I have heard many times conversations that contained a segment pretty close to this:
A: B is more intelligent than D, because of X and Y.
C: You also have to take into account emotional intelligence.
A and B might be the same person, as C and D could be. X and Y are usually examples of C demonstrating their intelligence in a situation, or D not doing it. This often comes in the shape of D showing their emotions, which may or may not have clouded their judgment during the specific event.
In many cases, there seems to be a negative correlation, at least in the mind of most witnesses, between being intelligent and showing emotions. Getting mad at someone because they won a game of chess would be a very good example, although a completely stereotypical one. There also seems to be a positive correlation between being intelligent and keeping your emotions under control.
On the other hand, C seems to correlate “having emotions” with “having emotional intelligence”. They imply, by their counter-argument, that the specific event X or Y may show that B has more “traditional intelligence”, like IQ, but that D showed more Emotional Intelligence with their reaction.
I’ve gone through many phases in my life, from thinking that emotional intelligence was a bullshit excuse for being dumb, to thinking that Emotional Intelligence might actually be more useful than “Traditional” intelligence. But for some reason, I never took the time to Google it.
According to the Wikipedia page:
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)
According to the rest of the page, it is a source of many disagreements on its existence, its meaning and its importance, but the definition is always close to that. Managing or adjusting emotions to adapt to the environment or the goal is a sign of Emotional Intelligence, as well as having a good self-awareness of your own emotions and mental state.
So… B showed more emotional intelligence, by not showing any emotions in a situation where emotions would be neutral at best, and a liability at worst, in accomplishing a certain goal.
Basically, a person that has no emotions would not have any Emotional Intelligence, and a person who has emotions but always hides them would have a pretty average Emotional Intelligence. On the other hand, a person who has emotions and lets them get in the way of their objectives has terrible Emotional Intelligence, while the person who has emotions but ignores them when it is necessary or practical would have the highest Emotional Intelligence.
That one guy that just lost the world chess championship by making a stupid mistake, and acted basically like a robot the whole time and barely showed his disapointment probably has better Emotional Intelligence than you and me.
So why, did every single time I’ve heard it used in my life, it was in a context where it mean at best something unrelated, but usually the complete opposite?