Goleman is a psychologist, and he is also an accomplished writer. His book, Emotional Intelligence, has topped The New York Times bestseller list for a year and a half. Other subjects he writes about are creativity, motivation, and social learning.
One of the first things Goleman states in his book is that IQ contributes, at best, 20% towards a person’s success, and EQ is a significant part of the remaining 80%. Unfortunately, there are worldwide trends for younger generations to be more emotionally troubled than past generations, which leads to severe consequences like mental illness, crime, and addiction. Schools offer little to no preparation for the emotional turmoil that will happen in life, so parents need to educate their children. The problem is the general population of adults also could be more emotionally literate because they weren’t given education on emotional intelligence either.
1. The Emotional Brain
The human brain has two parts: the emotional brain and the rational brain. In our evolutionary history, the emotional brain came first and is the bottom base of the brain. The rational brain came later and is in the outer upper regions. Due to the structure of the brain and its connections with the body, the emotional brain acts faster than the rational brain, and the emotional brain can also override the rational brain.
2. The Nature of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is about five critical abilities.
1. Emotional self-awareness: Being aware of your emotions when they happen, particularly the negative ones like anxiety, depression, and anger.
2. Emotional self-regulation: Using techniques to manage negative emotions, so they don’t last so long. Methods include reframing a situation that made you angry, increasing physical arousal if depressed, and reducing physical arousal if anxious.
3. Self-motivation: Being hopeful in the face of difficulty, using goal-directed self-imposed delayed gratification to achieve goals, and using flow state to reach peak performance.
Delayed gratification means preceding a small reward now for a larger reward in the future. So, for example, instead of watching TV now (a small pleasure), I’ll study to do well on my exam (a big reward in the future).
Flow state is when your emotions are channeled and aligned at hand, unconcerned with thoughts unrelated to the task. To enter the flow state, we need an intentional sharp focus on the task. In addition, the job should be slightly above your ability and something you’ve practiced many times before, and you should be energized.
4. Awareness of others’ emotions: Having empathy requires us to be calm enough to mirror the other person’s physiological state, allowing us to feel what they feel.
5. Handling relationships: Knowing how to argue and resolve conflicts (e.g., using the XYZ method) and avoiding emotional flooding during communications.
The XYZ method for expressing a complaint: When you did X, I felt Y, and I’d rather you do Z.
Emotional flooding is when your heart rate rises by more than ten beats per minute during a difficult conversation. The two sides should take a 20-minute break to calm down before resuming the discussion. Although 5 minutes may feel enough, the physiological recovery time needs 20 minutes.
3. Emotional Self-Regulation
For Anger – One of the best ways to douse the flames of anger is to reframe the situation more positively. On the other hand, the longer we ruminate about what made us angry, the more “good reasons” we come up with for being angry. Studies show that venting anger may feel good at the moment, but it doesn’t dispel the anger.
For Depression – Depression is a low-arousal state, so exercise helps lift the mood, while relaxation techniques worsen it. Another method for reducing depression is making downward comparisons: comparing ourselves to those worse off than us. A third method is to help others, which stops us from ruminating about ourselves and our problems and makes us see others’ problems and feel good about helping them.
For Anxiety – Anxiety is a high-arousal state, so relaxation techniques help, while exercise makes it worse. Anxious people do worse academically and on the job. However, people do their best when there’s just enough anxiety. If there’s too little anxiety, people don’t prepare. But if there’s too much anxiety, people don’t have any mental capacity to focus. The sweet spot is in the middle.
4. Emotional Intelligence Applied
Part 3 applies emotional intelligence to marriages, the workplace, and medical care.
A. Emotional Intelligence in Marriage
Divorce rates are rising, from 30% in 1950 to 67% in 1990. Specific issues don’t break a marriage. It’s how a couple disagrees and then discusses that’s the key to marital survival. We need to guard against contempt and stonewalling.
Usually, the wife will complain about something the husband thinks is not a big deal and doesn’t do anything. Eventually, the wife’s complaints escalate to contempt by attacking the husband’s character. For example, the wife might say, “You’re always so inconsiderate,” instead of “What you did just now makes me feel like you don’t care abo
When the husband is faced with contempt, he gets emotionally flooded, and to deal with that, he stonewalls the wife as an evolutionary self-defense mechanism. For example, he’ll go wholly emotionless and ignore his wife. This stonewalling causes the wife to despise the husband even more, leading to more contempt and stonewalling. If this perpetuates, it leads to divorce.
The solution requires emotional intelligence. The couple can use the XYZ method and avoid emotional flooding when communicating. But to handle relationships effectively, each person needs to be aware of each other’s emotions; to do that, they need to be physiologically calm. These tough conversations will inevitably arouse each person physiologically, so they need to be emotionally self-aware. We can see how emotional intelligence is vital in sustaining a marriage .
B. Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Low EQ people make others stressed. Stress makes people stupid. The primary EQ skills needed in the workplace are
• Attunement to others’ feeling
• Handling disagreements
• Entering flow state
• Venting grievances as helpful critiques
• Creating a culture of diversity.
• Networking effectively.
A manager-employee relationship can be analogous to a wife-husband relationship, where the manager might attack an employee’s character, leading to stonewalling from the employee. Another mistake managers make is letting minor problems go unnoticed, then accumulating small frustrations until the manager finally blows up at the employee. This then makes the employee feel wronged for not being told earlier .
The artful critique focuses on the person’s action rather than character, is specific about what needs to change, and offers a solution for improvement. The thoughtful review is usually done face to face and requires empathy from the giver to feel the impact on the receiver. Here’s an example of an artful critique: “The main difficulty at this stage is that your plan will take too long and escalate costs. I’d like you to think more about your costs, especially the design specifications, to see if you can figure out a way to do the same job more quickly.“
Research shows that fostering diversity and inclusion is tough to change people’s deeply ingrained feelings, so it’s not worth trying. Instead, organizations should train behavior, which is much easier. Organizations need to set a zero-tolerance environment that swiftly and publicly punishes acts of discrimination, which will teach people to act in inclusive ways, even if they still feel prejudice deep down.
