On Emotional Intelligence

I just finished reading the book Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence is loosely defined by the author as a set of “abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustration; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope.” Daniel argues that Emotional Intelligence is as important, and at times more important and powerful, than IQ. The good news is that unlike IQ, which many argue is innate and cannot be changed considerably during the course of one’s life, emotional competencies and skills can be learned and improved upon through education and experience.

This book is a true journey into the emotions that we experience from both the physiological and psychological perspectives. It is divided into 5 main sections: Part 1 focuses on the physiology of the brain and the associated “emotional architecture”. Part 2 presents the concept of emotional intelligence, as defined above. Part 3 shows how this intelligence can be applied in everyday life both personal and professional. Part 4 discusses childhood and it’s importance in “setting down the essential emotional habits that will govern our lives.” Finally, part 5 shows what awaits those who “fail to master the emotional realm”. The author also presents pioneering research and educational methods being implemented to educate children on key emotional and social skills required to succeed in life.

This is a true bible on Emotional Intelligence. The book presents the subject, its importance, its challenges and finally suggestions/recommendations. Daniel was able to present this topic from a scientific, physiological, and psychological angles. His work was based on extensive research and analysis – and applications in a variety of areas and settings. On the critical side, I wished that the section discussing EI and the workplace had been expanded further – as I found the material presented in that section to be extremely interesting.

Below are some excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The emotions, then, matter for rationality. In the dance of feeling and thought the emotional faculty guides our moment-to-moment decisions, working hand in hand with the rational mind, enabling – or disabling – thought itself. Likewise, the thinking brain plays an executive role in our emotions – execpt in those moments when emotions surge out of control and the emotional brain runs rampant.”

2- “Socrates’s injunction “Know thyself” speaks to this keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”

3- “When emotions are too muted they create dullness and distance; when out of control, too extreme and persistent, they become pathological, as in immobilizing depression, overwhelming anxiety, raging anger, manic agitation. Indeed, keeping our distressing emotions in check is the key to emotional well-being; extremes – emotions that wax too intensely or for too long – undermine our stability.”

4- “To the degree that our emotions get in the way of or enhance our ability to think and plan, to pursue training for a distant goal, to solve problems and the like, they define the limits of our capacity to use our innate mental abilities, and so determine how we do in life. And to the degree to which we are motivated by feelings of enthusiasm and pleasure in what we do – or even by an optimal degree of anxiety – they propel us to accomplishment. It is in this sense that emotional intelligence is a master aptitude, a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.”

5- “Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal. An, in terms of managing our own career, there may be nothing more essential than recognizing our deepest feelings about what we do- and what changes might make us more truly satisfied with our work.”

6- “In a sense, criticism is one of the most important tasks a manager has. Yet it’s also one of the most dreaded and put off. And, like the sarcastic vice president, too many managers have poorly mastered the crucial art of feedback. This deficiency has a great cost: just as the emotional health of a couple depends on how well they air their grievances, so do the effectiveness, satisfaction, and productivity of people at work depend on how they are told about nagging problems. Indeed, how criticisms are given and received goes a long way in determining how satisfied people are with their work, with those they work with, and with those to whom they are responsible.”

7- “Harry Levinson, a psychoanalyst turned corporate consultant, gives the following advice on the art of the critique, which is intricately entwined with the art of praise: Be specific…Offer a solution…Be present…Be sensitive.”

8- “A child’s readiness for school depends on the most basic of all knowledge, how to learn. The report lists the seven key ingredient of this crucial capacity – all related to emotional intelligence:  1. Confidence…2.Curiosity…3.Intentionality…4.Self-control…5.Relatedness…6.Capacity to communicate…7.Cooperativeness.”

9-“As behavioral geneticists observe, genes alone do not determine behavior; our environment, especially what we experience and learn as we grow, shapes how a temperamental predisposition expresses itself as life unfolds. Our emotional capacities are not a given; with the right learning, they can be improved. The reasons for this lie in how the human brain matures.”


Omar Halabieh

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence


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