Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

  • New evidence shows that when people hone their emotional skills, they become better at manipulating others. When you’re good at controlling your own emotions, you can disguise your true feelings. When you know what others are feeling, you can tug at their heartstrings and motivate them to act against their own best interests.
  • Especially when they have self-serving interests, EI becomes a weapon for manipulating others. Social scientists have begun to document this dark side of emotional intelligence.
  • In emerging research led by University of Cambridge professor Jochen Menges, when a leader gave an inspiring speech filled with emotion, the audience was less likely to scrutinize the message and remembered less of the content.
  • Ironically, audience members were so moved by the speech that they claimed to recall more of it. One observer reflected that Hitler’s persuasive impact came from his ability to strategically express emotions—he would “tear open his heart”—and these emotions affected his followers to the point that they would “stop thinking critically and just emote.”
  • Leaders who master emotions can rob us of our capacity to reason. If their values are out of step with our own, the results can be devastating.

Rule Your Feelings, Lest Your Feelings Rule You.  — Publilius Syrus

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