Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Among the many concepts discovered by psychologists, I would any time rate Emotional Intelligence among the top few.

This attribute has come to separate leaders from managers and determine success of a person to a large extent.

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and researchers, a thought leader and someone who understands human psyche well.

Emotional Intelligence, though not a new concept, is today associated with Goleman because he unraveled its significance in the way it plays a role in a person’s success in life- both personal and professional.

A lot of Goleman’s early writing has influences from his stay in India for his pre-doctoral fellowship from Harvard and post doctoral work.

His exposure to Neem Karoli Baba, a spiritual Guru, could have sparked a different dimension to his life -long fascination for understanding how humans process emotions and deal with it.

The best part of Goleman’s works is that he doesn’t hold his pen until he has enough scientific harvest to begin with.


What is Goleman’s EQ

Goleman was piqued with reports of emotional outbursts leading to crimes – rage and despair, desperation, recklessness, isolation and emotional ineptitude.

Nature has give emotions a central role in our life which determines our decisions most of the time.

As humans evolved and civilizations rose, the major task of codes like the Ten Commandments, the edicts of Ashoka or the code of Hamurabi is to subdue and domesticate human emotions so as not to cause harm to others by way of uncontrolled emotions.

Emotional Intelligence is all about not suppressing your emotions, but at the same time, identifying what you’re feeling and being aware about your emotions so that they don’t dominate your decision making at any given time.

That’s why Goleman considers Emotional Quotient (EQ) far more important than IQ (Intelligence Quotient).

Goleman, in this book, has delved deep into the structure of the brain, how memory is stored and how humans learned to process emotions.

He explains how the brain’s memory is of two types, one comprising simple facts and the other which is associated with a strong emotion. That is why you tend to remember things better when you experience tremendous joy, fear, surprise or sorrow more than others.


Why EQ matters more than IQ

The most intelligent of people are found to be weak when it comes to processing and dealing with their own emotions.

Goleman says that academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life.

The brightest among us can founder on the shoals of unbridled passions and unruly impulses; people with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives.

If you really want to be in control of your lives, as great parents, as effective leaders, you need to handle your emotions better.

The ability to manage stress, anxiety, pressures of work and life, emotions attached with being in love and out of it, the work related emotions like jealousy, competitiveness need to be accurately identified and dealt with before they rule your behaviour and decision making. The ability to understand oneself is not dependent on how intelligent you are in academic matters.

People with high EQ can handle life’s vicissitudes better. They don’t get bogged down by pressure. Are empathetic and caring, comfortable with themselves even in social settings, make for good friends, don’t crumble under trying circumstances and generally spread joy and elicit confidence among others.

In this exhaustive book, Goleman deals with all kinds of human emotions- worry, melancholy, anger and rage, repression, sadness, impulse control, empathy, being in the state of flow, ethics and even the state of emotionless-ness. He deals with how emotions play a role in a person’s social  and marital life.

In another section, he deals with Emotional Literacy, something so badly lacking in today’s families and schools because it must begin from a young age. The knowledge about different emotions you would experience and the way to harness them or control them so as not to allow them to overpower your rational thinking process is a key education everyone must get. 

Key takeaways

  1. Knowing emotions, identifying and developing the ability to manage emotions is a crucial part of human intelligence. 
  2. Emotions come in the way of our decisions and actions at all times. Not allowing emotions to show themselves can also have adverse effects on your mind and body.
  3. Managing emotions is a skill that can lead to having a healthy personal, social and professional life. 
  4. Emotional literacy is important from a young age so as to enable even small children to be aware about their emotions

Why I recommend this book

We all have those moments when we repent having done or said something in the heat of things or having been at the receiving end of someone else. Being unable to fathom what we’re feeling at any moment leaves us more vulnerable to process our emotions and respond accordingly or take the right decisions. 

Goleman never asks you to suppress your emotions; neither does he label any emotion as good or bad. It’s just that we need to label them properly and deal with those emotions that will help you become a better person. Good families, good friendships and good workplaces are ideally made up of emotionally intelligent people. 

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