Is Your Heart Stupid?

(When Harry Manipulated Sally)


Here’s a news flash. Your heart has a head. And your head has an empathy muscle.

Congratulations! You’re now qualified to work in middle management.

See, there’s a brand new trend in corporate management known as “Emotional Intelligence.” (True, there’s a brand new trend in corporate management about every other week, but that kind of attitude will get you nowhere, young man.) According to a publication named Psychology Yesterday (okay, that’s not their real name, but it was yesterday when I read it), “emotional intelligence” is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Hmm. A boss, managing the emotions of others. Sounds a little manipulative to me.

It’s like Xanax, wearing a tie.

“But,” you may be saying, “I don’t want my emotions managed by someone else, especially someone who swings imaginary golf clubs and thinks a work day is incomplete unless it contains at least nine meetings.”

There’s that attitude again. It’s barely 9:00am, and you’re whining, already?

Emotional Intelligence is a scientific term (aka: “expensive seminar series”) being bandied about by an online group of “Experienced Staffing Specialists,” a hard-selling Human Resources consulting cabal whose Marketing department apparently has more spare time than Bill Clinton at a nunnery. Besides being defined as the ability to identify and manage emotions, Emotional Intelligence is further broken down into four skills:

  1. Emotion awareness (how you sense your own emotions and those of others)
  2. Emotion harnessing (the ability to direct emotions for use in different tasks)
  3. Emotion management (being able to calm yourself down when angry, or to cheer someone else up)
  4. Emotion manipulation (aka: dating)

Obviously, the Staffing Specialists are for hire, and thanks to their years of expertise in the science of Emotional Intelligence, which they just made up, they stand ready to help you flex your “empathy muscle,” which is one of those odd, anxious expressions that, no matter how or when you try to say it, it sounds dirty. (It’s like the word “turgid” – it’s a completely useless word that you simply can not work into a conversation, unless you’re in a novel talking to some chisel-featured dude named Thad, or Heathcliff. Or both.)

According to the Staffing experts, the science of Emotional Intelligence can be especially handy when a manager has to discuss uncomfortable topics, or when there is difficult news to deliver:

“Bob, we’ve been looking at your output from last quarter, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go. Ah. Okay. Right now, Bob, my years of expertise in the science of Emotional Intelligence are informing me that you’re not entirely pleased with our decision. Bob, please put down the stapler. Bob?”

The consultants’ “Why You Need To Hire Us This Minute” website will show you, if you let it, about eleven million reasons why they’re the best staffing solution since Julius Caesar hired Brutus. And you know their methods are first-rate, because the website contains dozens of plagiarized motivational quotes from some of history’s greatest achievers, like Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s agent. Furthermore, on their “About Us” page, they boast a 97% candidate retention rate! (translation: only 3% of their customers have paid their bill)

Perhaps most telling about the Emotional Intelligence gang’s human-nurturing philosophy is this website design decision: the site has hundreds of professionally crafted photos of managers, trainers, employees, and potential employees – and not one of the photos shows anybody’s head. Now that’s what I call team-building!

I once worked for a “manager” who treated his “team” like that – like just a bunch of faceless expenses. He was a bitter, aggressive little man, with a classic case of Short Guy Syndrome. I started referring to him on facebook as Turbeaux the bipolar dwarf, until Turbeaux fired me for calling him a bipolar dwarf on facebook.

Et tu, Turbeaux?

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