Craig’s analysis of what makes for an emotionally intelligent person resonates with me:
I find high emotional intelligence is defined by a refined sense of empathy, thoughtfulness, brilliance, kindness, and curiosity. High emotional intelligence is the antipode to bombastic jingoisms, and signals an overcoming of childish impulses. Most importantly: High emotional intelligence does not suffer sloth. Lazy responses are often physical responses, takedowns, attacks, slanders, ad hominems. Someone with high emotional intelligence rises above the low-hanging response, takes time to compose themself, and responds with clarity and with a clear goal in mind.
This kind of calm is uncharacteristic of our world’s discourse, each issue fighting for the world’s attention, delivering an increasingly dark and panicked message. Clarity comes from turning down this fight-or-flight instinct, separating the message from the alarm, and taking a careful look at the issue.
Craig has a dim view of social media’s role:
It’s easy to pick on social media, but perhaps more than any tool in history, social media rewards, amplifies, and encourages a self-immolation of any emotional intelligence someone may have. The less emotionally intelligent the tweet, the more likes, the more retweets.
This seems right to me. The 250-character dunking that folks do on Twitter isn’t improving anyone’s lives. The rage-inducing headlines that are shared on Facebook aren’t improving anyone’s understanding of the issues. All these things do is make us less human and more beast.
Personal attacks are often emotionally driven attacks. And in that sense, they are perhaps the simplest indication of someone with low emotional intelligence. Personal attacks represent low impulse-control. They are childish by default, and often have no lasting useful effect. Folks who tend to attack — rather than deconstruct, or empathize — are often trapped in tremendously narrow world views. They tend to see all relationships as existing within a thin column, a tight hierarchy of being above or below each other. And in service to that “alpha” pole position at the top of the column, they need to attack and make sure you or your work sits below.
Talk about clarity. This particular passage reminds me of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, which is presently the Oprah Book Club’s pick. This “tremendously narrow world view” is that of the caste – our social hierarchy made into steel and concrete. The impulse to maintain this caste system is so strong, it can only be overcome with emotional intelligence.
Read the whole essay. It’s worth your time.