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Has Your Emotional Intelligence Peaked?

As a child, you believe your parents know exactly what they are doing. You believe everything they say or do to be right or better than your peers’ parents, and you follow their guidance and beliefs closely.

When you get older, you realize they were totally winging that whole parenting gig. They were probably scared to death of making mistakes, but dang, if I do say so myself, they did a pretty great job! (Hi mom and dad!)

People typically learn the best through experiences. This means that my parents learned how to be parents from experience. I was an experience, and in fact, as the first child, probably an experiment. They learned what worked and what didn’t with me and applied those lessons to my little brother.

So is the old wives tale true? Are we more intelligent or wiser as we get older because of the experiences we have endured?

According to a new Wall Street Journal article titled “How Intelligence Shifts With Age”, in a study published in the March edition of the journal of Psychological Science, “Dr. Hartshorne and his colleague, Laura Germine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, took a close look at the development of cognitive abilities as we age and discovered that different skills have different timetables. Some abilities mature early, such as how fast we recall names and faces. Others, like vocabulary and background knowledge, are late bloomers.”

Different mental processes peak and decline at different times of our life. The results of the study showed that the processing speed of how fast we can absorb and regurgitate information peaks at 18 and then drops suddenly. Our working memory or how much we remember at one time is optimal around the mid 20’s and then plateaus approximately around the age of 35.

According to the WSJ article, “That’s when our emotional intelligence kicks in. The ability to assess people’s emotional states from a photo of their eyes peaks around age 40 and doesn’t decline until our 60s. One form of wisdom, the ability to guess people’s internal states from very little information, is as useful around the kitchen table at it is in the boardroom, and ‘the difference between a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old is just huge,’ Dr. Hartshorne said.”

TRACOM’s Dr. Casey Mulqueen, Director of Research & Product Development, says “This study supports other research on adults and continual learning – people can continue to develop their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. Even cognitive intelligence, the most difficult ability to improve, can be affected somewhat by training, as evidenced by programs such as Lumosity. Emotional intelligence is even more amenable to change. The key is consistent practice. It’s really no different than any other skill, the more you practice the better you become. And as people age, it’s important that they continue to practice these abilities in order to halt the natural decline. If you solve a crossword puzzle every day, you’re vocabulary and intellectual problem-solving skills are going to stay tuned. The same is true with EQ. And once these abilities become ingrained in the brain through neural rewiring – the outcome of consistent practice – they become natural habits that you can rely on.”

Dr. Hartshorne’s research also shows that we continue to learn our whole lives and our vocabularies don’t reach their peak until our seventies! “This is an encouraging sign. If humans continue to learn into their seventh decade, then at least one platitude is true. You can teach an old dog new tricks”, says WSJ article author Susan Pinker.

Emotional intelligence is an imperative skill to have in life but even more important in the business world. It is crucial to a cohesive workforce, making sales, managing teams, handling conflict and much more. As research points out, emotional intelligence is still being developed into our old age. Our ability to learn these skills is still present even into our silver years, making us much more impressionable to eq training even in our older age.

Click here to read the full WSJ article, “How Intelligence Shifts With Age

To learn more about Behavioral EQ click here.

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