This is part of a series of blogs that focuses on the attitudes of mind, behaviours and actions that a person can use to be successful at an English course. It’s practical stuff that, if applied, will have a practical effect – success in English. The blogs can be found under the category ‘Passing Higher English’ or on Twitter at #passingEnglish.
Emotional Intelligence is not a new idea. People have been commentating on important aspects of emotional intelligence for centuries. It’s long been realised that there are two sides to the brain: one side is rational, analytic, mathematical and what we generally call ‘intelligence’; the other side is feeling-based, intuitive and instinctive and what we know as ‘emotional’. However, it is only relatively recently, since the publication of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, that the subject has really entered into the everyday life of people, business and schools. In Daniel Goleman’s words EQ (Emotional Quotient – EQ) ‘can matter more than IQ’ when it comes to being successful. EQ’s days as a fashionable buzzword are now gone – it is now an established term of use in the same way that IQ is. And looking at factors outside of pure intelligence is now a part and parcel approach of all evaluations whether it be for a job or for a place at University or entry into a service. EQ is now recognised as a fact of life.
How important is EQ? In the early decades of the Twentieth Century, after the Russian Revolution, the leader of the Bolsheviks and the most important man in the movement, Lenin died. There were two people in position to take over from Lenin and have power over the largest land mass in the world with over 200 million people and vast mineral resources but also handicapped by appalling poverty and educational backwardness. One of those men was Leon Trotsky: a speaker of six languages; a brilliant writer who became famous as a pamphleteer espousing revolutionary politics; a powerful speaker who could turn hostile audiences into a cheering mass; a magnificent organiser of people and resources, creating and conducting the Red Army in the civil war, fighting against massive odds to deliver victory, an overwhelming and complete victory. He was viewed as a potential human phenomenon, another Napoleon or Alexander the Great.
The other man was Stalin. The silent, secretive and brooding Josef Stalin. Beaten as a child and growing-up in a village where violence and drunkenness were endemic he drifted into the netherworld between revolutionary politics and organised crime. He planned bank robberies; he became a revolutionary ‘fixer’; he was, it is alleged, a spy for the Okhrana, the Tsar’s secret police, even as he became Lenin’s bodyguard. He was seen by Russia’s revolutionary intellectuals as a parochial country bumpkin, a non-entity, a mediocrity, and a ‘peasant’. Yet Stalin was someone who survived and prospered in extremely harsh environments because he had a finely developed emotional sensitivity; he apparently used to write beautiful poetry as a young man. He knew how people worked. What they wanted and needed, what they hoped for and feared. Stalin possessed, in the words of the American ambassador during the Second World War Averell Harriman, ‘surprising human sensitivity’. And he had the key resources of perseverance, endurance and flexibility. Although, it would be fair to say, he didn’t always use these qualities for good.
Trotsky, despite all his dazzling brilliance, lacked some of these qualities. He was almost too brilliant. It meant he rarely had to cope with setbacks or failure. Once in New York he challenged a fellow revolutionary to a game of chess. Trotsky expected to win easily, but he was beaten. He couldn’t handle it. He stood-up, started shouting and walked off. It provides a crucial insight into Leon Trotsky’s personality; he lacked emotional intelligence. He didn’t realise when he offended and alienated people; he didn’t realise when people hated him or why. This deficit in EQ was Trotsky’s downfall. It allowed Stalin to out-maneuver him and become head of the new U.S.S.R. with all the consequences for history that held.
EQ focuses on those part of the personality crucial to a good life and any achievements within it. It recognises that persistence, boldness, endurance, flexibility, balance and more are all important ingredients for people in getting what they want. And, that being the case, it is important to keep them in mind when studying for exams.
As part of the myetutor platform we’ll be focusing on different aspects of EQ to help support students as the exam approaches. Sign up to myetutor for alerts and updates on EQ or other education related topics.