Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman

Learn about the importance of understanding your own emotions and talking about them, thereby achieving greater productivity in different areas of your life.

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It’s essential to know what is going on in our head and talk about it. Otherwise, we will feel lost, unproductive, unmotivated, and susceptible to making the wrong choices.

Emotional intelligence impacts work performance, studies, relationships, and even our health. Developing it will help you communicate better, deal with anxiety in difficult situations, and feel satisfied with your accomplishments.

Daniel Goleman redefines what it really means to be intelligent with his book “Emotional Intelligence”, showing the importance of understanding our feelings and emotions to achieve our goals and solve our problems.

Keep reading this summary to know more!

The book “Emotional Intelligence”

The book “Emotional Intelligence” is a great bestseller written by Daniel Goleman and originally released in 1995. This work is responsible for the author’s worldwide recognition, with more than 5 million copies sold.

Daniel talks about a type of intelligence that many people ignore, but what they don’t know is that mastering it can positively influence daily decisions, besides helping to understand different personality traits.

The book is divided into five parts and has six appendices, covering fundamentals, applications, and how to develop emotional intelligence.

Who is Daniel Goleman?

Daniel Goleman is known worldwide as the “founding father” of emotional intelligence. He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University and currently holds a chair at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

He has received several awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association for his great contribution to the history of psychology during his career.

Daniel Goleman is also the author of other bestsellers, such as “Focus” and “Working with Emotional Intelligence”.

Why should I read “Emotional Intelligence”?

The book “Emotional Intelligence” is for people feeling lost, with mixed feelings affecting their daily actions and compromising their goals.

It is also for those who are looking for personal development and professional growth and for parents that want to better understand their children’s emotions.

What can I learn from “Emotional Intelligence”?

  • Rational intelligence is present in most of our decisions, but what we don’t know is that emotional intelligence is equally strong and influences our actions;
  • The amygdalas are responsible for emotional memories, but also for emotional hijacks;
  • When we don’t know how to deal with interpersonal intelligence, we are more susceptible to make wrong decisions regarding our profession, relationships, friendships, etc.;
  • Men, in general, have greater difficulty in recovering from emotional stress than women, because they were not taught to talk about their feelings;
  • Understanding emotional intelligence requires mastering the following areas: self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and external management;
  • Psychotherapy is a valid alternative that serves as an emotional tutorial to understand your emotions and let go of old traumas;
  • Children who are not instructed to develop emotional intelligence can become complex adolescents or adults with bad habits or addictions.

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[Book Summary] Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman

The emotional brain

With the use of the cognitive ability, the homo sapiens provided great advances in society. We take rational intelligence into account in most of our decisions. But what we don’t know is that emotional intelligence affects our actions as much as rationality.

Our emotions generate impulses that affect the senses of our body and the actions taken.

When we are angry, for example, the blood “boils” between the hands, the heart rate speeds up, and we tend to act with much more energy. While happiness gives us peace, gratitude, and a greater aptitude for cooperation.

Daniel Goleman says that people who are dominated by emotions and don’t control them – this doesn’t mean acting like a machine – can have their cognitive capacity easily canceled out.

Emotional hijacking

There are moments when we act on “impulse”, which are called by the author as emotional hijacking. The neural network takes control and sends a faster response than the neocortex – the thinking brain – to a situation, according to the book “Emotional Intelligence”.

These hijackings start from the two amygdalas, one in each hemisphere of the limbic brain. Some instant reactions are laughing at a joke or getting angry in a discussion. You are unable to notice or control what you are feeling until the moment passes.

On the other hand, without amygdalas, we would lose the ability to feel emotions related to objects, situations, or even people. Basically, our emotional system is capable of emotional memories that define whether or not we like a certain thing, for example.

The author Daniel Goleman states that, in a way, we have two brains, two minds. And the best way to deal with hijacking and bad decisions from purely logical thinking is to harmonize the two parts, finding a balance between reason and emotion. But first, we need to understand what it means to use emotions intelligently.

The nature of emotional intelligence

Understanding emotional intelligence consists of comprehending and mastering the following domains:

  • Self-awareness: recognizing your own emotions the moment they arise;
  • Self-regulation: knowing how to deal with your emotions;
  • Motivation: staying motivated is essential to be more attentive and be more productive;
  • Empathy: recognizing and understanding the emotions of others;
  • Social skills: knowing how to deal with the emotions of others.

