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Essay The Myth of High Emotional Intelligence

Updated on March 10, 2019
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Tessa Schlesinger developed an interest in human behaviour and ethics while studying anthropology at the University of South Africa in 1975.

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Friends with High Emotional Intellligence

I have a friend who insists on flattering me every time we meet. “Your eyes are sparkling.” “Your skin is looking beautiful.” “You’re looking great.” It irritates the hell out of me. I don’t need flattery, and I am particularly averse to insincere flattery. Of course, she is a great success at her job – a junior management position.

On the other hand, she is perpetually in debt because she doesn’t earn enough. She works a lot more than 40 hours per week. She smokes to such a degree that she has started aging rapidly, and she is not emotionally stable. She also has irrational beliefs in the supernatural department.

I have other friends, all of whom insist that I have low emotional intelligence, and that they have high emotional intelligence. They lord it over me, because in their minds, high emotional intelligence makes them superior.

Here’s the really interesting part. They either have some sort of mental illness, or they are conmen and manipulators.

I have no admiration for people with ‘high emotional intelligence.’

The Emotional Intelligece Scam

High Emotional Intelligence and Manipulation, Sociopathy, and Narcissism.

There is a difference between being aware that someone is suffering, then giving them space and assistance, and flattering a person in order to fulfil some sort of agenda. Salesmen, for example, are always taught to ‘establish a friendship,’ and then they use this ‘friendship’ to sell something to a person. This is unethical, and it is nothing to be proud of.

Dr. Martin Kildare of University College, London, has this to say about some with high emotional intelligence, “They intentionally shape their emotions to fabricate favorable impressions of themselves. The strategic disguise of one's own emotions and the manipulation of others' emotions for strategic ends are behaviors evident not only on Shakespeare's stage but also in the offices and corridors where power and influence are traded.”

Employers love those who have high emotional intelligence. Why? Because these are the people who manipulate others to do unpleasant things that they would not want to do given the choice.

Politicians know how to work the crowd. Donald Trump is an arch manipulator. He knows how to work people. Steve Jobs managed to convince a lot of people who desired high status that they were superior if they owned an Apple product. Yet another study stated, “One observer reflected that Hitler’s persuasive impact came from his ability to strategically express emotions—he would “tear open his heart”—and these emotions affected his followers to the point that they would “stop thinking critically and just emote.”

Close to a dozen studies have shown a correlation between high emotional intelligence and narcissism and Machiavellianism.

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High Emotional Quotient Means Low Creatiity and Low Innovation

People who depend on people skills tend to do so because they are low on the creativity and innovation side. They are also not particularly adept at finishing tasks. They need other people to do that. The irony of this is that people who are good innovating, invention, creativity, and completing tasks, don’t need people to motivate them to do those things. In addition, people who are talented innovators and creators don’t have to brownnose others in order to innovate and create.

If emotional intelligence is nothing more than the manipulation of others to get things done, I fail to see why it is held in such high esteem.

People with high EQ tend to be in the lower ranks of employment, or, alternatively, they are politicians, salesmen, or some other form of conman.

People with high Emotional Quotient (EQ) are more likely to be duped than those with high cognitive quotient (IQ).

Are People with High EQ Really More Successful?

This depends on how one defines success. If one defines success as being well liked, being able to manipulate others to reach a particular agenda, then, yes, people with high emotional intelligence are successful. It might be interesting to note that 20% of business owners and highly successful CEOs are psychopaths and sociopaths. Of course, psychopaths and sociopaths read the emotions of others very well…

But are people with high emotional intelligence ethical? Are they innovative, creative, able to get the job done? Those are items which have not yet been well researched. Initial studies indicate no.

Smarter People Are Happier On Their Own

High Emotional Intelligence and Office Politics

Internationally, study after study has shown that between 75% and 95% of people hate their jobs. And they hate their jobs for many reasons. One of the reasons is office politics – the way that ‘successful people’ manipulate others to achieve their own agendas. If companies are giving preference to people with ‘high emotional intelligence,’ then why is the work environment such a horrible, horrible place?

Emotional Maturity vs Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman described some aspects of emotional maturity as emotional intelligence. Other aspects had more to do with social intelligence. Ironically, most of what people today purport to be emotional intelligence has more to do with social intelligence.

Emotional maturity is a hard thing to find. It is exceptionally are.

You also can’t be taught it.

Emotional maturity is the ability to understand one’s own emotions and regulate them using intelligence. Intelligence is the steering wheel of emotions. This is why cognitive psychology works.

Ironically, emotional intelligence is often behind such myths as the law of attraction where thoughts are meant to be positive and affirmative in order to have happy and good emotions.

Roger Moorhouse describing Hitler's ability to control the emotions of the crowd.
Roger Moorhouse describing Hitler's ability to control the emotions of the crowd. | Source

The Myth of Understanding Other People's Emotions

I do not wear my emotions on my sleeve. In fact, I seldom show them. This aggravates people who use emotions to control and connect to other people. And that is precisely the reason I don’t reveal my emotions.

So here’s the thing. People who supposedly read other people’s emotions aren’t some mystical beings with supernatural powers. They are simply reading facial expression. It’s not rocket science.

The difference between these people and someone like me is that they use this to manipulate people, and I don’t.

I can certainly read other people’s emotions. I don’t, however, chose to flatter them or use them for my own ends. If a friend is going through a hard time, I am there for them – in a real sense. I don't offer cliched phrases. I try to help. Interestingly, some people just want comfort. They don't want to change their situation.

Let me share a situation with you.

A few years ago, a young friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She was distraught and everybody on facebook (all 567 friends of hers) expressed their high emotional intelligence by telling her that their thoughts and prayers were with her. She repeatedly said that she didn’t have the money to pay for treatment. I watched this, waiting for one of her ‘close friends’ to donate something.

Not on your life.

Please note that I am not a close friend.

At the end of the week, I told all these people with their high emotional intelligence to actually provide some real help outside their ‘I’m praying for you' comments.
I set up a ‘Go-fund-Me’ page and promoted it on my various Google communities with upward 25,000 to 36,000 followers.

Forgive me if I don’t have any emotional intelligence, but I much prefer people who actually help than people who try to read my emotions so that they can manipulate me or bond with me.

Which do you value more? Cognitive Intelligence or Emotional Intelligence.

See results

What Experience Has Taught Me About People With High Emotional Intelligence

  1. They aren’t particularly bright.
  2. They have emotional issues.
  3. They are salesmen of one sort of another and they want to sell me something.
  4. They honestly believe that they can get me to do something I don’t want to do.
  5. Their accusations of my having low emotional intelligence has more to do with the fact that they can’t manipulate me than anything else.
  6. They can’t handle facts, criticism, truth, etc.
  7. They can’t stand on their own two emotional feet and need the constant validation of others.

So, forgive me, they can keep their thoughts, their prayers, they soft spoken compliments, their easy smiles, and more. I’ll stick with the real people – the one’s who are emotionally whole, intellectually factual, and who would never dream of ‘influencing others.

© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger

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