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Emotional and social intelligence


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Hi all. I rarely post on the forums but I would like to start a thread for discussion about emotional and social intelligence ("EQ"). I'm interested in others' thoughts or stories or experiences about these topics. I will start with a longish explanation of these terms.

A lot of research shows that so-called EQ (more of a slang term) is more important than IQ in predicting success in life, in relationships and achievements and even longevity.

Believe it or not, emotional intelligence begins with interoception -- the ability to sense what is happening in your body. This sense relates to knowing you are hungry or needing to pee, but also relates to knowing what emotions are happening as these really arise from body states of the various organs and nervous and endocrine systems.

Only when one can identify their own emotions can they learn to regulate them, and only then can they learn to more accurately identify what emotions others are experiencing. This is a key component of developing empathy, which is the basis of a lot of social skills. It's also important in understanding where others are coming from and interpreting the meaning of their words and behaviors, from base assessment of "friend or foe" to subtleties of intentions, ulterior motives, and such.

As we become better at regulating our emotions -- that is, recognizing our feelings, self-soothing, taking appropriate actions based on our feelings -- we can also learn co-regulation. This is a process by which we attune to others and navigate emotions together. Doing this well allows people to feel each other out, "get on the same page" emotionally, and it helps us regulate our own emotions. For instance, talking with a supportive friend when we're upset can help us feel better. Or when connecting to a friend we can realize they are feeling excited about a new job, and react with enthusiasm to them.

Babies making eye contact with their parents are learning the rudiments of co-regulation, where the parent might mirror their facial expressions while offering appropriate voice tones depending on whether the baby is crying or smiling. As we get a bit older, we learn all sorts of unconscious things like mirroring body language when talking to someone, picking up on non-verbal cues, following the rhythms of back and forth conversation. We learn how to do a sort of dance with each others' emotional states that helps build connections and bonds as well as process our own emotions with other people.

Social intelligence is a whole set of skills and behaviors we learn through family dynamics, playing with other kids, maturing with cohorts as we go through school and later life stages. High social intelligence means being effective with different types of people in different contexts, and is built upon high emotional intelligence. Understanding boundaries, like when to "keep it professional" or civil, and when to open up and confide in someone. Understanding politics, unspoken meanings, the games people play, and being able to communicate effectively, are all just some pieces of social intelligence. Poor emotional intelligence can block social intelligence -- e.g. having poor self-regulation can make someone prone to irritability or anger issues.


A lot of things can impact how well we do or do not develop these skills. In general, interoception leads to emotional intelligence which leads to social intelligence, all of which can improve or atrophy over a lifetime. Many conditions like autism, bipolar, as well as family dysfunction, abuse, neglect can all interfere and lead to problems developing high emotional and social intelligence. And it's not linear -- someone can have high skills in some aspects and lower skills in others.

For me, moving around constantly with a single mom and being an only child, with my mother having some mental health struggles, all contributed to hindering emotional and social development. I am open to sharing more.

I'm curious what others think about these topics. What do you feel about your own EQ? What has gone well or badly in your life? Do you feel like you've improved or gotten weaker as you've gotten older or had significant life events?

I hope this thread may go somewhere. There's no end goal and different discussions are welcome.

Tagging some regulars I know, feel free to tag anyone else. @Fleurise @bobbob @Megan @Sarahbeanie @may71 @unnoticed @Citizen Insane @William @Addicted @Sassy the Wonderful Cat @Angie @arbitrarybarry @Ineluki


I'm cacka for cookoo puffs!
Well, I'm not sure if this will be of use to the thread, but here goes:
I feel like my EQ improved with time. I have become more honest with time, I used to lie sometimes as a kid/teen, but rarely do now. I have also been friends with women and talked to them a lot and have developed more empathy for women.
For me, moving around constantly with a single mom and being an only child, with my mother having some mental health struggles, all contributed to hindering emotional and social development. I am open to sharing more.
I'm sorry that you went through that Douglas. You're welcome to say more if you'd like to.

What do you feel about your own EQ?
Idk. I think I've got empathy, but not really good social skills.


SF Supporter
Concepts like EQ have forever been polluted for me by the corporate world.
Care to elaborate?

I was actually talking today to my therapist about work politics and such. How I completely understand a lot of the reasons for what people do but also feel overwhelmed and it goes against the grain of my own ways to participate in a lot of it.
Care to elaborate? o
The business world is fond of using psychological concepts like EQ (although the term EQ was invented by a journalist not a psychologist), both to screen new hires and evaluate staff for things like "leadership" aka management.

Since the purpose of business is to make money, the use of psychology by business often ends up being the psychological manipulation of employees with the end goal of squeezing more work out of them, or appointing "leaders"/managers who will accomplish that end. To present a rude equivalency, instead of hiring more ditch diggers, the company hires people to whip the ditch diggers. But instead of actual whips, we have psychology and "performance measures" upon which the employee's livelihood is dependent. Micro-managing has become popular, such as measuring an employee's bathroom breaks or the amount of time their cursor is inactive on the computer screen.

Luckily the employees will not protest this treatment, since they were pre-screened to have the EQ of compliant sheep.
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I’ve generally considered myself as having a particularly high EQ. Although I have found it to be detrimental in many ways as I have a habit of absorbing and mirroring everyone else’s emotions. As a mother of three, this could easily become overwhelming at times. I used to say that I felt what all four other people in the house felt, whether it be stress, anxiety, upset, depression, all at the same time. I never really had time to feel my own emotions, I was too busy absorbing theirs. I have learnt to try to keep more of a distance between their emotions and mine during therapy sessions, but I do worry that it makes me come across as cold and uncaring. It used to be, they cry, I cry, now it feels wrong and disconnected if I don’t cry with them. Although I have learnt to cry for myself. I never used to cry for me, now I seem to cry on a daily basis.
My social intelligence is poor. Despite having a high EQ, I was bullied and ostracised as a child, so I tend to hide and avoid social contact as much as I can. This is probably a learnt behaviour to avoid being noticed. I struggle to look people in the face/eyes and I hate being in large groups. I’m better off one on one. I do seem to have a habit of being drawn to people who are autistic. My husband is autistic and two of my three children are also. In my work I seem to be able to connect better with autistic students. In work it is not a problem at all but I do find that my husband is simply incapable of giving me the emotional support I need during difficult times because of his autism.
Anyway, don’t know if any of this is of interest but I’ve always been aware that having a high EQ can make you more emotionally vulnerable than people with a lower EQ.

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