Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence explains the importance of emotions in your life, how they help and hurt your ability to navigate the world, followed by practical advice on how to improve your own emotional intelligence and why that is the key to leading a successful life.
Although Focus is Daniel Goleman‘s book that has been most successful and hailed as one of the best, Emotional Intelligence (orIQ) is actually much more popular. His masterpiece has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 40 languages.
Summary and Synopsis
Goleman explains how two separate minds live in our brains, one rational and the other emotional, and why the five key skills that make up their emotional “literacy” are actually a much larger predictor of happiness and success than the capacity by which they generally we measure it: the IQ.
Here are 3 lessons on what emotional intelligence is, why it’s so important, and how you can get more:
- Emotional intelligence is based on self-awareness and self-regulation.
- A high IQ makes you healthier and more successful.
- You can increase your IQ by reflecting on other people’s body language and thinking optimistically.
Lesson 1: Emotional intelligence depends on your ability to be self-aware and to regulate yourself.
There are two parts to being emotionally smart. One is to be emotionally self-aware. It simply means that you are able to recognize and label your feelings.
For example, when children learn to speak, they generally need to be given vocabulary first, so if your child is angry that you don’t let him eat candy before dinner, he will know that he is feeling bad, but he cannot say what it is exactly, until I tell you that what you feel is anger.
The second part of the equalizer equation is emotional self-regulation.
As an adult, being able to see your emotions on a meta level (thanks to mindfulness, learning from meditation or other self-awareness exercises) is crucial in choosing how to react to your feelings, or whether you should react at all.
For example, when you sit in your office and hear a sudden, loud bang, like the sound of an explosion, your emotional processing center will perceive it as a threat and put your body on alert mode. But when your rational brain checks twice and sees that there is no real threat there, it calms it down again so you can get back on track with what you were doing previously.
Both of these qualities are highly dependent on the neural connections between your rational brain and your emotional brain, which, if cut, can cause serious problems.
Lesson 2: If you have a high IQ, you are more likely to be successful and healthy.
The IQ, the level of your intelligence, is usually what we think determines success. But Goleman’s research led him to believe that IQ, emotional intelligence, is the same, if not the most important, in finding happiness.
For example, in the world of business and careers, students with higher levels of empathy seem to get better grades, even if their peers are just as smart. This is because they can better manage their feelings, such as being bored, but still doing their homework, and performing better in social settings, such as knowing when to speak and when to be quiet in class.
Similarly, as you may know from the famous marshmallow experiment, children who can discipline themselves better at an early age also tend to perform better later.
In addition, managers, who have social skills, will have the power to persuade people when they need it, and therefore do a better job of leading people.
Your health is also highly dependent on your IQ, because the more you have, the better you can mitigate stress, which can prevent many, if not all, of the most prevalent diseases of our time.
Lesson 3: You can increase your IQ by reflecting on other people’s body language and thinking optimistically.
Here are two really cool exercises to boost your emotional intelligence:
- Reflects other people’s body language.
- Convince yourself that your failures are the result of things you can change.
The first exercise will not only help you connect better with the person across the table, but will also make you much more emotionally self-aware.
For example, when the person you are talking to has good posture, straightening your own body will send out subtle non-verbal cues that can be trusted, help you realize how good posture feels, and also make you more empathetic. Because now you know how you feel when your body is in that pose.
It is one of those “pretend until you get it” scenarios that helps you develop better habits.
The second exercise helps you be optimistic. Optimistic people continue to try, because they believe that their actions make a difference and are therefore more likely to succeed. This is based on how failures are explained.
They think that bad events are temporary, external and specific, and that they have the power to change them to improve making it better next time. So the next time something goes wrong, tell yourself, “Okay, this is going to happen, it’s just one thing, I’ll get better and better at this!”
Title and Introduction
Daniel Goleman’s intriguing title “Emotional Intelligence” claims the book is groundbreaking. He also suggests that the book will redefine what it means to be smart. 1 The subtitle starts the controversy by reporting that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ score.
- The introductory chapter “Aristotle’s Challenge” begins with a quote from Aristotle on aggressive emotions. The challenge is offered to those who consider that intelligence alone is sufficient for their lives to be successful. Hereditary theories of intelligence are criticized.
Do you know how many non-fiction books really have a good point to highlight and then fill 200 additional pages with additional information so they can actually publish it as a book? Emotional intelligence is NOT like that.
It is super complete. After introducing you to emotions for the first time in general and why they matter, Goleman explains the idea of the equalizer, what constitutes it, why it is great and how to improve it.
Do you constantly let yourself be carried away by your emotions? Would you like to learn to control your emotional reactions at home or at work? Or maybe you need help dealing with someone else’s emotions?
Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence is the gold standard book on emotions: what are emotions and why do we have them, how can we improve their management and why the well-being of humanity could depend on us doing it.
Emotions are strong impulses that urge us to take immediate action. They are based on fundamental needs (usually survival) and are neurologically designed to propel us into action without thinking too much: “running away from the tiger before considering the options kills us!”
There is nothing wrong with feeling emotions: problems arise when emotions are out of tune with the situation and when we do not express our emotions productively or safely.