Getting a Handle on Core Emotions

Last Updated Mar 5, 2009 8:36 PM EST

Behaviour, personality and temperament --- how do they all fit together? This question was raised by a serendipitous connection between recently reading a copy of The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves and a query raised by Joshua Freedman on the LinkedIn Emotional Intelligence Network saying it was very important to distinguish between EQ and temperament. I could not agree more and here are my comments.

The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book is written in a clear concise manner and is a quick read. It provides a good history of EQ and I was particularly pleased it defined EQ as a skill that could be improved compared to IQ which is stated to be genetically immutable. It also defined EQ as separate from the personality which again is a statement with which I agree. On the other hand, the book did not discuss the concept of temperament.

Very simply my model is as follows:

  1. Behaviour is a function of Personality and Environment. We have just had an example of this in the recent tragic Victorian bush fires. The behaviour facing the residents there was simple: should they flee (flight)? Or should they stay and try and protect their homes (fight)? The environment was overwhelming yet people still exhibited either type of behaviour.
  2. Personality is function of a number of variables (family & upbringing, education & training, job experience & skills, physique & health, mental abilities, interests, and temperament). How we emotionally react to a situation depends on all of these.
  3. However a key driver to your emotional reactions is temperament which is your genetic emotional pre-disposition.
  4. The model of temperament I use is the Humm-Wadsworth model which I have already defined in earlier blogs but a good summary is here. In the example above, if the desire for security (Double-checker) is greater than the desire to win (Politician) the person will flee. But if the ranking of the two desires is different the person will fight.
To lift your level of EQ you need to understand your own and other people's core emotions. Core emotions are driven by your temperament, so a model that helps you understand your own and other people's temperaments is critical for improving your EQ.

The lack of a systematic framework means that the analysis of most of the examples of EQ in The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book comes across as pretty weak. The best example was when the authors, while lecturing on EQ to an open audience, were suddenly interrupted by an unexpected visit from someone who was mentally disturbed. The authors panicked and completely failed to demonstrate self-control, one of the key elements of EQ. On the other hand the example chosen did demonstrate a redeeming quality; authors who admit weakness are unfortunately rare.

I would be very interested in hearing how people view my model.