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The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

Friday, May 1, 2015

Recent studies indicate hiring managers prioritize emotional intelligence, even above experience and technical skill. However, there is a dark side to emotional intelligence, and studies show a troubling link between understanding people and manipulating them. Last year, a group of Australian psychologists demonstrated a correlation between high levels of emotional intelligence and narcissism, raising the possibility that some charismatic, emotionally intelligent individuals may also use their charming or interesting qualities to manipulate others. Simply put, those who are able to successfully manipulate others are good at reading others. This can translate to negative workplace interactions. A 2010 study reviewed “self-serving” uses of emotional intelligence in office settings, including focusing on strategically important targets such as subordinates, rivals, and superiors, and working to distort, block, or amplify gossip and other emotional information. The study found that for a highly emotionally intelligent person, there are many opportunities to manipulate.

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