Emotional intelligence in practice

“Working With Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

In today’s world, where cancel culture is the norm, with so many people can get easily offended, where social media become a bonfire of the vanities as well as medium for nasty insults, and where Covid-19 exposes the worst in people’s behaviour, more often than not the underlying problem for it all is simply a severe lack of empathy.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s an equally problematic trend called empathy distress. It is those people who have abundant empathy and those who care for others a little too much that other people’s suffering will cause them harm as well. If getting out of hand it could lead to emotional burnout or change people into a cynic who once cared too much and got disappointed.

Somewhere between these two extremes lies the psychological faculty of emotional intelligence. It is the ability to recognize, understand, and handle our emotions, and the capacity to use them to guide our perception, behaviour, and effort towards the environment.

The term first appeared in a psychological research paper in 1964, but was only popularized in 1995 by Daniel Goleman after the publication of his first book, aptly named “Emotional Intelligence.” While Goleman’s first book laid out the fundamental theories on emotional intelligence, this second book dives straight into the practical aspects of them.

And he chooses the business world as the real-life working example, covering everything from entrepreneurship, to flow state, leadership, team work, group IQ, delegating tasks, coaching and mentoring, performance review, logistics, office politics, problem solving, and many more management issues. And at the core of every function lies the important role of empathy.

There is a particular line in the book that caught my eyes, where Goleman said that when IQ test scores are correlated with how well people do at work, the highest estimate of how impactful IQ can be is around 25%, while the lowest estimate may be no higher than 10% or even 4%. This means that at best 75% of job success is up to other factors than IQ, and at worst 90-96%.

And this is what the book ultimately provides us and explains to us, the 75-96% edge in the working environment that can be applicable in many other areas in life.