Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman's brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our "two minds"—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.Through vivid examples, Goleman de...

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Title:Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Author:Daniel Goleman
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Edition Language:English

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ Reviews

  • Tina

    I read this book after a big break up and it really opened my eyes to how I contributed to that break up. It's extremely important to have emotional intelligence and this is a fascinating discussion behind the theory and science of EI.

  • Jim

    This visionary book by Daniel Goleman is one of the most important in my collection. I see it as a seminal contribution to understanding the human condition, and a roadmap of practical steps for living better, both within ourselves and with those around us.

    I begin by recommending the

    - a clear, well-written summary of the major points in the book.

    Here I will focus on 3 topics from the book: 1) the evolution of brain mechanisms for emotional and ration

    This visionary book by Daniel Goleman is one of the most important in my collection. I see it as a seminal contribution to understanding the human condition, and a roadmap of practical steps for living better, both within ourselves and with those around us.

    I begin by recommending the

    - a clear, well-written summary of the major points in the book.

    Here I will focus on 3 topics from the book: 1) the evolution of brain mechanisms for emotional and rational behavior; 2) how these mechanisms can be hijacked in modern life, both accidentally and intentionally; and 3) the critical need for properly balancing emotion and rational thought in ourselves and our society. The latter challenge has given rise to extremely important research and training endeavors, and I believe these will become even more important in the foreseeable future. I see these endeavors as promising and significant career paths for those who pursue them.

    For more information on the brain systems discussed below, McGill University has an

    , with helpful graphics, background and discussion at three levels of complexity, starting with the basics. The links below are to this site.

    To understand Goleman’s message, it is important to consider the human brain as an

    . We can think of it as a layer cake, assembled one layer at a time. The important point is that each layer in the sequence was originally the 'executive' in a functioning brain, with no obvious need for a higher layer. We can think about this sequence by considering a frog, a ‘primitive’ mammal such as a mouse, and a human.

    The most obvious difference among these three brains is the relative amount of cerebral (neo)cortex. The frog has essentially none - just a small bulge called ‘cerebrum’. The major portion of this ‘reptilian brain’ closely resembles the

    in humans, where vital body functions such as heart rate and respiration are controlled, plus a cerebellum for fine motor control. The mouse has a relatively well-developed limbic system (discussed below) and a respectable neocortex. But the human brain is completely dominated by the massively overgrown neocortex, which must be intricately lobed and folded to fit within the skull.

    So what does all that neocortex do in humans? Put simply, it thinks. It makes associations, provides context, and makes decisions to guide behavior in a complex world. Most other parts of the brain carry out simple sensory processing or stereotyped motor programs, or convey information from periphery to cortex or vice versa. Cortex takes crudely processed inputs (mostly from the thalamus) and identifies salient features (speech, faces, odors). By analyzing these features, it provides a rich context for making informed decisions and choosing appropriate actions.

    Well, don’t frogs need a lot of cortex to process information and make adaptive decisions? Actually, they don’t. They have gotten along just fine without it for many millions of years. The tradeoff is that they can only perform a limited analysis of sensory inputs, and produce a limited and stereotyped array of behaviors. Mice, with a significant amount of cortex, can perform more sophisticated processing and behaviors, and can show some behavioral adaptation (learning).

    Now here is the really important part. Humans did not lose or replace the amphibian or ‘primitive’ mammalian brain. Basically, they just added really elaborate processing layers (neocortex) on top of them. All of that cortical hardware has to work through lower centers that are, for the most part, quite similar to those found in other vertebrates.

    A neurologist colleague elegantly summarized this concept for the medical students I was teaching, in a review session for our neuroanatomy lab exam. He pointed to a structure in the human brainstem that assists in fine-tuning motor control (inferior olive). He said, “this structure evolved to help a frog catch a fly by jumping accurately toward the target. We have to use it to do things like play piano and tap-dance. It takes a lot of cortical machinery to get that kind of performance from those cells.”

    It isn’t quite that simple (of course), but the analogy is a very good one. And this key concept is at the core of Goleman’s magnificent book.

    With this evolutionary framework in place, we can consider the relative role of the

    (‘emotional brain’), which first emerged in early mammals. One of its key components, the

    , is a sort of emotional activation zone for the brain. One of its critical functions is to serve as an early-warning system for danger, such as approaching predators, and trigger very rapid fight-or-flight (sympathetic) responses. It gets direct, but crude visual and auditory inputs and processes them more quickly than neocortex. In effect, a portion of the

    sits and asks, ‘should I panic? should I panic?’, like an endless loop in software. These responses are, of course, extremely useful when there is real danger.

