Matters of the Heart

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Valentine’s Day is a time to wear your heart on your sleeve, but one Rutgers University in Camden expert believes following one’s heart isn’t just for matters of love and romance. Robert Schindler’s research has shown that people should listen to what their emotions tell them in personal and professional situations—the heart matters just as much, if not more, than logic and reason.

“It is helpful to be aware of your feelings and the feelings of those around you,” said Schindler, a professor of marketing in the School of Business. “With this awareness, you can make better rational decisions about how to behave.”.

Every day, people make numerous decisions, usually relying on logic, reason, and rational judgment rather than emotions, empathy, or effective communication—essentially employing intelligence quotient (IQ) over emotional quotient (EQ). In Schindler’s spring course, “Head-Heart Balance in the Workplace,” he teaches the power of tapping into emotions and listening to the heart as well as the mind.

Robert Schindler, professor of marketing in the School of Business—Camden

Robert Schindler, professor of marketing in the School of Business—Camden

“Instead of telling yourself, ‘I am angry,’ think about it as ‘I have anger’ instead,” Schindler said. “If you separate the anger from yourself, you can begin to manage that anger. In our class, the students take steps toward developing a personal head-heart workout plan. Regular mental workouts help the mind just as much as regular physical workouts help the body.”

One of the chief lessons of Schindler’s course is that society tends to lead people to a “rationalist bias”—an overvaluing of thoughts over feelings. “Thinking only about rational and material things leads people to lose contact with their feelings, so that they don’t know what they want or what brings them pleasure,” Schindler said. “By ignoring feelings, people engage in some harmful behaviors because they get confused between what they feel and what they believe they rationally should feel. These individuals end up making decisions that are hard to live with but also difficult to get out of.”  

In the workplace, Schindler said, empathy and emotion help us get along with others, which can lead to greater professional success. As aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders, Schindler’s students are eager to learn how emotional intelligence can help them when they find themselves in positions of authority and influence.

“Empathy makes people more effective leaders,” said Schindler. “Even in business, better head-heart balance can lead to greater tangible benefits. If you help your company have more empathy for customers, it will lead the business to greater profitability. Empathy matters in all relationships.”

Creative Design: Beatris Santos

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