Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Story of the Black Driver

"Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not easy." Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics Opening the prelude titled 'Aristotle's Challenge' to his best seller Emotional Intelligence:Why it can matter more than IQ,Daniel Goleman narrates a personal experience. In one unbearably clammy afternoon in the New York City, Goleman who was heading back to his hotel boards a bus up Madison Avenue.The driver, a middle aged black man with an enthusiastic smile takes him by surprise as he greets Goleman 'Hi,how're you doing?' And he extended the same greeting to the other passengers too. It was the kind of weather that would make people sullen with discomfort. So in that morose mood, few returned his greeting. 

As he drove up Madison Avenue, he started an interesting monologue about the attractions around the city,about a terrific sale, about a new movie opening at the theater down the block. His delight in the rich possibilities the city offered was so infectious that most people cast off their sullen shells they had climbed onto the bus with and when the driver shouted out 'So long, have a great day, each gave a smiling response. 

Writes Goleman, "....The memory of that encounter has stayed with me for close to twenty years. When I rode that Madison Avenue bus, I had just finished my own doctorate in psychology-but there was scant attention paid in the psychology of the day to just how such a transformation could happen. Psychological science knew little or nothing of the mechanics of emotion, And yet imagining the virus of good feeling that must have rippled through the city,starting from the passengers on his bus, I saw that this bus driver was an urban peacemaker of the sorts, wizzardlike in his power to transmute the sullen irritability that seethed in his passengers, to soften and open their hearts a bit"

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