Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman explores what Emotional Intelligence is and why it matters more than IQ.
3 Sentences Summary
- Emotional Intelligence is a (much) bigger predictor of success than IQ
- EI is composed of: self awareness; emotional management; self motivation; empathy; managing other’s emotions
- Emotional Intelligence skills can be taught and improved
Daniel Goleman says that he first stumbled upon the concept of Emotional Intelligence in 1990 when he was a science reporter for the New York Times.
Before 1990 the prominence of IQ as the major determinant of success was out of question. But things were just beginning to shift. “Emotional Intelligence” was a term coined as an umbrella catch-all for an array of different findings that were slowly putting IQ more in perspective.
Chapter 1: What Are Emotions For?
Daniel Goleman says feelings govern our behavior as much, and often more so, than thoughts.
Thoughts are measured by IQ, while feelings and emotions are the domain of Emotional Intelligence.
Since feelings and emotions matter in our decision making often more than IQ, and even more so in key pressure situations, it concedes that Emotional Intelligence matters more than IQ.
Chapter 2: Anatomy of an Emotional Hijacking
Daniel Goleman focuses here on the anatomy of the brain. The author himself says you can skip this part unless you’re interested in the technicalities.
The gist is that the cortex is the area of the brain governing rational thoughts while the limbic system governs emotions.
Emotional Intelligence is then the force that moderates our most primitives emotional impulses
The most important bit of information is that you can learn emotional intelligence with practice.
Chapter 3: When Smart is Dumb
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman cites a number of studies proving Emotional Intelligence is a more significant predictor than IQ in determining “success” in life. Namely, EQ accounts for 80% and IQ accounts for 20%.
There has been discussion and criticism on those conclusions (superficial studies , EQ VS IQ?, EQ as a predictor) , but I don’t doubt it for a second. IF EQ includes understanding other people’s emotions, using emotions in service of your goal and delaying gratification… Well those pretty much are the definition of success.
Importantly, the author also stresses that IQ and EQ are NOT antithetic. As a matter of fact, high IQ and low EI and vice versa are quite rare. Indeed there is a correlation between IQ and some aspects of IE.
Goleman takes the 5 domains of Emotional Intelligence first outlined by Peter Salovey and expands on them. The general idea is that, same for IQ, people have different abilities in each domain.
The basis is neural, but since the brain is plastic, these abilities can be changed and improved upon (BTW: at any age). The next 5 chapter will cover the 5 Emotional Domains.
Chapter 4: Know Thyself
Emotional Domain 1: Knowing one’s emotions
Knowing one’s emotions refers to self awareness. being conscious of what we’re feeling and recognizing which feeling we are experiencing.
Daniel Goleman says that some people are more into the emotional side of the brain than into the thought processing one. These people should listen to themselves and pursue professions richer in emotional content such as poetry, songwriting, arts.
Daniel Goleman says it’s more important knowing yourself and your strengths instead of your IQ test and its results (or whatever other test you took).
Don’t let IQ imprison your artistic spirit.
Chapter 5: Passion’s Slaves
Emotional Domain 2: Managing Emotions
Daniel Goleman refers to Managing Emotions in the sense of being able to handle feelings as appropriate.
You can manage your feelings by changing what you focus your attention on. For example, if you’re depressed, you should focus on happy thoughts and take part in upbeat activities. And you should avoid tragic movies and novels.
Goleman also talk a lot about anger. It’s not a good idea to stay in an angry state for too long, because the more you wallow in it, the more reasons you’ll find to be angry.
Optimism and hope instead are highly beneficial and they can both be learned: underpinning both is self efficacy. Self efficacy is the belief that one has mastery over life’s events and can meet challenges as they come.
Developing a competency of any kind also strengthens the sense of self-efficacy.
Flow could be thought in many ways as the peak of emotional intelligence. One way to enter flow is to focus greatly on the task at hand. Flow happens when a task is a bit more challenging than usual but within reach.
How engaged we are in the task is also key. Goleman cites the same study in Daniel Pink’s Drive, in which painters who were after money or afraid of critics weren’t able to deliver as original work as their counterparts who freely expressed themselves.
Chapter 6: The Master Aptitude
Emotional Domain 3: Motivating Oneself
Motivating oneself refers to the ability of using emotions in the service of a goal.
Goleman highlights importance of emotional traits such as enthusiasm and persistence.
Goleman says Asian are more successful and have higher IQ because of a cultural factor: in Asian families academic results are important. And to get good grades, you study long and hard. It’s this attitude of tenacity and the belief that hard work will improve results that takes Asians further (this is also a basic tenet of a growth mindset).
Chapter 7: The roots of empathy
Emotional Domain 4: Recognizing Other’s Emotions
This is basically empathy and social awareness.
Daniel Goldman also talks about emotional intelligence in relation to gender.
Women, on average, are more empathetic than men. Goleman also suggests that empathy helps with romantic life.
Chapter 8: The Social Arts
Emotional Domain 5: Handling relationships
This is the ability of managing emotions in others.
EQ is key in relationships because people who are poor at perceiving and sending emotions are poor in their relationships.
Chapter 9: Intimate Enemies
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman delves fairly deep into the differences between men and women (if you’re interested in the topic I suggest you read about Evolutionary Psychology as well, for example with The Moral Animal).
Different studies are mentioned to prove that women can express their emotions better than men.
