Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The good news is that adults with low EQ can change. Even though old patterns of thinking have carved deep grooves in our brains, making it harder and harder over time to recover emotionally and develop healthy responses to our own and others' feelings, it can be done. That's the good news.
The bad news is that it is not easy.
Published in 1995, Goleman's book is apparently the one that started it all. The expression "EQ" is now part of the culture, and most of us do have a vague understanding of what it means and it's proven importance. Less well-known, of course, is exactly what constitutes emotional intelligence, what builds or destroys it, and what can be done to repair damage. That is why I am glad I read this one. The four-page summary I prepared is available as a free download by clicking here.
I recently had an opportunity to attend a workshop on emotional intelligence at a nationwide conference of peers. With only three hours, the trainer had to pack a great deal into his presentation and small group exercises. Along the way he suggested that we not read this book, saying it was too dense and academic to hold our interest. I noticed that his materials were derived from other works in this field, notably the stuff produced by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves and the folks at TalentSmart. That's fine, but I disagree that Emotional Intelligence was difficult reading. It gives fullness to the work of those who came after and helped me understand some of what I learned in the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 self-assessment.
Here's a key quote for me, suggesting a strategy for improvement that I will be working to implement in my own life over the next few weeks:
"The train of angry thoughts that stokes anger is also potentially the key to one of the most powerful ways to defuse anger: undermining the convictions that are fueling the anger in the first place. The longer we ruminate about what has made us angry, the more 'good reasons' and self-justifications for being angry we can invent. Brooding fuels anger's flames. But seeing things differently douses those flames."
This idea has shown up in much of my reading. It's in Learned Optimism and other works by Martin Seligman. It's in Leadership and Self-Deception. It's in everything by Wayne Dyer and others who teach about the Law of Attraction. And it is certainly in Stephen Covey's work. My year-long exploration of The 8th Habit is what led me to finally read Goleman. But as Covey says "To know and not to do is really not to know." To get the full value from having read this book I will need to apply the lessons learned. Breathe. Count to ten. Challenge those negative thoughts. Let it go. Carve new neural pathways.
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