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Emotional Intelligence

There are many who do not understand the criteria used by Eric Adams, the pro-Turkish newly-elected mayor of New York, to make his decisions about the most important positions in city government.

They have not been made according to traditional criteria. For example, when he selected his Chief of Police, he did not judge on the basis of the candidates’ experience in police matters, their academic successes, and the like. High on the list of qualifications that interest him is a new qualification: emotional Intelligence.

He used the same criterion when he chose NYC Schools Chancellor. Again he based his choice on the emotional intelligence of the candidates.

So what does this expression mean and how is it judged?

It basically means: “the ability to grasp the feelings of other people, to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to reduce stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.”

And like most things in life, it is learned – if you realize its value, if you know you do not have it but are willing to work to get it, often with the help of someone.

Adams himself interprets this term as follows:

“If you don’t understand going through Covid, losing your home, living in a shelter, maybe losing your job, going through a health care crisis, if you don’t empathize with that person, you will never give them the services that they need.”

The term, emotional intelligence, was first used by two sociologists – one of whom is now president of Yale University – who described it as the “ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.”

Adams’ frequent reference to the term caught my attention because I had read a book years ago titled Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, which had impressed me.

But I did not know right away that a few days ago the New York Times published an article – on which I rely for information for this commentary – which noted that, “Time magazine ran a cover story on the concept, arguing that ‘emotional intelligence’ may be the best predictor of success in life.”

In this spirit, when Adams appointed the Director of Education, he said: “Don’t tell me about where you went to school and how important you think you are. Don’t tell me about what you are going to do because of your philosophical theories on understanding children. I don’t want to hear about your academic intelligence. I want to know about your emotional intelligence.”

Of course, not everyone agrees with the importance he attaches to this criterion. They need more – but perhaps without it, without emotional intelligence, the rest helps only up to a point, even in professions that do not have direct and constant contact with men and women, with people.


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