My emotional intelligence sucks


by Jay Gabler | 6/13/09 • We recently received a press release from TalentSmart, the publisher of Emotional Intelligence 2.0—which we are informed has “received glowing endorsements from the Dalai Lama, Stephen Covey, and Ken Blanchard, among others.” I wondered what they could possibly want from us when they already have the Dalai Lama and the world’s most Highly Successful Person—not to mention the one and only Hoff—in their corner, but I accepted their invitation to take a free online test of my emotional intelligence.

Actually, I put it off for a few weeks, because I assumed there would be a comprehensive analysis that would take a while to complete. As it happens, they were able to assess my emotional inteligence (sic) with just 28 questions. Do I admit my shortcomings? Can I be counted on? Do I handle stress well? Am I open to feedback? Do I accurately pick up on the mood in the room? I replied to each question on a six-point scale from “never” to “always.” I tried to be honest, and apparently I managed to be brutally honest, because when the results popped up I was surprised to see that not only am I emotionally unintelligent, I’m kind of an emotional imbecile.

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My overall emotional intelligence score, on a scale of 0-100, is 72. Not bad, right? Wrong. That puts me in the 40th percentile of North American men in their thirties. My strongest subscore was in Relationship Management, where I do better than half of dudes like me; but from there, it goes downhill. Self-Awareness? 27th percentile. (“Perhaps this is a skill area that doesn’t always come naturally for you or that you don’t make use of.”) Social Awareness? Worse! 21st percentile. (“You may be starting to let people down.”) So nearly 80% of my peers are better able than me to “accurately pick up on emotions in other people and get what is really going on.”

I suppose I should really buy the book and smarten up…but I don’t think I will. I’m just a little skeptical of the validity of this test, and if I actually am socially clueless, I’m not sure that reading a book will significantly change that. That may hurt the author’s feelings and make the publisher upset, but what do I care? Ignorance is bliss.

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