With new insights into the brain architecture underlying emotion and rationality, Goleman shows precisely how emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in all of us. Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not easy.
It was an unbearably steamy August afternoon in New York City, the kind of sweaty day that makes people sullen with discomfort. I was heading back to a hotel, and as I stepped onto a bus up Madison Avenue I was startled by the driver, a middle-aged black man with an enthusiastic smile, who welcomed me with a friendly, Hi!
How you doing? Each passenger was as startled as I, and, locked into the morose mood of the day, few returned his greeting. But as the bus crawled uptown through the gridlock, a slow, rather magical transformation occurred.
The driver gave a running monologue for our benefit, a lively commentary on the passing scene around us: there was a terrific sale at that store, a wonderful exhibit at this museum, did you hear about the new movie that just opened at that cinema down the block?
His delight in the rich possibilities the city offered was infectious. By the time people got off the bus, each in turn had shaken off the sullen shell they had entered with, and when the driver shouted out a So long, have a great day! The memory of that encounter has stayed with me for close to twenty years. When I rode that Madison Avenue bus, I had just finished my own doctorate in psychology—but there was scant attention paid in the psychology of the day to just how such a transformation could happen.
Psychological science knew little or nothing of the mechanics of emotion. And yet, imagining the spreading virus of good feeling that must have rippled through the city, starting from passengers on his bus, I saw that this bus driver was an urban peacemaker of sorts, wizardlike in his power to transmute the sullen irritability that seethed in his passengers, to soften and open their hearts a bit. The reason: some third-grade classmates called him a baby and he wanted to impress them.
The report notes that such shootings over seemingly minor slights, which are perceived as acts of disrespect, have become increasingly common around the country in recent years. In almost half the cases, the parents say they were merely trying to discipline the child. The fatal beatings were prompted by infractions such as the child blocking the TV, crying, or soiling diapers. Part of a neo-Nazi group, he tells of failing to hold jobs, of drinking, of blaming his hard luck on foreigners.
In a barely audible voice, he pleads, I can't stop being sorry for what we've done, and I am infinitely ashamed. Each day's news comes to us rife with such reports of the disintegration of civility and safety, an onslaught of mean-spirited impulse running amok.
But the news simply reflects back to us on a larger scale a creeping sense of emotions out of control in our own lives and in those of the people around us. No one is insulated from this erratic tide of outburst and regret; it reaches into all of our lives in one way or another.
The last decade has seen a steady drumroll of reports like these, portraying an uptick in emotional ineptitude, desperation, and recklessness in our families, our communities, and our collective lives. These years have chronicled surging rage and despair, whether in the quiet loneliness of latchkey kids left with a TV for a babysitter, or in the pain of children abandoned, neglected, or abused, or in the ugly intimacy of marital violence.
A spreading emotional malaise can be read in numbers showing a jump in depression around the world, and in the reminders of a surging tide of aggression—teens with guns in schools, freeway mishaps ending in shootings, disgruntled ex-employees massacring former fellow workers. Emotional abuse, drive-by shooting, and post-traumatic stress all entered the common lexicon over the last decade, as the slogan of the hour shifted from the cheery Have a nice day to the testiness of Make my day.
This book is a guide to making sense of the senselessness. As a psychologist, and for the last decade as a journalist for The New York Times, I have been tracking the progress of our scientific understanding of the realm of the irrational. From that perch I have been struck by two opposing trends, one portraying a growing calamity in our shared emotional life, the other offering some hopeful remedies.
The last decade, despite its bad news, has also seen an unparalleled burst of scientific studies of emotion. Most dramatic are the glimpses of the brain at work, made possible by innovative methods such as new brain-imaging technologies.
They have made visible for the first time in human history what has always been a source of deep mystery: exactly how this intricate mass of cells operates while we think and feel, imagine and dream. This flood of neurobiological data lets us understand more clearly than ever how the brain's centers for emotion move us to rage or to tears, and how more ancient parts of the brain, which stir us to make war as well as love, are channeled for better or worse.
