Emotional Intelligence Summary: Daniel Goleman

Emotional intelligence Summary

Emotional Intelligence Summary provides a free book summary and review, key takeaways, top quotes, author biography and other key points of Daniel Goleman’s famous book. Our IQ is just 20% of our success. Emotions have a much greater role. What do you have to say about that?

Daniel Goleman introduces everyone to the idea of emotional intelligence (EI) in this work. EI is the collection of psychological traits and skills which Goleman says are key to success. Skills like self-motivation and self-awareness are imparted in childhood. But, Goleman says that adults can still learn and use them. Goleman makes a very strong case for EI. Especially its strong biological underpinning. This is what makes the book Emotional Intelligence highly interesting. The later chapters on practical use are not as insightful. Still, we recommend this work as it is relevant to both business and life.

“The notion that there is pure thought, rationality devoid of feeling, is fiction.”

This Summary Will Help You Learn

  • What is “emotional intelligence;”
  • How building your EI is key to your success in life; and
  • How managers can apply EI to enhance team performance.


  • IQ only contributes 20% to life success. EI has a much more significant role.
  • There are five areas of EI. These are empathy, self-motivation, self-awareness, handling relations, and managing emotions.
  • Humans have the equal of two minds. One which thinks and the other which feels.
  • These two parts of the brain function independently.
  • Powerful emotions meddle with clear thinking. Anxiety weakens the intellect.
  • You aim to find the proper balance of emotion and reason.
  • Flow – how people feel when involved fully in tasks which suit their abilities – is EI at its best.
  • Building EI is a cost-effective necessity for management.
  • Feedback is the currency of EI in firms.
  • Team’s success is not judged by its members’ IQ. Instead, it is determined by their EI.

Emotional Intelligence Summary

Emotional Intelligence

Past some years have seen a rise in a study into the biology of emotions. Such studies show that genetics determine a part of human personality and intelligence. But, this gives birth to two questions. First, what can you alter about yourself? Second, why some intelligent people fail, while less brainy people flourish? The answers lie in a set of abilities named emotional intelligence.

Through evolution, mankind got emotions. These emotions were to help humans deal with unsafe situations. Today’s people hold the emotional system of their cave-living ancestors. These early men frequently faced life-threatening situations. Today, such emotions overpower logical thinking. In a true sense, every human has two minds. The one which thinks and the other which feels. Through the logical mind, a person thinks and reflects. But, the emotional mind is strong and impulsive. Normally, the two function in harmony. But, intense feelings let the emotional part take over the rational part.

Evolution of the Brain

The brain’s centers of emotion were the first to evolve. Our limbic system circles the brainstem. This is the hub of passionate emotion. The brainstem influences learning and memory. The thinking part of the brain, i.e., neocortex evolved later. Then the amygdala developed on the sides. These structures serve as storehouses for emotional memories. The amygdala provides life passion and emotional meaning. During the crisis, the amygdala responds instantly. Faster than the neocortex. This emotional part acts independently of the rational brain. The amygdala gives extra importance to memories that arouse emotions. Hence, people have vivid recollections of happiness or danger.

While the amygdala inspires to act, the cortex acts as a hindrance. It controls or chokes feelings. A person undergoes an emotional hijacking when the amygdala is activated, and the cortex cannot control it. These powerful emotions can meddle with attention span. Plus, they can affect every part of clear thinking. But, do not try to remove your feelings. Instead, strive to identify a smart balance between emotion and logic.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

The IQ only adds 20% to success in life. Much more significant influence is that of emotional intelligence. It includes factors like self-motivation, empathy, mood control, hope, and persistence. IQ and EI are not adversaries. But, they do operate separately. Someone can be very intelligent but emotionally incapable. Such an imbalance can create many problems in life.

Peter Salovey, a Yale psychologist, studied EI in five areas:

  • Self-awareness.
  • Managing emotions.
  • Motivation.
  • Empathy.
  • Handling relationships.

Self-Awareness: Knowing Your Emotions

Feelings are usually hidden. Emotional self-awareness demands constant focus on one’s internal states. Awareness is a neutral condition which produces self-analysis even during strong emotions. John Mayer, the psychologist, claims it is conscious of both moods and thoughts about such mood. For practical reasons, self-awareness and the ability to regulate your moods are same. Emotions are often both conscious and unconscious. They start before you become logically aware of an upcoming feeling. Unconscious emotions can have a strong impact on your feelings and responses. You may not be aware of them. When you are conscious of such thoughts, you can analyze and control them. Hence, self-awareness is the base for controlling emotions.

