Without empathy Emotional intelligence can become manipulation

Emotional intelligence (EI) requires empathy and character to avoid moving to the dark side

Beware the dark side of Emotional Intelligence (EI)

People skills are generally assumed to be a good thing, but researchers have recently discovered a “dark side” of EI. The research has found there is a fine line between understanding people and using them. EI has been shown to give us an edge in business. Compared with others who have average EI/EQ, those with higher Emotional Intelligence skills do better at work, have fewer health problems, and report greater happiness and satisfaction with their lives.

When we have:

  • Business without ethics
  • Knowledge without character
  • Science without humanity
  • Politics without principle

We risk slipping over to the Dark side of EQ

Our first reaction is always emotional. In our brains, no signal is more powerful than emotion. Emotion is a primary response; it’s a survival trigger. As any high school teacher can tell you: no subject can compete with love. A growing body of neuroscience and behavioural economics research shows: we make emotional decisions, and then justify those decisions with logic. Ultimately, we do a better job when logic (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ/EI) work together. Psychologists from Austria recently reported a correlation between EI and narcissism. The findings showed that narcissists with high EI might use their charming (even seductive) qualities to manipulate or deceive others. Leaders who master the manipulation emotion can rob us of our capacities to reason. Hitler is an example of a charismatic leader who produced devastating results with his manipulation and charisma. 

The keys to remaining on the light side of EI/EQ are:

  • Empathy: understanding based on our personal challenges.
  • Character: what we do when nobody is watching.

Part of being a high EQ human being is being able to relate to others. When we can place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and understand what they may be going through – based on our own experiences – we are less likely to stoop to manipulation and  malicious acts. Additionally when we live life in line with our principles we are able to enhance our humanity and character.


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Richard Riche

Engagement and communication specialist at One Clear Message
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills.TED style speaking and presentation skills, Emotional Intelligence skills, Employee Engagement/Experience, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. One Clear Message offers training, consulting and coaching.
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