The Emotional Quotient
In fall of 2016, I found myself listening to a podcast interview on The Tim Ferriss Show with an individual who was brilliant but, at least earlier in his life, had a low Emotional Quotient (EQ). It was outlined as a balance and secondary aspect to IQ (Intelligence Quotient). One of the most interesting elements in the conversation included the high IQ/low EQ individual discussing how he had to teach himself to nurture his EQ.
We often take it for a given that in many cases high IQ/low EQ individuals simply are as they are. The observations in the podcast served as a spark, that ignited recognition of an observation that I’d been digesting and working over in my mind for a few years. Since the interview, I’ve come to see the, “it’s just how they/I/you are” observation as an erroneous assumption. Instead, by taking a more flexible and fluid approach paired with introspection, I now see it as a powerful framework for exploring and understanding our own current level of EQ and how it should be nurtured to best suit our needs.
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Shows like Elementary with its depiction of a modern day Sherlock Holmes and the Sherlock Holmes narrative as a whole focus on exploring this relationship. These shows, blogs, and stories highlight this progression by pairing an extremely high IQ individual with a well-balanced mid-level IQ/EQ individual who helps facilitate the low-EQ individual’s emotional education. They often have the intellect and capacity to engage with the high IQ individual and garner their respect through understanding and accomplishment, but are individuals who also can then impart and serve as a framework for that individual to discover and implement their own emotional awareness and evolution.
Once you see these narratives through the high IQ/low EQ perspective it offers wonderful insights into the questions we can ask ourselves and those around us to better understand our own nature. How empathic are we? What sort of impulse control do we exhibit and in what aspects of our lives? How do I engage with the people around me? How aware am I of the ramifications of my actions on those I interact with and how can I modify my behaviors to make those more positive and less negative?
The challenges faced by extremely high IQ individuals and parallel ways of perception, thinking and communicating have always fascinated me. From autism to nurture-based conditions or just the frustration of a high IQ mind that operates in a fundamentally different way, the need to define and explore the EQ side of the equation is an incredible insight into how different brains work.
There’s not much to add here, beyond encour-aging you to consider your own EQ and then to use that as a way of better understanding the people you meet. I also tend to think it has far-reaching implications for questions of ethics and cultural norms. I find it tends to be directly linked to my interest and belief that empathy, not dogma, is the driving force that true morality comes from