Emotional Intelligence for Beginners

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and control emotions, without impulsively acting upon them.

I also think of “emotional intelligence” as the ability to detach from the ego and your immediate, impulsive responses and choose a logical, kind or practical way to act:

The Terminator – choosing a reply. Height of E.Q.

Opinions & Emotional Intelligence

  • When something or someone contradicts a pre-conceived belief – your body kicks out a stress response with cortisol and adrenaline

  • When you force your opinion on someone, your body gives you a ‘dopamine reward’

If you take nothing else away from this post, please read those two bullet points above again!

Be aware of the stress response next time you get into a debate

For example, if you have any elderly parents or grandparents (just as an example from my own experience), who have always been told that being homosexual is “wrong”, they’ll usually complain or just be unable to watch the gay couples in Strictly Come Dancing.

If you question why they have a problem, they’ll rarely come up with a logical answer. They’ve been taught that being gay is wrong, so they’re body is producing stress hormones – which makes them feel pissed off for no logical reason.

If you don’t like someone or something, and you can’t explain why, chances are you’re being a dick!

This stress response can be heightened if your opinion is tied to your identity, or your group identity.

For example, if someone is a devout Tory, they’ll use “motivated reasoning” and any possible confirmation bias possible to defend Boris.

More info here – https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/how-risky-is-it-really/201007/why-changing-somebody-s-mind-or-yours-is-hard-do

This physiological reaction can also be roused when a global belief is threatened – for example, that the world is safe or ethical.

Tell people for example, that Nazi scientists were responsible for putting the first man on the moon and you may get some funny looks or reactions.

Inconvenient truths or questions can be another one. Tell people that lead water pipes are still around in the UK or that there’s a decent amount of evidence that fluoride in water is bad for the brain and nervous system – and there’s a decent chance people will get angry or ridicule you.

Recent study on fluoride here – https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-09765-4

You sometimes see a similar reaction when someone lower down in a hierarchy, be it an official one or a unwritten one, makes a suggest to someone higher up- its often met with a kind of frustrated dismissal.

Confirmation Bias

More of a logical fallacy – but it also crosses over into emotional intelligence.
People will for example, decide to behave in a certain way, and then later justify it by ignoring any information that contradicts theirbehaviour, whilst cherry picking any information that supports it.

For example – although I appreciate there’s now definitely a valid argument to ignore lockdown rules, people who choose to ignore lockdown in 2020, justified it because Sweden didn’t have one.

People who wanted to adhere to lockdown on the other hand – would point to the terrible situation that happened in Italy, and India.

Who is right – is up for debate I guess.

got kind of weird when my left wing mates started sharing Daily Mail articles though.

Confabulation

We’re all in different movies!

Confabulation is the creation of false memories, without intending to deceive or lie. Subconsciously, people’s egos or minds will create a false account of an event, that makes them look more favourable.

Being aware that you’ll do this on a subconscious level – can make you more conscious of bull sh!tting and making stuff up. Sometimes it’s like people are in different realities – if the event was on TV – they’d be completely different movies or TV shows!

You see a similar skewing of reality in real-time too. Arrogant people will skew reality to make out others are stupid or are at fault.

What Your Criticise Represents Your Own Insecurities

Similar to the stress response created when a pre-existing belief is threatened, if your own lifestyle choice is contradicted by someone, that can also create a stress response.

For example, I always get ear ache around Christmas for sticking to a strict diet (I’ve got IBD).

Sticking to a strict diet, makes other people feel bad about eating unhealthy food, and to compensate they’ll often mock or ridicule me.

In a similar fashion, I’ve been called obsessed with myself and all sorts, by people who don’t exercise, because I used to go to the gym in work every lunch time. (sorry, this section is turning into a bit of a personal vent/rant, ironically).

Being aware of this phenomenon, can help you to acknowledge your stress response to a threat, without acting upon it

Meditation is said to be one of the best way to build emotional intelligence. If you can learn to observe and detach from your thoughts, then you can choose not to act on them.

There are some good books that can help to, such as the Chimp Paradox or Dan Harris’ book – 10% Happier. If I remember rightly, he originally wanted to call the book – “The Voice in my head is an Ass Hole”.

The Wisest Man Knows how Little he knows

The Dunning Kruger effect – relates to ill informed or incompetent people, thinking they’re great at something and being over confident. Like people who’ve never done MMA thinking they’d be great at it.

don’t be that guy:

Emotional Intelligence for Beginners

There is much talk about emotional intelligence and the importance of it, but I rarely see any articles, posts or videos that explain how to develop it.

One thing that I personally think provides a foundation of emotional intelligence, is the ability to ‘detach from one’s thoughts’ – which normally requires a meditation practice. If you can’t stand back and observe your thoughts, it’s very difficult to evaluate their validity.