This unprecedented clarity on the workings of emotions and their failings brings into focus some fresh remedies for our collective emotional crisis. I have had to wait till now before the scientific harvest was full enough to write this book. These insights are so late in coming largely because the place of feeling in mental life has been surprisingly slighted by research over the years, leaving the emotions a largely unexplored continent for scientific psychology.
Into this void has rushed a welter of self-help books, well-intentioned advice based at best on clinical opinion but lacking much, if any, scientific basis. Now science is finally able to speak with authority to these urgent and perplexing questions of the psyche at its most irrational, to map with some precision the human heart. This mapping offers a challenge to those who subscribe to a narrow view of intelligence, arguing that IQ is a genetic given that cannot be changed by life experience, and that our destiny in life is largely fixed by these aptitudes.
That argument ignores the more challenging question: What can we change that will help our children fare better in life? What factors are at play, for example, when people of high IQ flounder and those of modest IQ do surprisingly well?
I would argue that the difference quite often lies in the abilities called here emotional intelligence, which include self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself. And these skills, as we shall see, can be taught to children, giving them a better chance to use whatever intellectual potential the genetic lottery may have given them.
Beyond this possibility looms a pressing moral imperative. These are times when the fabric of society seems to unravel at ever-greater speed, when selfishness, violence, and a meanness of spirit seem to be rotting the goodness of our communal lives.
Here the argument for the importance of emotional intelligence hinges on the link between sentiment, character, and moral instincts. There is growing evidence that fundamental ethical stances in life stem from underlying emotional capacities. For one, impulse is the medium of emotion; the seed of all impulse is a feeling bursting to express itself in action.
Those who are at the mercy of impulse—who lack self-control—suffer a moral deficiency: The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character. By the same token, the root of altruism lies in empathy, the ability to read emotions in others; lacking a sense of another's need or despair, there is no caring. And if there are any two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these, self-restraint and compassion.
In this book I serve as a guide in a journey through these scientific insights into the emotions, a voyage aimed at bringing greater understanding to some of the most perplexing moments in our own lives and in the world around us. The journey's end is to understand what it means—and how—to bring intelligence to emotion. This understanding itself can help to some degree; bringing cognizance to the realm of feeling has an effect something like the impact of an observer at the quantum level in physics, altering what is being observed.
Our journey begins in Part One with new discoveries about the brain's emotional architecture that offer an explanation of those most baffling moments in our lives when feeling overwhelms all rationality. Understanding the interplay of brain structures that rule our moments of rage and fear—or passion and joy—reveals much about how we learn the emotional habits that can undermine our best intentions, as well as what we can do to subdue our more destructive or self-defeating emotional impulses.
Most important, the neurological data suggest an opportunity for shaping our children's emotional habits. The next major stop on our journey, Part Two of this book, is in seeing how neurological givens play out in the basic flair for living called emotional intelligence: being able, for example, to rein in emotional impulse; to read another's innermost feelings; to handle relationships smoothly—as Aristotle put it, the rare skill to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way.
Readers who are not drawn to neurological detail may want to proceed directly to this section. This expanded model of what it means to be intelligent puts emotions at the center of aptitudes for living. Part Three examines some key differences this aptitude makes: how these abilities can preserve our most prized relationships, or their lack corrode them; how the market forces that are reshaping our work life are putting an unprecedented premium on emotional intelligence for on-the-job success; and how toxic emotions put our physical health at as much risk as does chain-smoking, even as emotional balance can help protect our health and well-being.
Our genetic heritage endows each of us with a series of emotional set-points that determines our temperament. But the brain circuitry involved is extraordinarily malleable; temperament is not destiny.
As Part Four shows, the emotional lessons we learn as children at home and at school shape the emotional circuits, making us more adept—or inept—at the basics of emotional intelligence. This means that childhood and adolescence are critical for setting down the essential emotional habits that will govern our lives.
