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Emotional Intelligence is Vital to Effective Decision Making.

Emotional Intelligence is Vital to Effective Decision Making

Story/Case Study:

HackerStar is a “two-party integrative negotiation between the lawyers for business partners concerning the ownership of a new computer program one of them has developed” Hacker, a Programmer and Star, a dentist begin a business together: HackerStar. Over the years they stopped communicating daily and problems festered. A huge argument occurs over the creation of a new program, PowerScreen. Star rejects it so Hacker tries to market it outside the business. They are both angry and hire expert negotiators to assist them.

During the negotiation, Star exclaims, We are discussing numbers but this is more to me than a business. Hacker suddenly realizes what might be the actual problem and declares, Can we two have a moment-a quick, private discussion. They do and realize this business can be saved if they work together identifying and solving the issues.

Comment: Both show emotional intelligence. Star for his exclamation and Hacker for his identification, or recognition of a transformative moment.


When it comes to intelligence, most focus on IQ (intelligence quotient), but experts such as Daniel Goleman asserts that emotional intelligence (EI) may comprise up to 80% of human intelligence. We are affected by EI and the lack of EI on a daily basis.

Examples of either low emotional intelligence or maybe not using emotional intelligence are ubiquitous. Take examples in the HBO’s The UnDoing starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman.

-The police are looking for the murderer of Nicole Kidman’s Husband’s (Hugh Grant) Paramour. Nicole is advised by her attorney friend to get an attorney right away. She does not and even meets with the Detectives without an attorney.

-Hugh Grant is out on bail for murder. Without his attorney he visits the husband of the murdered victim.

-The media is in a frenzy now that Nicole’s husband has been charged with murder. She goes out alone for walks late at night.

-Nicole, again without her attorney, meets with the murdered victim’s husband (who may also “a person of interest.”)

A Real Life Example: Isabelle was on the waitlist for 5 years of Sunflower Multi-Faceted Housing for Older Americans. She made a series of investment payments. She moved into the first step of living: Independent Living. It was a freestanding 2 bedroom/2bath home with an attached garage. After eight months of living there, she felt she was “living in a prison-too many regulations” so she moved out and into her own apartment. During the next six months, she fell twice and eventually wound up in Assisted Living at another facility.

Emotional Intelligence Hierarchy:

Emotional Intelligence

Common Sense



Knowing the difference

Between right and wrong

Basic social skills

This may be a great way to look at emotional intelligence remembering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So, EI maybe equivalent of “self actualization.” At the bottom, “basic social skills” maybe the equivalent of food/water.

So, What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be divided into five domains*:

1. Knowing one’s emotions (self awareness)

2. Recognizing the emotions of others (empathy)

3. Managing relationships

4. Managing emotions

5. Motivating one’s self.

Being emotionally intelligence means being balanced:

- Balanced between being focused on, and being aware of what is going on around the periphery.

- Balanced between the here and now and the long term. With this balance one, can catch the “aha” or the transformative moments.

- An emotionally intelligent person will be goal oriented and yet looks at the big picture to discern what other factors might affect this negotiation.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Picture this: You are having a conversation with a friend. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Who talks the most?

2. Do you allow your friend to finish a sentence, a thought before you interrupt with your response?

3. Do you use a lot of “I’s” “Me’s” “My’s?”

4. If your friend is worried, do you recognize this?

If you are talking more than your 50% during a regular conversation, you need the awareness to limit your talking.

Allow folks to fully finish their thoughts, their questions. How many times have you heard people begging just to be allowed to complete their thought, their sentence, their paragraph, or their question? Allowing them to finish shows respect.

If your conversation is peppered with “I’s,” “Me’s,” and “My’s,” to be emotionally intelligent, you will want to balance that with “You’s” and “They’s.”

In question number four, if you pay attention to their verbal’s and nonverbal you will notice how your friend is feeling including being worried.

How to Express Emotions Accurately.

Most people do not express their feelings.

If they do, they do not use “feeling” words to help others understand. They use such phrases as,

-I feel that this is not working out.

-I feel that his is not the right way to proceed.

