The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence – Adam Grant – The Atlantic

The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence – Adam Grant – The Atlantic.

Since I read about emotional intelligence a few years ago and its links to good leadership, I admit that I had never spent time considering that high levels of emotional intelligence could have a downside.  This article does a good survey of the work that has been done since the power of EI was discovered.

This is an interesting article on how it can be used against people:

“Leaders who master emotions can rob us of our capacities to reason. If their values are out of step with our own, the results can be devastating. New evidence suggests that when people have self-serving motives, emotional intelligence becomes a weapon for manipulating others.”

Also interesting is the exploration that for a number of professions emotional intelligence on the job is no asset and actually may interfere with job performance.  After an extensive study they found that:

“In jobs that required extensive attention to emotions, higher emotional intelligence translated into better performance. Salespeople, real-estate agents, call-center representatives, and counselors all excelled at their jobs when they knew how to read and regulate emotions—they were able to deal more effectively with stressful situations and provide service with a smile.

However, in jobs that involved fewer emotional demands, the results reversed. The more emotionally intelligent employees were, the lower their job performance. For mechanics, scientists, and accountants, emotional intelligence was a liability rather than an asset.”

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One thought on “The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence – Adam Grant – The Atlantic

  1. I would like to posit that emotional intelligence cannot have a dark side – by default if someone is emotionally intelligent in more than a vague way, they would have to have a great deal of self knowledge. People who know themselves well are happy because they know what matters to them and can adjust their actions to maintain and increase that happiness. And happy people are not manipulative. Only people who feel very disempowered resort to manipulation.

    There’s seems to be a gender role link here too between manipulation and a feminine gender role given centuries of oppression which many who identify on that end of the spectrum experience. Thus it’s few and far between the guilt trips men and fathers try to pull – they’re more apt to be overtly aggressive than passive aggressive (manipulative).

    And so I submit that the emotionally intelligent leaders – women and men – are the best leaders of all. Either way they have not bought into the stereotype that emotions are restricted to the domain of women – or that women can’t be leaders.

    So hats off to the emotionally intelligent leaders out there. I admire you one and all!

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