Part Five explores what hazards await those who, in growing to maturity, fail to master the emotional realm—how deficiencies in emotional intelligence heighten a spectrum of risks, from depression or a life of violence to eating disorders and drug abuse. And it documents how pioneering schools are teaching children the emotional and social skills they need to keep their lives on track. Perhaps the most disturbing single piece of data in this book comes from a massive survey of parents and teachers and shows a worldwide trend for the present generation of children to be more troubled emotionally than the last: more lonely and depressed, more angry and unruly, more nervous and prone to worry, more impulsive and aggressive.
If there is a remedy, I feel it must lie in how we prepare our young for life. At present we leave the emotional education of our children to chance, with ever more disastrous results.
One solution is a new vision of what schools can do to educate the whole student, bringing together mind and heart in the classroom. Our journey ends with visits to innovative classes that aim to give children a grounding in the basics of emotional intelligence. I can foresee a day when education will routinely include inculcating essential human competencies such as self-awareness, self-control, and empathy, and the arts of listening, resolving conflicts, and cooperation. In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle's philosophical enquiry into virtue, character, and the good life, his challenge is to manage our emotional life with intelligence.
Our passions, when well exercised, have wisdom; they guide our thinking, our values, our survival. But they can easily go awry, and do so all too often. As Aristotle saw, the problem is not with emotionality, but with the appropriateness of emotion and its expression. The question is, how can we bring intelligence to our emotions—and civility to our streets and caring to our communal life?
The Little Prince. Ponder the last moments of Gary and Mary Jane Chauncey, a couple completely devoted to their eleven-year-old daughter Andrea, who was confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy.
The Chauncey family were passengers on an Amtrak train that crashed into a river after a barge hit and weakened a railroad bridge in Louisiana's bayou country. Thinking first of their daughter, the couple tried their best to save Andrea as water rushed into the sinking train; somehow they managed to push Andrea through a window to rescuers.
Then, as the car sank beneath the water, they perished. Andrea's story, of parents whose last heroic act is to ensure their child's survival, captures a moment of almost mythic courage.
Without doubt such incidents of parental sacrifice for their progeny have been repeated countless times in human history and prehistory, and countless more in the larger course of evolution of our species.
But from the perspective of a parent making a desperate decision in a moment of crisis, it is about nothing other than love. As an insight into the purpose and potency of emotions, this exemplary act of parental heroism testifies to the role of altruistic love—and every other emotion we feel—in human life. That power is extraordinary: Only a potent love—the urgency of saving a cherished child—could lead a parent to override the impulse for personal survival.
Seen from the intellect, their self-sacrifice was arguably irrational; seen from the heart, it was the only choice to make. Sociobiologists point to the preeminence of heart over head at such crucial moments when they conjecture about why evolution has given emotion such a central role in the human psyche.
Our emotions, they say, guide us in facing predicaments and tasks too important to leave to intellect alone—danger, painful loss, persisting toward a goal despite frustrations, bonding with a mate, building a family.
Each emotion offers a distinctive readiness to act; each points us in a direction that has worked well to handle the recurring challenges of human life. A view of human nature that ignores the power of emotions is sadly shortsighted.
The very name Homo sapiens, the thinking species, is misleading in light of the new appreciation and vision of the place of emotions in our lives that science now offers. As we all know from experience, when it comes to shaping our decisions and our actions, feeling counts every bit as much—and often more—than thought.
We have gone too far in emphasizing the value and import of the purely rational—of what IQ measures—in human life. Intelligence can come to nothing when the emotions hold sway. It was a tragedy of errors. Fourteen-year-old Matilda Crabtree was just playing a practical joke on her father: she jumped out of a closet and yelled Boo! But Bobby Crabtree and his wife thought Matilda was staying with friends that night. Hearing noises as he entered the house, Crabtree reached for his. When his daughter jumped from the closet, Crabtree shot her in the neck.
Matilda Crabtree died twelve hours later. One emotional legacy of evolution is the fear that mobilizes us to protect our family from danger; that impulse impelled Bobby Crabtree to get his gun and search his house for the intruder he thought was prowling there. Fear primed Crabtree to shoot before he could fully register what he was shooting at, even before he could recognize his daughter's voice.
