One of the most insightful books I have read is “Emotional Intelligence” by the eminent Harvard psychologist Daniel Goleman. I had read it when it was first published many years back. Lately, I found myself rereading it or at least attempting to reread it (if YouTube documentaries do not snatch my attention away).

I have always been fascinated by what it takes to be truly smart.

The now oft-quoted term “emotional intelligence” was a groundbreaking brain and behavioral research that redefined what it means to be smart. Emotional intelligence shows the factors at work when people of high I.Q. flounder while those of modest I.Q. do surprisingly well.

Psychologists now argue that our view of intelligence is too narrow, ignoring a crucial range of abilities that matter immensely for how well we do in life.

My renewed interest in the “emotional intelligence vs. intelligence quotient” (E.I. vs. I.Q.) debate surfaced after I have reviewed several SIPs (School Improvement Plan) of several schools in our own DepEd Dipolog City Schools Division. One of the most common PIAs (Priority Improvement Area) in our schools is reading literacy. This points out that our students have difficulty in reading. Concomitantly, this could also mean that the level of functional literacy has declined. Functional literacy (which I believe, is more important than literacy—reading or numerical—per se) means not just the ability to read and write per se but the ability to read and write and to use such ability for practical uses.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that what is more important are one’s personal and relational skills (collectively called emotional intelligence). I am sure this dilemma has also fascinated many others as evidenced by numerous literature dealing with both mental intelligence (as measured by ubiquitous I.Q. tests) and emotional intelligence (which has no real gauge but as shown by qualitative factors which include self-awareness, discipline, empathy, self-motivation, self- reliance and the like.)

On a more personal note, I have always been oriented to use my mind more than my emotions. I have always put a premium on intelligence—the mental kind. For me, I.Q. could be the be-all and end-all in this game called life. To wax poetic about it, reason is my primary weapon whenever I am faced with life’s sticky situations. This was most evident during my elementary and high school years when I excelled academically and in other mental-related stuff. In recent years, however, I found myself coasting along, enjoying other pursuits besides books, school, and anything even remotely related to one’s mental development. This leads me to the epiphany that there might be other human endowments as important, if not more important, than intellect. That is why I tried to get a more or less holistic idea of what it takes to be truly smart by reading and now rereading the book “Emotional Intelligence.”

I think there is nothing wrong with being attuned to one’s emotions, developing skills other than mental skills, and be able to relate well with other people as long as it is not used as an excuse for stupidity, to compromise, and to pander to the least common denominator. The latter has become the norm rather than the exception.

Use your heart if you will, but use your mind, too. “Emotional Intelligence” (the book) should be required reading for everybody, especially those in positions that require them to put other people’s interests together with, nay, ahead of their own. I’m looking at you: educators, civil servants, politicians and leaders!

Get acquainted with both types of intelligence and decide for yourself which is of more primordial importance.

By: Terence Eyre B. Belangoy

(This author’s column Justified first ran in The Mindanao Observer from 2008-2012. It made its first appearance in Vol. 10-2018 of the DepEd Dipolog Newsletter.)