These are not “feeling” words. Feeling words are,

-Angry -annoyed -betrayed -energetic -flustered -ignored

-infuriated -intimidated -nervous -miserable -relieved -sad

-stunned -shocked -worried.

Transforming from “You” to the “I” formula.

Using “You” phrases often shifts the burden to the other folks.

-You make me mad.

-You irritate me.

Said in this way, “you” becomes an irritating word to the receiver and is diverting to their understanding of one’s feelings.

An easy switch from “You” to the “I” formula creates better understanding of the feelings.

The “I” formula is starting the sentence with “I”, then “when” and finally “because.”

-I feel mad when people show up late because it throws our work off schedule.

-I feel irritated when people do not follow the stages because these stages lead to effective problem solving.

This seemingly slight transformation from You to I, places the feelings at the beginning, accurately explains the feelings, what is causing them and the potential results.

Suddenly people are paying attention to the feeling instead of being diverted by the irritator: You.

Next, Capture the Level of the Feeling.

All feeling words are not equal. Using an inaccurate level of the feeling words might throw the listener off and maybe even irritate. For example,

-Maybe you are disturbed but not outraged.

-Maybe you are not thrilled, but, satisfied.

-Maybe you are not terrified, but, uneasy.

-Maybe you are not outraged, but, perturbed.

-Maybe you are not befuddled, but, uncomfortable.

The latter feeling words are “low level feeling words;” whereas, the first are “high level feeling words.” This is the reason that if one is Emotionally Intelligent, they plan before they speak their feelings and they use accurate feeling words.

How Does One Identify Emotions of Others?

-Active Listening: If active listening is taught in class, it often seems silly, but IT WORKS. What is active listening> It is being “present,” paying attention, not being distracted and listening for information and feeling rather than trying to mentally prepare a response.

Elements include,


-Repeating key phrases or words

-Making sounds to let them know you are listening. Uh-huh, Mmmm.

-Listening nonverbally-leaning forward.

-Ask questions.

Simply, active listening helps you to be engaged in the conversation.

-Pay Attention to Nonverbal Communication.

Most experts estimate that the bulk of communication meaning comes from nonverbal communication-maybe up to 90%. This surely means that communicators need to be focused on tone of voice and body language. These may convey the Speaker’s emotions as well as the Listener’s.

Leaning in and eye contact here in the U.S. are signs of active listening.

Be Realistic About Assumptions: People with high emotional intelligence will recognize that people make assumptions daily. Most, are not important. Some, are. If they are important, people with high EI will do their research and check them. More likely than not based on life experiences, assumptions are correct.

Real Life Example: Travis is the guardian of a Simease cat, Katie. Katie was crying in the window. The neighbors heard the cries and called the police reporting child abuse. The police arrived and discovered the source.

Politeness and Civility, the Foundation of Emotional Intelligence

On the surface, being civil, polite and mannerly can be construed as synonymous. If one were to parse these terms, most likely, being civil is the broader term with being polite and mannerly a bit more refined in re behavior.

These are the foundation of Emotional Intelligence; that is, to attain EI, one must have the bedrock of civility, manners and politeness.

People are confronted with incivility daily. Examples during Zoom calls:

-After 15 minutes, Susan asserts, I am bored and am signing off.

-Family call with 4 participants. One participant asks, Where is everybody?

-Barb asked Joy, Did you gain weight during the pandemic?

-Brad states, What you are saying is nonsensical.

-Warren declares, No, No, No! That is the stupidest thing you have ever said.

-Anne: Are you from Ohio? That is fly-over, nowheresville.

What is being civil? Quoting Websters Dictionary, being civil is adequate in courtesy and politeness; mannerly; related to civil law; related to private rights and remedies; related to the public, their ways, needs or activities.

Synonyms: civil, polite, courteous, gallant.

Being civil is closely related to civic virtues. Civic virtues are personal habits and attitudes that are conducive to social harmony and group well-being. The term civility refers to behaviors between persons and groups that conforms to a social mode (that is, in accordance with the civil society), as itself being a foundational principle of society and law.

