How do you think? How do you arrive at specific conclusions and escape from situations? “The rational mind usually doesn’t decide what emotions we ‘should’ have!” ― Daniel Goleman
These words are derived from the World’s best seller- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Published in 1995, this book is a historical piece of work that gave the world a completely new outlook on the concept of intelligence. It starts with an Aristotle’s quotation on aggressive emotions, challenging those who consider that intelligence alone is sufficient to make their life successful. According to the Goleman.
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a much stronger predictor of success in life because once you are in the field, cognition is just not enough! Academic intelligence offers virtually no preparation for the turmoil–or opportunities-life’s vicissitudes bring. In his opinion the IQ plays only 20% role in your success while 80% is played by other factors including emotional intelligence.
‘All emotions are, in essence, impulses to act; the Latin word in itself meaning, ‘to move away’. The book gives a brief description of various emotions that we go through, such as anger, fear, love, surprise, disgust and the physical reactions they have on our body.
The World’s best seller- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Also, instances are given as to when, where and how our ‘emotional mind’ takes a superior hand over the ‘rational mind’. Researchers have found that sensory signals reaches amygdala (emotions processor) before it reaches the neo-cortex (information processor) and so in times of emergencies humans tend to react more on the basis of emotions instead of thoughts. Despite of being sloppy, they are fast and hold great survival value from the evolutionary perspective.
One of the things that struck me was that the author is not trying to prove any relationship between EQ and IQ rather he has clearly stated that these two are completely different types of intelligence. Unlike Howard Gardener’s way of thinking Goleman believes that, EI can be taught and developed since childhood, as opposed to IQ which remains fairly stable throughout human life. The role of emotions is a recently developed phenomenon in psychology to which he quotes ‘the next generation psychology is coming to appreciate the power and virtues of emotions in mental life, as well as their dangers.
Borrowing from the Socrates injunction ‘know thyself’, Goldman speaks of a major keystones of EI i.e. awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur. According to him, self-awareness is not as obvious as it seems but once attained it offers a great degree of freedom – an option to choose how one wants to act on it. To this he adds on the dilemma faced by alexithymics- having no words for the feelings means not making the feelings your own (it is just easier to not own any responsibility when the burden is too much)
There is another side to the coin, where power of emotional brain gets so empowering that it paralyses the thinking brain and become a slave to their emotions. What is wanted is the appropriate emotion proportionate to circumstances. In this book author voyages us across experiences such as anger, anxiety, sadness, worrying, optimism, empathy, social skills and gives us a glimpse of its affects us, how we usually deal with it and how most importantly, how it ‘should’ be dealt with.
This book caters to the need of each and every person, gender, age group, type of mood. In whatever category you fall, you can find sufficient content for your needs. You will know about origin of your emotions and need to control them while making decisions. It is important to be able to maintain the delicate balance between the positive and the negative feelings otherwise they may hijack our rationality. Another vast dimension being addressed here is how EI can be used for the benefit of a child, married couple, student, and employee and also in health sector, family etc.
Daniel Goleman combines his journalism skills with his Ph.D. expertise to explain this complex subject of EI, citing the scientific studies he builds a strong case for the necessity of learning how to interpret and handle emotions from infancy to adulthood.
The book encompasses studies to prove how girls can express their emotions better than boys and how men may have a rosier view than their wives of their relationship. Among many interesting findings reported one is that “The chemical messengers that operate most extensively in both brain and immune system are those that are most dense in neural areas that regulate emotion.” i.e., emotional intervention can have a direct effect on the individual’s immune system. The book ends with real life examples to prove the role emotional intelligence plays in one’s success.
Despite of everything Daniel Goldman does not seemed very much clear on his definition of Emotional intelligence. He tries to explain the concept as the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s mood and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathise and to hope, but also interchanges the term with emotional literacy, emotional health, emotional skill, and emotional competency.
He has proposed a number of methods for enhancing a child’s emotional intelligence from his classroom to his home. However, he ignores that the educational institutions lack such facilities and the family units are breaking in the west.
All in the book was a good attempt at that time and has given a fuel for further developments in the field. It concentrates upon emotional literacy in its length and depth. Through the classic book Teachers are urged to teach emotional intelligence, parents are asked to attend to their child’s emotional needs and the adults are prompted to train themselves to handle their interpersonal relations wisely.
I would like to end on a quote by Goldman
“Motivation aside, if people get better at these life skills, everyone benefits: The brain doesn’t distinguish between being a more empathetic manager and a more empathetic father. “