Managing Emotions: Handling Your Feelings

Since time immemorial, the world saw self-mastery over emotional storms as an asset. Still, a life without passion is boring. Hence, following a medium stance. That is, the aim of proper emotion. Managing one’s feelings is a continuous job. Most things people do each day are efforts to manage mood. To balance the continuous background noise of emotions. The art of calming the flow of emotions is a core life skill. It is one of the most crucial psychic tools. Generally, a person has little control over when emotions will come. Or what these feelings would be. But, you can control how long a feeling will last. You can do this with some effort, attitude change, and medication.

A very tough feeling to escape is anger. Partly, because rage energizes people. It can even be exhilarating. Anger can last for hours creating a hair-trigger situation. This makes people easily provoked. For example, a person is already edgy. Now, something activates another emotional attack. So, the following emotion will be especially strong. A good way to calm down is to find distractions. Exercise helps, and so does going off alone. Emotions like loss of someone and sadness can reduce anger. But, such feelings increase the risk of depression. To avoid depression, therapists teach patients to challenge the feelings which feed depression. Then, they advise scheduling a series of pleasant distractions. These may entail exercising, achieving small tasks, praying or helping others. Looking at the event in a positive light is also a strong tool.

Self-Motivation: Using Emotion to Meet Your Goals

Positive motivation is the key to success. The greatest musicians and athletes stand out because of their ability to endure tough practice. They do it year after year without fail.

Emotions decide how people go ahead in life. Why? Because they can limit or improve the ability to use internal skills. The ability to control emotions, to delay gratification, is a key skill. It is also crucial for many endeavors, from graduating to dieting.

Anxiety weakens intellect. But, a good mood improves thinking. People who are skilled at harnessing their feelings can use anxiety for motivation. Experts explain the link between performance and anxiety as a reverse U. Too little anxiety means zero motivation and hence, poor performance. But, too much anxiety also damages intellect. Great performance lies in the middle. A moderately elated stated, i.e., hypomania is perfect for creative people.

Optimism and Hope

These two elements also play key roles. Optimism means being highly positive that things will be good. Hope is not surrendering to negativity in the event of setbacks. Optimists attribute failure to things they can mend. Hence, they do not get sad when things do not work. This is an emotionally intelligent attitude which improves performance in the corporate world. Self-efficacy inspires both optimism and hope. It is the belief that one can face any challenge which confronts them.

Psychologists have found a peak-performance state. It is the “flow.” The “flow” gathers the most positive use of emotional intelligence. It is the feeling you get when you are totally involved in a task you love. Flow lies in the area between anxiety and boredom. The emotions you undergo during flow are channeled, positive and focused. It is a state of focused attention and self-forgetfulness. Your brain tends to become peaceful during flow. This allows you to complete tough tasks with nominal energy. To train people how to attain flow have them perform activities they love repeatedly.

“We have feelings about everything we do, think about, imagine, remember. Thought and feeling are in­ex­tri­ca­bly woven together.”

Empathy: Mastering the Fundamental People Skill

The more self-awareness you have, the more skilled you become at reading others. Rapport is the essence of caring. It comes from being able to empathize. People who can read others are more popular, better adjusted and more sensitive.

Empathy starts in infancy with attunement. It is the non-verbal physical mirroring between a parent and child. Attunement comforts a newborn and makes it feel emotionally tied. It needs feeling peaceful enough to read non-verbal, subtle signs from others.

Handling Relationships: Dealing with Other People

The ability to express yourself is an important social skill. Emotions are infectious. People send emotional hints during each encounter. They unconsciously copy the emotions which others produce. Hence, every person’s emotions impact others. As people interact, they mirror one another’s body language. The more they display such harmony, the more they share behaviors. Such synchrony of moods is the adult form of parent-newborn attunement. This is an important determinant of interpersonal efficacy. The better people are at reading others’ emotions, the more they can influence others. This is a basic element of using your EI.

“IQ and emotional in­tel­li­gence are not opposing com­pe­ten­cies, but rather separate ones.”

