“Emotional intelligence does not mean giving free rein to feelings—‘letting it all hang out.’ Rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward common goals.”
Women Have More Emotional Intelligence
Another aspect of EI that is frequently misunderstood is the differences between the genders’ natural ability to express it. Women in our society have always had a great deal more freedom and permission to express and show their emotions than men. This is slowly starting to change as Western culture has been waking up to the negative consequences of not allowing men to openly express their emotions. Because women have been much more open and expressive in general with their emotions, it is assumed by some that they will be better in all areas of EI than men. Daniel Goleman tried to clear up misconceptions regarding gender differences when he wrote that “women are not ‘smarter’ than men when it comes to emotional intelligence, nor are men superior to women. Each of us has a personal profile of strengths and weaknesses in these capacities. Some of us may be highly empathic but lack some abilities to handle our own distress; others may be quite aware of the subtlest shift in our own moods, yet be inept socially.”
When we add up male/female profiles, we find that women on the whole are more aware of their emotions and are better at forming relationships with others while men adapt more easily and handle stress better. However, it is important to remember that this finding does not account for individual variations where these differences could be reversed. There are men who are very aware of their emotions and are able to form strong relationships, just as there are women who adapt easily and are good at handling stress.
Emotional Intelligence Is Not Fixed at Birth
The most exciting and promising aspect of emotional intelligence is that we are able to change it. In other words, unlike our IQ, we are not stuck with what we are born with. The great news about EQ is that it is not fixed or only developed at a certain stage in life. It has been shown that life experiences can be used to increase EQ and that we can continue to develop our capacity to learn and adapt as we grow older. The EQ realm is one area that does reward us for successfully having gone through stages of our lives.