Could someone please explain what emotional intelligence is?
I keep seeing this reference to “emotional intelligence” on social media. I can’t read the whole article lots of times because it’s boring to me, and I don’t really understand what they’re talking about. The first time I saw it was around 2005. I had been dragged to this personal development course by this M.D. buddy of mine.
It was a three day course and it was expensive. I had little interest in going but he was so enthusiastic that – against my wishes – he paid for me to go. We were gathered into a group in a conference room at a Hotel here in Austin. My doctor buddy didn’t attend so I found myself sitting on these metal chairs surrounded by strangers: students, engineers, IT people, you name it.
It was intense. First they had us tell the person sitting next to us something secretive. I.e. something we wouldn’t want someone in our personal lives to know. I personally don’t like doing stuff like this so I lied about my secret.
These people sitting by me said some intensely personal stuff and then I told them my “secret.” Then this guy gets up on stage and starts talking in a staccato rhythm. I’m not kidding. The only way I know how to describe is that it had this metallic sound. The rest of the morning went by quickly. We were told to go to lunch in groups of 3-4 but we couldn’t go with the people we were sitting with.
We come back from lunch and this time we have to tell the whole room our deepest pain; I remember them saying a secret you wouldn’t tell a family member. I watched this guy “break” these people down in front of the group. What I mean is he’d invalidate their “pain” by saying it wasn’t based in reality. If the person fought back then he told them to leave and they’d be issued a refund. I decided that if he picked me to tell my secret then I would lie to the group. What was going on in here?
Around 2 or 3PM I started getting this impulse to leave. Every nerve in my body wanted me to jump up and run out the door, but I stayed. I reasoned that since I hadn’t invested anything of value that I was safe; I was intensely curious.
The group was tighter. The dissenters had been kicked out and this guy was guiding the group through these “highs.” Everybody seemed “blown away” by his ability to speak to their collective emotions but I thought it was pretty obvious what he was doing. It would be like sitting on a rollercoaster and having the person next to you say: “Now you’re anticipating the first descent, now you’re exhilarated,” ect. Later I would tell my brother that the guy’s face looked like ‘distilled evil’.
I looked around the conference room. There were people who lined the walls separated by 10-15 feet. We were told that they were volunteers. They would intercept people who got up to go the bathroom. This didn’t bother me either…what did bother me is that it had to be later in the evening and I couldn’t remember if we’d eaten dinner. Why couldn’t I remember that?
Time wore on. There were intervals when I was listening to the leader of the group that I felt like I was asleep, or rather…I was in between some space of being asleep and being awake. I knew I wasn’t asleep cause I could clearly hear this guy’s voice. I remember thinking: this can’t be hypnosis, right? I’d gone out the night before and I was hungover so I chalked it up to that.
Several times I remember wishing I had worn my watch. By now, every muscle in my body was extremely tense. I tried to “marvel at” how my body was rebelling to distance myself from it. I knew something was happening mentally too; I was headed for some kind of “break.” I look to my left and I see this girl sobbing uncontrollably. I decided that was enough.
I get up and one of the volunteers came over to me and said something about interrupting the process and she got out of my way, the same with a guy who followed her. I go outside and there’s my brother sitting in my jeep. I jump in the passenger seat and he tells me it’s 11:15PM. He said he was about to come in after me. I didn’t go back to continue the seminar the next day. The next day was Saturday. I liked going to bars and drinking beer.
Over the years I started reading about every cult from the well-known to the obscure. I read about religious cults, financial cults, eastern cults…basically any information I could find and that’s when, in 2005, I ran across the term “emotional intelligence.”
There’s a guy from a multi-marketing cult who’s hired to lead seminars back in the seventies. He’s been on 4-5 tours in Viet Nam and says that their group was filled with doctors, lawyers, and the like. In the interview he says that they did all kinds of unethical things to manipulate these people because even though their education level far exceeded his own (he had a high school degree); they didn’t have any “emotional intelligence.”
It stunned me. I hadn’t heard of this term before; I thought about my doctor friend. He had this analytical personality that could probably be described as dissociative. Something that served both as a hindrance in personal relationships, and as an accessory in terms of his career. Was the ex-military guy saying that these highly educated people would have jumped up and ran if they had been more emotionally perceptive?
I decided he was talking about the “gut reaction.” He was using an intellectual equivalent he’d borrowed from somewhere to explain his position. In my scant recollection of the articles that I’ve read, one should be using “emotional intelligence” to guide one’s decisions at work.Just thinking out loud. I find this idea to be intellectually stimulating since you could use this as a bellwether to navigate inside of an organization. I apologize in advance for the meandering nature of this post…since I’m merely asking if someone can explain what emotional intelligence is?