Automatic reactions of this sort have become etched in our nervous system, evolutionary biologists presume, because for a long and crucial period in human prehistory they made the difference between survival and death.
Even more important, they mattered for the main task of evolution: being able to bear progeny who would carry on these very genetic predispositions—a sad irony, given the tragedy at the Crabtree household.
But while our emotions have been wise guides in the evolutionary long run, the new realities civilization presents have arisen with such rapidity that the slow march of evolution cannot keep up. Indeed, the first laws and proclamations of ethics—the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments of the Hebrews, the Edicts of Emperor Ashoka—can be read as attempts to harness, subdue, and domesticate emotional life.
As Freud described in Civilization and Its Discontents, society has had to enforce from without rules meant to subdue tides of emotional excess that surge too freely within. Despite these social constraints, passions overwhelm reason time and again. This given of human nature arises from the basic architecture of mental life. In terms of biological design for the basic neural circuitry of emotion, what we are born with is what worked best for the last 50, human generations, not the last generations—and certainly not the last five.
The slow, deliberate forces of evolution that have shaped our emotions have done their work over the course of a million years; the last 10, years—despite having witnessed the rapid rise of human civilization and the explosion of the human population from five million to five billion—have left little imprint on our biological templates for emotional life.
For better or for worse, our appraisal of every personal encounter and our responses to it are shaped not just by our rational judgments or our personal history, but also by our distant ancestral past. This leaves us with sometimes tragic propensities, as witness the sad events at the Crabtree household.
In short, we too often confront postmodern dilemmas with an emotional repertoire tailored to the urgencies of the Pleistocene. That predicament is at the heart of my subject. One early spring day I was driving along a highway over a mountain pass in Colorado, when a snow flurry suddenly blotted out the car a few lengths ahead of me.
As I peered ahead I couldn't make out anything; the swirling snow was now a blinding whiteness. Pressing my foot on the brake, I could feel anxiety flood my body and hear the thumping of my heart.
The anxiety built to full fear: I pulled over to the side of the road, waiting for the flurry to pass. A half hour later the snow stopped, visibility returned, and I continued on my way—only to be stopped a few hundred yards down the road, where an ambulance crew was helping a passenger in a car that had rear-ended a slower car in front; the collision blocked the highway.
If I had continued driving in the blinding snow, I probably would have hit them. The caution fear forced on me that day may have saved my life. Like a rabbit frozen in terror at the hint of a passing fox—or a protomammal hiding from a marauding dinosaur—I was overtaken by an internal state that compelled me to stop, pay attention, and take heed of a coming danger.
All emotions are, in essence, impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us. The very root of the word emotion is motere, the Latin verb to move, plus the prefix e- to connote move away, suggesting that a tendency to act is implicit in every emotion. That emotions lead to actions is most obvious in watching animals or children; it is only in civilized adults we so often find the great anomaly in the animal kingdom, emotions—root impulses to act—divorced from obvious reaction.
In our emotional repertoire each emotion plays a unique role, as revealed by their distinctive biological signatures see Appendix A for details on basic emotions. At the same time, the body freezes, if only for a moment, perhaps allowing time to gauge whether hiding might be a better reaction. Circuits in the brain's emotional centers trigger a flood of hormones that put the body on general alert, making it edgy and ready for action, and attention fixates on the threat at hand, the better to evaluate what response to make.
But there is no particular shift in physiology save a quiescence, which makes the body recover more quickly from the biological arousal of upsetting emotions. This configuration offers the body a general rest, as well as readiness and enthusiasm for whatever task is at hand and for striving toward a great variety of goals. The parasympathetic pattern, dubbed the relaxation response, is a body wide set of reactions that generates a general state of calm and contentment, facilitating cooperation.
This offers more information about the unexpected event, making it easier to figure out exactly what is going on and concoct the best plan for action. The facial expression of disgust—the upper lip curled to the side as the nose wrinkles slightly—suggests a primordial attempt, as Darwin observed, to close the nostrils against a noxious odor or to spit out a poisonous food.