    The difficulty is that, in the ‘civilized’ and complex world of humans, the amygdala can generate many false alarms. Even worse, in extreme situations it can take preemptive control of behavior, and trigger blind rage, panic, or other destructive responses. In those cases, the overgrown neocortex that underlies unique human behavior is left out of the loop. And this is where the trouble starts.

    By analogy, neocortex is the executive who normally runs the company, but the workers can rebel and take over the production line. Examples from everyday life: I blew up; I don’t know what came over me; I just lost my head. Actually, your amygdala came over you and shut down your neocortex.

    Being emotionally intelligent, in Dan Goleman’s brilliant synthesis, means that you understand the destructive potential of emotions, and actively find ways to minimize or eliminate the destruction. To do this, you must put a neocortical wisdom about emotions at the front end of your own thought process – an executive in the chain of command. The job of this executive is to find constructive ways to channel and control both your emotions and those of others. This idea is consistent with the notions of mindful meditation and the best of religious thought. In other words, it is a prescription for a long-term, sustainable vision of human existence. To me, this is the most profound element of Dan Goleman’s vision.

    Sounds pretty simple, right? So why is it so difficult for so many people? One big reason is that a great deal of money can be made by encouraging precisely the opposite response. Firing up the limbic system to spew out fear, outrage and hate is good for business. Movie and TV producers (and writers) may not know the difference between the limbic system and limbo, but they are experts at fueling emotional responses for profit.

    In stark contrast, calm, rational appeals to the better angels of our nature face a steep, uphill climb. Fear and loathing are much easier to induce, and much more marketable. Those with emotional wisdom understand that, except in the most extreme cases, fire cannot be fought with fire. But they must also understand that it is easier to start a fire and fan the flames than to put it out.

    To me, a central challenge of our times is to find an adaptive balance between rational and emotional responses in our lives and culture. To do this, we must put the reasoning cortex in charge of our thoughts and decisions – guided but not overwhelmed by emotions. Fail to find this balance, and disaster will follow. This point is stressed by the following quote from the book:

    “Each day’s news comes to us rife with reports of the disintegration of civility and safety, an onslaught of mean-spirited impulse running amok. But the news simply reflects back to us on a larger scale a creeping sense of emotions out of control in our own lives and in those of the people around us. No one is insulated from this erratic tide of outburst and regret; it reaches into all of our lives in one way or another.”

    How can these stark realities be reconciled with the urgent need for rational policy decisions, in a world that hovers on the edge of economic and environmental disaster? Another quote:

    “This book is a guide to making sense of the senselessness… I have been struck by two opposing trends, one portraying a growing calamity in our shared emotional life, the other offering some hopeful remedies.”

    Only by building on those hopeful remedies can we take positive steps with a definite plan. This is big, important work, and visionary thinkers like Daniel Goleman are pointing the way to constructive steps that can be taken, both now and in the future.

  • DR.AmiraSalah

    Old but Gold ☺

  • Lars Guthrie

    After several years of looking at this seminal work on my to-read list, I am happy to have finally read it. It should be on the to-read list of educators and parents.

    To learn and to grow, children first need to be ready to learn and to grow. However, how and what we need to learn today can differ significantly from the requirements of our ancestors. Evolution equipped us with an early warning system, the limbic system of our brains and its marvelous filter, the amygdala.

    This system connects se

    After several years of looking at this seminal work on my to-read list, I am happy to have finally read it. It should be on the to-read list of educators and parents.

    To learn and to grow, children first need to be ready to learn and to grow. However, how and what we need to learn today can differ significantly from the requirements of our ancestors. Evolution equipped us with an early warning system, the limbic system of our brains and its marvelous filter, the amygdala.

    This system connects sensory perception to emotional reactions based on experiences encountered in environments where survival depended on immediate and intense responses--fight or flight. When you are hunting a woolly mammoth or being hunted by a saber-toothed tiger, careful analysis can be less helpful than a rush of adrenaline-filled momentum.

    Fortunately, evolution has also met more modern-day needs. The limbic core of our brains is surrounded by the neo-cortex. The front part of this add-on to human brains, which continues to grow after birth, is larger than in other animals, and highly malleable. The way this area develops is the key to emotional intelligence.

