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Emotional astuteness

I am Anju Shah, a 54 year old interior designer. My son Kushan, 28 years old passed his engineering from IIT, Kanpur. He is brilliant academically. However, today, he is in a very deplorable state. His marriage is ruined and is on the brink of a divorce, he is unable to stick in any job and is a terror for his 4 year old son whom he beats regularly. He has lost all friends and no one in our family is also willing to support him. I am unable to understand how such a brilliant person can be in such a devastating state of life. Please explain.

Academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life. The brightest among us can founder on the shoals of unbridled passions and unruly impulses; people with high IQ’s can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives. IQ does not predict unerringly who will succeed in life. There is a relationship between IQ and life circumstances for large groups as a whole; many people with low IQ end up in menial jobs, and those with high IQ tend to become well-paid – but no means always. At best IQ contributes about 20 % to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 % to the other forces. The vast majority of one’s ultimate niche in society is determined by non-IQ factors ranging from social class to luck. The totality of characteristics determines success than one factor alone. Emotional intelligence consists of abilities like being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope. IQ breeds dutiful people – who know how to achieve in the system, who are good at achievement as measured by grades. It tells you nothing about they react to the vicissitudes of life. Academic intelligence offers virtually no preparation for the turmoil or opportunity – life’s vicissitudes bring. A high IQ is no guarantee of prosperity, prestige, or happiness in life. Our schools and our culture fixate on academic abilities, ignoring emotional intelligence – a set of traits – some might call it character – that also matters immensely for our personal destiny. Emotional life needs handling with skill and requires its unique set of competencies. And how adept a person is at those is crucial to understanding why one person thrives in life while other of equal intellect, dead-ends. Emotional aptitude is a meta-ability, determining how well we can use whatever other skills we have, including raw intellect.

Self-awareness or knowing one’s emotions is the ability to recognize a feeling as it happens. The ability to monitor feelings from moment to moment is crucial self-understanding. An inability to notice our true feelings leaves us at their mercy. People with greater certainty about their feelings are better pilots of their lives, have a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from whom to marry to what job to take. Handling feelings so they are appropriate is an ability that builds on self-awareness. One’s capacity to soothe oneself, to shake off rampant anxiety, gloom, or irritability – and the consequences of failure at this basic emotional skill have to be known. People who are poor in this ability are constantly battling feelings of distress, while those who excel in it can bounce back far more quickly from life’s setbacks and upsets. Marshalling emotions in the service of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and mastery, and for creativity. Emotional self-control – delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness – underlies accomplishment of every sort. And being able to get into the perfect state enable outstanding performance of all kinds. People who have this skill tend to be more highly productive and effective in whatever they undertake. Empathy, another ability that builds on emotional self-awareness is the fundamental people skill. People who are empathic are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want. This makes them better at callings such as the caring professions, teaching, sales, and management. Social competence is also an important part which determines how you maintain relationships and manage emotions in others. These are the abilities that undergird popularity, leadership, and interpersonal effectiveness. People who excel in these skills do well at anything that relies on interacting smoothly with others; they are social stars.