emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence or Psychological Manipulation?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the new corporate skill set of choice. But, is this just the re-branding of something else less socially acceptable?

It turns out the attributes and tools of Emotional Intelligence (EI) have striking similarities with the tactics formerly known as psychological manipulation.  That’s interesting.  Let’s review the techniques side by side and see how they compare.

Let’s start by looking at some definitions.  This will give us a better idea of the psychological terrain and terminology.  Then we’ll look at the specific tools or tactics side by side.

Psychological Manipulation

First of all, what is psychological manipulation? Psychological manipulation is a set of social influencing skills which aims to change the thoughts, behavior or perception of others through deceptive tactics.

One example of psychological manipulations is the con man. Short for confidence artist.  Here the individual learns to conceal their outward Emotional Affect while muting their moral compass so as to deceive others.  They learn to use a number of ploys gain the confidence of others in order to manipulate them into schemes.  This requires knowledge of the human psyche, and the ability to use techniques which prey on human psychological, emotional and financial needs.  This includes manipulating decision making often based on greed. Often con-artists work in teams to leverage their deception.

Another example is the professional card shark.  They learn to conceal their true emotional effect while at the same time projecting a range of others.  This is accomplished through verbal and non-verbal tactics.  Another other example is So, the tactics which they employ are psychological manipulation through deception and manipulation.

This requires one to be able to conceal their true emotions and intent while manipulating others in making decisions.  Consequently, this is the reason why the lie detector tests which measure EGK and other physiological measures don’t work universally.  People who train to mask their emotional affect also mask their physiology.

Emotional Intelligence

Now let’s look at Emotional Intelligence (EI).  EI is the ability to control one’s own outward emotional effect, while at the same time ascertaining the emotional state and subtle non-verbal cues of others. These are skills for influencing the thoughts, decisions, and behaviors of others.  The similarities between psychological manipulation and EI are apparent on the surface.  But, we really need to dig down into the tactics a little further to understand their relationship.  First, let’s how EI and other similar techniques are measured.

Measurement of Emotional Intelligence and Similar Techniques

Intelligent Quotient (IQ)

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is very different from Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient.  Although they sound similar they assess two completely different aspects.  The abbreviation “IQ” was coined by the psychologist William Stern.  The standardized IQ test measures the capacity to learn.  It includes measurements of short-term memory, analytical thinking, mathematical ability, and spatial recognition.  Yes, your IQ can change over time but not substantially.  The older you are, the more stable your test score will be. The most volatility in IQ scores is in childhood, mostly in adolescence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional Intelligence is known by a number of acronyms,  Emotional intelligence (EI), Emotional leadership (EL), Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ).  You can measure Emotional Intelligence. For example, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT.) Fact is, all of these types of tests for EI measure the ability to perceive, use, understand, and regulate emotions. So, we see IQ is about the capacity to learn and EI is about the ability to regulate emotions.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

To be sure, there are also tests which determine someone’s mental health.  For example, The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a standardized psychometric test of adult personality and psychopathology.  Psychopathology is the identification and study of a variety of mental disorders. As such, versions of the MMPI can be an effective tool to identify an individuals use of psychological manipulation tactics. Interestingly enough, the tactics which we find equivalencies for under EI are the tactics associated with psychological manipulation.

It turns out, people with narcissistic and anti-social disorders use psychological manipulation tactics without training.  It’s a sign of these personality disorders.  However, if you don’t come by these tactics naturally, you can still learn them.  In fact, these skillsets are executive level necessities.  If nothing else simply to guard against being manipulated by others.

Rebranding Psychological Manipulation 

This is where the re-branding effort really starts.  The marketers of IE need to associate their tactics with something which is positive.  So, you would not openly describe your tactics as antisocial narcissistic manipulation tactics.  Rather you associate them with socially acceptable terms close to Intelligence Quotient.  Thus, you end up with a more holistic term like emotional intelligence.  In this way, previously socially unacceptable tactics become more socially acceptable and highly marketable.

Emotional Intelligence Tactics Re-Branded

Most emotional intelligence training involves tactics in five major categories, Managing Self-Perception, Managing Self-Expression, Interpersonal Skills, Decision Making, and Stress Management.  As we mentioned above the tactics in these areas correspond with behaviors associated with narcissistic and antisocial behaviors. Now, let’s look at how the specific tactics are renamed in order to make them more socially acceptable.  First the description of the psychological manipulation technique and then the new name re-branded in emotional intelligence curriculums.