    The proficiency with which we identify and deal with the emotions engendered in the limbic system is the measure of how well we can avoid becoming victims of what Goleman terms 'emotional hijacking.' It would be futile to try to suppress these emotions entirely, he tells us, but success or failure in monitoring and controlling them is the yardstick of emotional intelligence.

    Genetics, Goleman believes, do play a part here. The very outlooks with which we are born, optimistic or pessimistic, indicate obvious propensities for high or low emotional intelligence. The incredible plasticity of our brains, though, means we are not prisoners of nature.

    If we consciously develop those neural pathways to the parts of our brains associated with attending to emotions, we can strengthen a 'self-aware' style of managing them that Goleman notes is so much more effective than what he calls 'engulfed' and 'accepting' styles.

    While recent studies have indicated the remarkable adaptability of the brain into old age, it is during childhood and adolescence, Goleman notes, where we have the largest 'windows of opportunity.' Since 'Emotional Intelligence' first came out fifteen years ago, 'emotional literacy' has earned a place in the curriculum of many schools. Reading the book strengthened my desire for a continuation of this trend.

    Without emotional intelligence, we are susceptible to 'flooding' where an emotional response such as anger generates more anger. Goleman's description of the biology here is fascinating. Anger is amplified as our brains release catecholamines, neurotransmitters that keep the nervous system ramped up and raring to go.

    When children are 'flooded,' they can not be good students. 'A child's readiness for school,' Goleman writes, 'depends on the most basic of all knowledge, how to learn.' He goes on to list important attributes of that readiness from a report by the National Center for Clinical Infant Programs: confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self-control, relatedness, capacity to communicate, and cooperativeness.

    'Emotional Intelligence' is not only a manual for childhood education. Reading it really made me think about my own style of managing my own emotions. In particular, two observations by Goleman really resonated with me.

    One is that men, it appears, generally have a lower threshold for 'flooding' than women. If that seems counter-intuitive, it's because men often use withdrawal--stonewalling--as a way of dealing with flooding, rather than the self-expression we stereotypically associate with femininity.

    The second is Goleman's consideration of substance abuse as self-medication. People who are prone to addiction may actually be searching for control of depression, anxiety or rage.

    The importance of 'Emotional Intelligence' is apparent in the many references made to it in popular culture. It is also an accessible and entertaining book that deserves a place on the shelves of those concerned with learning and the brain.

  • Kristl

    I had to read this book for a leadership academy I was in and I found this to be a surprisingly good experience.

    The book introduces and explains the concept of "emotional intelligence," which, since beginning to read the book, I see is so much more important than almost any other awareness one could have on a day-to-day basis personally and professionally.

    Don't be shocked, if, in describing the many levels of emotional intelligence or lack thereof, you immediately think o

    I had to read this book for a leadership academy I was in and I found this to be a surprisingly good experience.

    The book introduces and explains the concept of "emotional intelligence," which, since beginning to read the book, I see is so much more important than almost any other awareness one could have on a day-to-day basis personally and professionally.

    Don't be shocked, if, in describing the many levels of emotional intelligence or lack thereof, you immediately think of friends, family, and coworkers that fit these personality types exactly.

    Once you begin to understand the makings of emotion and how different temperaments react to the varying levels of emotion, problems of all sorts seem to make more sense than ever before.

    The book is laid out into easily-digested chapters which the readers can pick and choose through based on their interests in the subject (brain chemistry? leadership? family dynamics? improving one's emotional intelligence?).

    It will be a better world when emotional intelligence or "EQ" is regarded as much or more than intelligence in deciding the viability of leaders at all levels and in all segments of any organization.

  • Amir Tesla

    If you think you don't have a high IQ and thus, your are condemned to a mediocre life.

    The apostleship of the book is twofold, Firstly it is to convince you that EQ matters far more than IQ in achieving high levels of success and it does it perfectly through providing N+1 lengthy repetitive case studies.

    Second, it provides an almost accurate introduction to what EQ is, what elements contribute to a high EQ and finally what the consequences of strength and

    If you think you don't have a high IQ and thus, your are condemned to a mediocre life.

    The apostleship of the book is twofold, Firstly it is to convince you that EQ matters far more than IQ in achieving high levels of success and it does it perfectly through providing N+1 lengthy repetitive case studies.

    Second, it provides an almost accurate introduction to what EQ is, what elements contribute to a high EQ and finally what the consequences of strength and weakness in each element would be

    1. It fulfils its apostleship very well and by having it finished, (given that you might be hopeless regarding the possibility of one day becoming a highly successful figure) you will be motivated to cultivate your emotional skills.

