Google’s dictionary: “Community: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Is that sufficient?

Today I’m in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, one of the densest populations in the world (130,000 per square KM) — so are all these people a community by geography alone? Or is there an emotional criteria as well – do we need to feel connected to be a community?

What is that emotional component of community? How does it fare in these days of dissent and dissolution? If we want to strengthen community, how? Can emotional intelligence fuel this connection?

If no person is an island… what connects us?

Emotional Intelligence & Community

by Joshua Freedman

This calendar quarter the Six Seconds’ team is studying community — the threads that bind and support us into the fabric of human experience. Our volunteer Network Leaders and Six Seconds Allies around the globe are sharing a new EQ Café and special resources on using emotional intelligence to understand and strengthen community.

To understand how feelings, and skills with emotion, play into community, Six Seconds’ researchers are mining our database from SEI, the emotional intelligence assessment, in preparation for the 2018 State of the Heart Report. Preliminary findings are intriguing: Specific “Brain Talents” are more strongly connected to high scores on Community; and these vary slightly by age, gender, and region.

Emerging Research: Emotional Intelligence & Community

In the next months we’ll share findings culminating in the 2018 State of the Heart report, analyzing a random sample of EQ scores from over 150,000 people in 125+ countries in the last two years. Since our first SOH in 2011, we’ve seen a steady decline in emotional intelligence – this year we see a small shift in the trend. The SEI includes a measure of “EQ Brain Talents” — behavioral assets for leveraging EQ. In our research, these “apps” are invaluable for leading and thriving.

These six are most correlated with high scores on Community:


Staying focused on priorities

Emotional Insight

Sensing & understanding emotions


Moving forward despite challenges


Addressing challenges before they’re urgent


 Engaging people on a path toward vision


Seeing possibilities before they’re clear

Gender Variations: Males Need EQ for Community

For respondents identifying as Male, emotional intelligence and community are more strongly correlated that for those identifying as Female. For males, then, EQ may be a greater resource in terms of community, while females may be more likely to form and sustain community through other resources (such as family, region, or culture).

Interestingly, for males, the talent of Emotional Insight declines in importance – as do all the emotion-related talents – and Design (identifying paths forward) increases. This suggests that for males, community is slightly less an emotional connection, and more a practical one (though the emotional talents remain slightly more predictive, overall, than the rational ones).   


Geographic Variations: EQ Essential in APAC

State of the Heart compares three large global regions: APAC (Asia Pacific from China to Australia), AMER (Americas from Canada to Chile) and EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa from Denmark to South Africa).

In APAC, emotional intelligence is most closely correlated with Community, suggesting that the resources of EQ are even more important to community this region. Problem-Solving (creating the energy to achieve results) and Design (identifying paths forward) become more important to community here; Entrepreneurship less so.

In EMEA, of all the regions, EQ is least correlated with community, suggesting that the bonds of community in this region are more highly driven by other factors (such as family, region, or culture). Connection and Collaboration rise in importance, suggesting that in this region, community is even more strongly driven by emotion than in other regions.

“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….”

– John Donne, Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

Neuroscience & Weaving the Emotional Threads of Community

As social creatures, we’re shaped by those around us, and we, in turn, shape our environment. Today, many of us feel connected to multiple communities — our circles of community intersect and overlap across the planet, and even beyond. How do we find “our people,” and, in a world with so many connections and disconnections, how do we nourish and sustain these communities?

Perhaps it’s time to challenge the now classic pop-psych mantra, “No one can make you feel anything.” The intention is great; as autonomous beings, we create and shape our own experience and so, do not need to give others power of over our own feelings. But are we truly autonomous? Should we be?

Humans are social creatures, at the core, our brains are wired to attend to one another. Our safety, perhaps even our very identity, grows from interconnectedness . The social architecture of human neurology includes a system of “mirror neurons,” a type of cell found throughout the brain. Mirror neurons respond to what’s happening around us, firing in response to other people, and mapping in our brains what we sense is going on in others’.

The only reason for such elaborate systems of social awareness is that we survive and thrive in relationship. Without conscious awareness, the social brain continuously assesses opportunities & threats; it monitors where we stand in relation to others – who is safe, who is on our side, who we can trust. Interestingly, while this happens by itself, research of emotion-recognition finds we’re more accurate when we do intentionally focus on others.

A Matter of Heart… or Practicality?

In Six Seconds’ model of Brain Styles, the “Energizer” has the highest scores on community, and “Guardian” the lowest. This is paradoxical as Guardians are so named because of their tendency to try to protect people. Yet caution, it seems, is not what’s needed in community today.

In the Brain Styles, we assess three scales: Focus, Decisions, and Drive. Scores on each pole of these three scales is correlated with higher scores on community, as follows:

Rational: 8.3%

Focus =
What data does your brain prefer?

Emotional: 14.9%

Evaluative: 8.5%

Decisions =
How does your brain assess options?

Innovative: 14.4%

Practical: 16.3%

Drive =
What energizes your brain?

Idealistic: 12.8%

In other words, the research indicates the optimal process for using emotional intelligence to build community is to accurately attend to emotional data, to assess opportunities, and to turn that into action today . In John Donne’s words, when we feel ourselves “part of the main,” we can take risks to grow and flourish — but it’s not enough to dream; the bell tolls, so the time is now.

Around the world, people are increasingly distressed & lonely. It’s a call for community — perhaps it’s the time to build the skills that will fuel a change for the better.

Get the Insights First

To get the latest State of the Heart data… and stay up-to-date with new insights on emotional intelligence for community, make sure you’re subscribed to receive our fab free newsletters — you can leave any time and they’re spam free.

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