Two contrasing stories of emotional intelligence

Posted on: January 6, 2009

42-15181059Betty had a 162 IQ and spent a good deal of her time studying. She was bound and determined to get into Harvard and knew she had a good shot. She joined clubs not because she wanted to join or even had an interest, but because she knew it would look good on her Ivy League school application. During her high school career, while other kids were going to dances and enjoying themselves, Betty was spending all of her time studying. She was not only going to go to Harvard, she was also going to become a doctor and she wasn’t allowing anything to stand in her way. Betty did have a few friends who she hung out with in school, but she was not considered popular. She longed to be able to fit in more with her peers, but felt that many of them were unintelligent. She found it increasingly difficult to form relationships with anyone. They just weren’t as smart as her and she couldn’t be forgiving. Besides, when she got to Harvard she would find more intelligent people like her.

Doug was in Betty’s class. He never really noticed Betty but Betty sure noticed Doug. It seemed that everywhere Doug went, he attracted a crowd. He was gregarious and friendly to everyone he met and oozed charm. Doug was an average student, but was able to talk his way out of just about any type of trouble. Doug was elected class president and was voted “Most Popular” by the senior class. Skip forward 20 years. Betty went to Harvard, went to medical school and began practicing medicine. She still has a difficult time with her emotions and relating to other people. She married for a short while but it ended in divorce. She has a daughter who she is grooming to go to Harvard.

Doug started his own business after high school and never even went to college. He is a successful entrepreneur with a happy marriage and a house full of kids. He still keeps in touch with his high school classmates and is organizing the reunion. Ironically, he and Betty live in the same neighborhood. Their paths don’t cross because Doug is still a social butterfly and Betty still chooses to remain aloof. Betty doesn’t even know the names of her next door neighbors. Doug has been voted the homeowner’s association president. Whose life seems more fulfilling? Most people would say that Doug’s life seems to be the ideal life. The reason that they say this is because Doug is popular with other people. Despite her education and IQ, Betty seems to appear on a lower social rung than Doug. We often elevate people who are highly educated to higher rungs on the social ladder. They begin to slip down a few steps if they lack basic social skills. Many people, like Betty, did not bother learning social skills. Betty achieved her dream of going to Harvard and medical school but she has few patients who really like her. This is mostly due to her lack of empathy for people and being able to connect.

Most entrepreneurs and politicians have excellent social skills. People do not have to be overly educated in order to be well liked and successful. The late President, Ronald Reagan, did not have the education of many of his colleagues in politics, but he was able to run rings around them when it came to charm. And it was his charm that made him one of the most successful presidents of the 20th century. We want to emulate Doug’s life because we are caring human beings. And human beings are social species who need social interactions to make them feel whole. Human beings are not content to be alone. This is why social skills are so important and why someone with stellar social skills will find that the sky is the limit as far as their goals and ambitions are concerned.


1 Response to "Two contrasing stories of emotional intelligence"

This is a very good point. I just went to a workshop on Emotional Intelligence and the presenter had us write the top 8 traits of one of the best bosses/managers/leaders we have ever had. The EQ skills beat out the technical skills and other “book learning” traits by at least 3 to 1. Being charming is better than being book-smart any day!

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