Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Emotional Intelligence

I've been doing some reading about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) recently, thinking about introversion and EQ. Briefly speaking, EQ is a person's ability to identity and manage their emotions, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of their relationships. It is highly significant, perhaps even more significant than IQ, in determining a person's success in many spheres of life. The good news about EQ is that, unlike IQ, you can actually grow and improve your ability to perceive and understand emotions.

In The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the authors remark that "People often assume that certain traits (for example, extroversion) are associated with a higher emotional intelligence, but those who prefer to be with other people are no more emotionally intelligent than people who prefer to be alone." (p. 27).

I guess I could see how some people might think that extroverts are more emotionally intelligent than introverts, but there are two different components to emotional intelligence. There is the social competence component - the ability to understand and respond appropriately to the emotions of others - and the personal competence component - the ability to know yourself and identify your emotions.

I wonder if perhaps introverts have an advantage in the personal competence component, since we spend so much time looking at our inner worlds. Our internal processing mechanism guides us in reviewing our thoughts, ideas, and emotions. And perhaps extroverts have the advantage in social competence, since they tend to be focused away from themselves and towards the people and events around them.

It may be that introverts tend towards an over-emphasis on personal awareness and lack the same degree of social awareness, and thus our trajectory of growth will be in the opposite direction.

At the same time, the authors state that the most effective way in growing in social competence is through listening. We must learn at times to stop the monologue running through our heads in order to enter into the worlds of other people and into the dynamics of the system we are part of. While true listening is something different from merely not talking (which many of us excel at), I think that introverts can easily discipline themselves to listen to others.

In other words, I am convinced introverts are capable of a high degree of emotional intelligence.