Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review–“Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman

49fd2b185ac4ecad329f6f6fcd8120ab_18740653481270286681I found “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman to be quite an academic (and at times scientific) view of emotion that includes some good story-telling.

It started very dry but I found it got more engaging about 60 pages in. I found the book to be more focussed on describing emotional intelligence as opposed to providing much guidance about how to improve your emotional intelligence. Despite this, I did however find that it contained a wealth of interesting information.

My key takeaways were:

  • We have two minds (rational and emotional) that typically operate in tight harmony.
  • Anger builds upon anger; the emotional brain heats up.
  • Distraction is a highly powerful mood-altering device. This is due to the fact that it is hard to stay angry when you’re having a pleasant time.
  • Thoughts are associated in the mind not just by content, but by mood. People have what amounts to a bad-mood thoughts that come to mind more readily when they are down.
  • While crying can sometimes break a spell of sadness, it can also leave the person obsessing about the reasons for despair. Crying that reinforces rumination only prolongs the misery.
  • Aerobic exercise is one of the more effective tactics for lifting mild depression. This however does not hold true for habitual exercisers, since the opposite is true whereby they start to feel bad on those days they skip a workout.
  • Relaxation techniques which put the body into a low-arousal state work well for anxiety, a high-arousal state, but not so well for depression.
  • A constructive approach to mood-lifting is engineering a small triumph or easy success.
  • A potent antidote to depression is seeing things differently, or cognitive reframing. i.e. step back and look at the scenario from the perspective of somebody worse off.
  • A helpful depression-lifter is helping others in need. e.g. volunteering, feeding the homeless.
  • A strong cultural work ethic translates into a higher motivation, zeal, and persistence – an emotional edge.
  • Good moods, while they last, enhance the ability to think flexibly and with more complexity, thus making it easier to find solutions to problems, whether intellectual or interpersonal. Laughing consequently can help people think more broadly.
  • People with high levels of hope share certain traits such as being able to motivate themselves, reassuring themselves when in a tight spot that things will get better, being flexible enough to find different ways to get to their goals or to switch goals if one becomes impossible, and having the sense to break down a formidable task into smaller, manageable pieces.
  • People perform at their peak while in flow; they exhibit a masterly control of what they are doing, there responses perfectly attuned to the changing demands of the task.
  • People seem to concentrate best when the demands on them  are a bit greater than usual, and they are able to give more than usual. If there is too little demand on them, people are bored. If there is too much for them to handle they get anxious. Flow occurs in that delicate zone between boredom and anxiety.
  • Being able to manage emotions in someone else is the core of the art of handling relationships.
  • Emotions are contagious. We transmit and catch moods from each other.
  • Coordination of moods is the essence of rapport.
  • In terms of managing our own career, there may be nothing more essential than recognising our deepest feelings about what we do – and what changes might make us more truly satisfied with our work.
  • Turning a blind eye to acts of bias allows discrimination to thrive. To do nothing, in this context, is an act of consequence in itself.
  • While a group can be no “smarter” than the sum total of its strengths, it can be much dumber if its internal workings don’t allow people to share their talents.
  • Harmony allows a group to take maximum advantage of its most creative and talented members’ abilities.
  • Cultivating good relationships with people whose services might be needed later can increase your chance of success.
  • The stars of an organisation are often those who have:
    • thick connections on all networks, whether communications (who talks to whom), expertise (which people are turned to for advice), or trust.
    • teamwork coordination.
    • leadership in building consensus.
    • ability to see things from the perspective of others, such as customers or others on a team.
    • persuasiveness.
    • ability to promote cooperation while avoiding conflicts.
    • initiative – being self-motivated enough to take on responsibilities beyond their stated job.
    • self-management in the sense of regulating their time and work commitments well.
  • Helping people better manage their upsetting feelings – anger, anxiety, depression, pessimism, and loneliness – is a form of disease prevention.
  • Many patients can benefit measurably when their psychological needs are attended to along with their purely medical ones.
  • The emotional abilities children acquire in later life build on those of the earliest years.

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