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Practical Applications for Emotional Intelligence?

When they start learning about Emotional Intelligence, many people say, 'Oh that!' They're surprised because it's all so familiar.

No, Emotional Intelligence isn't new, but getting it organized and learnable, and recognizing its importance is new. It's covers such things as 'common sense,' and 'maturity,' and 'people skills,' though it's a lot more than that.

While we often talk about EQ in terms of 'soft' skills, one use of it is to apply common sense to what we read, see, and are told.

I think this is a wonderful example. Several years ago, 1998, to be exact there was a study done in the UK called 'Internet 'Addiction' : The Effects of Sex, Age, Depression and Introversion,' a paper presented at the British Psychological Society London Conference, 15 December 1998, Helen Petrie and David Gunn, Psychology Dept., University of Hertfordshire, which is still available online

The users in the study were asked to define themselves as 'addicted' (or not). Those who called themselves 'addicted,' were about equal male to female ratio, and had a mean age close to 30.

According to the report, there was a significant relationship between high Internet use and positive attitudes toward the Internet with both self-reported depression and introversion, 'supporting the view that Internet 'addicts' are indeed introverted and more likely to be suffering from depression.'

The findings have lingered around, also combined with general myths that people who like the computer are 'geeks.'
Something about this study didn't ring true to me. I wasn't observing it in my own life or the lives of those around me. Also I felt there was a shift, as time went by and more people entered the Internet. I noticed the perception that 'computer lovers' were geeks was declining, and I noticed the positive changes in people who got Internet savvy.

Addiction' has to be taken into account. Anyone who's addicted to anything can have all sorts of things going on. But in this case, it wasn't a medical diagnosis; it was a self-report.

I think in the early days, there was a sense that you either never got on the Internet, or you used your database at work and those were the only two legitimate choices. Beyond that, you were 'addicted.'

Well, along comes a new survey. The first World Internet Project, just released, reports that the average Netizen, as active users of the internet are called, is not the previous stereotype of the computer nerd, loner and geek.

Their research found that 'the typical Internet user is an avid reader of books and spends more time engaged in social activities than the non-user.' Interesting, isn't it? Also active Internet users watch less television, as much as five hours less a week than Net abstainers. Notice how there's a switch from the disparaging 'Internet addict' to someone who isn't computer savvy, the 'Net abstainer.'

Any good thing can be misused, and I'm sure there are people addicted to the Internet, or something on it, in a way that's harmful to them. But for the majority of us enthusiastic Netizens who learn through it, or look at the fantastic art not available to the public before, or do research, or participate in chatrooms, or IM with friends or relatives, or meet people globally, or receive inspiration and help from the many articles on the web, it's such a good thing! I'm glad to see research confirming this. I think it's very enriching, and brings about many positive results.

Where does Emotional Intelligence come in? When you read something on the Internet or anywhere else, apply some of your EQ skills, like intuition. 'Myths' get started because people swallow things whole, or mistake a part for a whole. At the time I heard people on the computer are depressed, it wasn't being played out in my real world. Some of my most interesting, alive, and non-depressed friends were having the most fun on the Internet, and spending the most time on it.

Now is this recent data representative of what's going on? Here you apply your analyzing ability and your intuition and come to your own conclusion. Remove any emotional overtones (maybe you have a spouse who is on the computer longer than you think they should be, or a teenager who going where he doesn't need to go on the Internet, or you don't know much about the Internet and that makes you mad).

Look at the data rationally. Also broaden your perspective and think about a lot of people, not just one. Just because Mary is a Netizen and very social, doesn't mean Ben is. And just because Harry is depressed and spends a lot of time on the Internet, doesn't mean everyone on the Internet is. Statistics are at best taking a good shot at the data. You know, if the average depth of the river is 10', it could be 1' somewhere, and 20' somewhere else.

Are computer lovers 'nerds', 'addicts', or 'avid readers and socializers'? Should you encourage your child to spend a lot of time on the computer? You have one piece of data here. What do you think? What do you bring to the equation?

That's what EQ is all about.


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