Gifted: Low EQ, or higher-than average communication challenges?

It’s often claimed or assumed that gifted people have lower-than-average emotional intelligence or EQ.

While there might be something to this (some correlation between giftedness and autism spectrum or being non-neurotypical) –

There could be other explanations.

For example, this excellent article on the gifted at work cites research by Derksen et al 2002 showing that the gifted have average EQ, and suggests that their communication problems might result from having to integrate their other traits (such as being an ‘opinionated character’) into a group.

It is probably some of both (EQ and communication hurdles).

But thinking about the lives of gifted people – – talk about communication difficulties at work!

How do you tactfully say as a young employee that you want to take over functions that those who are older than you have done for years?

How do you suggest that you feel you have better ideas than much of the market? (I guess people in start-ups do this).

Trying to explain oneself, follow one’s intelligence, and take on appropriate responsibility and create the unique work conditions one requires i hard for anyone. It is even more difficult when the problems are correlated.

A list of communication hurdles gifted people can face at work:

-Needing accommodations and being sensitive to noise, smells, chemicals, lights, work environment, work time, etc. Which puts you on the defensive already.

-Dealing with potential jealousy or stereotypes that you are a know-it-all.

-If you do your work very quickly, should you simply get more work? Should you get paid the same hourly rate as people who do less in an hour? Who benefits from your efficiency? and what if you can’t keep up that level of intensity all day? Does working very intensely for a few hours and finishing your work for the day earn you some time off?

-Overall, needing something different than what is typically offered, or else feeling ill and lacking engagement.

-Trying to sell people on your new ideas.

-Constantly being out of step, wanting to go faster, feeling impatient. Why does institutional change take so long.

In general, it’s clear that gifted people face many communication challenges that would be difficult for anyone of any level of emotional intelligence. Most people would be uncomfortable in situations where they felt out of place. Maybe we give gifted people less credit than they deserve.


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