Archive for August, 2010

Emotional Quotient is defined as a crucial range of abilities that matter immensely in terms of how we do in life. These range of abilities include self-awareness, self-discipline, and empathy. They add up to a different way of being smart, and are factors at work when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well.

Although shaped by childhood experience, our emotional quotient can be nurtured and strengthened throughout adulthood – with immediate benefits to our health, our relationships, and our work.

Socrates’ injunction “know thyself” speaks to the awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.  Psychologists use the term metamood to mean awareness of one’s own emotions.  In reference to Emotional Quotient recognizing a feeling as it happens makes us better pilots of our lives being more certain about how we feel about personal decisions from who to marry to what career move to make.  Being aware of our feelings also makes us better able to shake off a bad mood.

Empathy is defined as understanding another person’s feelings by remembering or imagining being in a similar situation.  It can be broken down in to 3 distinct components: knowing another person’s feelings, feeling what that person feels and responding compassionately to another’s distress.  Empathy leads to acts of altruism which is known to activate emotions that are vital to the maintaining of good health.   Life devoid of empathy begets psychopathic behavior.  The sure sign of any psychopath is deceit and reckless disregard for others’ feeling.  When it comes to empathy psychopaths have none, in fact they have difficulty recognizing fear or sadness in people’s faces or in their voices.  Empathy is an innate quality that can be shaped by experience.  Infants as young at 3 months old exhibit empathy when they get upset at the sound of another baby crying.  The greater your ability to “empathize” the greater your EQ.

It may be hard to believe but that spongy confection made from a soft mixture of sugar, albumen and gelatin – known as marshmallows, can help scientists see the future.  More specifically by watching four year olds interact with them.  The children are put in a plain room one by one and are made a simple offer.  You can have this marshmallow right now, the researcher says, but if you wait while I run an errand, you can have two marshmallows when I get back.  And then he leaves.

Some children go for the marshmallow the moment the researcher leaves the room.  Some last a while longer before they give in.  But others are determined to wait.  When the researcher returns he gives these children their hard-earned marshmallows.

By the time the children reach the age of around 13 something remarkable has happened.  A survey of the children’s parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds held out for the second marshmallow generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable teenagers.  The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn.  They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges.  And when some of the students in the two groups took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the kids who had held out longer scored an average of 210 points higher.

It seems that the ability to delay gratification is a master skill, a triumph of the reasoning brain over the impulsive one.  It is a sign in short of emotional intelligence.  And it doesn’t show up on IQ tests.

The good news is that EQ – the ability to read your own emotions, to empathize with others and to be disciplined is a skill that can be developed.



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