Daniel Goleman quotes Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard School of Education, to say that there is no intelligence more important than interpersonal intelligence. When we don’t know how to deal with it, we are much more likely to choose the wrong profession or the wrong person to marry, for example.

Emotional intelligence applied


In the book “Emotional Intelligence”, the author Daniel Goleman affirms that there is a big difference between how emotions are taught between boys and girls. While girls are encouraged to talk about their own feelings, usually boys are not.

The result we have is men who do not know how to express their feelings in a relationship, while women are misunderstood. As a consequence, a barrier is built with each discussion generated.

It ends up causing emotional stress. Men, because they don’t understand what they feel, have greater difficulty in recovering from this stress than women.

That way, things get more and more difficult to resolve, and that’s where emotional hijackings come into play, with people expressing themselves in a harmful and uncontrolled way.


Feedback is the basic currency of emotional intelligence in management. Managers must learn to promote it and to accept it intelligently.

Daniel Goleman points out the fact that the company’s progress is highly influenced by the application and quality of feedbacks. Without it, people are in the dark, and don’t know how they are doing, how they can improve their performance at work, or in any kind of relationship.

However, you will not motivate a person if you use harsh words. For this, the author quotes Harry Levinson and his advice on how to make a review:

  • If you are not specific, people won’t know what they did wrong;
  • Instead of just criticizing, help the person to improve, providing a solution, for example;
  • Criticism is most effective when spoken in person;
  • Exercise your sense of empathy and be alert to the impact your words can have on the other person.

Keep in mind that an optimistic speech is far more beneficial than pessimistic words. Also, try to see the situation from a different point of view, searching for reasons that are leading someone to have a certain behavior.

People can change, but not so easily if they are not encouraged to do so. Instead, feelings of remorse and frustration, and even depression, can be triggered, as the author warns in the book “Emotional Intelligence”.

Windows of opportunity

Some parents raise their children without regard to their feelings. Sometimes, they ignore the moments of emotion to try to understand why they are crying, for example.

These parents can be constantly rigid and critical, or they can be those who expect the children to deal with their emotions alone. The result, says Daniel Goleman, are children who believe that nobody cares about their feelings.

And this influences their personality and decisions throughout life, as a lack of self-confidence. They feel discouraged and resentful, with difficulties in communication and possible disturbances.

The author of “Emotional Intelligence” mentions psychotherapy as an emotional tutorial. It consists of understanding past events to control post-traumatic stress, re-educating the emotional brain.

Emotional literacy

Children who are not instructed to develop emotional intelligence can become complex adolescents and adults. Such problems involve both personal dissatisfaction and the danger of affecting the ones around them.

They can develop specific behaviors determined by Daniel Goleman in four categories:

  1. Social problems: they are alone, unmotivated, unhappy and very dependent;
  2. Anxiety and depression: they are fearful, worried, sad, demanding too much of themselves and not feeling loved by friends and family;
  3. Lack of focus: they are impulsive, dispersed, and unable to concentrate;
  4. Delinquency or aggression: they are disobedient, liars, desperate for attention, disobedient, temperamental, and troublemakers.

The author defends the application of “emotional literacy” in schools, since it is the only place that can improve the emotional and social skills of a child with whom the family has failed.

The book “Emotional Intelligence” has an appendix that comments on the results of a project applied in schools in Northern California, where students demonstrated to be:

  • More responsible;
  • More assertive;
  • More helpful and comprehensive;
  • Better at resolving conflicts and problems.

Books about emotional intelligence

Ken Robinson, in the book “Out of Our Minds”, says that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ. This is because it involves the process of knowing yourself and others, besides being able to control feelings. After all, the control of thoughts and feelings are pillars of creativity.

Paula Marques and Ricardo Cayolla, authors of the book “The Super-Human Age”, affirm that human beings make decisions using very little the rational way, as they are emotional and end up being driven by impulses.

Finally, in the book “Thanks for Feedback”, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen point out the fact that we are driven by feedback, and that silence or a lack of evaluation can decrease the self-confidence of people, while a lack of recognition can leave a huge hole in any relationship.

How can I apply the ideas from “Emotional Intelligence”?

  • Recognize, name, and understand your feelings and emotions;
  • Be more positive about life and yourself;
  • See situations from different points of view to understand them better;
  • Exercise your empathy and communication;
  • Cooperate and help others;
  • Solve interpersonal problems;
  • When you are in a stressful situation, try to take a break and perform activities that please you;
  • Find reasons that motivate you to keep improving.

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Emotional Intelligence - Daniel Goleman