What is being polite? According to Webster’s Dictionary, being polite has the characteristics of an advanced society; marked by a refined interests in culture interests and pursuits, especially the arts; correct social usage; marked by the appearance of consideration, tact, deference and courtesy; marked by a lack or roughness. Synonym: Civil.

What is politeness? Politeness is best expressed as the practical application of good manners or etiquette. It is a culturally defined phenomenon, and what is considered polite in one culture can often be quite rude or simply strange in another. There is identified negative and positive politeness. Positive politeness seeks to gain or improve relationships.

While the goal of politeness is to make all of the parties relaxed and comfortable with one another, these culturally defined standards at times may be manipulated to inflict shame on a designated party.

What are manners? Manners are rules of social conduct and behavior.

In sociology, manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which show the actor to be cultured, polite, and refined. They are like laws in that they codify or set a standard for human behavior, but they are unlike laws in that there is no formal system for punishing transgressions, other than social disapproval. They are a kind of norm. What is considered "mannerly" is highly susceptible to change with time, geographical location, social stratum, occasion, and other factors

Manners is defined in Webster’s as our “morals shown in conduct.” Good people stick to good manners.

So being civil, being polite and being mannerly are behaviors closely related to EI.

EI Foundation:

There are many examples of the lack of civility.

-One leaves a property and leaves the gate open.

-One rents a bike and leaves or parks the bike in the middle of the sidewalk.

-One talks aloud during a movie at a movie theater.

-One talks loudly in a restaurant.

-At the gym locker room, one throws the used towel on the floor.

Is Emotional Intelligence Linked to Common Sense?

To quote Abraham Lincoln, Common Sense is not as common as one thinks it is.

Common sense is an elusive term and often not helpful. If 11 people were asked to define common sense there would be eleven various definitions.

Some equate common sense to civility and politeness.

Is Emotional Intelligence Connected to Critical Thinking?

The clear answer is, Yes. Critical thinking is a logical step by step process that leads to effective problem solving, mediating and negotiating. Critical thinking starts with the facts, the to perspectives, then creative options and finally a plan of action. The entire critical thinking approach is an emotional intelligent response to problem solving.


So, emotional intelligence is a large part of our overall intelligence. Some, may be born with this gift. Others, might be nurtured in such a way as to acquire these skills. Others, may need to learn these skills in order to effective operate in our society, to effectively problem solve and negotiate. Being polite, being civil and being mannerly are the foundation to then attain emotional intelligence.

NOTE: These are quick EI tests:

NOTE 2: Emotional Intelligence and Mental Health. There could be a nexus between emotional intelligence and mental health issues. For example someone who talks incessantly or interrupts a lot during conversations may initially seem to be signs of low emotional intelligence. But, they also may be symptoms of mental health issues. Incessant talking may be listed as logorrhea. Logorrhea is not a stated mental health disorder but is more a symptom of ADHD or Autism. Constant conversational interruptions can also be symptoms of ADHD or Autism.

BTW, Use of Emoticons

“In the study over 300 volunteers were shown several e mails without and without smiley emoticons attached, which came from a senior staff member, a professor, a middle-ranking lecturer, and a junior assistant.

Overall the more informal messages with emoticons had a warmer reception, than others.

The study in the journal Studies in Higher Education, suggested: “Staff should consider the appropriate use of emoticons in their communication with students because the positive effects on perceived warmth appear to outweigh the reductions in perceived competence, and the desired behavioural task has a greater chance of being completed.”

Emoticons came first in the early 1980s when computer scientist Scott Fahlman realised his words were failing him.”

Resources (See these books on the Blog Books Page):

Say What You Mean. Get What You Want…a Businessperson’s Guide to Direct Communication, by Judith C. Tingley, Ph.D.

*Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ, Daniel Goleman

How to Stay Cool, Calm and Collected When the Pressure’s On, A Stress Control Plan for Businesspeople, John Newman

The Emotional Intelligence Activity Book, Adele Lynn

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart, Gordon Livingston

Blink, Malcolm Gladwell

Winning with People, John Maxwell


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