Emotional Maturity


You express a sensitive personal issue and your friend repeatedly responds by talking about himself.

You share a heartbreaking human interest story with a friend and he responds with disinterest, changing the subject as soon as he can.

A co-worker consistently interrupts whatever you are saying, jumping to conclusions and interjecting her own opinion.

To me, such miserable experiences seem all too commonplace. Purposeful give and take dead-ended due to poor listening, a startling lack of empathy and even self-centeredness. This emotional ineptitude is so easy to spot in others, but … I don’t deal with people that way … do I?

The issue illustrated above is emotional maturity. When in deficit, emotional immaturity cripples relationships, disrupts family harmony, and derails careers. Those with a high level of emotional maturity possess the key to fulfilling personal relationships and high-end professional success.

In the world of psychology, this topic comes under the heading of “emotional intelligence” or “EQ”. Widespread appreciation for the subject resulted from the writings of Daniel Goleman, particularly his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. As it turns out, EQ is now understood to be a far more important predictor of success than IQ, the standard measure of intellectual performance.

In his 1998 book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman refers to a wide body of studies that conclude that IQ and technical competence explain less that 20% of high-level career success. These studies found that high-level performance in virtually every professional field is now largely determined by emotional competencies–a wide range of emotional skills that result in satisfying and productive relationships with others. 

The contrast of IQ and EQ is personified by a man I hired in the mid-1990s. I was looking for smart, well-educated, hard-working professionals with solid business experience. I found all of that and more in a man named Arnold. He graduated from Stanford at the age of 16, the youngest graduate in the school’s history, or so he told me.

My first interview with Arnold revealed how clever he was. He quickly grasped every topic I threw at him. Once I hired him and put him in the field, he seemed to soak everything up and advance faster than anyone else.

Unfortunately, with all of his talents came a tragic flaw that soon became my management nightmare. Arnold was radically self-absorbed, only interested in that which benefited him personally. By the end of the project, Arnold was making demand after demand of management. He wanted everything his way. He complained, threatened, and bullied until he got what he wanted. Totally exasperated, I did some investigating into his employment history and found a history of lawsuits and burned bridges.

Arnold had the intellectual gifts that apparently Ivy League schools adore. However, because of his tragic lack of emotional intelligence, his career will never be more than a series of short-term engagements, probably only adding to his insecurities.

I have since learned to look for the opposite of that story when reviewing resumes. I look for a history of long-term commitments, growing levels of responsibility and continuity in professional relationships. To me, that kind of work history denotes the kind of emotional maturity that I want to associate with. My current partner has had just three jobs in his 35-year career.

The Divine Principle teaches us that the essence of a human being is most certainly not the intellect. First of all, we are beings of heart, or shimjung in Korean, Father Moon’s native language. The development of our heart is the primary objective of spiritual growth. With that in mind, Father Moon taught us to live for the sake of others.

In fact, our first purpose is to become an object partner to God–to grow our heart so that it is responsive to God and God’s heart. In other words, to become mature means to learn to be fully responsive to the heart of others. The one word that best conveys the concept of emotional intelligence is “empathy.”

To develop empathy, we need a life of continuously improving relationships in all directions. That is a life void of relationship substitutes. It is a life of service to others, ambition, continuous challenge and adventure.

Homework: Evaluate Your Own Emotional Intelligence

The following activity is based on the book Reinventing You by Dorie Clark, which provides insight into the value and method of the 360 interview, a self-evaluation process that can help you make progress in your self-understanding and professional life.

1. Visit this link to learn how to do a 360 interview.

2. Modify the interview design to broaden its purpose beyond career development.

3. Undertake the 360 interview with roughly 12 people and evaluate the findings.

Marriage PrepBenjy Uyama