Merve Emre on Emotional Intelligence as Corporate Control | ReThinking with Adam Grant
In a riveting conversation, cultural critic Merve Emre and Adam Grant explore the concept of emotional intelligence, its roots, and its potential misuse in the corporate world.
Emre presents a compelling argument that emotional intelligence, while beneficial in some aspects, can be exploited and used as a form of corporate control.
Criticism of Emotional Intelligence Tests
Emotional intelligence tests are often used to manipulate individuals into modifying their behavior to meet corporate needs.
These tests form part of a broader system of control, exploiting employees by making them believe they have a deficiency that needs to be addressed.
I think about most of the dangerous jobs, if you think about working as a police officer, extreme emotional demands. A firefighter, same deal. I think about leadership jobs which have extraordinary emotional demands. – Adam Grant
A More Comprehensive Understanding of Emotional Intelligence
A more comprehensive understanding of emotional intelligence is required, one that considers the broader cultural and structural forces that shape emotional responses.
Psychologists need to become better sociologists and consider the societal context in which emotional intelligence is developed and expressed.
Addressing the Root Causes of Workplace Stress
Organizations should address the root causes of workplace stress and dissatisfaction, rather than relying on emotional intelligence training as a quick fix.
Organizations should focus on eliminating oppressive rules, firing abusive bosses, and providing more benefits to employees.
Freedom to Express or Withhold Emotions
Employees should have the freedom to express or withhold their emotions in the workplace.
It should be acceptable for individuals not to make their emotional lives available to others in work situations.
This freedom should be reciprocal, allowing employees to both express and withhold their emotions.
Charisma as a Form of Emotional Intelligence
Charisma might be another form of emotional intelligence, which could be manipulated in a corporate setting.
Charisma is seen as a combination of power, presence, and warmth, and it is often a quality attributed to leaders.
However, the effortlessness of charisma is also important, as it should not appear forced.
The Role of Self-Regulation
Self-regulation is seen as a key aspect of charisma and emotional intelligence.
The ability to control oneself in moments of panic is seen as attractive and charismatic.
This self-regulation is often rehearsed, so that when the actual event happens, the response appears effortless.
Learning from Charismatic Failures
Studying charismatic individuals who fail and leaders who lack traditional qualities of charisma but still manage to guide teams and organizations to accomplish great things can provide valuable insights into leadership and charisma.
The Individual vs. Structure Debate
While some argue that structures shape individuals, others argue that individuals create and shape structures.
This debate highlights the different starting points of various disciplines and the importance of considering both perspectives.
Replacing ‘Emotional Intelligence’ with ‘Emotional Labor’
The term ’emotional intelligence’ should be replaced with ’emotional labor’.
Emotional intelligence is seen as a set of skills that people find value in developing, not only for their professional lives but also for their personal lives.
However, the term ’emotional labor’ emphasizes the work and effort that goes into managing emotions.