Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman has been one of the most impactful books that I’ve ever read. While for a long time we believed that intelligence (IQ) is we needed all that to succeed. In this book, Daniel Goleman has shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) has been overlooked and yet it is one area of intelligence that contributes to forming a wholesome person.
Daniel Goleman shows different cases to prove how some people had a high IQ, but their lack of emotional intelligence led to their own downfall. The title of one of the topics in this book is When Smart is Dumb showing that you can be smart intellectually but lack the emotional intelligence to help you utilize your intelligence the right way.
Goleman breaks down emotional intelligence into five elements. These are; self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill.
According to Goleman, the core of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. It is knowing yourself and understanding your emotions as they happen. One cannot start working on developing emotional intelligence if they don’t develop a good insight into who they are which is achieved through working on their self-awareness. He describes self-awareness as ongoing attention to one’s internal states. This means reflecting internally on one’s moods and thoughts about our moods.
In the next section, Goleman covers self-regulation. Are you a slave of your emotions? How do you regulate so that your emotions don’t take charge? Imagine when you are angry and you say something you shouldn’t have said to the other person. Such behavior is due to lack of self-regulation. You have been a slave of your emotion and you let the emotions take charge of your thinking, feeling, and behavior and in this case, your tongue as well. Emotions are important to us. It’s normal for us to feel anger, anxiety, low moods, and sadness. However, should we let them take charge of our lives?
Goleman proposes some techniques to help us deal with each of these emotions through self-regulation. For example, anxiety is a common emotion for many of us. Think about that time you had a deadline. You constantly worry about it but you don’t get to work. What happens about your anxiety and worry? It increases, the more we worry, the more worry builds up.
Low mood is another area that one may learn to regulate. If you have something weighing you down, or you simply wake up with a bad mood such that you are irritable and have no motivation at all to get something done, how do you deal with it?
Goleman believes that mood lifters work in different ways. Some are good for us and others not so much. For example, if you decide to lift your mood by binging on Netflix all day, you are likely to feel worse at the end of the day. You were in a bad mood, you have wasted all day, your mood only gets worse.
On the other hand, if you decide to distract yourself by visiting a friend, reading a book or exercising, you are likely to be in a better mood later. Learning the right forms of self-regulation can help you manage your moods better and achieve emotional intelligence.
Intrinsic motivation is another element of emotional intelligence according to Goleman. Many of us struggle with self-control. John Tierney and Roy Baumeister wrote a book about it. (Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength).
What makes you choose to exercise rather than sit down and snack on chips as you watch Netflix? What makes you sit on your desk every morning even when you don’t want to rather than go on social media and see what everyone is up to?
Learning to delay gratification and overcome our impulses and choosing to be productive is all about self-control. Developing intrinsic motivation is when we believe in our own abilities. This makes us motivate ourselves, be optimistic even when things are not going well. We become open to trying different approaches and putting in efforts to get what we want.
We know that in order to develop healthy relationships with others it’s important that we sometimes put ourselves in their shoes. This is what empathy is all about. Being an empathic person makes you a better person. It makes you relate to the pain of others and helps them through their pain. It makes you recognize the emotions of others and therefore finds the best ways to connect with them.
Empathy is important in all forms of relationships. From romantic relationships to friendships, parent-child relationships and even in leadership. Goleman draws a picture of the importance of empathy and what happens when you are deaf to the feelings of others.
Goleman authored a book about this, social intelligence. He recognizes the importance of social skills in building relationships both on a personal level and professionally. In this section, he looks at how we can empathize with others to develop good relationships. He also looks at how we can improve our personal relationships.
Goleman shows social skills application in organizing groups which is important for leaders seeking to learn emotional intelligence. He talks about negotiating solutions so as to resolve conflicts or avoid conflicts in our relationships. He talks about social analysis, a skill used in detecting the emotions of others, their concerns and what motivates them. He then talks about personal connections and how we can use social skills to improve our personal relationships.
Don’t have time to read? Get a 15 minute summary of the book at Blinkist.