Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Emotional Intelligence & Empathy

"Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—this is not easy."
- Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

Believe it or not, these are two separate ideas which go hand and hand, and yet tend to be confused with one another. So lets look at the definitions of each. Emotional Intelligence means: describes an ability, capacity, skill or a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, of others, and of groups. And Empathy is defined as:the 'capacity' to recognize or understand another's 'state of mind' or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes", or in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself.

To give you a better idea of the differences here, think of both ideas in the context of literary perspective. Emotional Intelligence would be a book written in third person, in that it is done from the distance between one person and another. There is no symbiosis here. There is no shared insight. There is only one person feeling an emotion and another person viewing and judging that emotion form a distance.

Whereas, Empathy would be a book in the first person, because it is literally 'putting oneself into the shoes of another' or 'seeing through the eyes of another'. One does not judge from a distance, but instead experiences the emotion both directly, though their own imaginings, and vicariously at the same time.

Now that we understand what each is, and their differences, we come to a very important question. Why do they go hand and hand? What makes one concept fail to work correctly without the other?

Empathy & No Emotional Intelligence

First lets look at the idea of a person having Empathy without the addition of Emotional Intelligence. What this concept means is that one has the capacity to place themselves into another's shoes, but they lack the ability to interpret what they are feeling any better or worse than the person who is feeling those emotions directly does. It stops the process of empathy half way, due to lack of understanding about people's emotions and the subtleties of each.

So, as an example, if Martha is feeling depressed because of an argument with her boyfriend, the Empath has the ability to see and feel what Martha went through. But the Empath is then stopped cold by their inability to interpret what they are seeing and feeling. And subsequently, because of this, they are unable to see the possible outcomes which could arise from any advice they might give. So they are left with an inability to choose the best course of action when faced with this situation.

Emotional Intelligence & No Empathy

Aside from the obvious here, that the person in question is not an Empath, humans are generally capable of great empathy, even without the title. So it is important to understand this concept, even if it does not apply to you directly.

People who have Emotional Intelligence, and yet lack the ability to feel any empathy toward another human being have the potential to become an array of things like, but not limited to, Emotional Manipulators, Narcissists, amongst others. What this means is that they have the ability to watch and assess another person's emotions, but they can not relate to it unless it, in some context, has something to do with them. They learn at an early age to manipulate the emotions of others to get their desired response or their way in a situation. And while this might begin as something simple enough, like manipulating mom for $5, with age and experience it escalates as do its manifestations.

The Balance of Emotional Intelligence & Empathy

For a normal person, the balancing of these two concepts is very important. For the Empath, it is doubly so, particularly if you are actually working with other people in Empathic Counseling and/or Empathic Healing Work. Because in these particular cases, you bear a responsibility to the person you are helping, to give them the best care you can. And the choice to not charge money does not negate this responsibility either. Its not about money. Its about the fact that, as an Empath, you hold the emotions and situations of another living being in your hands, to heal or destroy at your will, based on your interpretations and judgments. Never forget this fact.

But more than just that, the balancing of these two singular ideas makes for much healthier relationships and life choices. It offers one the ability to see, recognize and know the different types of emotions, and place themselves in another's shoes, all for the desired effect of being able to judge people, situations and possible outcomes of reactions in order to pick the best possible choice of responses.

To test your Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient, or your EQ, try this quiz. Its long and drawn out, but accurate.


Here is my score from the quiz above:

Snapshot Report
Self-report Component
Subscale IQ score = 147
Subscale percentile = 99.93

According to your self-report answers, your emotional intelligence is excellent. People who score like you do feel that they have almost no trouble understanding and dealing with their own emotions and those of others. They have an easy time overcoming difficulties in their lives and they are able to control their moods. It’s easy for them to motivate themselves to overcome obstacles and reach their goals. In addition, they find social interactions to be quite easy and fulfilling, for several reasons. They are comfortable allowing themselves to get close with others, and feel comfortable being vulnerable enough to establish intimacy. They also report having an easy time offering support to others; this is likely due to an empathetic nature and a clear mind when it comes to offering good advice.

To test your Empathy Quotient, also EQ, go here:

Here is my score:
Your score: 78
0 - 32 = low (most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20)
33 - 52 = average (most women score about 47 and most men score about 42)
53 - 63 is above average
64 - 80 is very high
80 is maximum

To test whether you are an Empath or not, go here:

Here is my result:

You Scored as Certified Empath

You are a natural born Empath! You are haunted by the calling of "the others" and walk in silence between the busy and the distracted. You qualify for certification by the School of Empath Psychology. From the Book of Storms Series newsletter on Yahoo! Groups.

Certified Empath


An Intuitive


Potential Empath


Unbonded Empath


Not an Empath


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