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The Common Definition of Emotional Intelligence- A Cynical View

I am starting to see a pattern in the ways people like Goleman, BarOn, and Caruso (links below) use and define the concept of emotional intelligence.

It is something like this.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to feel good about doing whatever you are told, ordered, forced, convinced, coerced, "incentivized" or expected to do. (Or rewarded for doing.)

It is the ability to keep doing it regardless of the level of stress or pressure you are under.

It is the ability to find ways to cope with your stress and thus keep doing it, regardless of your actual true desire to do it.

In other words, it is the ability to keep doing something despite all your negative feelings, even feelings which may be coming from your conscience. It is, therefore, the ability to go against your feelings and to not feel your emotional pain or discomfort. It is the ability to not listen to your conscience or your own inner voice, but to listen instead to external voices which tell you to study, achieve, perform, run, jump, buy, sell,
sing, shoot, kill, compete, hurt, and destroy.

An emotionally intelligent leader, then, is one who can persuade others to do such things and who can even make them feel good about it.


I sound very cynical because that is how I feel. I also feel very sad about this. In any case, I believe my feelings have value. I want to listen to them rather than to external voices.

Perhaps, according to many I am not very emotionally intelligent, but I do good about my own concept of emotional intelligence because I believe in it. And I want to keep writing about it despite the pain I feel when I think about what others are doing with the term "emotional intelligence".

By the way, here is my own actual definition of EI

Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, learn from, manage and understand emotions.

Steve Hein
March , 2006
Salta, Argentina


My definition of EI and some of my beliefs about life and EI

Reuven BarOn
David Caruso

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