Temperament is More Important than Transient Emotions

Last Updated Feb 2, 2009 5:10 PM EST

As I said in my previous blog, I found The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: HOW TO DEVELOP AND USE THE FOUR KEY EMOTIONAL SKILLS OF LEADERSHIP by David R. Caruso and Peter Salovey a disappointing read, along with almost half of the 37 reviewers on Amazon.com.

I believe one of the major problems with the book is the Emotional Blueprint model it advocates, and which states that one's Emotional intelligence quotient (or EQ) comprises four related abilities:

  1. The ability to read people by identifying their emotions.
  2. The ability to use emotions to get other people to work in harmony with you.
  3. The ability to understand emotions and so predict the emotional future.
  4. The ability to manage emotions and ensure that we use the available emotional information when making decisions which to me is a roundabout way of using intuition.
The problem with this model is that it says it is the transient emotions that are important. I disagree. I believe that what is essential in lifting your Emotional Intelligence is an understanding of temperament, which is that part of the personality that is genetically based and is what determines our habitual emotional response.

Caruso and Salovey do refer in passing to some people having typical ways of looking at the world and call these dispositional traits. I would argue the opposite and say all of us have core dispositional traits and that it the mixture of these traits with some being dominant and others weak that make us all unique. The model that I have found best at explaining temperament is the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale. This model says we are all slightly insane and as I get older I am more and more relaxed about this hypothesis. The model also says we have seven core emotional drives six based on the most common forms of insanity and a seventh that tries to bring logic and order into our personality.

The following article from the 27 July, 1942 issue of Time, "Pegs that Fit", provides a practical introduction to the model.

I like the Humm scale because it uses seven components compared to many other models which use only two or three variables to analyse people and are too simplistic and put people in a box. Why is seven important? Seven points are the limit short term memory can handle, as demonstrated in George Miller's famous paper.

How do you evaluate the temperament of fellow employees?