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Emotional Intelligence: The Missing Link?

Many adults with ADD/ADHD tend to move from relationship to relationship or from job to job. They drift along, trying to find the “right” partner or a career where they can succeed. They aren’t sure where they go wrong or what seems to happen. Perhaps it’s not an IQ problem, but a weakness in a different kind of intelligence – emotional intelligence or EI that can affect both those with ADHD and those without it. When enabled with the right emotional intelligence skills, persons with depression, anxiety, worry, panic attacks, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorders and anger can better manage the toxic effects of these afflictions.

In 1990, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey of Yale University coined the phrase “Emotional Intelligence.” They used this phrase to describe the ability to perceive, assess and manage feelings in yourself and others as well as using these feelings in your decision making. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, describes EI as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and others.” In his 1998 book, Working With Emotional Intelligence,Daniel Goleman explained that success at work comes mainly to those whose emotional intelligence is developed. In his book he explains that skills, education, and a high IQ are all secondary to emotional intelligence. Those who have gained success, have worked their way up the ladder, and have strong coping skills are those who have developed their emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence may be related to ADHD in that it is related to emotional maturity. In general, people with ADHD mature emotionally more slowly than their non-ADHD counterparts because their frontal lobes develop more slowly due to the effects of ADHD. One way to overcome this, then, may be to work to improve your EI skills.

So, how can you develop your emotional intelligence? First, know the four basic components of Emotional Intelligence:

Awareness – How in tune are you with your emotions? Can you pinpoint your emotional strengths and weaknesses and make good decisions for your life based on your own emotions?

Regulation or Management – This is the ability to balance your emotions, as well as use your emotions to set goals, create plans and motivate yourself to achieve your goals. It is the ability to control your emotions to help you in a situation, rather than hinder your progress. This includes the ability to delay gratification and reward in order to focus on your task at hand.

Awareness of Others – This is commonly referred to as “empathy.” It is the ability to understand the emotional nature of those around you – a friend, partner, boss or your children – and to use that knowledge to create better relationships.

Social Skills – How well do you get along with others? How well do you react to the emotions of others and read the proper signals in order to fluently handle social situations, solve relationship problems, learn to motivate others, create cooperation and teamwork?

You are not just born with these skills, they can be learned. With work, you can improve your “EI” and help your performance in social situations and at work. Get feedback from trusted friends or colleagues. How would they rate you across these components?

If you would like to learn more about your emotional intelligence take your pick of several EI quizzes on the Internet. Use the Search terms: free Emotional Intelligence quiz and several will pop up. Just be aware that to get a score you may have to give your e-mail address.

by Rebecca Shafir M.A.CCC
Hallowell Center

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