Home Research Emotional Intelligence: EI/EQ Emotional Thinness: When Relational Connective Tissue Needs a Workout

Emotional Thinness: When Relational Connective Tissue Needs a Workout

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What is Emotional Thinness (ET)?

Emotional thinness (ET)? (Never heard of it? I made it up. :)) You’ve met people ailing from ET and perhaps labeled it something else. It’s a difficulty in producing relational connective tissue.

Just as connective tissues like ligaments and tendons provide structure and support for our bodies, authentic and sensitive conversations, empathetic compassion and meaningful collaboration make up the relational connective tissues that provide support and structure for our relationships. ET sufferers don’t easily produce these things.

When you engage someone with ET, you’ll notice, consciously or subconsciously, a lack of warmth from him or her. It’s particularly noticeable in a group of people, say, at a party. You may steer clear of them because they may “flatten” your mood. That’s not to say someone with ET walks around mean or cold or angry or negative. In fact, they may be smiling and happy. And your interaction with them may have a distant, transactional or distracted quality to it and your conversation may be shallow and without meaning.

ET is somewhat rare among CEOs because relationships are so important for developing a stable and productive work force and having successful customer relationships. And sometimes simple brute force, an intense work ethic or dynamic energy can overcome the fairly significant drawback of emotional thinness.

What to do?

The causes of ET are too varied and complex to describe here. It’s fair to say that ET sufferers probably didn’t have warm, secure, attuned relationships with their primary caregivers. That’s not to say they were abused or neglected. Just that they didn’t experience that relational connective tissue they needed in order to know how to produce it.

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