Monday, October 11, 2021

Review of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Psychology
Intriguing Connections = 1) Why Conflict Occurs And How To Resolve Them?

Short Description

Elaborate Description
A clue to societies need for emotional intelligence lies with the near continuous reports of the disintegration of civility and safety.  This large-scale problem is also very local, for no one insulated from the erratic tide of emotional outburst or regret.  Emotions are contagious.  Without emotions, all decisions carry equal weight.  Stimulus would cause no feedback as to its impact.   Every feeling has value.  If emotions are not properly attuned, then academic, intellectual, and other creative work suffers.  Difficult to concentrate on tasks when the internal state is sending signals that cannot readily be understood.  What is needed are emotions that are appropriate and proportionate for the context.  Need to harmonize emotion and intelligence.  To do that, individuals need to understand their emotions.  

The present day dilemmas and situations need an emotional intelligence different from what humans have been using for a very long time.  Academic intelligence does not offer preparation or opportunity for the vicissitudes in life.  IQ being no guarantee of prosperity or happiness in life.  The best time to learn about emotions is during childhood.  The problem is that many parents themselves do not know much about emotions, and as such cannot teach emotions.  Distinguishing between the different feelings is an important life lesson.

The amygdala acts like a repository for emotional memory, comparing the current situation with those of the past.  Trying to match the emotional reaction, but often acting without full confirmation.  The actions are those that have been learned before, those that were in response to previous similar situations.  There are many inputs for which a response starts before it is registered in the neocortex.  Taking action before a refined plan can be formed for a reaction.

The emotional and rational (logical) mind balance and interact with one another.  While the emotional mind informs the rational mind, the rational mind vetoes inputs from the emotional mind.  Normally well coordinated in thought and feeling, but passions tip the balance.  During an emotional period, the mind can become very self-confirming.  Suppressing or ignoring memories or facts that challenge the held belief.  Logic becomes meaningless during an emotional time.  In healthy relationships, the partners are willing to express their concerns and complains.  In unhealthy relationships, the partners express complains as attacks on the partner.

Emotions are transferred between people, as they are contagious.  The way people interact with each other changes their emotional state.  Understanding how others react and feel is needed for social intelligence.  To be able to handle disputes or guide groups towards a goal.  But social success is hollow if they are not also part of the value set of the individual.  Society provides many triggers for emotional distress and relief.  While chronic emotional distress is toxic, the opposite emotional range can be a tonic to a degree.

Many self-management emotional intelligence competencies have become popular but under different names.  Positivity became growth mindset, achievement became grit, adaptability became agility, and emotional regulation became resilience.  Each are needed for emotional intelligence, as they would lack social skills if taken alone.  

An observing ego is what psychologist call the self-awareness that allows monitoring of their own reaction.  Three styles for dealing with emotions are self-aware, engulfed, and accepting.  Self-aware individuals understand their moods and are able to change their emotions when needed.  Engulfed individuals are flooded with emotions and are often helpless to them.  Accepting individuals are clear about their feelings, but do not try to change them.    

Two ways to defuse anger is to challenge the original appraisal, and waiting.  When an individual gets very anger, they have cognitive incapacitation.  An inability to think clearly.  If the trigger for anger is reappraised, it can calm the burst of emotion, but it needs to be done early enough before anger is acted on.  Anger produces a rush of hormones, which is why waiting is a strategy for it allows the hormones to dissipate.  Distractions are a source of time that facilitates that waiting period.  Catharsis, as in venting rage rarely helps, but it does feel satisfying.  Catharsis helps when appropriate harm is done to the right individual to change behavior without retaliation.  The problem is that anger is incendiary which makes appropriate catharsis difficult to do.  

Too little stress is not motivating enough for good performance.  Too much stress sabotages attempts for performance.  The right amount of stress provides for better performance.   The state of flow is considered the optimal efficiency for performance.  It’s when the brain is efficient while using minimal energy.  Not using too much energy or too little for the task, but a precise relation between energy use and task requirement.

The topic is very important for social conflict resolution but there are issues that still need to be resolved.  Generally well written but sometimes either needs an update on the science, or the way that topic is described.  Some topics are very eloquent.  

A problem with the book is the way emotion and logic are discussed.  They appear separate, but interact.  This dichotomy is partly a social fabrication that is used to explain the topic, but it makes it harder to understand how they work together.  With the separation, it appears that either or is better given certain contexts, but easy arguments can be made in contradiction to that claim.  Rather, they are not separate but both qualities are needed.  

Another problem with the book is the focus on teaching children.  Although it may be true that children have an easier time to learn, but learning does not stop even for the elderly.  Adults need to learn emotional intelligence as well, and while this book focuses on teaching children, with the acknowledgment that adults who do not know about emotional intelligence cannot teach their children emotional intelligence.  There is also the potential hazard of teaching a standardized emotional tool kit, which would encourage particular emotions over the variety of different emotions that could be very useful given a context.  As in, understanding a set of emotions should not negate the values of others.  What is needed is not so much just teaching children emotional intelligence, but having a culture that facilitates learning about emotional intelligence to all.  

Questions to Consider While Reading
•What is the book’s raison d’etre? For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why does it appear that there is a lack of emotional intelligence in society? 
•What is the difference between emotion and mood? 
•How do emotions impact the actions being taken?
•How are emotions contagious? 
•Why are emotions needed for logic?
•How do the emotional and rational mind interact with one another?
•How can logic be overwritten by emotions?
•Why is understanding emotions useful for doing tasks? 
•Why is IQ not a predictor of future developments? 
•What does the amygdala do? 
•What are self-management emotional intelligence competencies? 
•What is an observing ego? 
•What are ways to defuse anger? 
•How to motivate performance?  
•Why the importance on teaching children emotions? What can hinder those lessons?
•Can Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) have emotions?
•How to get out of depression?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780553903201
Pages to read:   362
Publication:     1995
1st Edition:      2020
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4