Help my husband be more in tune with other people.
June 23, 2011 7:38 AM Subscribe
Are there good sources for a scientist to improve emotional intelligence - in particular, to be able to read others' emotions and ape appropriate emotions as needed socially?
posted by juliewhite to Human Relations (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Are there good sources for a scientist to improve emotional intelligence - in particular, to be able to read others' emotions and ape appropriate emotions as needed socially? My husband of ten years is brilliant, funny and charming in many ways, and generally a happy and loving person. He tells me almost daily, for instance, that he loves me and that I am the best wife for him. He has a number of long-term friends (20+ years.) He, however, still finds it remarkably difficult to negotiate tricky emotional waters. I know that is a stereotypical male trait, and particularly so with techy guys, but this goes well beyond what I see with most others. Over the years I have often noted that he can be speaking with someone face-to-face and yet not see subtle non-verbal negative responses (that he is mildly annoying or offending them, for instance) which I can read from across the room. As result I have to smooth things over for him with some regularity. He is also a terrible liar, which has good and bad implications for those around him. For the past couple of years he has been less happy with life in general and this has increased the frequency with which he has difficulty with others, especially at work but also with friends and even me. I think his general cheerfulness previously caused people to overlook the occasional blunder. For instance, last night I was stressed about the state of our house (we are remodeling) and he said something like, "Yes, the house is a disaster. I'm sorry you're stuck dealing with this." He said it with such a complete absence of sympathy, though, that I initially started to become angry - then I paused and said, "Wait? Were you actually trying to be nice?" The truth is that he doesn't really understand why piles of random stuff in every single room bother me - and that's fine, we're different people. But when he tried to fake it because he wanted me to feel better (and not talk about stuff he didn't want to talk about) he wasn't able to do it convincingly and actually made matters worse.
The information I found on this on-line all seems to have to do with Aspergers/autistic children, and while he has a few of those traits, very little of it rings true. Are you aware of any more general resources? I have suggested a therapist to him in the past, primarily to deal with his general ennui, but beyond that I think he would be comfortable with something more skill-based. I looked into a couple of Dale Carnegie things but would love to find something less sales-oriented (as well as something that doesn't cost quite so much, ideally, though we'll happily pay if it's worthwhile.