중앙데일리

Political Tips From Good Marriages

Feb 06,2001
They say nothing is as short-lived as a quarrel between husband and wife, but there is a certain line that you must never cross in order to maintain your marriage. You should never speak ill of your spouse''s parents, for instance, or abuse your spouse with personal invective under any circumstances unless you are prepared for a divorce. There is also a minimal level of norms that countries at war have to follow. It is an international tacit understanding not to use such immoral weapons as biochemical weapons.

Koreans are called the "Irish of the Orient" because many are hot-tempered and lack emotional self-control so that they often let their passions get the better of them. One man recently burned down a police station after he deliberately crashed his car into it in a fit of anger. Another murdered his brother while quarreling over their mother.

Politicians are no exception. Unless they are prepared to remain eternal enemies, there is a certain line that the ruling party and the opposition should not violate. But the commentaries exchanged by spokesman of each party recently went way beyond the line. It was only quite recently that the opposition used almost unspeakable language to criticize President Kim Dae-jung, following which the ruling party chairman pledged to operate the National Assembly free from political struggle and crippling delays. It was barely a day after this announcement that the two parties started to wage an ugly battle of insults again.

Each time I see someone make a mistake which could ruin his or her life forever for want of self-control to curb flashes of anger over trivial issues, I cannot help thinking that it is the result of our upbringing. Getting good grades at school took precedence over everything else, and no one gave much thought to training character and nurturing patience. Finally, parents have started to turn their interest to the emotional intelligence quotient of their children, after realizing that good grades do not automatically guarantee social success, and that successful people have higher EQs than IQs.

Professor Fred Greenstein, a noted authority on personality and leadership research, announced the results of a study showing that all successful U.S. presidents had high emotional intelligence, thus reconfirming the theory that high emotional intelligence is a trait of a successful leader.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to objectively and accurately judge one''s own limitations and potential, the ability to control and manage one''s emotions, and the ability to genuinely empathize with others. Leaders who try to push through their opinions by advancing them even more strongly in the face of intensifying public criticism have low emotional intelligence in that they fail to understand their limitations and shortcomings.

Leaders who storm out of an important meeting, unable to control their anger, are also lacking in self-control. Leaders who try to extend their political life by resorting to underhanded means, entirely unheeding of the mounting public call for their retirement from front-line politics, also have low emotional intelligence in that they do not spare a thought to others'' feelings. Those who defy the rules of democracy and switch political parties in pursuit of personal gains also have low emotional intelligence. Politicians who shift the blame to others for failed reforms and try to find a solution in creating a strong ruling party have just as low emotional intelligence. It is not surprising that 67 percent of the respondents of a public opinion poll the JoongAng Ilbo conducted early this year said that there are no qualified candidates for the next presidential election.

While it is important to punish leaders implicated in corruption, as the Philippines did, it is more important not to elect a leader who is likely to fail in the first place. We should elect a leader with high emotional intelligence in the next presidential election.

How can we tell if a leader has high emotional intelligence? Leaders with high emotional intelligence put national interests before personal interests. They are not blinded by immediate gains; they pursue long-term benefits. They know how to put aside personal grudges and anger for the sake of a greater cause. They humbly accept criticism by the public and can clearly distinguish between what they can and cannot do, and thus do not make absurd promises that they cannot keep. They empathize with the pains of the people, and think from the position of the people to understand what might be necessary to ease their suffering.

The voters'' emotional intelligence also has to be higher in order for them to choose an outstanding leader based on discriminating judgement instead of being bound to immediate gains, if any, by clinging to regional or school connections. The reason love marriages have greater chances of success than arranged marriages is because the two people involved had the opportunity to get to know each other before getting married. The future of politics in our country could become brighter if the press properly carries out its role of verifying the emotional intelligence of politicians.



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