Daniel Goleman observes that men would rather avoid talking about their relationships. This is in stark contrast to women, whom not only openly talk about their relationship, but are also more vocal about what’s going wrong.
Men also tend to have a much rosier view of their relationship compared to women.
However, the differences disappeared among top performers executive, meaning that top women are similar to top men (link to the study).
My Note: Take a look at my articles on dating and relationships:
- Biggest mistakes women do in early dating
- Communication mistakes men do to ruin relationships
- How to Fix Combative Relationships
Chapter 10: Managing with Heart
Goleman says that how well groups performs a task is determined in good part by their collective IQ. But the key to a high group IQ is Emotional Intelligence: it’s Emotional Intelligence indeed that fosters an environment of social harmony.
The bigger the groups, the more important high EQ becomes for performance. A research among engineers at Bell’s Labs (link) showed how what really made the difference for star performers was in the informal network they were able to tap into. Informal networks are formed mostly on the basis of EQ.
Also many studies proved the top performers were people who started a task and finished it. People low in Emotional Intelligence instead started many tasks at the same time and ended up leaving many of them unfinished.
If you see yourself in this description I highly recommend you read Grit by Angela Duckworth
I also found extremely interesting when Goleman talked about Eager Beavers. Eager Beavers are those people who are super eager to take part in a group and they talk a lot, interject often and overall are a major presence in the group. These people though lowered performance as they were too dominant.
Chapter 11: Mind and Medicine
Goleman discusses many researches showing there’s a strong relation between a positive and optimistic mood and good health.
Especially insidious to bad health are strong emotions like anger.
People high in hostility and prone to anger outbursts are 7 times more likely to die by age 50. That is a higher predictor than smoking, high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Note: this is not to say you should suppress anger, which is even more stressful for the body. The problem is when hostility becomes constant and part of who we are (you probably know someone like that, here’s an example of an individual who let anger control him and define him: youtube video).
Chapter 12: The Family Crucible
Sadly Goleman points out that emotional imbalances are often transmitted from emotionally unstable families to their children. Parents who constantly burst out in anger and beat their children often bring their children to lose empathy and behave the same way.
Chapter 13: Trauma and Emotional Relearning
Traumas and emotionally tragic experience can become embedded in people’s brain and even smaller events can recall the event and trigger uncontrollable reactions.
However, our brain is malleable and we can re-learn new things and abandon old neurological connections (I invite you to read The Talent Code for more on it and for curing post-traumatic stress disorders)
Chapter 14: Temperament is Not Destiny
Temperament is composed of the most typical moods we reverse to, but it’s not written in our genes and we can change that.
Chapter 15: The Cost of Emotional Literacy
Daniel Goleman says that some people are paying very highly the cost not recognizing emotions. Some for example are unable to differentiate between being scared and angry.
Some other people end up hungry in depressing situations and binge eat.
Another example are bullies. Studies have shown how they can misread neutral acts as an aggression and then are able to muster one way to react: lashing out. Because of this narrow spectrum of both perception and reaction, they get more and more isolated, often leading down a path of isolation and criminality.
Chapter 16: Schooling the Emotions
Daniel Goleman talks in the last chapter of the great positive impact that teaching Emotional Intelligence to children can have. He brings a few examples as well, but unluckily I found this chapter a bit light on guidelines on how we can do the same.
Real Life Applications
Don’t ruminate when you’re sad
When you’re sad, don’t ruminate, but distract yourself. Exercise, complete small tasks or re-frame the situation.
How you reduce anger
Emotional Intelligence says when you’re angry you should see the issue from the other person’s point of view. Or if there’s a problem, think about a positive and plausible reason behind rather than accusing “some idiot’s incompetence”. And do NOT vent. Contrary to popular belief venting only prolongs your feelings.
The artful critique
Daniel Goleman uses the example is of a Vice President commenting sarcastically after a presentation “who designed that, a school kid?” The employee was hurt and the VP had no idea. A better way would have been to say “the main difficulty at this stage is that your plan would take too long and escalate costs. I would like you to think more about specifications and see if you can find a way to get the same results more quickly”
Much info, little practical use
Same as for Social Intelligence, I inf there’s lots and lots of information but not as much you can put into practice.
It’s OK, the book wasn’t designed to be a self help book, it’s just a con for me personally as I’m always looking for applicable information.
Stories and Studies Add No Value
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman tells lots of stories and news, but I found them often disjointed and adding little value either. It also presentes the results of many training aimed at improving emotional intelligence, but they were often light on details and un-quantifiable (ie.: “improved this”, “increased that”, which sounds wishy-washy). Which is one of the reasons some academics are not too fond of Emotional Intelligence.
IQ VS EQ and the winner is… Wait, who cares?
IQ VS EQ sounds like a marketing ploy.
It reminds me of schoolkid me studying history for the first time and asking the teacher “who wins Rome VS Chinese empire”. That’s not the real question. Much more helpful would have been to read on how IQ and EQ can work together and how we can develop them.
If you are interested in how you can improve your Emotional Intelligence, there are some good tips, but this is not an how to book -you’re better off reading the articles of this website for that-.
If you want to learn about Emotional Intelligence the topic, and how and why it’s important, then this book provides a broad overview of many studies on the subject. Daniel Goleman indeed basically coined the word Emotional Intelligence and gave huge impetus to the topic, for bad and for good (including critics).
If you are reading Emotional Intelligence to improve your social intuition, check my articles on Social Power Moves.
Get Emotional Intelligence
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