In team performance, harmony is the single most significant determinant. Harmony allows every member to contribute to their fullest to the team. Conversely, people can only offer their best if there’s emotional friction.
Top performers are better than everyone else at three things: taking the initiative to go the extra mile, promoting cooperation, and regulating oneself emotionally. They also have quick access to a flexible, informal network that will help them solve unforeseen problems quickly
C. Emotional Intelligence in Medical Care
There’s often a significant medical benefit to treating a person’s psychological and medical needs. Medical professionals usually name all the horrible possibilities to anxious patients, making them even more nervous. Anxiety has a scientific link to the onset of sickness and the course of recovery; there’s mounting evidence that stress causes wear and tear on the nervous system .
Anger is the most harmful to the heart. Being prone to irritation is a stronger predictor of dying young than smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The antidote is to develop a more trusting heart and to assume better intentions of others.
Loneliness doubles the risk of sickness and death. Smoking is only 1.6 times. An effective way to deal with turbulent feelings is to write them on paper, then weave a narrative that finds meaning in pain over the next several days.
5. Nurturing Emotional Intelligence in Children
Unsurprisingly, parents’ emotional intelligence plays an enormous role in the emotional development of children. But it also helps children with areas outside of EQ, including academic performance (better focus) and health (lower stress).
Family life is our first school for emotional learning. We learn how to feel about ourselves, how others react to our feelings, how to think about those feelings, and how to express hopes and fears. There are three common types of emotionally inept parenting:
• Completely ignoring the feelings of the child
• Too carefree: These parents notice an emotional storm but decide how the child handles it is okay, even hitting and screaming.
• Contemptuous: harshly disapproving of their children’s anger and being punitive.
Emotionally intelligent parents use the opportunity of a child’s upset to serve as an emotional coach to the child. First, they take the time to understand exactly what’s upsetting the child; then, they help the child find positive ways to soothe their feelings.
6. Emotional Illiteracy — Consequences and Solutions
The cost of low emotional intelligence in children is severe, including depression, delinquency, addiction to alcohol and drugs, and eating disorders.
Depression: – Depression is caused mainly by a deficit in two areas of emotional competence: relationship skills and handling setbacks. The lack of relationship skills causes them to have problems with their parents or peers. Then, they respond to these setbacks by feeling like they can’t do anything about it, leading to depression.
Since depression often manifests initially as constant irritability, especially towards parents, people are less likely to engage socially with that depressed person, resulting in a downward spiral of arguments and alienation. However, if the child is taught to feel like there are actions they can take to improve their situation, they won’t fall into depression .
Addiction to Alcohol and Drugs:
Of those who experiment with alcohol and drugs, only 14% become alcoholics, and 5% become drug addicts. The difference with addicts is that they turn to the substance to soothe their negative emotions as a way of self-medication.
Since alcohol has a relaxation effect, alcohol addicts turn to alcohol to relieve their extreme anxiety or agitation. Likewise, drug addicts turn to cocaine in response to depression, and they turn to heroin to control anger.
Intervention programs must teach children critical emotional skills to prevent and treat addiction. These skills include emotional self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, handling stress and anxiety, reading social cues, empathy, resisting negative influences, and understanding what behavior is acceptable in a situation.
Eating disorders are caused by an inability to identify distressing feelings combined with high dissatisfaction with one’s body. For example, a girl feels stressed or angry but can’t actually name the surface, and she assumes everything is hunger. Then she binges and eats to soothe herself. But to avoid gaining weight, she purges it all out; that’s bulimia. Or the girl starves herself to feel a sense of control; that’s anorexia. To prevent or stop an eating disorder, girls must learn to identify their feelings and use healthy methods to soothe them .
Emotional Literacy Programs
The author urges schools to design and implement emotional literacy programs that begin early, are age-appropriate, run throughout the school years, and intertwine with efforts at school, at home, and in the community. Age-appropriate means teaching something the children can learn later.
From ages 6–11, children develop the ability to learn delayed gratification, be socially responsible, control emotions like anger and impulse, and have an optimistic outlook. These years are crucial for defining their later adolescent experience.
From middle school to high school, into the teen years, and puberty, virtually everyone has a drop in self-confidence and a rise in self-consciousness. Therefore, children need to learn how to build close relationships, read emotions, solve relationship problems, and nurture self-confidence during this period.
A technique that children can use before bursting into anger or crying is the Stoplight Method:
- The red light: Stop and think before you act.
- Yellow light: Say the problem and how you feel, set a positive goal and think of many solutions and their consequences.
- Greenlight: Go ahead and try the best plan.
Emotional Intelligence Book Review
Emotional Intelligence, authored by Daniel Goleman, is a groundbreaking and enlightening book that explores the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in our lives. As a reader, I found the book to be both informative and inspiring, offering a fresh perspective on the role of emotions in personal and professional success.
Goleman’s writing style is engaging and accessible, making complex psychological concepts easy to understand. The book is filled with compelling research and real-life examples that illustrate the significance of EQ in various aspects of life.
One of the most impactful aspects of Emotional Intelligence is its emphasis on the importance of self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication in building strong relationships and achieving success. The book has inspired me to be more mindful of my emotions and their impact on my actions and interactions with others.
The book also offers practical strategies for developing and enhancing emotional intelligence, such as mindfulness techniques, active listening, and conflict resolution skills. These tools are applicable in both personal and professional settings, making Emotional Intelligence a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their emotional well-being and interpersonal relationships.