Ah, commencement time! A bright moment at whatever level it occurs. What follows in the next decades will run the gamut from brilliance to disaster. Who can predict?
In 1980, Reuven Bar-On, Ph.D., was walking across the campus of the University of Texas/Galveston and he asked himself that question. Observing his fellow faculty members he wondered how some had great careers and others did not. He embarked on a 17 year-research project that revealed some interesting and verifiable data.
In the late 1980s, Peter Salovey of Yale and John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire began systematic research and coined the phrase Emotional Quotient or EQ. Daniel Goleman, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote a book in the 1990s that caught the public’s attention in presenting much of the early evidence of the power of EQ
Each of us is born with quantifiable mental abilities, or simply IQ. There are scant data to show that you can increase that inborn factor, although it can certainly be lowered by variety of self-destructive behaviors.
There are countless self-help books that might offer a similar approach but the Emotional Quotient movement goes beyond that. There are hundreds of studies that demonstrate that EQ impacts success, including profitability, and leader effectiveness, among many other desirable attributes.
It would seem obvious that if one’s emotions are mature and work well with society in general that life would be better. Available now are detailed workshops that are a starting place for corporations as well as individuals to begin to develop skills that are designed to increase the EQ. It won’t take place over a weekend, but with proper coaching and follow up training, raising the EQ is possible. If that can happen, then perhaps the native IQ can function more effectively both in the workplace as well as in relationships.
In discussion with Dana C. Ackley, Ph.D., a local friend, I found that his book on EQ has been distributed world-wide; he has given lectures and conducted workshops globally. After decades of a successful practice in counseling psychology, he now devotes himself fulltime to this discipline. His website, eqleader.net , as well as searching the entire field of EQ on the internet, will give a comprehensive picture of what this movement entails.
There have been 16 areas of emotional intelligence identified as essential. The title of each is somewhat self-explanatory, although each encompasses a vast array of behaviors. Here is the simple list: Emotional Self Awareness, Emotional Expression, Empathy, Flexibility, Assertiveness, Interpersonal Relationship, Stress Tolerance, Self-Regard, Social Responsibility, Impulse Control, Self-Actualization, Problem Solving, Happiness, Independence, Reality Testing, and Optimism. How much of these traits each person has as part of personality is contingent on a host of factors, of which genetics and parenting, educational and societal exposure may be quite important. That they can be modified is beyond doubt.
If you are a valedictorian or if you have had few educational advantages, EQ is important and can be altered in a positive direction. There are online testing sites for assessing where one stands on this scale, just as there are for IQ. Some are free and worth every penny you spend. This is a complex process and if one is serious about it then find a reputable resource for testing. It will be worth the cost.
I once took an online IQ test and I don’t intend to repeat it. It surely has not increased. If it has declined I don’t want to know it. I took a free EQ test and it showed that I was highly developed emotionally. From the phrasing of the questions anyone who can read would have done as well. Attached were interesting offers to buy products, which I resisted.
And to you graduates from elementary school (which now features cap and gown) to the Ph.D. candidates, here’s wishing you the highest success of which you are intellectually and emotionally capable. Just remember, learning is a lifelong process and it’s not just about facts.