Sometimes it’s difficult to understand emotions. We have all been in situations where it’s hard to read the emotions of other people. Are they crying or are they laughing? Maybe someone is irritated, and we don’t see it. Other times we get emotions spot on without even thinking about it. Understanding emotional intelligence is important for a lot of skills. If you know how to behave around certain types of people that might influence the job position you will get, the salary; it might also further your relationship with you partner. If you understand one another emotionally, odds are you’ll have a better relationship than when you don’t understand one another.
I believe now is an important moment to view emotions. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that emotions are vital to not only people’s mental health but also physical health. Did you know that social isolation is worse for you than smoking? Well, that’s what the studies Goleman used in this book say, but is this so surprising? Depression hits, you don’t get to see people, so you have no one to talk to, those with a bad home situation are left by themselves. In Japan the month of October had more suicide deaths than there were coronavirus deaths all year. Now the WHO has claimed that lockdowns needed to be short and sharp in dealing with the virus, not go on for months. That’s because emotional health matters.
But this book is about emotional intelligence, which means how to read emotions. Learning how to read emotions of other people can have huge benefits and as an upside, unlike IQ, it’s learnable. There is a personal cap to what you can learn but you can at least become better at it, because it’s something learned while we are young. That way we can override the things learned.
It could be said that we have two ‘minds’. There is one that thinks and one that feels. Both have a certain intelligence. Nowadays there are many other intelligences than those quantified by IQ. But the two intelligences (and however many there might be) mostly work in harmony. They need each other to be able to thrive. It’s like David Hume has said: “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.”
This book goes deep into the certain aspects of emotions. Certain cognitive emotional states help people in their job performance. Anxiety for example undermines academic achievements. So when someone is anxious about a lot of things they’ll perform worse than someone who isn’t anxious. Being optimistic actually increases chances that things will turn out right. If you are optimistic on your abilities to study for example, you’ll be able to get better scores. What people think about what they can do, actually affects what they are able to do. Here’s a study. A teacher acted as if some her students were dumb while others were intelligent. Some of these students had a high IQ. The students which she treated as dumb would actually perform worse, even if they had a high IQ. While those treated as if they were smart performed better, even if they had a lower IQ. They literally became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is just one of the subjects Goleman tries to explain in this book. I was very interested into the way emotions are formed and how it can influence our abilities to do things. This book gave me a better introduction than I could have wished for. Goleman really tries to give a concise introduction on the subject. It’s clear he wants to move some attention away from IQ to emotions. Emotions might influence our lives more than intelligence. We did have emotions before reason so in that way emotions go far deeper. This can be shown when we look at beautiful objects. We don’t have a reason to find that beautiful, it just happens and then we try to rationalize, but we never really succeed in doing so.
Having an understanding of your own emotions and those around you can bring your life great benefits and everything that is a benefit to your life is worth knowing. If you are also interested in emotional intelligence, Goleman’s book is the way to go.