Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Iq

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Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Iq Summary

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Daniel Goleman’s psychology book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995), explores the five crucial areas of emotional intelligence, discussing ways in which people can improve their emotional literacy. Emotional Intelligence spent eighteen months on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It has been translated into forty different languages, and TIME called it one of the 25 Most Influential Business Management Books. Goleman, a journalist, has written several books on the behavioral sciences.

Goleman suggests there is more than one way for a person to be considered smart. While most people think of intelligence as one’s IQ level, Goleman shines a light on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to handle one’s own emotions as well as being able to interpret the emotions of others. The book is split into five parts.

In the first part, “The Emotional Brain,” Goleman explains the correlation between emotions and action. Our brains try to balance emotion and reason in our decision making, but in highly emotional instances (such as an emergency situation), sometimes our emotions go beyond spurring action, and we over-react. Goleman calls this “emotional hijacking.” He posits that the human brain developed in parallel with the human species. As humanity evolved, our brains gradually developed a cortex region to govern reason as a balance to the primitive, emotional limbic system.

In the second part, “The Nature of Emotional Intelligence,” Goleman compares and contrasts IQ and emotional intelligence as predictors for a successful life. He cites studies wherein many individuals with high IQs have been shown to be failures in their everyday lives, yet many individuals of average IQ lead very successful everyday lives. Goleman conjectures that only 20 percent of a person’s practical success is dependent on IQ, and up to 80 percent is decided by emotional intelligence. Knowing oneself and one’s individual strengths are more important in life than knowing one’s IQ.

Negative emotions, such as anger and fear, feed upon themselves, creating a vicious cycle, but with training, people can learn to break this cycle. Goleman writes that mastery over one’s own emotions (which he calls “being in the zone”) can improve health and help facilitate success in all other areas, but specifically in the arts, where empathy is key. He says that IQ tests fail to take emotional intelligence into account when suggesting future career paths, but emotionally attuned individuals should seek careers that play to that strength.

In “Emotional Intelligence Applied,” Goleman explores emotional intelligence as it relates to success in marriage and careers. He discusses how a person’s temperament can be a predictor of behavior, but that mastery over one’s emotions can help banish toxic feelings, such as worry. Not only does this ability improve one’s success in relationships, it boosts one’s health by helping to banish unnecessary stress.

Goleman also writes of the differences in the sexes in communicating and expressing emotion. He cites studies which show that, as children, girls express emotions better than boys because girls are faster at learning languages. As married adults, men are less prone to discuss the status of their relationship with their wives yet are more likely to believe that the relationship is good. Women are more open about the problems in their relationship with their husband, especially if the relationship is a bad one.

In “Windows of Opportunity,” Goleman explains that childhood is the window of opportunity for shaping a person’s emotional intelligence. Children that are abused lose the ability to empathize with others, facilitating the cycle of abuse. Trauma that is severe enough, at any age, can actually affect the structure of the brain, which may trigger biological problems as a result. However, Goleman also devotes an entire chapter to the idea that “temperament is not destiny.”

In the final section, “Emotional Literacy,” Goleman discusses the personal and societal costs that arise from a lack of emotional intelligence. People who cannot control their emotions may suffer from depression, turn to substance abuse, or become violent. Such individuals often have fewer friends and suffer from loneliness, which exacerbates their situation, making them more prone to medical problems.

Goleman advocates teaching emotional literacy alongside academic subjects, especially in early childhood when individuals are most open to learning new skills. He cites several examples of programs, such as the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program and the “Resolving Conflict Creatively Program” taught in some public schools in New York. These programs have seen positive results during testing. However, children learn best from observing emotional intelligence in the adults in their lives, and so we must practice what we preach if we wish for the next generation to be successful.