Emotional Intelligence | Stevehein.com

EI, Lying and South America

Is it emotionally intelligent to lie?

Let’s say you are invited to someone’s house and they ask you if you miss your mother. You are in a culture like South America where what they call the family is second only in importance to soccer and professing to be what they call a Catholic.

The person who asks you the question is a mother. She is the mother of someone you want to spend more time with. Let’s say this person you want to spend more time with is the only person in the entire continent who really listens to you. Let’s say it is also a person you care about and want to help but who needs her mother's permission and approval to spend time witn you.

Now let’s say the truth is that you don’t miss your mother because your mother never accepted you, constantly lectured you, invalidated you and basically disapproved of everything about you.

Would it be emotionally intelligent to lie and say “Yes, of course I miss my mother. How could I be so far from home and not miss my mother?!”

Mayer, Salovey and Caruso seem to think they know what emotional intelligence is. So do Dan Goleman and Reuven BarOn. I would ask them how they would answer this question but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t get a reply from any of them.

Their models of EI don’t help me much when it comes to situations like this. In fact it just frustrates me to think about how to apply any of their models to a situation like this. And I feel resentful when I think of them judging me and saying that something I do is not emotionally intelligent according to their standards. Is it emotionally intelligent to punch a mattress when I feel frustrated for example, or to shout and swear? I doubt any of them do those things, so I suspect if I did they would judge me as having low EI.

In the situation with the mother's question, I suspect they would all suggest that I just keep my feelings and thoughts to myself, without actually lying by saying something vague. I tried to think of an example but I couldn't think of anything that wouldn't be lying. I can’t even say “Well, yes I miss her sometimes” because I can’t remember a time when I have really missed her in many years. I miss a lot of people, but she isn’t one of them.

Now in South America if I were to say something like this it would be similar to me saying that I don’t think Mary, allegedly the mother of the Catholic hero figure Jesus, was a virgin.

So am I supposed to just keep my mouth shut? Or not put myself in situations where I will be asked questions like that? Or am I supposed to leave the country? It seems like everyone thinks they know what I should do and what is “emotionally intelligent.” But no one has ever been in my situation. They don’t know how I feel, what I need, or what I believe.

And I don’t think any of the so called experts know whether I am really emotionally intelligent or not. They would like to give me one of their tests and then say “Ah, here it shows such and such so your emotional intelligence level is so and so.” Then they would feel satisfied that they have done something useful and they would feel secure because it wouldn’t just be their opinion, it would be a “scientific” test.

But I wouldn’t feel satisfied. and I wouldn’t call it science.


Steve Hein
Salta, Argentina
June 20, 2006


EI "Experts"
Soccer article

There is more to this story and more writing in my journal entry for today which I may post later.