    1. In explaining each aspect of the EQ and results of weakness and strength in that attribute, the book is tooooooooooooo lengthy and repetitive.

    2. The book is by no means practical and provides merely an overview of what can be done to obviate the weaknesses.

    All emotions are, in essence, to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.

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    When you are under stress, you are functioning on lower, primitive part of your brain while your higher part of the brain (neocortex)which is your rational, conscious thinking mechanism, goes offline, that's why under stress people cannot think stress or even remember simple facts

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    At best, IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success which leaves 80 percent to other factors, namely, emotional intelligence, abilities such as: self-motivation, impulse control and delaying gratification, regulating one's mood etc.

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    We often have little or no control over when we are swept by emotion, nor over what emotion it will be.

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    The more 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.

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    Being worry psychologically gives us the illusion of being in control and prepared for potential dangers (while none actually exists).

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    Thoughts are associated in the mind not just by content but by mood. Depressed people hence, jump from one depressing thought to another.

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  • Andrew

    It certainly contains a lot of useful info, but boy, is it ever dense! Reading it is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a dull machete. It must also be noted that it is most definitely of the school of 80's/90's "hard-wired" thinking about the brain, and hard-sells the view that, to put it simply, mind comes from brain, and not the other way around. In other words, nature, not nurture. (For comparison, try Sharon Begley's Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, which, oddly enough, ha

    It certainly contains a lot of useful info, but boy, is it ever dense! Reading it is like hacking your way through a dense jungle with a dull machete. It must also be noted that it is most definitely of the school of 80's/90's "hard-wired" thinking about the brain, and hard-sells the view that, to put it simply, mind comes from brain, and not the other way around. In other words, nature, not nurture. (For comparison, try Sharon Begley's Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, which, oddly enough, has a preface by Goleman.)

    A further note: I get the distinct impression that Goleman doesn't really like people that don't "fit in". There is little sympathy or compassion for anyone who is a little "different", or not accepted by their peers, and there's a negative tone directed toward social outcasts in general, even those who happen to be children (Sample subheading from the book: "The Making Of A Social Incompetent").

  • Jim

    There are some interesting things in the book, things that are hard to disagree with, such as emotional skills and self-knowledge are important. I think a lot of people who liked this book focused on that self-help aspect. I have no problem with that. My problems with this book stem from the wider claims Goleman makes for EQ as a mental function.

    Goleman bases this aspect of his theory on some whopping assumptions. The biggest one is the idea that emotional intelligence even exists. The main asp

    There are some interesting things in the book, things that are hard to disagree with, such as emotional skills and self-knowledge are important. I think a lot of people who liked this book focused on that self-help aspect. I have no problem with that. My problems with this book stem from the wider claims Goleman makes for EQ as a mental function.

    Goleman bases this aspect of his theory on some whopping assumptions. The biggest one is the idea that emotional intelligence even exists. The main aspects of EQ he posits (self-awareness, social-awareness,etc.) aren't objectively measurable and there is no proof that they even correlate with one another on a neurological level, which we would see if these aspects were part of a measurable form of human intelligence.

    Another assumption is that there is an acceptable norm of emotional intelligence. This raises the question, what about people who don't meet the norm? Under Goleman's narrow definition, people with autism, even many on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, would not qualify as possessing a desirable EQ level, neither would the introvert who prefers books to people. It is here that I found Goleman's ideas to be particularly objectionable. There's a whiff of something truly unpleasant here. However, we know that even people with severe autism are able to learn emotional skills.

    Goleman makes the grand claim that, throughout history, great leaders all had high EQ levels. (As a historian, this made me cringe when I first read it.) Unless one has access to a person's psychiatric records, it is always

    problematic to make all but the most qualified claims about the psychology of historical figures.

    The EQ theory has many of the same flaws as theories of IQ. Older IQ tests assumed that intelligence was easily measured and that there was a single kind of intelligence. One frequently encountered people who had low IQ scores but who functioned intelligently or had highly advanced skills in some areas but not others. We now speak of

    , seeing them as a skills set. We might be born with a tendency to some intelligences over others, but these are shaped by enviromental factors and can be influenced through learning, rather than something neurologically innate.

    I'm willing to accept the idea that people are born with a

    of abilities to recognize and respond to emotional interaction. I think these emotional responses are learned behaviors to a much greater degree than Goleman would allow. The problem with books like Goleman's is that it presents one side of a very contentious debate, but it might be the only book on the subject many people will read.

