“Grumpy Old Men”: The Relationship Between Aging and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence as a field of academic research has been around for several decades but has only recently become a popular topic among corporate executives as they search for new ways to improve talent/recruitment within their organization. The topic first gained notoriety following the publication of the book in 1995 entitled “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. Based upon subsequent research and numerous empirical studies, it has been determined that having a high EI is essential in achieving success not only in business but in life itself and that it may be just as important as having a high IQ.

According to Goleman, there are five key elements to Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-awareness.
  • Self-regulation.
  • Motivation.
  • Empathy.
  • Social skills.

“Grumpy Old Men”

It is not uncommon these days to discover that there is a general negative perception of seniors and the aging process. Many younger people when thinking about aging associate it with physical decline and diminished cognitive skills. Many seniors are stereotyped as being unhappy and isolated and lacking in motivation. Seniors are often portrayed as “grumpy old men”.

To the contrary, recent studies have demonstrated that as we get older, our emotional intelligence improves significantly and seniors are more focused on positive outcomes as opposed to having negative feelings. They have a tendency to value relationships and work harder at maintaining existing relationships and fostering new ones. They generally have a more positive outlook and a greater sense of optimism, all of which is somewhat surprising to many observers. Studies have found that there is a correlation between aging and an increase in emotional intelligence.READ ON


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