Monday, September 20, 2010

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Link to Amazon.Com
Daniel Goleman  has a great book about emotional intelligence. While I was reading it, the one thing that kept popping in my mind was: why didn't I read this 25 years ago? At least parts of this book should be read by everyone finishing high school as it delivers a very powerful message: in order to succeed in life (with your family, friends, job, or whatever) you don't need to be "rational intelligent", you need to be emotional intelligent.
Rational intelligence is what the IQ measures: your ability to make deductions, inferences, to be logic, to do algebra and stuff like that. Emotional intelligence is your ability to manage your emotions and relate to others.
Putting it like this feels like it has a poor impact so I'll put it in another way: anyone's success is correlated to emotional intelligence and it's not correlated to "rational intelligence". That is, whenever you find someone who actually is a high school genius in the sense of "rational intelligence", that will give you no clue whatsoever as to what that person will be doing in 20/30 years time. But emotional intelligence does, it is strongly correlated to a person's success!
Link to Amazon.Co.Uk
Daniel Goleman divides emotional intelligence into personal and social competences. And emotional intelligence is first about personal skills and one's ability to understand his own emotions - self awareness, as he calls it. That's the first step. Amazingly, as he tells in this book, some people are fat just because they can't tell hunger from sadness and so when they're sad they eat. And the sadder they are the more they eat. Then you have the other competences, self-regulation and self-motivation.
The second set is divided into social awareness and social skills.
The book itself starts with a physiological description about the brain mechanisms, which I found pretty interesting. But as he says in the book, you can skip that part and go fast-forward to the "juicy parts" where he explains how these levels of personal and social skills work and how you can take advantage of that to be a better "you".

But hey, this is my view. Surprisingly, not everyone agrees with me and you can easily find strong criticism on both the author and the book (just for an example, here).
The relationship to Project Management is strong once you think about soft skills. The root cause being you have to know yourself in order to improve and having a model (this or any other that explains why one behaves the way he does) is a must. Or otherwise you won't know what to next to be a better you.
Just a final note to clear some potential misunderstanding: the kind of benefit you can get from this book is not to know you should smile when you meet someone. That I would call cynical, to use a nice word. The real benefit is to know why you didn't smile when you met someone in particular and then set things straight with yourself. And in doing that you grow as a person.


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