When I was watching the London riots on the news, the song called ‘London Calling’ by the band The Clash started playing in my head. That tune and its associated music video had the same type of anger that the London rioters were displaying. What was happening in London was of course yet another global event that we can call a crisis and we get enough of those on TV on a regular basis.
However, despite the occurrence of these horrible events, there are some important lessons from them for us to learn. All we have to do is look at how some of the people from each of these events behaved.
For example, the riots in London and other UK cities were sparked by a shooting of a crime suspect by police. Rioters responded by turning over cars and setting them on fire. They also smashed windows and looted store merchandise. The offenders were obviously caught up in the emotions of the original police shooting plus the current local economic climate in general. They decided to take their anger and frustrations out on the city. Many were caught on camera and video with some even willingly showing how proud they were of their actions. They were obviously not thinking about the consequences of these actions as the police soon started multiple raids arresting suspects at their homes.
This is an example of very low emotional intelligence. The rioters were not able to manage their actions brought on by their emotions. As a result, many will be punished and tainted with criminal records.
Now let’s look at another terrible world event which brought on a totally different reaction from the people affected. The tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan devastated that country. The damage to property and loss of life also created high emotions. However, in contrast to what happened in London, the Japanese remained orderly and calm. People, including those in the same age range as the London rioters, patiently waited in lines for food and supplies rations. There were no riots, no windows smashed, no cars set on fire and no businesses were looted despite such immense losses.
Here is an example of very high emotional intelligence. The Japanese managed their actions well despite the emotions from such a gigantic tragedy. Compare this to the London rioters who used a single police incident they don’t have any direct connection with, as an excuse to let loose and cause trouble.
The Japanese survivors will recover and move on with their lives faster while the hooligans in London will either be in jail or in trouble with the law again in the future. Here we have two world events that showed two opposite ends from the emotional intelligence spectrum. What can we learn from these?
I would suggest that we will be more successful in many areas of life if we develop higher levels of emotional intelligence. We will be able to interact better with others in both our careers and personal lives. We will also be able to handle the various peaks and valleys that come our way with far more effectiveness, because we can respond to our emotions better.
It is estimated that only 15% of society is of high emotional intelligence (Nelson Mandela would be a clear example in this group). That means the majority of us can still improve in this area. For example, think of all the daily road rage out there. Think of all the fights among youths that end up with somebody getting knifed or shot. These are all results of low emotional intelligence.
Unlike standard intelligence which is thought to be genetic, emotional intelligence is something that can be developed with training. Many corporations have sent their executives to seminars on emotional intelligence. I was such an executive during my corporate years and made it a personal commitment to develop my own emotional intelligence ever since.
What about you? What are your thoughts on emotional intelligence? Feel free to share your experiences with this area.
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