Archive for February, 2014

Emotional Intelligence

Any definition of intelligence generally involves three elements:

  • the ability to profit from experience
  • the ability to learn new information
  • the ability to adjust to new situations.

In his work on emotional intelligence, Daniel Golman defines the hallmarks of emotional maturity and a trained emotional intelligence as:

  • being able to read the feelings of others
  • handling relationships with the least possible friction
  • being able to control impulses
  • getting angry only when that is an optimal and appropriate behavior.

Emotional intelligences can be learned.  We learn the basics as children.  As adults, most of us feel refining our emotional responses is a life-long task.  The process of bringing our response into an optimal configuration for any situation begins with insight,

Insight into oneself is described as an intrapersonal intelligence.  It is the capacity to form an accurate, veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life.  We achieve this through” self-monitoring”.  The purpose of self-monitoring is simply to observe one’s behavior, not to modify or condemn it. Understanding your own motivations and processes is necessary before extending that awareness to the motivation and behaviors of others.

Self-monitoring is the predecessor to interpersonal (between self and others) intelligence.  This is defined as the ability to understand other people and what motivates them, how they work, and how to work cooperatively.

Eastern religions and Western scientists agree on the use of self-monitoring techniques as a way to distance oneself from emotions, beginning to master and regulate our response to events.  Self-control begins with realizing that an emotional response is frequently predictable from context.  Prediction allows a moment to organize a response.  Intensity of response can be moderated in many different ways.  Planning and practicing to do something different when presented with a familiar challenge to one’s self-control, such as anxiety or anger, is one way to prevent an emotional hi-jacking.  We aim to become aware of our mood, our thoughts about our mood, and make small changes in our response to stimuli.  In session 4 we will continue to work on emotional intelligence by exploring one of the most difficult emotions to modify and moderate: anger.

People with a high level of emotional intelligence often seek to integrate the interests of all parties.  Entering relationships or negotiations without a clear perception of the interests of  participants operate at a severe disadvantage.  As the Win/Win game illustrates, communication is key to satisfaction in cooperative negotiations. In real life, when people are not allowed to win or feel control over outcomes, they often become apathetic.  The “learned helplessness” research of Martin Seligman (1975, 1991, 1998) shows what happens when animals and people experience life events as both uncontrollable and unfavorable.   They learn to feel helpless and resigned.  Depressed and institutionalized people fall into this category; losing the power to act when they feel that nothing they can do would be effective.

When management appears to be capricious and/or rigidly unfeeling it becomes difficult to sustain a sense of personal control and competence. People become apathetic in their job performance.  It is difficult for managers to manage widespread indifference, particularly if they are perceived as part of the problem. Workers given leeway in carrying out tasks and making decisions experienced improved morale (Miller & Monge. 1986).  Restoring a sense of control to people increases their sense of self-efficacy.  To increase self-efficacy you do not need to persuade yourself or others that they can be efficacious, nor praise or puff up their ego. You simply need to set challenging, yet realistic tasks, and successfully complete them.  To do one’s best and to achieve is to feel confident, and yes, empowered (Ozer and Bandura, 1990).