The rising number of companies offering workshops in emotional intelligence under corporate training is astonishing.
It dazzles me when a business company delivers workshops in emotional intelligence to another business company. On top of that, the facilitators have no education whatsoever close to psychology and yet they are demonstrating through two-day workshops what emotional intelligence should be. These individuals read the book (or a summary) Working with Emotional Intelligence written by psychologist Daniel Goleman and off they go workshop-ing emotional intelligence to the world.
I, for starters, don’t believe in the types of intelligence developed by the psychologist Howard Gardner as we can see from the “Am I Intelligent” series. I believe in one intelligence and where to focus its energy (more of this in “Am I Intelligent” Part IV).
From a lexical point of view, people talk about the difference between EI and IQ and as we develop these acronyms we can see that there’s a fallacy in the comparison; EI stands for Emotional Intelligence – a concept, while IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient – a number. Maybe it would be more appropriate to compare EI (Emotional Intelligence) with LI (Logical Intelligence) since the former concept involves emotions and the latter involves reasoning.
How can we separate the two anyway?
As we can see from the picture above, IQ is not considered as colorful as EQ… as if thoughts and ideas are not colorful. In addition, ideas come from emotions and vice versa.
From a biological perspective, the amygdala, which is responsible for controlling emotions, is connected to the neocortex which in turn is responsible for controlling the process of reasoning. Most parts of the brain contribute in a complex way to emotions and intellect at the same time.
Moreover, the neural connections (synapses) and the neurotransmitters released and captured by neurons depend on many factors including (but not limited to) the perceived experience of the individual. This translates into different emotional reactions among the population to the same stimulus.
From a pathological point of view, individuals with personality or some mental disorder will react in an extreme and opposite way to what we believe to be the reaction should be to a certain stimulus. For example, an individual with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) will feel deep anxiety when oxytocin (the love hormone) is released while the majority will feel like floating and in love.
Even sociopaths, psychopaths and individuals exhibiting apathy have emotions. However, they learned to bury them since these emotions did not serve their bearer well over the years.
It is good to mention that we are emotional beings! Emotions start to develop from the day we are conceived and continue to compound throughout our lives. All behaviors we exhibit have source in an array of emotions deeply rooted within ourselves.
What is an emotion anyway? In my opinion, and from psychoanalytical perspective, an emotion is an expression of the self, created within the self by the crushing of the id and the superego. All of this process is designed to fulfill the instincts of life and death.
In other words, the self (ego or moi in French) is being sandwiched by the id (ça in French) which holds the desires and the superego (surmoi in French) which holds the internalized laws (of the father, the culture…). The development of the self depends on the conflicts between the id and the superego. If the id has a certain desire and the superego has a law clashing with said desire, the self is caught in the middle of the conflict and generates an emotion like frustration for instance. The self is undergoing tension, compression and shear forces from the conflict between the id and the superego.
We can see from this fact that we are made of archaic (old) emotions compounded by our experience in life. Most powerful emotions are actually developed prenatally and minutes after we are born. For example: guilt is learned in the process of birth when we hear our mother crying out in pain; we are the reason she is in pain.
Fear, especially of heights and sharp sounds, is created when the doctor holds us in the air and by the sharp noises of the medical tools. Fear is also created just by moving from a warm womb to a cold environment. Anger is created in the same process. Fear and anger can also be created prenatally if the mother doesn’t want the child and the fetus can’t attach properly to the uterine wall so it fears detachment, hence fearing death. Fear, anger and guilt (or FAG) constitute what is called the devil’s triangle (more on this in upcoming articles).
If we see it from the existential angle, emotions represent the product solely created to protect/enhance lifeform. Fear, as we’ve seen before, is mainly a protective emotion. Romantic love, as another example, enhances attachment – leading to reproduction and thus to the continuation of the genes, the human species and life in the global sense.
Besides the fact that emotions are deeply entrenched within our self, learning or unlearning emotions is not as easy as learning a rational skill. To understand emotions and to deal with them requires huge amounts of introspection, energy, reflection, time, dedication, patience and a bunch of setbacks since the core is being changed. Moreover, it needs professional psychologists to help us get there since we couldn’t do it on our own in the first place.
According to some workshops and I quote “EI is the ability to bring people together and motivate them, it is the trust to build productive relationships… There are five competencies of emotional intelligence at work:
- Self-Awareness – the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, drives, and their effect on others.
- Self-Regulation – the ability to control impulses and moods.
- Motivation – the passion to pursue goals with energy.
- Empathy – the awareness of others’ feelings.
- Social Skill – the proficiency in managing relationships.”
I agree with these points to some extent but I strongly disagree with the method of delivery; we can learn the concepts in 2-3 days but the change necessitates core therapy and guidance.
These workshops are delivered in the context of the workplace, the motto being emotionally intelligent companies. They claim that they can help you master your emotions and understand others in a two-day workshop.
In theory, learning emotional intelligence in 2 or 3 days is ideal. I would even pay in gold to have it. It’s too good to be true.
Speaking of too good to be true, let’s demonstrate why and how our gold will go down the drain. We’ll tackle all five competencies at work after we’ve paid the man.
Generally, a company requiring another to deliver workshops is having problems in certain areas like inter and intra-group communication. The air is charged and the overall atmosphere is tensed.
In a real-life context where the economy is declining, the boss and employees are frustrated, in fear and in anger because they might lose the company and hence their jobs. A 2/3-day workshop might have influence on limited percentage of the personnel but for a very short time. The reason behind this is that we are creatures of habits and these in turn are externalization of who we became since floating in our mother’s womb.
People struggle their entire life with their emotions and a three-day workshop surely won’t do the trick of solving it out.
In my opinion, and from experience in the field, developing our intelligence emotionally (not emotional intelligence) requires, through hard work and core therapy:
- Awareness of the emotion, the drive and so on
- Understanding the nature of this emotion
- Acceptance of the emotion as a part of ourselves not just an alien thing that hits us
- Realizing the fact that we are not the emotions and that it’s not right to identify ourselves to the emotion in the first place (I am angry vs. I feel angry)
- Digging up the cause of this emotion
- Marrying it to logic
- Transforming the energy of the emotion into constructive mechanisms (thought, action…)
Articles coming soon:
Am I Intelligent – Part III
In the making:
Freud and Maslow meet in Pyramid
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