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.
- 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!).
- 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.
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