  • Managing Self-perception
    • Project confidence and dominate others even when the facts don’t support your position.  Requires the ability to ignore the facts and reactions of others, mute empathy and social impact of decisions.  This becomes Bolstering Self-Confidence 
    • Compartmentalizing Feelings ignoring individual and social concerns.  This becomes Prioritizing Shareholder Value
    • Valuing profit over individual or social concerns.  This becomes Prioritizing Bottom Line Results
  • Managing Self-Expression
    • Masking emotions and controlling verbal and non-verbal communications becomes Controlling Outward Emotional Affect
    • Disengaging emotions becomes Tactics to Increase Assertiveness and Independence
  • Interpersonal skills
    • Monitoring and masking your Emotional Affect.  This becomes Controlling Outward Emotional Affect
    • Identifying fears, “tells” and concerns of your others.  This becomes Learning to Observe and Identify the Emotional State and Needs of Others
    • Manipulating others through bartering or collateral. This becomes Cultivating Effective Work Relationships 
  • Decision making
    • Using coercion and deception to manipulate others.  This set of strategies become Effective Problem Solving Tactics
    • Controlling empathy for others and the environment.  This becomes Impulse Control 
  • Stress management
    • Disengaging from individual and social impacts.  This becomes Flexibility – adapting to change effectively
    • Constantly in a state of cognitive dissonance, communicating disingenuous information in order to manipulate others. This becomes Managing WorkLife Balance
    • Disengaging from the emotional impacts on individual, society, and environment becomes Stress tolerance – successfully coping with stressful situations
    • Masking emotional affect becomes Maintaining Optimistic – having a positive outlook
Summary of Emotional Intelligence Tactics

What is important here is to look beyond the name to the actual tactic or behavior.  Rebranding unhealthy behaviors and tactics do not make them healthy or socially acceptable.  Learning these techniques is a slippery slope.  Since the core of emotional intelligence is based on behaviors which can be learned these shape your paradigm and personality traits.  These tactics become a part of your normal behavior.  Learning tactics which are inherently disingenuous will lead us away from the positive values of your own personality and instinctual stack.  Once learned they tend to be practiced in all social settings personal and business alike.  You have a tendency to use these unhealthy tactics slipping into narcissistic and antisocial thinking and behaviors.  This has an obvious detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, as well as, all relationships.

Why has something so inherently destructive been rebranded for corporate consumption? That is simple. Because these techniques work in the short term.  People who manipulate others achieve the goals they set out to accomplish.  Profit becomes the bottom line over the cost to the individual and humanity.

How EQ Differs from Self-Awareness

There is a better way.  Rather than enhancing and encouraging narcissistic antisocial tactics, you can learn to be more in touch with the virtues of our spirit.  You can learn to become more self-aware.  Instead of learning to mask your emotions and conceal the impact of your behaviors you can learn to embrace them.  You can learn to enhance your self-awareness.

Self-Awareness is not a skillset to bolster Emotional Intelligence. Self-Awareness is the capacity to recognize oneself as separate from others while simultaneously comprehending the common thread of consciousness.  This is the awareness that links us all together.  It helps us comprehend our humanity and our need to care for others and the planet. Furthermore, awareness is the gateway to the virtues of the spirit.  It’s what gives us empathy to and to act from an internal sense of right action.  This is the personal experience of Oneness.  Greater self-awareness increases your empathy for others.

So, rather than learning to ignore and mask your Emotional Affect in order to influence others, you become more genuine.  You learn to express empathy and emotions in a positive way.  You learn to accept and work with others with different points of view.  Mindfulness Meditation is a good way to help move toward healthier awareness and behavior.  Along with this, the strategy developed in Japan for walking mindfulness is also recommended.  The term translated from Japanese is “Forest Bathing.”  Additionally, there are better alternatives to cope with stress and increase your overall health and wellness.  Moving toward self-awareness enables you to make decisions based on individual and social concerns rather than sacrificing them for corporate profit.

In Conclusion

If this article resonates, there are more on our blog.  Also, you may be interested in learning about our blended learning process.  This is our curriculum which we use to teach several mind-expanding tools.  It also aligns the Hero’s Journey.  This is the term Joseph Campbell gave the pattern of consciousness development.  Our learning process is available in two forms.  You can take part in the virtual learning module or in our workshops.

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Image by Unsplash.


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