in study and career) those with high IQs but below average EQs. The corollary, therefore, is that Emotional Intelligence is as important if not more as Intellect.

He defines Emotional Intelligence as the faculty to understand and control one's feelings of love, pleasure, anger, hatred, sadness, depression etc, to delay gratification and to conduct oneself according to social norms. Those who can easily make friends, whom people love to be with are high on emotional intelligence. People with emotional intelligence do not show extreme behaviors like heated arguments and fights. They express their feelings in more subdued manner, they show empathy and try to find alternative solutions. 

But what made me distressed is author's comment that the faculty of emotional intelligence develops during childhood and the adolescent years! In other words we grown-ups can hardly develop emotional skills. Goleman writes about multi-year studies (including the famous marshmallow experiment) conducted in different US universities which tracked a specific set of children at different ages. These studies show that a child's nature and pattern of social interaction and what type of grown-up she would become are correlated. By properly training a child in emotional intelligence we could make her a responsible and successful individual, thus reducing crimes and social maladies like campus shootings, teenage pregnancies, murders etc. The author gives examples of schools that adopted training on emotional intelligence in their curriculum and calls for its widespread adoption. He also asks parents to be sensitive to a child's emotional needs.

Those of us with low EQ probably have the only option to make a conscious decision to make our children Emotionally Intelligent!


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