The Emotional Machine
Emotion Intelligence (EQi) is the ability to reflect on our own feelings in real-time, process them and manage them while being conscious of the feelings of others and managing our relationships. It's a big ask but there's no doubt the importance of a persons EQi is being recognised more widely now as a key differentiator in business. But how much do people really understand about EQi and what are the questions to be asked about how we view EQi.
The neuroscientists will tell you that our brain is a super-computer composed of billions of neurons. Using our senses the brain constantly scans the environment for stimuli, processes it and initiates biochemical algorithms in response. As more pioneering companies make in-roads into true Artificial Neural Networks (AI) the more we relate our own cognitive function with the same lens. So if you can programme a robot with binary code to 'think' a certain way, can we programme the bioneural network of the brain to never get angry or sad using biochemical code? Never feeling sadness; never feeling anger.
This magic brain code would reduce the importance of EQi as we'd just adjust the programme - outsourcing the management of our emotions. We could begin to treat our emotions like we do the dress code - leave your personal emotions at the door and only wear company approved emotions. What kind of office would that be like to work in? Everyone pleasant, calm and focused. Sounds bland doesn't it? Despite the negativity associated with some emotions, there is something scary about losing the capacity to FEEL them. This machine based view of the brain reduces us to viewing emotions like an unwanted by-product of the stimuli processing function - the exhaust fumes of the algorithms we use every day.
we 'feel' something at all times; happy, sad, forceful, grateful, bitter, loving, guilty, joyful....... the list is endless and we can define our emotions in many ways. But how do our emotions serve us? When we feel something it is feedback; we can choose to tune into that feedback and question it's purpose. If we feel anger we can ask "what is the purpose of this feeling of anger in me?". Depending on the person the answer might be that you can now tell that your value of justice and fairness have been compromised and that you should stand up and be counted in situations where your value is compromised. Many great movements have begun with a person standing up in anger to defend their values.
Our emotions can serve to motivate us and define our purpose and I believe it will be the differentiator for businesses and people in the future as automation and robotics take repetitive cognitive tasks away as a function of the human brain. Humans will begin to use their brains, senses and in fact the whole body system for a different purpose. While I can't say for certain what that will be I know it will add value in leadership, creativity and person-to-person connection. This blog is far too short to explore all the permutations but I don't doubt that we humans will expand our understanding of emotions and of EQi for a greater purpose