Sadness brings a drop in energy and enthusiasm for life's activities, particularly diversions and pleasures, and, as it deepens and approaches depression, slows the body's metabolism. This introspective withdrawal creates the opportunity to mourn a loss or frustrated hope, grasp its consequences for one's life, and, as energy returns, plan new beginnings. This loss of energy may well have kept saddened—and vulnerable—early humans close to home, where they were safer.
These biological propensities to act are shaped further by our life experience and our culture. For instance, universally the loss of a loved one elicits sadness and grief. A life without passion would be boring; the goal is appropriate emotion. Our emotional life maintains a constant background hum, rarely becoming intense. Yet managing emotions is a full-time job. Much of what we do, from work to recreation, is an attempt to manage mood. The art of soothing ourselves is a basic life skill, some say one of the most essential psychic tools.
The design of the brain means we have little control over when we will be swept by emotions or what those emotions will be, but we have some control over how long they last. We can change our behavior and even take medication.
It can last for hours and create a hair-trigger state, making people wrongness deep in the body is part much more easily provoked. When the body is already in an edgy state and something of a steady back- triggers another emotional surge, the ensuing emotion is especially intense. One way ground flow of to cool off from anger is to seek distractions.
Going off alone helps, as does active feeling that contin- exercise. Sadness and bereavement are often the emotions that alleviate rage, but full- ues throughout the day. To break a depression cycle, challenge the thoughts feeding the depression and schedule pleasant distractions. These can include exercise, sensual treats, accomplishing some small task, helping others in need or prayer.
One powerful tool is cognitive reframing, or looking at your situation in a more positive light. The greatest athletes, musicians and chess masters are distinguished by their ability to stick with arduous practice, year after year, beginning early in life. One critical skill is the ability to restrain about everything we do, think about, emotions and delay impulses, to defer gratification. This is the key to a host of efforts, imagine, remem- from dieting to getting a degree. Thought and feeling are Anxiety undermines intellect, while good moods enhance thinking.
Those who are inextricably woven adept at harnessing their emotions can use their anxiety for motivation. The relationship together.
Too little anxiety means no motivation and poor performance. Too much anxiety impairs intellect. Peak performance comes in the middle. A mildly elated state called hypomania is ideal for writers and other creative people. Hope and optimism also play a powerful role in life.
Hope means not giving in to negativism or depression in the face of setbacks. Optimism means having a strong expectation that things will turn out all right. Optimists attribute failure to something they can change, and therefore do not get depressed about it.
Optimism is an emotionally intelligent attitude that boosts performance in the business world. Psychologists have identified a peak-performance state called flow. This is emotional intelligence at its best. Flow comes when people become fully engaged in a task in which they are highly skilled. It comes in the zone between boredom and anxiety. It is a state of self-forgetfulness. It is a state of joy, even rapture. The brain actually emotions — and becomes calmer in flow; the most challenging tasks are finished using minimal energy.
Rapport, the root of caring, arises from the capacity for empathy. Empathy begins in infancy, with attunement, the non-verbal physical mirroring between child and parent.
Attunement reassures an infant and makes it feel emotionally connected. This requires enough calm to be able to read subtle, non-verbal signals from the other person.
Handling Relationships Expressing our feelings is a key social competence. Emotions are contagious. We send emotional signals in every encounter and unconsciously imitate the emotions we see in others.
These signals affect others. The more they show this synchrony, the more they share moods. Goleman defined emotional intelligence as 'Understanding one's own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living.
Chapter 2 - Goleman's Model of Emotional Intelligence Goleman's model is the most widely used when discussing EQ in the context of the workplace. It describes EQ in terms of five domains that are split into four quadrants. Two of the domains are related to personal competence and two are related to social competence.
Chapter 3 - Emotional Quotient EQ and IQ Most of the early research on intelligence focused on problem solving and other things that were easy to measure.
However, it has long been accepted that other factors are essential for predicting someone's ability to succeed at work and in life. Salovey and Mayer defined these as 'a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action.
Chapter 4 - Emotional Intelligence and Management The publication of Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence in marked the beginning of emotional intelligence as something that was recognized by mainstream business theorists and writers.