Emotional Intelligence Is Bullshit

Emotional Intelligence Is Bullshit

Anyone who has spent time working for a large organisation will have come across the management fad – the supposed panacea that will make everything better. From Myers-Briggs to Hartman’s Colour Codes management fads run the full gamut of pseudoscientific nonsense, wasting time and money by forcing people to go on pointless training programs that make no difference whatsoever.

Selling snake oil to make people “FEEL” better about themselves is the complete opposite of scientific practice, and goes against everything that comes close to natural order. So to no surprise the emotional intelligence fad hit the anger spot right away, bullshit meters up the roof. Especially when it’s really easy to confuse real emotional intelligence (assuming there is such a thing) with brown nosing.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is a emotional equivalent of the theory of mind, that is, the ability to recognise our own and others emotions, to be able to distinguish between different emotional states, and to use this information to guide thinking.

Allegedly, those with a high EQ (emotional quotient) are good at understanding emotional states in themselves and others. It encompasses empathy, but also an understanding of what the emotion might mean, and therefore what behaviour might be appropriate.

Thus, those with high levels of emotional intelligence are better at navigating through the social environment.

So, individuals with high EQ are “better” at telling whether someone is pissed off, and moderating his or her behaviour to compensate. Likewise, he or she would be better able than the average joe to tell if you or I were sad, and to (potentially) offer support.

That sounds pretty good and it would make social interactions smoother, give way for more empathic behaviour and having a good level of EQ would probably help avoid conflict or miscommunication, and could be considered a good leadership trait.

That said, EQ is NOT a magic pill, one pill fix all kinda thing. High EQ levels don’t mean that a person will be uber-compassionate, a brilliant leader, or even particularly likable. Because all of those things also require other abilities, like REAL intelligence, the ability to think strategically, and the desire to act in a way that takes other people’s interests into account.

Let’s get real here: Measuring EQ and sending people on BS EQ booster courses is a fucking waste of time at best, and at worst another prime example of self-delusion.

Why self-delusion?

Because people with sociopathic tendencies are very good at SIMULATING emotional intelligence. From the top down, it’s very easy to confuse “genuine EQ” (assuming such a thing is a meaningful, measurable construct) with ass licking.

While we are at it sociopaths are particularly good at several things.

First, they are good at making their superiors think that they are more competent than they are, through a combination of charm and manipulation.

Second, they tend to treat those below them with contempt, and are good at using the achievements of others to boost their own career.

Last, they are extremely good at reading the emotional states of others in order to manipulate them but, unlike those with supposed high EQ, this is done WITHOUT empathy – so sociopaths can tell you’re upset and use this information to manipulate you but they don’t give a shit about your feelz or your pain.

It’s very easy to see a rising sociopath as someone who is extremely empathic, high in emotional intelligence, and the sort of person that should be emulated. Of course, from below, everyone else can tell that that person is sociopathic, but that’s not going to matter to the higher ups and their pseudoscience.

Like any other scam, EQ in business is time-wasting nonsense that just distracts people from real issues. But as usual it’s common for people to confuse doing something (or anything) with doing something MEANINGFUL, which requires deep thought, thorough understanding of a complex issue, and relevant action to address the problem.

Closing Thoughts

The idea behind emotional intelligence is pretty neat.  That individuals who are able to moderate their behaviour, based on an ability to understand their own feelings and to intuit another person’s emotional state, are “better” people.

It’s a nice concept but that’s about it.

To really make a difference, you gotta have increased self-awareness, better acceptance of discomfort, increased attentional focus, and enhanced ability to take action in the presence of uncomfortable scenarios. Hence, a fixation on emotional intelligence just won’t help, and might end up doing a lot more harm than you think.

As always thanks for reading and until next time.

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.