Familiarity Breeds Competence


I try to relate the experiences in my own personal life to how I explain emotional intelligence (EI) theory.  I have concluded that the more real-world knowledge I can offer, the more mutually beneficial my relationship with my readers might become.

I am a firm believer that familiarity breeds competence.

Most days, I set off in my car.  I don’t wear a seat belt. In fact, I am quite intent against seat belts. I don’t like how they feel. I find them confining.  Instead, I freely arrange myself in my seat, turn on NPR, take a deep breath and embark on my commute. I am well-prepared for anyone who would intentionally or unintentionally interfere with me.

I almost never use a turn signal and I only half-yield at yield signs and only half-stop at stop signs. (I can tell if the coast is clear when I am approaching these signs, so there is really no need to stop or yield, completely.) If I stop to turn right on red, I normally stop in the cross walk – or in the middle of an intersection when the traffic is heavy. When I am well-merged and soaring toward my destination, I read and send texts, make telephone calls, drive over the speed limit and check what’s left of my hair in the visor mirror. For the record, I never shout at pedestrians or other motorists (like my sister does) and I most certainly would never use hand gestures to emphasize or articulate my position.

If I encountered anyone on the road who drove like I do, I would damn them.

I don’t really believe the rules of driving apply to me. I am a smart person, and a very safe driver – without having to pay strict attention to the rules.  Unlike those for whom the rules were correctly and most competently written, it is my burden, instead, to endure the idiocy of other motorists, each of whom would most assuredly benefit from a driving lesson from me.

I talk to myself. “You feckin’ idiot! What in hell are you doing! How dare you do that to me! You are rude and I cannot have that! You will pay for that move, my friend.”

ONLY when I am provoked, and my fight-or-flight (stress) response is activated, will my mind override my limbs and I find myself assertively posturing my shiny ego car against the recklessness and stupidity of others, maneuvering in such a way as to register my displeasure. In all fairness, I wouldn’t dream of using my horn for anything except to provide a little nudge when someone in front of me is too slow to respond to a green light. A toot, if you will – a matter of doing my part to maintain the even flow of traffic.

Driving here and there, up and down, to and fro, is all a straightforward matter of teamwork and cooperation. Without teamwork and cooperation, there is chaos and confusion. Chaos and confusion, when left unchecked, leads to destruction! People who don’t cooperate, therefore, must be ridiculed, taunted, nudged and punished – never forgiven. Except if they agree to cooperate.  In which case, they are deemed to be good and not bad – like me.


I am not a fan of measuring emotional intelligence with anything but one’s own individual desire to improve. Emotional intelligence, like most reasonable things, is acquiring a commercial edge.  You can be tested for your level of emotional intelligence – for a price. Your level of emotional intelligence, however, is really up to you to decide.  If you think you could profit from examining your emotional intelligence, so be it. Weighing up the manner in which you take to road may serve as the impetus for taking that measurement.

What can our driving personalities tell us about our overall emotional intelligence?

That interpretation will be left entirely to you; but if you pay close attention to your thoughts and behaviors, while behind the wheel, you may come up with some rather good ideas.  How do you reconcile a disagreement with another driver?  How do you accommodate drivers who you believe are being discourteous? How well do you follow the rules that you think everyone else should follow? How are you at conforming to impediments in the road, stop signs, traffic jams, yellow lights, yield signs and pedestrians? Have your driving habits become patterns, perfect necessities for your continued happiness?

You may find that your answers to these questions will closely approximate how well you regulate your behavior in your walking life.  Driving just gives you a chance to see who you really are (and how others perceive you) all in once glance.

Are you willing to express patience, tolerance or pity for those you encounter who disagree with you, impede your way or behave counter to your expectations? When people make errors that affect your walking life, are you quick to label them bad, wicked, evil or depraved.  Do you provide yourself with enough evidence to determine that someone is inferior, purely on the basis of one or more of the poor choices they’ve made?  When people act objectionably, do you reconcile yourself by conjuring in your own mind their true intention? Do you ask?  Even though you have no real way of confirming your suspicions, do you behave as if they were facts?  Do you often feel so morally right that you are willing to claw someone’s eyes out to prove it?

Your driving life is replete with parallels with your walking life. Go for a drive. Find a congested area. If you like how you behave, so be it.  If you don’t, you can change it.

Imagine greater.


11 responses

  1. That’s so true! I hate to drive (I’m a homebody), I’m patient and brush off bad driving (I care about people and forgiving) and careful of road rules (I try to stay out of trouble), I do get angry if someone does something very dangerous (I don’t tolerate being abused) but deal with it only if it will help (why bother arguing with a lunkhead?), I feel frustrated easily if lost or confused (ditto) and just want to go home then (avoid frustrating things), I talk to myself (ditto) and use music to feel calm (ditto), I get bored and stop for junk food (ditto), I love finding interesting things on trips (I’m love doing a lot of different and new activities), I prefer to drive alone (I’m a loner for the most part), I hate to have to stop and get out frequently (I’m lazy and have to make myself get up and do stuff), etc etc….it’s like a ‘concentrated version of me. Very, very good!
    Oh, and my daughter who burns the candle at both ends and with much intensity drives like a speeding maniac….lol!

    • i like that you understand what i am trying to say . . . i am honored that you took the time to tell me . . . yes the description you use to describe your driving (and your daugher’s) is probably an accurate description of yourself. cheers!!

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