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ADHD and Emotional Intelligence

Last week, Daniel Goleman wrote an interesting piece on emotional intelligence (EI). The theme of the article discussed the common misconception of equating ‘emotional intelligence’ with being ‘nice’.

It’s easy to get mixed up between the two, especially as good emotional intelligence reveals one’s ability to care how others feel. However, it’s slightly more complicated than that.

Part of nurturing a healthy level of EI includes a certain amount of self-awareness of one’s own emotions. And in doing so, developing the intelligence to manage these emotions when interacting with others. It’s about getting the balance right.

Many ADHDers have a remarkable awareness of other peoples’ emotions, but can find it more difficult when it comes to managing their own.

When the emotional intensity of a difficult conversation builds up, many of us would rather avoid it altogether and run away. This is a much easier alternative to facing the anxiety head-on and trusting ourselves to handle the conversation smoothly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to navigate the maze of words, emotions and body language all within a single conversation. Not everyone is talented in the art of diplomacy, which can be especially tricky for those whose emotions are so acute.

Getting the balance right between our own emotions and other people’s emotions is not only key to strong EI, but it’s also fundamental to maintaining healthy boundaries. Once you’ve found the courage to set yourself a boundary, then the next step is developing the skills to communicate this with others in a calm and dignified way.

In short, you can be both emotionally intelligent while living by your boundaries at the same time!


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