Daniel Goleman is the father of the emotional-intelligence movement. He recently shared a checklist of “EQ” competencies with the New York Times. EQ has four overarching categories:
4. relationship skills
Not surprisingly, listening was included as a skill related to empathy:
You pay full attention to the other person and take time to understand what they are saying, without talking over them or hijacking the agenda.
In the context of ever-present smartphones, this is much harder than it used to be. The presence of a phone decreases the actual empathy the person feels, according to several psychology experiments: “[B]ecause of the many social, instrumental, and entertainment options phones afford us, they often divert our attention from our current environment, whether we are speeding down a highway or sitting through a meeting,” reported the Scientific American. “[C]ell phones may serve as a reminder of the wider network to which we could connect, inhibiting our ability to connect with the people right next to us.”
There are a lot of directions I would like to take this post—for example reflections by practicing lawyers on what EI means to them in their work. Also the pragmatic benefits of emotional intelligence such as better negotiation. But thinking about the instrumental benefits of emotional intelligence leads me to think of Machiavellianism and the “dark side of emotional intelligence.” Without getting too side-tracked into those areas at least at this time, I’ll stop. Listening is part of empathy, and empathy is part of emotional intelligence.
Note this post has been corrected to reflect “EQ” as the commonly used acronym for Emotional Intelligence, rather than “EI.”