What’s your student’s emotional IQ? Maturity, Emotional Intelligence & Salesmanship

So your child is that smart, a high-riding, high IQ, straight A’s academic cowboy!

Cool that, but how’s that maturity thing going?

The peak age for absorbing new information is age 18. The peak age for assessing the emotional state of others is 40.

It makes sense, as our developmental years are for learning, testing, and expanding our bodies and mind and testing how they interact with the outer world. Our adult years are for organizing and evaluating ourselves within the larger world.  (Here for How Intelligence Shifts With Age)

So perhaps we can measure our children a bit differently from ourselves?

Teen IQ vs. Teen EIQ

The experts call it “Emotional Intelligence,” or Emotional IQ (hereafter, EIQ). It is a measure of a person’s ability to perceive the perceptions of others and to act accordingly.

One would hope that high academic performance equates to EIQ. But not always. Just the same, low-academic performance is not necessarily related to EIQ, although it can be.

Kids at that age can be supremely concerned with what others think of them — but that’s not EIQ. Quite to the opposite, actually. Teenage obsession with externalities results from insecurity with the perceptions of others, which leads to obsessive attempts to manage those externalities rather than employing or adjusting to them, which would come of greater self-confidence and EIQ.

I always found in my high school students vastly different levels of what I now understand as EIQ. Some of my highest performing students were desperately insecure, while some of those with the most functional EIQ weren’t necessarily the best students (they had other issues, usually relevancy, which was, actually, the result of their high EIQ).

In the classroom it was a measure of a child’s ability to perceive how the outer world perceives him or her. Regardless of academic performance, the high EIQ kids were comfortable with themselves and less obsessed with the reactions and approval of their peers. In fact, some of the low EIQ students were obsessively careful about academics precisely because of their insecurities over external perceptions. It killed me to see those high-functional academic students destroy themselves over worry about peer and teacher perceptions. Conversely, those high EIQ kids who were checked out of academics worried me less, because they were so clearly functional with the external world, despite lack of academic engagement.

Emotional IQ Test

For you or your child:

  • Do you know how others around you are feeling?
  • How do you feel about failure?
  • Describe your security blanket.

Excessive worry about what others are seeing in us is inherent to the teenage years and is part of natural growth cycles. But obsession over failure, or a willingness to accept it too readily, is a most dangerous aspect to low EIQ.

Ready acceptance of failure may represent a fear of judgment so that the individual gives up rather than even attempting to meet external demands. Less obvious would be fear of failure that has driven obsessive compliance with externalities.  Both are signs of low EIQ.

The key here for parents is that grades neither indicate nor discount EIQ. It’s the approach and the emotional price for it that matters.

What to do about a low EIQ?

There’s a lot of psycho-babble out there on Emotional IQ. Bing it and you’ll find a thousand “test your emotional IQ” sites. Here’s what you need to know about your Emotional Intelligence:

Does the world around you respond to you
the way you want it to?

If the world conforms to you absolutely or you’re not concerned with it at all, then you’re either a demigod or you have a self-worth that’s unencumbered by reality. Neither one is common or healthy. So let’s get back to the rest of us who face an occasional insecurity or doubt:

What EIQ is really about is solid decision making and interpersonal relationships.

I call it salesmanship.

Selling Yourself

Sales people are in the job of aligning the expectations of others with their own. That is, their living is made of convincing others that what they have to offer is desirable. So long as you can deliver the goods, this is not a bad thing. You can only make a bad sale once, as bad salesmanship is it’s own policeman.

Good salesmanship builds relationships and delivers consensus: yes, we agree, you’re awesome! Good salesmanship advocates for itself and creates partnerships for common success. Good salesmanship requires high EIQ.


As you learn about EIQ, you will find that self-esteem is a crucial component. We’re not talking about fake feel-good crap, like “everybody wins” at kickball.

Self-esteem follows personal success, so being told you’re great when you’re not will not lead to long term positive attitudes. Similarly, external feedback is the other half of self-esteem, as success requires rewards and recognition.  The healthy EIQ is built upon positive action supported by positive feedback.

Please do recognize that your child’s EIQ may operate distinctly in different situations, such as the classroom, athletics, at home and with peers.

Confronting Failure

Rejection has two possible outcomes: giving up or trying harder.

There’s not a lot more to be said about it, other than to be clear about the relationship between EIQ and rejection. If we avoid the rejection and the judgment of others, or subject ourselves to it, then we are detached from our self, as we are allowing others to define ourselves. We are letting others be judge and jury.

Fear of the views of others destroys self-confidence and the ability to move past obstacles.The healthy EIQ hears criticism distinct from judgment and can, therefore, adopt the criticism without giving in to the judgement.

Just ask Michael

From the Psychology Today blog post, How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence ― 6 Essentials, this little quote from Michael Jordan sums up the importance of high EIQ:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Psychology Today writer Preston Ni defines Emotional IQ as:

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) can be defined as the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express one’s own feelings, as well as engage and navigate successfully with those of others.

Well put. EIQ, then, is:

  1. Control of your own emotions
  2. Healthy management of the emotions of others

Immature or low EIQ?

Teachers, parents, when you feel a child is “immature,” what you’re saying is that the child lacks emotional intelligence. The solution, then, isn’t reprimand — God no! — it is positive, non-judgmental reflection designed to help  a child align their own emotions and self-perceptions with those of others around them.

Pretty neat way to look at it, actually.

So let’s build EIQ and not bury it beneath more disconnected criticism or coddling, or both.

– Michael