Daniel Goleman starts the book starts with a description of brain functioning in respect of your emotions. Then spells out your needs, in the middle, to know and handle emotions intelligently. And finally, he closes the book with real-life examples to prove that emotional intelligence has to play a vital role in your success.
The whole book concentrates on emotional literacy in young age. Teachers are urged to teach emotional intelligence to their students. The parents are asked to attend emotional needs of their children. And the adults are prompted to train themselves to handle their interpersonal relations wisely.
In whatever category you fall, you can find sufficient content for your needs. You should know about the origin of your emotions, functioning of your brain and real usage of your feelings. You need to control your emotions while making your decisions otherwise they can hijack your rationality.
You have been holding a brain which has evolved for centuries. The scientists have proved that it was not so much sophisticated as it is today. The emotions trigger from the same eras old structure. You may have very sharp logic, but all of your decisions are not logical. You face different situations and make decisions on the spur of the moment by following your emotions.
The opening chapter discusses the complex structure of your brain. Why you experience an urge for fight or flight on seeing a snake? Why you become relaxed once you learn that the snake is not poisonous? What chemical reactions take place when you are depressed? Many more questions are discussed and answered with the help of late nineties biological discoveries.
Not only that, the book covers various topics like depression, mania, anxiety, PTSD, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, relationship issues, abuse, and others. The author observes that a feeling of sadness can make chemical changes in your brain to lead you to clinical depression. He tells how you can manage depression, mania, and PTSD, etc.
What is emotional intelligence?
Daniel Goleman does not seem very much clear on this question. He defines emotions as "a feeling and range of propensities to act." He interchanges emotional intelligence, emotional literacy, emotional health, psychological skill, and emotional competency and takes each term to define emotional intelligence.
And to him, emotional intelligence includes self- awareness, persistence, empathy and the ability to understand and sympathize with the feelings of others.
Daniel Goleman has stressed upon emotional literacy for children. Some people have even criticized him for this tendency and even rejected the book for adults. He has proposed some methods for enhancing a child’s emotional intelligence from his classroom to his home. However, he ignores that the educational institutions lack such facilities and the family units are breaking in the west.
Dr. Goleman has rightly observed that children are becoming more depressed, despondent, violent and unruly with the passage of time. He finds faults with lack of emotional literacy and warns for an imminent crisis if the problem is not solved timely.
He thinks that future performance of children can be gauged with emotional intelligence tests. However, he claims that emotional intelligence can be taught not only at the young age but also in adulthood.
As stated previously, many critics have rejected the book for want of content to enhance emotional intelligence of adults. The criticism doesn’t seem justified for the material that book contains for adults.
Many adults think that logic and reasoning is sufficient for their interpersonal relations. However, this book reveals that you need emotional intelligence to handle your relationships well. Many topics of the book explain why your emotions create various responses and how you can adapt to a given situation. While reading the book, you may fall at some times that author is talking about you. You will find answers to the questions like; what is state of lacking empathy? What are early signs of divorce? How can neglect be more damaging than abuse? Etc.
The book also discusses reasons for addiction, epidemic depression and rage. It also explains why emotional impulses so often supersede rational thought process.
Some people consider that Goleman has created a new controversy by claiming a higher status to the Emotional Intelligence than the Intelligence Quotient. Some criticize him for altogether ignoring the intellectual capabilities.
The criticism seems justified when you see the controversial claims of the author from the very title of the book. However, the fact is that Dr. Goleman has not ignored the intellectual capabilities altogether. He has just smashed the IQ testing falsifying claims by putting the things in their right corners. He has given the due weight to the IQ and the emotional intelligence. In his opinion, the IQ plays only 20% role in your success while 80% is represented by other factors including emotional intelligence.
The author suggests it is not your IQ score but emotional intelligence that has to decide your success or failures. And who can ignore the reality that self-awareness, self-control, and persistence are primary elements of success in the life of every lucky person? The author offers many studies where high IQ scoring students could not get any meaningful success while low IQ scoring students got phenomenal success with their emotional intelligence.
The book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman was a good attempt in 1995. Since then a lot of work has been done in the field to prove some assertions of the author. The classic book is still considered valuable for parents, teachers, and adults who want to know different elements of success than the psychological testing industry has been claiming.
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