We are all social animals
On Thursday I went to go see David Brookes talk at the wonderful establishment that is the RSA.
He argued that our society has inherited a view of ourselves that we are divided selves, with reason on one side and passion on the other. And yet, the conclusion of his extensive research is that isn’t the way we should be thinking.
His mains points were: 1) In contrast to the wild, passionate unconscious that Freud imagined, Brookes believes the unconscious is intelligent and organised. 2) Emotions are not separate from reason, emotions are the foundation of reason. They tell you what to value, for example. 3) We are not autonomous creatures - we are deeply interpenetrated.
As such, the rational philosophers of Europe could be said to be wrong - the key to life lies not in rational thinking but in social empathy and emotional intelligence. Indeed, Brookes gave the example that if we were to write down the difficult decisions we make in life, explaining what we decided and why and then burying the paper for six months, when we re-read the explanations, the reasoning for the decision is actually probably irrelevant.
Of course, the fact that we are social animals may not be that surprising. However, what is significant about Brookes is that he is focusing this research-based philosophy on political policy and also a way of looking at the world. It is easy to agree that we make emotionally-motivated decisions but it is also very easy to forget this.
By remembering the fact that we are all human and have similar hopes, dreams, wants and needs, we can be more attuned to effective decision-making.
I think emotional intelligence is so important - this can be drawn into marketing as well. It doesn’t matter if you have a great product - if you cannot connect it somehow to a human emotion, it has limited value. By remembering that we are social animals therefore we can be successful in life and in business.