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Thread: Emotional intelligence : myth or reality ?

  1. #1
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Question Emotional intelligence : myth or reality ?

    It has become popular over the last decade to talk about EQ and emotional intelligence. Although I understand the concept, I find that the EQ tests I have come across are far from efficient in telling how good someone is at controlling its emotional intelligence, negociating or reading other people's mind. More often than not, the answer to the question depends on the situation, one's mood, one's values, one's experience, and what is at stake in that particular case, rather than actual emotional skills.

    Let's illustrate this with a few examples of questions from this website.

    Example 1

    26) Your partner should be back from a night out with friends around midnight. Midnight comes and goes and there’s no sign of your partner. 1 a.m. passes, 2 a.m. passes, and by 3 a.m. your general feeling is:

    1. Worried. You start to think of a car accident, assault, or any number of things that could be going wrong right now.
    2. Three hours late? Your partner is probably out having a great time.
    3. You are concerned, but aren't exactly calling the police. Your partner probably just lost track of time.
    4. You think your partner could be out fooling around sexually with someone else.

    1) the test taker will be more likely to answer this if their partner is not a good driver, often drinks too much, or lives/goes out in a dangerous neighbourhood. Unlikely if the person is very responsible, strong and live in a very safe place.

    2) depends on whether the test taker knows where the partner is going out. Is a friend's home ? Is it a nightclub ? Is it a cultural event ? Is the partner accompanied by family or friends ? I would be more likely to choose this anwer if my wife was going to the restaurant with my mother than if she was going to a nightclub with friends she hardly knows.

    3) Is my partner often late, or has it never happened before. Is she going to a scheduled event (e.g. theatre) or somewhere where she could spend the whole night (e.g. nightclub) ? In the first case I would be much more likely to call the police if she was 3h late than in the 2nd case.

    4) Again, who is she going out with ? Where ? Is she often late ? Has she cheated before ? Does she socialise with strangers easily ? Is she very attractive and sexually active ? All these questions are more important than one's actual EQ. My reaction would be different depending on which of my former partners we are talking about.

    Example 2

    27) You have been planning a weekend get-away vacation for over a month, but the Friday afternoon before the trip, your boss says you will have to stay and work the weekend. You probably wouldn't get fired if you just walked out on your boss, but it would create some big waves. You would most likely:

    1. Tell your boss that you have been planning a trip for weeks and can't work over the weekend―if he gets really upset you might end up cancelling your plans to smooth things over.
    2. There's no question―cancel your plans and work the weekend.
    3. Lie and say your mother has recently gotten ill and use the "family emergency" to avoid working the weekend.
    4. Tell your boss you will cancel your plans, but expect your sacrifice to be compensated in some way.

    To answer this question, it is more important to know how much I like my job, how involved I am in it, what is my relation with my boss and coworkers, what is my level of responsibility, what are my financial incentives, how much I care about that particular vacation weekend, whether I had made any non-refundable reservation, whether I am going alone or with other people, how my partner or other people involved in the vacation feel about my not coming, and many other factors. All 4 answers are possible depending on the situation. It does not depend at all on my emotional intelligence but on my level of commitment to my job, partner/friends, and physical need for some time off.

    I could use the same kind of reasoning for most of the questions in this test, and in other EQ tests I have tried. This is why I think that it is extremely difficult to assess one's EQ. I even think that a person's EQ is not stable in time, and highly depends on one's mood, tiredness, familiarity with the environment and people, and commitment to different things. Motivation can boost the quality of one's emotional reactions.
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  2. #2
    Horizon Rider Kinsao's Avatar
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    You are very right, there are many, many different factors involved in the example situations. Is there supposed to be a 'right' answer?!

    ^ well, I just looked at the test and for some of the questions there is something that could be perceived as a 'right' answer. But not for all, and not for the situations you described above, certainly.

    I read the Goleman book and thought it was pretty interesting, although a lot of it seems to be common sense and/or glaringly obvious.