  • Taka

    Descriptive but not very practical--

    The main and only thesis of the book is: emotional intelligence is important. That's it. Goleman spends over 13 hours in this audiobook to pretty much buttress the thesis with evidence from various sources including psychology, medicine, and educational programs.

    The content is interesting at times but overall, the message got repetitive and I was looking for any useful information to put to use in my daily life from the book to no avail

    Descriptive but not very practical--

    The main and only thesis of the book is: emotional intelligence is important. That's it. Goleman spends over 13 hours in this audiobook to pretty much buttress the thesis with evidence from various sources including psychology, medicine, and educational programs.

    The content is interesting at times but overall, the message got repetitive and I was looking for any useful information to put to use in my daily life from the book to no avail.

    Unfortunately the book is very much descriptive and normative, but not very useful or practical. He describes what emotional intelligence is and makes a strong case for its importance over IQ, but fails to make it relevant to daily life.

    Also, the content is not as groundbreaking as it used to be due to the recent proliferation of studies, research, and books on the subject (which could be precisely because of this book, but I plead insufficient knowledge on this matter).

    So overall, I thought it was too long and not very practical, but there were still some interesting facts.

  • Jan-Maat

    Emotional Intelligence is a book that was recommended to read on a management course that I took, oh, some time way back towards the beginning of the century. The course was taught by a middle aged white woman from southern-Africa. She also recommend Covey's book

    , but in my enthusiasm that didn't put me off from reading this, perhaps because of an exercise she conducted with us in which you think of something that you'd like to do but haven't done and then tr

    Emotional Intelligence is a book that was recommended to read on a management course that I took, oh, some time way back towards the beginning of the century. The course was taught by a middle aged white woman from southern-Africa. She also recommend Covey's book

    , but in my enthusiasm that didn't put me off from reading this, perhaps because of an exercise she conducted with us in which you think of something that you'd like to do but haven't done and then trace back the reasons why you have not done this thing until you get down to fear. This resonated with me

    .

    Anyroad, thenabouts I read

    in a double edition with

    . I lent that volume to a colleague and never got it back, I got a second copy which I lent to my Mother and I never got that back either

    . Finally in recent times I fell across a copy of

    . The volume was in a bad way, browned and battered. More ready to prop up a wobbly table leg than to be read. The plus side of a book in this condition is that when you stand on a station platform reading in the mizzle as it pizzles down from December skies you accept this as part of the natural life cycle of a book. First treasured, finally read in all weathers and abandoned on a train.

    Rereading this was a curious experience. I suppose I had absorbed so much from my first reading that reading it again much of what it said seemed self-evident. Plainly my appreciation of the role of emotion in thought had changed so much I could no longer understand and value the book as I did as a first time reader, although I still enjoyed the anecdote about a drunk on a Japanese metro train

    .

    You know how water trickles down through limestone in curious courses and cunning people in search of wisdom pour in coloured water to record how long it takes to flow out – there is something of that in rereading this book. It was first published in 1995 and while some ideas have flowed out in to the wider culture others are still percolating through- Jon Cabot Zinn and his Mindfulness programme are referred to here while we only had a flurry of related articles in the UK press and news over the last eighteen months or so, sometimes the cultural currents take very circuitous routes indeed.

    Alternatively I could see this book as a Matrushka. Nestled within it the next generations of popular science books, the Malcolm Gladwell one about needing to accomplish 10,000 hours of practice in a given field, Csikszentmihalyi's one on Flow, and doubtless others I didn't recognise.

    I would recommend it to those who were in the same position as myself some years ago, not bent backed and round shouldered, but schooled in thinking in terms of rational decision making which didn't seem adequate when looking at the surrounding office let alone the wider world, as a first primer in to the hows and implications of emotion in thought from families to workplaces. And as a corrective this is important when one happens to live in a country with elections, jury trials, and a market economy. The assumption of rationality sits alongside explicit attempts to tap into our emotional responses

    . Tuning into our emotions, Goleman argues, is the first step in avoiding being entirely driven by them.

    In terms of history, culture, society, all those big things and what is needed to bring abut change this book reminds me again of water percolating down through limestone. Things take their own time, where and when they emerge is not something that can be known in advance. Looking over this book again it strikes me how twenty years is barely a blink of an eye when it comes to changing fundamental mental models.

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