Physiological Responses & Emotions

Pre Existing Belief Bias

  • When information contradicts a pre-existing belief, our bodies generate a stress response with cortisol and adrenaline
  • When we force our opinion on someone, or someone confirms a pre-existing belief, our bodies generate a “dopamine-reward”

Consequences of Pre-Existing Belief Bias

  • Bullying – e.g. we see someone overweight – we’ve been led to belief as a child this is “wrong” or undesirable, or negative. So we bully the person
  • We dismiss people as being weird
  • We mock people with different beliefs
  • We’re brainwashed into fighting wars against people who oppose our beliefs (pretty heavy stuff!)

Examples of Pre Existing Belief Bias

When a child sees someone that is overweight – they believe people shouldn’t be overweight, so they bully that person

When someone questions if high cholesterol is the cause of heart disease – people think the statement is ridiculous, despite mounting scientific evidence and refuse to comprehend this counter-argument to mainstream ideas.

Cognitive Biases

  • Self Serving Bias
    People tend to take credit for things when they go right, but blame others when things go wrong. People may also exaggerate what the do right and exaggerate what others do wrong. A classic example, is housework – both individuals in a marriage often over-estimate their own contribution to housework and underestimate their partner’s contribution
  • Confirmation Bias
    Reaffirming an existing belief by looking for information that confirms it. For example, if someone believes coconut oil is unhealthy because of the high saturated fat content – they might search for “why coconut oil is unhealthy?” rather than a more neutral search-term such as “what are the health benefits and health risks associated with coconut oil?”

Confirmation bias and self Serving bias are often intertwined. For example, a mother who doesn’t breastfeed her children, might read about babies losing weight and becoming ill because of not getting enough volume of milk via breastfeeding. The mother globally concludes from this, that breastfeeding is bad.

  • Global Judgements based on individual or minor observations
    David may judge Tom for being a boxer – because Tom engages in violence, there is no way he could be a nice person. This is also based on a self serving bias, David is an academic who is not athletic and as a result, will discount the value of anything physical or violent when possible. I’m not sure what the proper phrase is for this type of bias :/
    Another example might be that Tim, saw Peter lose his temper once, in 1999. Tim has since then held the belief that Peter has anger management problems.

Cognitive biases are highly prevalent in martial arts. For example, someone that does a traditional martial art, may state that MMA is no good for self defense, as there are too many rules. A boxer may dismiss grappling as “rolling around on the floor” and a grappler may dismiss boxing as ineffective because “most fights end in a grapple” (true, but they also tend to start and end with punches!).


Logical Fallicies

  • Questioning the messenger instead of the message (Also known as Ad Hominem)
    You attacked your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument.
    When someone attacks a person, instead of the person’s opinion. For example, if a vegetarian is wearing leather shoes, whilst debating the morality of vegetarianism, someone might attack the vegetarian for wearing leather shoes. This however, doesn’t address the issue being debated – is vegetarianism more ethical that a diet containing meat-products?

Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to discredit their argument. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone’s case without actually having to engage with it.

Example: After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe anything from a woman who isn’t married, was once arrested, and smells a bit weird.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem
  • The Strawman Argument
    Changing the subject being debated half way through a debate.
    For example, someone might say that lots of sleep isn’t good for you, because depressed people sleep more than happy people. When it is pointed out that scientific evidence shows that too little sleep, might lead to degenerative brain conditions, and give Margaret Thatcher as an example – a strawman counter argument would be to refute this, because Margaret Thatcher achieved so much. Rather than addressing whether or not sleep is good for health, the debate changes to the achievement levels of famous people who are known not to sleep 8 hours or more.

A straw man is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the proper idea of the argument under discussion was not addressed or properly refuted. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”. Wikipedia


Other Emotional Intelligence Issues

  • Stooping in arguments
    One major issue with debates and arguments is the willingness for one person to inflict emotional damage or to stoop more than another person.

    For example, in an office environment, where aggression is deemed inappropriate – one debator may resort to aggressiveness, whilst the other person is unwilling to become aggressive, and so let’s the aggressive individual ‘win’ the debate to prevent an esculation. When future conflicts in opinion arise, the more passive individual may not be willing to dispute or discuss anything, due to fear of an aggressive confrontation.

  • Victim Triad
    When person X complains to person Y, and person Y gives them sympathy but then person X complains to person Z and is told to look for a solution or that the sitation is not especially bad, person X will often feel like a victim of both the scenario they are complaining about and the lack of sympathy from person Z
  • Drama Triad
    If person X ridicules, bullies or is not particularly nice to person Y for a prolonged period of time – eventually person Y retaliates and tells person X to stop. Person X may feel like a victim and engage in vicious gossip about person Y for being in such a bad mood.
    Person X and person Y feel like victims in this situation.
  • Emotional Projection
    Blaming other people for your negative emotions. An individual who is subconsciously (or consciously) deemed as being weak, is usually the subject of another person’s projected emotions.

A few of the above are not directly related to emotional intelligence but an awareness of them could help to foster it, in my opinion.

emotional intelligence
https://tinybuddha.com/

Putting Emotional Intelligence into Practice

  • Have respect for other people’s points and points of view
  • Don’t globally-judge people or things in general on one point or one incidence
  • Don’t believe your impulsive thoughts – they’re not always true!
  • Feedback in private, praise in public