Emotional Intelligence is something I have heard about and knew enough about to seek out a test to see how I stacked up. I did this a little while ago simply because I like tests and I like to know what my “number” is in relation to others. Call it a method of self-measurement. Luckily, I score high in both IQ and EQ, so knowing my numbers means I get to stick a metaphorical feather in my cap and feel good about myself. I know, sounds terrible, but don’t lie, you do it too.
Anyways, at the TEDxUCIrvine conference I went to this past weekend, a gentleman I follow on LinkedIn was one of the speakers. Travis Bradbury quoted Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues in the beginning of his talk, “Emotions have taught mankind to reason.” He used this quote to frame his talk, so let’s analyze it.
Emotions, well, we all know what those are. Our feelings, but are they filtered by reason? Emotions are in the base of the brain. They travel from the base of the brain and move up through the limbic system. Basically, (I am not an expert here, just relaying info as I heard it), emotions hit our brain unfettered by reason or experience. Our brain gets the raw emotion, that is then transferred to the front of our brain where reason clouds the raw emotion and creates a filtered and hopefully, appropriate response to the stimulus that caused the emotion. And all of this is subconscious.We do not play an active role in this.
Next let’s look at the word taught, simple past tense in this form. It means to impart knowledge or skill. Interesting when linked with the word emotion which definitely seems to be out of our control if our brain is processing and filtering our emotions subconsciously.
Next we have reason. Reasoning is thinking about something with the experience and knowledge to lead us to make assumptions and determinations. Again, interesting how something so far outside of our conscious control can teach us to reason. It would me more apt to say that reason is taught through the accumulation of knowledge and critical thinking.
After looking at the keywords in the quote, the meaning behind it becomes complicated. This ability to reason stems from the experiences we have throughout our lives nd the knowledge we accumulate. We can therefore benefit from emotions because they exercise our brain’s ability to apply the knowledgeand experience in order to filter the emotion adequately so our response is acceptable by societal standards. But how does this develop? And how does this relate to EQ scores?
Bradbury talked about how our EQ can be improved by managing aspects of our life such as stress, sleep hygiene, and our caffeine intake. Sleep is the most important factor, as we know, because it gives our body and brain time to reenergize and clean all the gunk out that builds up throughout the day. The more tired we are, the less likely we are to filter our emotions fully and we tend to have emotional outbursts. But there is also stress levels that affect us. Again, when we are at our wits end with stress, we tend to have emotional outbursts.
So it makes sense that EQ is our response to emotional stimulus from people and our surroundings. The most intelligent person in the world may not be able to accurately read the emotion of their coworkers and might therefore, seem out of touch with people’s emotions and ostracize themselves. If we can understand other people’s emotions, we become more caring and compassionate human beings and are often moved to positions of leadership because we can manage people. All of this requires an openness to others and a desire to understand our fellow humans. Without this, we cannot hope to be able to understand and relate to others.
Read more about Emotional Intelligence by picking up on of Travis Bradbury’s books. More information can be found on his LinkedIn.