Monday, January 15, 2007

Battle for social intelligence

How many times have you known that you are doing something wrong but yet pig headed enough not to admit it to yourself? It happens to me all the time. I wonder why it is so hard for us to accept a mistake and make immediate amends. What is it that makes us dig deeper into the hole and then later have to claw ourselves out of it?

I for one have found myself in this situation more regularly that I would like to admit. It almost always begins with a righteous stand. I am certain that I am on the righteous side of an argument or stand and I take a very aggressive pose. This is usually followed by sulking and pretending to be the victim.

As a child, arguments with my father or mother always began in this fashion. I would invariably end up throwing a tantrum and almost always not get my way. But the sad part of it is that whenever I am done with the outburst almost 99 percent of the time I have felt miserable about doing something like that. What is even scarier is that I have felt bad about it while I was doing it. But I have found myself unable to stop the emotional reaction.

So why is it that I find it hard to shake of the first burst of emotion or control it. A very interesting book that I am currently reading deals with exactly this kind of thing. It's a book called "Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman. The book deals with a different kind of intelligence and how important it is for us to be socially aware of ourselves and rates that strength far higher than the traditional IQ. However, the most interesting characteristic defined in that book is the separation of the human brain into the "high road" and the "low road". The low road, as the book states, is our emotions that are not controlled by us but emerge from within. An unguarded person expresses this outwardly and usually ends up as an emotional wreck during that time. But the high road is something that is totally different. It is something that we fabricate as part of our social intelligence. It is laced with the social knowledge we have gathered over the years and requires us to filter and create a response to our emotions coming from the low road. This usually requires a tremendous amount of self control and self awareness. But if successful what it does is give a more balanced and thoughtful response in any situation.

Years before I picked up this book my father used to express serious reservations at the way I would look emotionally distressed during an argument or conversation. He used to recommend that I try and control those outbursts and try to argue in a more balanced fashion. I used to believe that it was his way of derailing my "passionate" argument. It took a book written by a total stranger for me to realize otherwise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is now 15 days since your last blog..where are you!!!

-SH