Friday, July 28, 2006

Emotional Intelligence

The sign of intelligent people is their ability to control emotions by the application of reason.
Marya Mannes (1904-1990) American Journalist

We now know there is more than one type of intelligence. A decade ago Daniel Goleman, PhD agreed with Ms. Mannes when he wrote the book Emotional Intelligence. In 1994 Goleman stated in a report on emotional literacy in the U.S.:

" navigating our lives, it is our fears and envies, our rages and depressions, our worries and anxieties that steer us day to day. Even the most academically brilliant among us are vulnerable to being undone by unruly emotions."
How often do we lead with our emotions?

"If I feel it, it must be true."

"If my reaction is what I feel, it doesn't matter what the other person meant."

"I am licensed to act purely on my feelings. Damn reason! I feel, therefore I am."

Have you ever had one of those moments and lived to regret it? I have. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I have been on both ends of the emotional double barreled shotgun. I can't recommend either.

The true measure of intelligence is balance. It is important to pay attention to what we feel as part of the necessary information for decision making, yet completely throwing away reason in favor of our emotional reaction leaves us vulnerable to making serious mistakes.

On the other hand, I read a story about a physician who had a head injury which impaired the part of his brain related to emotion. His capacity to know what to do medically was intact. His ability to perform the specific skills needed to do his job was intact. Because he no longer had access to his emotions, however, he was unable to make appropriate decisions for patient care. He was not able to consider the whole person in determining appropriate treatment. The head injury seriously impaired his judgment, even though his capacity to recall his training was untouched.

So the next time you find yourself ready to go off half-cocked, take a breather. Bring your mind on board and think through the options. Find the balance. Maybe your decision won't change. Maybe you will still have the same response...or not.

Rarely is my first response (the one that is most emotional) the one I choose to go with. When I think it through, all the while considering my emotion, I usually feel more intelligent and probably come across moreso, too.

Let me know how it works. I'd love to hear if applying reason makes a difference for you.

Wanda Tucker, Coach


Michelle O'Neil said...

I wish I read this before I posted on the photographer of crying toddlers yesterday! Today I ask myself why I felt the need to get all crazed about it? Must be I was having too tranquil a run. Needed that fix for familiarity's sake. Seems I was just stirring the pot but what for? It didn't get anyone anywhere! Oh well....the first step is awareness! Better luck next time!

Wanda Tucker said...

Some things are worth getting "het up" about. And sometimes we need more information. And sometimes, even when we get more information, we still don't know if it was worth it.