In “Emotional Intelligence”, Daniel Coleman justifies the importance of emotional intelligence (or E.I.) in all areas of life. To help us understand what is happening when emotions occur, the book begins with an explanation of emotions and neural circuitry. As Coleman goes...
In “Emotional Intelligence”, Daniel Coleman justifies the importance of emotional intelligence (or E.I.) in all areas of life. To help us understand what is happening when emotions occur, the book begins with an explanation of emotions and neural circuitry. As Coleman goes further into the topic, we learn why emotional literacy is extremely valuable in our love, family and work lives. Most importantly, this book offers helpful approaches on how to improve one’s emotional aptitude and fix negative emotions.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, well-being, or personal development. Likewise, I believe that this book would be extremely useful for emotional personalities who are affected by chronic anger, anxiety, or depression, and who are looking to improve themselves by better-understanding their emotions and learning how to handle them.
My brief takeaways from the book:
What Is E.I.?
Coleman discusses emotional intelligence as one’s ability to identify, understand, and handle emotions in oneself and in others. There are two aspects to E.I.: internal and external. Internally, competencies include self-awareness, self-management, impulse control, mood regulation and more. Externally, E.I. relates to empathy, social awareness and the capacity to manage emotions in others.
Coleman explains how emotions are highly dependent upon one’s neural circuitry; in particular, the balance between her “feeling” amygdala and “thinking” prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is the part of the brain that triggers emotional impulses and fight-or-flight responses. The prefrontal cortex is the emotional damper that inhibits impulses while simultaneously facilitating attention and working memory.
An amygdala overwhelmed by emotion and unable to be regulated by one’s prefrontal cortex can trigger what Coleman calls “neural hijackings”. Neural hijackings contribute highly to emotional deficiencies such as anxiety, anger and depression. A portion of one’s neural circuitry is genetic, but Coleman argues that temperament is not destiny. The brain is continuously shaped throughout a lifetime due to its neuroplasticity.
Emotions are physiological responses of the brain. Good moods and emotions help us stay motivated, optimistic, resilient, and resourceful. They contribute towards an ideal state or flow and facilitate our ability to think flexibly and associatively.
“Laughing, like elation, seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely, noticing relationships that might have eluded them otherwise…”
On the other hand, negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression can drastically impede our working memory, intellect and performance. “Emotional Intelligence” focuses on the most common negative emotions: anger, anxiety, and depression. Each of these emotions is a different type of emotional hijacking on the brain. Coleman discusses, in detail, the treatment for such concerns. In short, solutions include methods such as self-awareness, cognitive reframing, and distraction techniques to fight toxic trains of thought before they ruminate further.
“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose in the right way – that is not easy.”
In The Real World
A significant portion of “Emotional Intelligence” discusses the effects of emotionally illiteracy on the most important areas of our lives: relationships, family, work, school, and health. These chapters include numerous studies and examples on how emotional competencies affect one’s ability to be an effective manager, teammate, spouse and parent.
Most importantly, emotional states play a significant role in one’s physical and mental health. Coleman discusses the correlation of negative emotional states, such as stress and depression, with one’s susceptibility to (and ability to recover from) disease. For example, social isolation can affect mortality rates as much as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity!
E.I > I.Q.
“Those who are at the mercy of impulse – who lack self-control – lack a moral deficiency: The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character.”
Without discounting the fact that I.Q. is indeed important, especially for lower-rung technical jobs, Coleman debates that E.I. contributes significantly more to one’s overall success and quality of life, especially in “soft” domains such as health, love and relationships. In a family, it’s E.I., not I.Q., that influences how long a marriage lasts or how a child handles adversity. At the workplace, everyone at the top of the ladder is already filtered by technical expertise. So it is E.I. that helps the best and most effective leaders stand out. From a societal standpoint, an emotionally intelligent community will breed a moral culture where decisions are influenced by empathy and moral instincts as opposed to uncontrollable impulses.
“Academic intelligence offers virtually no preparation for the turmoil – or opportunity – life’s vicissitudes bring. Yet even though a high IQ is no guarantee of prosperity, prestige or happiness in life, our schools and our culture fixate on academic abilities. Ignoring emotional intelligence, a set of traits – some might call it character – that also matters immensely for our personal destiny”
If you''ve found this summary interesting. You should definitely go deeper into this lovely, informational book!