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I’ve spent a major portion of my life trying to understand people, which, of course, includes trying to understand myself. The single-most helpful book in this effort is Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. In this book, Goleman not only explains what makes up emotional intelligence (EQ), he also explains why being a reasonably smart person (IQ) does not necessarily correlate to being relationally healthy. We have all heard the cliché about an individual who is “book smart, but has no common sense.” Goleman’s book includes information about people who are “book smart,” but who have limited awareness of people’s feelings or nonverbal cues. They may even have no awareness of their own motives, feelings, or how they are perceived. They have low EQ.
Would you like some examples of how EQ plays itself out in daily life? Here are some real examples from people no one can identify, plus they are deceased or in another state. A man is beet-red in the face and gritting his teeth as he talks to me about his wife. My response is, “I can tell this conversation makes you angry.” His reply to me was, “I – AM – NOT – ANGRY!” Whoa. He was very angry; he was just in a state of denial. A woman I know did not get her way and kept telling me how hurt she was. She, too, was angry. But convincing herself she was hurt, rather than angry, allowed her to play the victim instead of dealing honestly with the issue. She was well-practiced at the art of manipulation, and she could have passed a lie detector test denying anger.
Both of those examples deal with failure to understand self. Other situations Goleman describes include people who cannot accurately read emotions in others and people who are oblivious to another person’s legitimate boundaries. Ever had someone invade your emotional space or get in your business without an invitation? Then you’ve dealt with low EQ situations.
Here are a couple of quotations from the book:
College students in a psychological test were told, “Although you set your goal of getting a B in a class, when you get your first exam score worth 30% of your final grade, you discover you have received a D. It is now one week after you learned about the D grade, what do you do? Researchers found that hope made all the difference. The response by students with high levels of hope was to work harder and think of a range of things that they might try to do to bolster their grades. Students with moderate levels of hope thought of ways they might bring up their grade but had far less determination to do so. Students with low levels of hope gave up altogether. The test giver discovered that hope was the better predictor of first semester grades than were scores on the SAT. [p. 86]
A psychological thought line is common to rapist, child molesters and many perpetrators of family violence alike. They are incapable of empathy. The inability to feel their victim’s pain allows them to tell themselves lies that encourage their crime. For rapists, the lies include: women really want to be raped, or if she resists, she is just playing hard to get. For molesters: I’m not hurting the child, just showing love. [p. 106]
As I entered a restaurant on a recent evening, a young man stalked out the door, his face set in expression both stony and sullen. Close on his heels, a young woman came running, her fists desperately pounding his back while she yelled obscenities saying, “Come back here and be nice to me.” [p. 130]
Marlene Lenick had a dispute with her husband, Michael. He wanted to watch the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game. She wanted to watch the news. As he settled down to watch the game, Mrs. Lenick told him she had had enough of football, went into the bedroom to fetch a .38-caliber handgun and shot him twice as he sat watching the game in the den. Mrs. Lenick was charged with aggravated assault and freed on a $50,000 bond. Mr. Lenick was listed in good condition recovering from the bullets that grazed his abdomen and tunneled through his left shoulder-blade and neck. [p. 142]
Being prone to anger is a stronger predictor of dying young than are habits of smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. [p. 170]
One survivor of the Holocaust said, “If you’ve been through Auschwitz and you don’t have nightmares, then you’re not normal. [p. 202]
Emotional Intelligence was selected by Time as one of the 25 most influential management books ever. Goleman followed it with other books, such as Primal Leadership (on leading with EQ), Vital Lies, Simple Truths, The Psychology of Self Deception, and a number of others. Primal Leadership is one of the best leadership books I’ve read, and the issue of self-deception is one of the most critical issues many people face; I highly recommend both of those books. You may also want to take a look at Goleman’s website.
When is your next post?
My next bucket book review will be up today.