Last week in her post, Vanessa talked about whether viewing intelligence as a fixed or malleable quality has a big difference in responding to academic failures. Like her, I am in favor of a more flexible theory about our intellectual capacities. Her post reminds me immediately of another intellectual competence that is talked less in academia than in social or business world: Emotional Intelligence (EI).
People who are intellectual competent must be emotionally defected seems to be a prevailing default in public discourse. We tend to believe that if someone has a huge accomplishment in a professional field, he/she must perform poorly in building relationships with others, managing household affairs, or having trouble in other aspects of personal life. There is simply a dualism between the two capacities. And people believe it is not reconcilable because being smart and successful in one field (academic, etc.) has already taken too much attention of the brain, and has left no energy for mining the true affection beneath the surface of words and expressions, fostering good understanding and sensitivity towards other’s emotion, and running positive relationship network in social interactions.
However, that is not true. In my grad life, I have come across many people (colleagues, professors, students) who are caring, multi-perspected, and culturally sensitive own high academic standings. They are not necessarily “huge” social butterflies who charms everyone in meeting with them, but their willingness to show caring and attentive attitude to others promotes their wisdom in real world. In What is Emotional Intelligence, The School of life presents a video defining EI is “the quality that enable us to confront with patience, insight, and imagination the many problems that we face in our affective relationship with ourselves and with others”. Though someone might be born more emotionally intelligent that the other, EI is primarily a learnt capacity that is cultivated though conscious day-to-day interactions.
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 emotional intelligent appreciate the role of well-handled pessimism within the overall economy of a good life.
This further definition of EI suggests that failure serves as both experiment and opportunity for people who either are able to grow from it, or just being knocked down. If you have done some career planning and gone through multiple job descriptions, you won’t miss a critical message that these industries and companies is conveying; that they are looking for resilient, flexible and self-growing employee, rather than fragile genius. Key words such as positive, teamwork, adaptation existing in almost every job posting have well demonstrated the fact that the quest of EI is in fact more embedded in life than we have imagined or talked about.
With the exciting diversity that you are experiencing in a university setting and in the grad school, it is now your chance to test and improve your EI for building positive and productive relationship with others.