Applied Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is crucial in most fields of daily life. For example:

  • Management – The pride some bosses reflect plus the bad motivation they create drive workers away. Using EI to prevent such poor outcomes in a workplace is just cost-effective. Feedback is the core currency of management’s emotional intelligence. Hence, managers should learn how to give it and embrace it smartly. They must not see feedback as a personal attack or criticism. To give a smart critique, speak face-to-face. Use your sense of empathy. Communicate specific criticism and praise. Be attentive toward the solution. People receiving feedback must learn to see it as important information. In a world led by knowledge workers, the idea of group emotional quotient is important. Successful teams are an outcome of the team members harmony. They take advantage of each member’s talents.
  • Marriage – Emotional intelligence can help fight the personal and social tensions which damage relationships. Women and men have different emotional abilities. Rough criticism is a crucial warning sign of trouble in paradise. Hence, for harmony, partners should learn to condemn the action. They must not attack the person who did the act. Personal onslaughts leave them feeling defensive and ashamed. This can lead to fight-or-flight reactions.
  • Child raising – Studies on children indicate a fall in their emotional health across the world. This pattern is seen in widespread anxiety, withdrawal, depression and anti-social behavior. Children and adults both must be taught in the five key EI skills.
  • Medicine – The emotional mind is attached to the immune system. Stress makes you more exposed to infectious ailments. Hostility has long-established links with heart disease. But, any strong negative feeling can damage your physical well-being. Hence, try relaxation activities. These are great countermeasures. And, so is self-reflection. Talking about issues improves your immune system. Doctors must learn that managing emotions is a type of sickness prevention. Also, that patients are better off when their emotional needs are fulfilled.

Emotional Literacy

The character is the old-fashioned term for the collective skills of EI. Those who build the ability to control impulses and self-centric focus, nurture their EI. This includes self-control, self-understanding, improved motivation, and better relationships.

Emotional Intelligence Review

A common perception of Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence” is that it is a book for managers. However, when readers delve into it, they will be surprised to find that it is not management centric content at all. This applies to just a small part of the book. The book delivers what readers have wanted a handbook on Emotional Health to deliver for decades now. That is a layman’s guide with actual fact-based proof on the significance of emotional health. “Emotional Intelligence” is so replete with scientific research that it may be tough for some to read in a flowing manner. However, every chapter stands alone on its own accord. Hence it is readable from anywhere.

“This split ap­prox­i­mates the folk distinction between ’heart’ and ’head’.”

Goleman’s seminal work from the areas of neuroscience and psychology provides astounding new insights into the two minds of human beings and how together they mold their destiny. Through rich examples, the author outlines the five key skills of EI and explains how they determine people’s success at work, relationships, and their overall well-being. Every major section starts with a hard-hitting real-life example which stresses to a great extent what a lack of EI can do. The tales are jolting. What surfaces is an entirely novel to talk about being smart?

Some readers may see the notion of emotional intelligence as somewhat distinct from conventional understandings of emotional adulthood and notice that Goleman scants strong formative influences such as religious faith. Other readers may posit that his vision of a school-based cure for an issue which starts at home contributes unreasonable burdens to already falling systems. Nevertheless, Goleman, with a style which serves his reformer’s beliefs well, combines an extensive array of material on issues whose complexity and the questionable character he discloses in a persuasive and original manner.

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Emotional Intelligence Quotes

“The notion that there is pure thought, rationality devoid of feeling, is fiction.”

“We have feelings about everything we do, think about, imagine, remember. Thought and feeling are in­ex­tri­ca­bly woven together.”

“IQ and emotional in­tel­li­gence are not opposing com­pe­ten­cies, but rather separate ones.”

“This split ap­prox­i­mates the folk distinction between ’heart’ and ’head’.”

“Knowing something is right ’in your heart’ is a different order of conviction – somehow a deeper kind of certainty – than thinking so with your rational mind.”

“This sense of rightness or wrongness deep in the body is part of a steady background flow of feeling that continues throughout the day.”

“The emotional mind is far quicker than the rational mind, springing into action without pausing even a moment to consider what it is doing.”

“We send emotional signals in every encounter, and those signals affect those we are with.”

“Being able to enter ’flow’ is emotional in­tel­li­gence at its best.”

“In terms of biological design for the basic neural circuitry of emotion, what we are born with is what worked best for the last 5,000 human generations, not the last 500 generations – and certainly not for the last five.”

“The question is, how can we bring in­tel­li­gence to our emotions – and civility to our streets and caring to our communal life?”

“People who take the pessimistic stance are extremely prone to emotional hijackings.”

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About the Author

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., used to teach at Harvard and was earlier the editor of Psychology Today. He now covers the behavioral sciences for the New York Times. His other popular works are The Meditative Mind, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, and Working with Emotional Intelligence. He also co-wrote The Creative Spirit.


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  1. Such amazing and informative content! Thank you for spending time to share! Look forward to more.


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