Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers, suggests that emotional
intelligence can be learned and improved at any age:
In fact, data show that, on average, people’s emotional intelligence tends to
increase at they age. But the specific leadership competencies that are based on
emotional intelligence don’t necessarily come through life experience. For example,
one of the most common complaints I hear about leaders, particularly newly
promoted ones, is that they lack empathy. The problem is that they were promoted
because they were outstanding individual performers, and being a solo achiever
doesn’t teach you the skills necessary to understand other people’s concerns.
(Goleman as cited in Harvard Business Review, 2008, 126)
Gene Cohen in The Mature Mind stresses that midlife reevaluation can produce the
following positive qualities: “less impulsive responses to situations and people in daily life, a
more thoughtful perspective on work, openness to new ideas or complexity in life, and
greater respect for intuitive feelings” (Cohen, G., 2005, p. 63). As Kate acknowledges she
does not need to go in there with her “ego all over the place.” This coupled with a firm
understanding of teamwork makes her actually a better producer because she has the
emotional intelligence to motivate rather than alienate coworkers. The capacity for
emotional intelligence is definitely something that improves with age and self-awareness.
Kate notes that the reason people hire her is because of the quality of her work and says, “I
know how to tell a good story that you’ll enjoy and cry and laugh. You’re going to be along
a road that you want to go down. No matter how old I am I will be able to do that.” Kate
is a new role model for working smarter, longer, and better.
Writers Get Better With Age
The journalists, who don’t have as much management hierarchy to jump through, tend to
work alone and are less subject to age discrimination. Even Alan McElroy, the
screenwriter, felt more age-related pressure due to the many personal meetings required in
the film industry. Ayad Rahim, a blogger and commentator, notes “Whenever I send a
piece, I say I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have been published in The Wall Street
Journal, etc. That’s a foot in the door. I think it’s the opposite of ageism.” jimi izrael, a
commentator on NPR’s The Barbershop and writer notes, “Some of the best writers are
the oldest writers so I wouldn’t say it plays a major role.”
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