As I am typing this, I’m sitting in a tent, listening to the rain beat down and trying to avoid the occasional drips that are sneaking past the rain fly covering our tent.
I’m here with my husband’s family, on the annual Forest Family Camping Weekend. It’s a family tradition spanning almost 20 years now. Twenty years ago, there were 10 adults and 5 small children. Now there are 10 adults and 9 nearly-grown children. Times certainly change! How could the cute little heathens that used to draw pictures on the pavement with chalk have grown into these tech-savvy millennials?
Now the “adults” go for walks, while the “young adults” go chase Pokemon. Whatever. At least they are being active out in nature! Even if they walk into the occasional tree…sigh…
So as I sit with the family for hours, I realize that this type of weekend is the perfect opportunity to practice all sorts of emotional intelligence, or EQ. IQ is a measure of intelligence, so the powers-that-be decided EQ should be a measure of emotional intelligence. I know, I know, the acronym is all wrong, but to the behavior researchers that coined the phrase, this is high-brow humor, so I’m going to give it to them.
I truly believe that any large gathering of family provides a “target-rich environment”, to quote Maverick in Top Gun. You put this many adults together with a wide variety of personalities, throw in tight quarters when everyone tries to sit under an awning to stay out of the rain, and emotions start to come to the surface.
Why is that interesting? Because this is a very accomplished family. We have 7 engineers, one Registered Nurse, one business manager, and a county sheriff. And that’s just the fully grown adults. For the “kids”, all but one are enrolled in four-year degree programs at state universities and the one is a 4.0 junior in high school. This family has the intelligence genetically coded and knows how to kick some academic butt, so it so interesting to watch the EQ play out with a group of high IQ people.
EQ is formally defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.
The very definition indicates that EQ is important in interpersonal relationships, yet how many of us KNOW someone who’s smart but has the people skills of a hungry alligator?
How many of us can own up to BEING that alligator?
Healthy relationships are a vital component of health. There is strong evidence that healthy relationships correlate strongly with people’s health and well-being. Conversely the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable in magnitude to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity (Goerm, 1987; House, 1998). The stakes may be high in getting interpersonal relationships right at work, but they ratchet even higher when the people you have to deal with are your family.
Clearly it is far easier to leave a company with people you can’t get along with than it is to quit your family. We’ll see how the weekend plays out, but that part about “handle interpersonal relationships judiciously” is proving to be very entertaining so far.
Signing off with this: I heard Einstein got along well with his parents … relatively speaking