When I was at school intelligence was measured by the mark you achieved in a history test or a maths test. Some classmates were super intelligent and they did not seem to have to work at anything. But there are times when I meet exceptionally clever people who seem scatterbrained and slightly eccentric.
As I have gotten older I have realised that the people who are really successful are those who know how to play the game. They network and interact well with others and engineer win win situations. When you are in a business situation nobody cares what grades you achieved in your Leaving Certificate. What they want to know is have you the skills to do the job and are you prepared to put in the effort?
Daniel Goleman wrote a book entitled “Emotional Intelligence Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” in 1995 and this has become a respected work on the subject. Self awareness is at the heart of this theory. If we have real knowledge of self that empowers us to seek jobs that will suit us, to use our skills to the best of our ability and avoid situations that are not going to be useful to us. Too many people decide to become doctors or lawyers because they get high grades at school and it is seen as the done thing to go into this profession. In fact many doctors lack empathy and the examination system and training practise does not put enough emphasis on this important aspect.
When I go to visit the doctor I do not care how many degrees he /she has or whether he came top of his/her class I just want to know that they have adequate knowledge to diagnose the problem and offer me some level of understanding/empathy. I have refused to go back to one consultant who was abrupt and rude with me, taking 3 phonecalls during our consultation. I thought that signified that I was very low on his list of priorities. It is the same in any walk of life. People want to know that you have the necessary knowledge to help them with their problem and that you care enough to want to help them.
When talking about emotional intelligence the four main emotions are mad, bad, glad and sad. We react to situations differently depending upon the emotion that the scenario invokes in us. So if someone pulls out in front of me at a junction I might curse under my breath and gesticulate at him but I have the sense not to get out of the car and start a full scale row. If I did that I might get some temporary satisfaction but the guy might pull a knife on me or give me a load of abuse and it just not worth the aggravation.
People who are aware of their emotions and of the fact that they have certain triggers are likely to recognise when they are feeling annoyed and take a moment to try and calm down. A lot of people count to 10 – I find this difficult but I am trying. As a result of this I am less likely to get angry and say something to worsen the situation. Of course there are times when I feel compelled to challenge others (usually when the issue infringes my values) and that is OK too.
It is great to be academically intelligent but it is also great to be aware of other people’s body language and reactions. Some people love talking about their chosen subject but they are unable to read the signs that the listener is not interested in what they have to say eg. by observing body language. Another aspect of emotional intelligence is being aware of how the group sees you and using that awareness in an effective way.