Emotional Intelligence

Filed in The Reading Room by on November 1, 2013 1 Comment

By Daniel Goleman

Image of front cover of book Emotional Intelligence


This book is one of those books that I have been meaning to read for ever but somehow never got around to and I am so glad that I can now finally tick it off the list.  I thought I knew what emotional intelligence was, however, I understand now that I had only a small part of the picture.

Previously, I had always thought of emotional intelligence in terms of my ability to understand how I and those around me were feeling.  I regarded it as something that you were either good at or you weren’t.  Now, having read Goleman’s book I understand that it is so much more complex than this.  Emotional intelligence is not just one thing but a collection of things: (1) Self-awareness, knowing what you are feeling and using it to guide the choices you make ; (2) managing your emotions so that you remain in control of your thoughts and behaviour; (3) motivation, so that you are able to continue moving towards your goals even when you get negative feedback and upsets; (4) empathy, the ability to understand how the other person is feeling without them having to tell you and (5) social skills, having the ability to deal with conflict and build positive relationships with those around you.

Goleman argues cogently that emotional intelligence is something that can and should be taught to all children and he gives numerous examples of negative outcomes for those who struggle with their emotions from violent offending, to drug and alcohol abuse to teenage pregnancy.  The version of the book I was reading was published in 1996 so the references were out-dated, however, the underlying arguments are still sound.

It is quite a dense book with huge amounts of information in it and even as a very fast reader it took me a long time to get through it.  On reflection I feel I would have benefited from reading it more slowly and thinking more about his arguments. Even so, it has definitely caused me to stop and reflect on my own emotional intelligence and the work I need to do to improve in this area.  It is definitely a book that I would recommend me, however, I would suggest that you get a more up-to-date copy.  As for me I am looking forward to reading his later book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” which is focused on the workplace rather than education.  If you want to hear from the man himself this video provides a very good introduction to the concept.

Rating 4/5

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Comments (1)

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  1. Excellent post but I was wondering if you could write
    a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.


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