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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

I finished this book in November 2023. I recommend this book 5/10.

Why you should read this book:

You should read this book if you are looking to dive deep into Emotional Intelligence. The book goes from how the brain develops, behaviors in kids in schools, to how men shut down when arguing with their wives. And, that emotional intelligence plays much more importance than IQ in your success.

Get your copy here.

🚀 The book in three sentences

  1. Emotions are constructed as we are babies but can be changed over time.

  2. You can learn your emotional state and how to change it.

  3. By detaching your ego and using tools like mirroring, you can change others' emotions.

🎨 Impressions

This book is more for a psychiatrist or a counselor than a self-help book for a business leader.

📝 My notes and thoughts

  • P19. This amygdala arousal seems to imprint in memory most moments of emotional arousal with an added degree of strength—that's why we are more likely, for example, to remember where we went on a first date or what we were doing when we heard the news that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded. The more intense the amygdala arousal, the stronger the imprint; the experiences that scare or thrill us the most in life are among our most indelible memories. This means that, in effect, the brain has two memory systems, one for ordinary facts and one for emotionally charged ones.

  • P26. How the amygdala reacts faster than any other part of the brain. And, how it does contain some memory to react first.

  • P40. According to studies, IQ doesn't indicate success in life.

  • P61. The relaxation method, though, is not enough in itself. Worriers also need to actively challenge the worrisome thoughts; failing this, the worry spiral will keep coming back. So the next step is to take a critical stance toward their assumptions: Is it very probable that the dreaded event will occur? Is it necessarily the case that there is only one or no alternative to letting it happen? Are there constructive steps to be taken? Does it really help to run through these soma anxious thoughts over and over?

  • P66. Aerobic exercise, Tice found, is one of the more effective tactics for lifting mild depression, as well as other bad moods. But the caveat here is that the mood-lifting benefits of exercise work best for the lazy, those who usually do not work out very much. For those with a daily exercise routine, whatever mood-changing benefits it offers were probably strongest when they first took up the exercise habit. In fact, for habitual exercisers, there is a reverse effect on mood: they start to feel bad on those days when they skip their workout. Exercise seems to work well because it changes the physiological state the mood evokes: depression is a low-arousal state, and aerobics pitches the body into high arousal.

  • P71. On the other hand, consider the role of positive motivation—the marshaling of feelings like enthusiasm and confidence to enhance achievement. Studies of Olympic athletes, world-class musicians, and chess grandmasters find their unifying trait is the ability to motivate themselves to pursue relentless training routines.

  • P79. People who are optimistic see failure as something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change. These differing explanations have profound implications for how people respond to life. For example, in reaction to a disappointment such as being turned down for a job, optimists tend to respond actively and hopefully by formulating a plan of action, say, or seeking out help and advice; they see the setback as something that can be remedied. Pessimists, by contrast, react to such setbacks by assuming there is nothing they can do to make things better the next time, and so do nothing about the problem; they see the setback as due to some personal deficit that will always plague them.

  • P82. There are several ways to enter flow. One is to intentionally focus sharp attention on the task at hand; a highly concentrated state is the essence of flow. There seems to be a feedback loop at the gateway to this zone: it can require considerable effort to get calm and focused enough to begin the task—this first step takes some discipline. But once focus starts to lock in, it takes on a force of its own, both offering relief from emotional turbulence and making the task effortless. Entry to this zone can also occur when people find a task they are skilled at and engage in it at a level that slightly taxes their ability. As Csikszentmihalyi told me, "People seem to concentrate best when the demands on them are a bit greater than usual, and they are able to give more than usual. If there is too little demand on them, people are bored. If there is too much for them to handle, they get anxious. Flow occurs in that delicate zone between boredom and anxiety."

  • P102. The power of the monks' quietly courageous calm to pacify soldiers in the heat of battle illustrates a basic principle of social life: Emotions are contagious. To be sure, this tale marks an extreme. Most emotional contagious is far more subtle, part of a tactic exchange that happens in every encounter. We transmit and catch moods from each other in what amounts to a subterranean economy of the psyche in which some encounters are toxic, some nourishing. This emotional exchange is typically at a subtle, almost imperceptible level; the way a salesperson says thank you can leave us feeling ignored, resented, or genuinely welcomed and appreciated. We catch feelings from one another as though they were some kind of social virus.

  • P116. There is a vast amount of research on these separate worlds, their barriers reinforced not just by the different games boys and girls prefer but by young children's fear of being teased for having a "girlfriend" or "boyfriend." One study of children's friendships found that three-year-olds say about half their friends are of the opposite sex; for five-year-olds, it's about 20 percent, and by the age of seven, almost no boys or girls say they have a best friend of the opposite sex. These separate social universes intersect little until teenagers start dating.

  • P118. This growing silence on the part of husbands may be partly due to the fact that, if anything, men are a bit Pollyannaish about the state of their marriage, while their wives are attuned to the trouble spots; in one study of marriages, men had a rosier view than their wives of just about everything in their relationship—lovemaking, finances, ties with in-laws, how well they listened to each other, how much their flaws mattered. Wives, in general, are more vocal about their complaints than are their husbands, particularly among unhappy couples. Combine men's rosy view of marriage with their aversion to emotional confrontations, and it is clear why wives so often complain that their husbands try to wiggle out of discussing the troubling things about their relationship.

  • P130. One method for effective emotional listening called "mirroring," is commonly used in marital therapy. When one partner makes a complaint, the other repeats it back in her own words, trying to capture not just the thought but also the feelings that go with it. The partner mirroring checks with the other to be sure the restatement is on target, and if not, tries again until it is right—something that seems simple but is surprisingly tricky in execution. The effect of being mirrored accurately is not just feeling understood but having the added sense of being in emotional attunement. That in itself can sometimes disarm an imminent attack and goes far toward keeping discussions of grievances from escalating into fights.

  • P137. Harry Levinson, a psychoanalyst turned corporate consultant, gives the following advice on the art of the critique, which is intricately entwined with the art of praise:

  • Be specific.

  • Offer a solution.

  • Be present.

  • Be sensitive.

  • P143. The single most important factor in maximizing the excellence of a group's product was the degree to which the members were able to create a state of internal harmony, which let them take advantage of the full talent of their members. The overall performance of harmonious groups was helped by having a member who was particularly talented; groups with more friction were far less able to capitalize on having members of great ability. In groups where there are high levels of emotional and social static—whether it be from fear of anger, rivalries, or resentment—people cannot offer their best. But harmony allows a group to take maximum advantage of its most creative and talented members' abilities.

  • P144. One of the most important turned out to be a rapport with a network of key people. Things go more smoothly for the standouts because they put time into cultivating good relationships with people whose services might be needed in a crunch as part of an instant ad hoc team to solve a problem or handle a crisis. "A middle performer at Bell Labs talked about being stumped by a technical problem," Kelley and Caplan observed. "He painstakingly called various technical gurus and then waited, wasting valuable time while calls went unreturned and email messages unanswered. Star performers, however, rarely face such situations because they do the work of building reliable networks before they actually need them. When they call someone for advice, stars almost always get a faster answer.

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