Which is better, Book smart or Street smart?
Only a few years back, I taught Simar, a gifted young adolescent, appreciated by teachers and parents alike and envied by his peer for being the highest scorer. However, he was disliked by the mates for never sharing his work or helping them with doubts, never mingling with companions and showing no interest in sports or any other co-curricular activities. He did not even attend his school’s farewell. They called him nerd, I called him Book-Smart, as he was always with his books. He apparently looked unhappy despite doing what was expected of him. Sadly, no one taught him that the mantra of happiness lies in the essence of friendship, caring, empathy, sharing and the fragrance it leaves around one’s aura.
This is just one example. I have seen several students unable to take right decisions, they are procrastinating, misinterpreting their expectations from life, non-empathetic, misunderstanding people around them, judgemental, succumbing easily to peer pressure, devaluing their opportunities and eventually end up messing up their lives with drugs, multiple partners or cluttered due to their impulsive selections. Not forgetting the sizable amount of them who leave their future ‘Ram- Bharose’ i.e. waiting for fate to open avenues to their success.
Researches have shown that our success at work or in life depends 80 per cent on emotional intelligence and only 20 per cent on intellect. While our cognitive abilities help us to solve quantitative problems, process information and use data and logic to answer questions, socio-emotional skills allow us to be more creative and use our emotions to resolve our intra-personal and interpersonal problems.
Visual processing, working memory, spatial and quantitative reasoning are a few parameters of assessing Intelligence Quotient. IQ itself is restricted and does not constitute the full spectrum of human intelligence. While IQ can be a reliable predictor of academic success, it is not essentially a guarantee of life success. Sometimes people with very high IQ battle to sustain themselves in life, while those with average IQ may be able to manoeuvre with ease. Hence, conventional intelligence is no guarantee of success and just because someone is less intelligent doesn’t mean that the person will be a failure throughout his life. Researches show successful people shared the attributes of passion, perseverance and conscientious. These traits are also parameters to assess one's Emotional Quotient. EQ refers to a person's ability to perceive the prism of emotions, control, evaluate, and express emotions in a manner to better adjust in the society while safeguarding one’s own happiness and mental health.
EQ is centred around abilities such as:
- Self- awareness - Identifying one’s own emotions
- Social/People’s awareness - Perceiving & evaluating how others feel
- Self-management - Controlling one's own emotions
- Relationship/People’s Management - Using emotions to facilitate social communication, relating to others and managing conflicts
Unlike fluid intelligence, which suffers stagnation as one age, emotional intelligence can be developed over time through mindfulness and by providing necessary attention and effort to it. To be efficacious, those IQ traits should be supplemented with social-emotional skills such as motivation, perseverance, impulse control, coping mechanisms and the ability to delay gratification. An emotionally intelligent child is one who can label their own emotions accurately, regulate them and control reactions to them; for example, one can make their parents understand the importance of their choice of subjects and long term life goals instead of giving up on options laid by family and friends. But to enable this, one should first understand their own strengths and weaknesses, skills required to pursue a stream, match the requirements of self and study, make calculated decisions and stand by it. Once you are convinced, you can easily convince others, all of which requires high EQ. A child with high EQ can also handle more complex social situations and build meaningful friendships, relate to and empathise with peers. They may be labelled as ‘Street Smarts’.
Listed here are 11 ways to improve EQ
- Practice mindfulness - Pay attention to how you feel, pay attention to how you behave
- Question your opinion and act. See how it will affect you and others.
- Take responsibility of your feelings and behaviour. Don’t blame others for your failures.
- Celebrate what you have. Do not always crib and complain about what you do not have.
- Improve the negatives. Think positive.
- Set realistic goals and work towards attaining them.
- Leave your comfort zone. Curiosity is the key to learning.
- Ask for help and help others.
- Listen and not only talk. Understand others perspective instead of just judging them in the first go. Form your own opinion.
- Respond, don’t react. Impulsiveness detracts.
- Remember, past is gone, so don’t dwell, present is a gift, so enjoy and future is uncertain so just plan.
Both IQ and EQ assuredly play prominent roles in determining our overall success. In addition to strengthening certain cognitive abilities, such as your memory and mental focus, one can also acquire new social and emotional skills that will serve as your core fortitude in many different areas of your life. To be successful, emotional intelligence has importance as great as mathematical intelligence. The greatest benefit may lie in learning to improve skills in multiple spheres.
Stay Street Smart. Befriend Books. Stay Mindful. Stay Happy.
About the author
Dr Kulpreet Kaur is an Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Business School (JGBS), O.P. Jindal Global University. She carries with her an extensive experience of 25 years in the field of School Education and Counselling which is evenly split between administration and academia
Note: The views expressed in this article are solely author’s own and do not reflect/represent those of Shiksha
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