    On question 28:
    You are given a hard, one-week deadline to complete a project, but two days into it you realize you are not going to be able to finish everything in time. You:
    -- Keep working at the same pace and level of detail.
    -- Figure out where you can cut corners, and get the project done as well as you can in the time allotted.
    -- Stay late every night to make the project as good as you can possibly make it in the given time.
    -- Spend most of your time contemplating how your boss will react when he finds out you've failed to meet your deadline.

    ^ there is no option to select for discussing with your boss that you won't be able to finish it in the time, and talk with her/him about the best thing to do, or discuss what parts of the task you might be able to delegate to another colleague....

    Also on question 32:
    A person you know asks you out on a date. You are not in a relationship and don't dislike the person, but you have no attraction to him/her. You:
    -- Refuse outright.
    -- Gently say no, so as not to hurt the person's feelings.
    -- Waver and act noncommital. If the person really pushes, you might end up going out.
    -- Accept even though you might not care for the person, because it would be rude to refuse.

    ^ there's no option for saying accept, because they are okay and you might as well have a good time while you can.

    Hmmm... I did the test *curious, lol*... my weakest category is 'emotional expression' and my strongest category is 'openness', apparently. I find that quite interesting. I would have thought 'openness' and 'expression' were fairly closely related, although with some subtle differences. I guess 'openness' is kind of more about honesty, and 'expression' is more about communication (or specifically, communication signals outwards...).

  3. #3
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    I don't see how the first answer in example 1 directly leads to poor driving and drinking habits. Couldn't it also be that your partner is always on time and if he says he will be home at a certain time, he will be home. I'd be worried because my boyfriend would call me if he was that late - it's not charasteristic of him not to call, therefore something might have happened.

    As for the second example, I thought it was really strange that there was no option for "I won't change my plans, period." All of the choices involved some sort of yilding to the boss's orders.

    Also quesiton 23 caught my eye because there wasn't, like Kinsao said, an option for just going so you could see if the person is nice or not. Or maybe the idea of the question was that the person there is no way you could ever be attracted to the person.

    I think all of thise illustrates exactly the kind of difficulties that you get from surveys and such as a wya to gather information etc. In methodology courses we were always warned about the difficulty of forming questions and the different ways of interpreting the questions/options etc

    I did the test and it wasn't all that surprising that my weakets point was motivation The strongest category for me was self-reliance. I'm lazy but I believe in myself
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    I think it's myth

  5. #5
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    It is slowly entering the mainstream now In our company we apply a model for change management for 3 years now based on EQ, great results!

  6. #6
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    It's reality, of course. Obviously some people are dealing with emotions more efficiently than others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It has become popular over the last decade to talk about EQ and emotional intelligence. Although I understand the concept, I find that the EQ tests I have come across are far from efficient in telling how good someone is at controlling its emotional intelligence, negociating or reading other people's mind. More often than not, the answer to the question depends on the situation, one's mood, one's values, one's experience, and what is at stake in that particular case, rather than actual emotional skills.

    Let's illustrate this with a few examples of questions from this website....
    Yes, your concerns all make sense. In fact, I might say that being able to identify the possible scenarios (e.g. partner's habits, local crime rate, level of job security) that exist outside of the text of the question would constitute a form of emotional intelligence. In fact, simply being able to recognize that there often is more to a situation than is obvious could be an important intelligence factor. For example, there are some jobs where cutting corners to meet deadlines is the expected behavior, or at least well tolerated (such as a newspaper editor who lets a few typos slip by), and others where doing so would be a horrific form of malpractice (such as brain surgery). So in reality, the "correct" answer is not to answer the question immediately, but to go back to the test writer and ask, "What kind of job is this? Am I cooking for prisoners, or am I cooking for the Ambassador?".

  8. #8
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    My stomach is smart. I don't need to measure time to next meal, instead it tells me by emotion of hunger when I should eat. Sometimes it even gives me suggestions to what food I should eat, by sending me some cravings for pork sausage, fried chicken or gummy worms.
    I would name my other organ which has emotional intelligence but I'm already blushing, lol.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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