B1 Intermediate US 1591 Folder Collection
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Emotional intelligence is the quality that enables us to confront with patience, insight and, imagination
the many problems that we face in our affective relationship with ourselves and with other people.
The term "emotional intelligence" may sound odd.
We used to referring to intelligence just as a general quality,
without unpicking a particular variety a person might possess
and therefore we don't tend to highlight the value of a distinctive sort of intelligence which currently does not enjoy the prestige it should.
Every sort of intelligence signals an ability to navigate well around a particular set of challenges:
mathematical, linguistic, technical, commercial…
When we say that someone is clever but add that they have made a mess of their personal lives;
or that they have acquired a fortune but are restless and sad,
or that they are powerful but intolerant and unimaginative,
we are pointing to a deficit in what deserves to be called “emotional intelligence."
In social life, we can feel the presence of emotional intelligence in a sensitivity to the moods of others
and in a readiness to grasp the surprising things that may be going on for other people beneath the surface.
Emotional intelligence recognises a role for interpretation
and knows that, for example, a fiery outburst might be a disguised plea for help,
or that a long political rant may be provoked by hunger,
or that concealed within a forceful jolliness may be a sorrow that has been sentimentally disavowed.
In relation to ourselves, emotional intelligence shows up in a scepticism around our emotions,
especially those of love, desire, anger, envy, anxiety and professional ambition.
The emotionally intelligent refuse to trust their first impulses or the inherent wisdom of their feelings.
They know that hatred may mask love, that anger may be a cover for sadness
and that we are prone to huge and costly inaccuracies around whom we desire and what we really want.
Emotional intelligence is also what distinguishes those who are crushed by failure
from those who know how to greet the troubles of existence with a melancholy and, at points, darkly humorous resilience.
The emotionally intelligent appreciate the role of well-handled pessimism within the overall economy of a good life.
Emotional intelligence isn't an inborn talent.
It's always the result of education,
specifically education in how to interpret ourselves,
in where our emotions arise from,
in how our childhoods influence us,
and in how we might best navigate our fears and our wishes.
In the ideal society, it would be routine to be taught emotional intelligence from the youngest age,
before we had had the opportunity to make too many mistakes.
It is because we have—until now—not taken emotional education seriously enough
that our species has grown ever more technically adept
while retaining the level of wisdom of our earliest days—with catastrophic results.
We are now evolved monkeys with nuclear weapons.
It appears that fate of civilization now depends on our capacity to master the mechanisms of emotional education before it is too late.
An emotional education means something far beyond formal education as we have conceived of it to date.
Though it should ideally include courses in every year of school or college,
emotional education is more than something that should just take place in classrooms at the hands of teachers
and come to a halt around the age of twenty-one.
The central vehicle for the transfer of emotional intelligence is culture,
from its highest to its most popular level.
Culture is the field that can ritualise and consistently promote the absorption of emotional intelligence.
The 'lessons' might be embedded in a tragedy
or a TV series, a pop song or a novel, a work of architecture or a YouTube film.
We can envisage the entire apparatus of culture as a subtle mechanism designed to point us towards greater emotional intelligence.
We will never progress as a species, and will indeed grow into ever greater technologically-armed menaces to ourselves,
until we have accepted the challenges and opportunities of properly educating our selves in emotional intelligence.
Our technical intelligence is great of course.
It's led us to tame nature and conquer this planet.
But a wiser, saner future for the race must depend on a capacity to master
and then seductively teach the rudiments of emotional intelligence—while there is still time.
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What is Emotional Intelligence?

1591 Folder Collection
Ken Song published on November 26, 2017
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