Thursday, July 1, 2010

BOOK: Emotional Intelligence

[This was originally posted at]

I have always admired those who have a firm grasp over their emotions, and I don’t mean the Spock-like characters that appear dead to their feelings. This eventually led me to read Daniel Goleman’s #1 bestseller Emotional Intelligence. While the book was filled with good concepts, two really stood out to me:

  • Verbal Bias - Many “techy” people have a verbal bias in their communication. They think it is more “logical” and “objective” to just go with the words that were written or said, and not taint that with someone’s non-verbal inflections. But such a bias is not more logical, quite the opposite. The majority of someone’s communication is non-verbal, and it is illogical to ignore additional (and relevant) information, therefore it’s actually very illogical to have a verbal-bias that ignores - or doesn’t attempt to understand - someone non-verbal communication.
  • Emotional Hijacking – I’ve seen coworkers freak out. Rands points out that this means that they care. Great, but I don’t want to be the one freaking out where the frustration of a bad project gets the better of me. It helps to know that most of us have some sort of trigger that will instantly hijack our emotional state and make us go into a state of uncontrollable rage. For example, don’t tell me that “I don’t have time to write unit tests”.

Good emotional exercises that came to mind as I read:

  1. Think of every emotion you can. You fail if you can only list “happy” and “sad”. You also fail if you keep listing physical states (“tired”, “hungry”) or mental states (“frustrated”, “focused”). I failed on both accounts. Then I went to google for “list of emotions”.
  2. Think of 20 coworkers. What emotions do you think each are feeling? “Rejected” because no on adopted their initiative? “Excited” because they’re on a hot project?

The book has a lot of good zingers:

  1. “the brain has two memory systems, one for ordinary facts and one for emotionally charged one.” (pg. 21)
  2. “people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.” (pg. 36)
  3. “many people with IQs of 160 work for people with IQs of 100.” (pg. 41)
  4. 5 fields of emotional intelligence: Knowing one’s emotions, Managing emotions, Motivating oneself, Recognizing emotions in others, and Handling relationships (pg. 43)
  5. “New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying.” (pg. 67)
  6. “People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around” (pg. 88)
  7. “People’s emotions are rarely put into words; far more often they are expressed through other cues.” (pg. 96)
  8. There are at least three ways of displaying emotions: minimizing, exaggerating, and substituting (pg. 113)
  9. “The two cardinal sins that almost always lead to rejection are trying to take the lead too soon and being out of synch with the frame of reference.” (pg. 123)
  10. “Stress makes people stupid.” (pg. 149)
  11. “Many things people do at work depend on their ability to call on a loose network of fellow workers” (pg. 161)
  12. “[stars] 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.” (pg. 162)
  13. “There are no grades given in Self Science; life itself is the final exam.” (pg. 268)
  14. “The emotional mind is far quicker than the rational mind” (pg. 291)

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