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Book Review: Working with Emotional Intelligence

April 1st, 2008

working-with-emotional-intelligence.jpgDaniel Goleman brought wide popular recognition to the concept of emotional intelligence in his best-selling book of the same name. This book is divided into five parts: the emotional brain, the nature of emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence applied, windows of opportunity, and emotional literacy. Goleman states that humans have two minds, one that is an emotional mind and the other a rational mind. According to the author, “All emotions, in essence, are impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us” (Goleman 1995).

In one section of his book, Goleman tells of a sophomore in high school who was a straight-A student fixated on getting into Harvard Medical School. His physics teacher gave him an 80 on a quiz and the student feared that this grade would put his dream in jeopardy. The student brought a butcher knife to school and stabbed his teacher after an emotional confrontation. The court found him innocent, ruling that he was mentally insane at during the accident (Goleman 1995). “The question is, how could someone of such obvious intelligence do something so irrational — so downright dumb? The answer: Academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life” (Goleman 1995). A high IQ can contribute about 20 percent to the factors that determine success.

Emotional Intelligence is defined by five main abilities: Knowing one’s emotions (self-awareness), managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions of others (empathy), and handling relationships. Goleman states, “People who excel in these skills do well at anything that relies on interacting smoothly with others; they are social stars” (43-44). All these skills can be developed. Emotional wisdom and maturity can be acquired and enhanced. Goleman’s book summarizes and analyzes the research on how a person’s emotional “intelligence” contributes to functioning well in our society. The theory of emotional intelligence has spread into schools and the business community. Practical application of this popular theory has become the basis for many training and counseling sessions.

So, what are some practical applications of emotional intelligence in the workplace? On some of the findings, emotional intelligence (EI) is utilized in the success of meeting planning in the industries. A small research study was conducted by a Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry (Canada-based expert in EI and co-director of the Institute for Health and Human Potential) with meeting planners in the first quarter of 2000. He quotes that, “emotional quotient, or EQ, is responsible for 68% of the success of high-performing planners” [and] tech skills 22%, and IQ only 8%.

Emotional Intelligence can be further defined into five major categories: self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills (Goleman, 1995). “What’s your problem?” Athena Miller, president of Gilbert, Arizona-based Human Dimensions, works with managers and their teams in recognizing their self-awareness. Apparently, these teams spend most of their time fighting, distrusting, and “back-stabbing” each other. People need to express their emotions and feelings with each other and be aware of how they interact with others.

Another example of self-awareness, a personal competency, was found at the Center for Organizational Excellence in Fairfax Station, Virginia. The president, Dr. Joseph Mancusi, says that “planners with such aptitude are able to cope with the tremendous chaos and change inherent to conventions and meetings” and that to assure us that EI, unlike IQ, can be learned and developed (Meany, 2000).

Self-management and self-motivation, sometimes referred to as “Get them under control” is being able to manage your emotions and impulses – to delay your gratification, as well as to persevere in the face of setbacks and failures (Goleman, 1995). After self-awareness you can begin self-management and create walls or “blocks” that will prevent your usual or natural reaction. Once you can take control of your own emotions and get past the obstacles, you can then “orchestrate the actions of others.”

This seems to hold true in San Francisco-based Q-Metrics, where Esther Orioli, president and CEO, says, “your first reaction is fear or inadequacy.” A vice president of sales force performance at PlanSoft Corporation in Ohio, Mike Kunkle, stresses the importance of controlling one’s emotions. In one particular instance Kunkle and his colleagues were barraged by a team member who kept making sarcastic remarks. Kunkle didn’t waste time in arguing or responding to each remark and in the end the meeting actually was pretty productive because he didn’t let the “comments derail the conversation.” (Meany, 2000).

Empathy and social skills, “Skills that matter” are your two social competencies that sense how others are feeling and being able to handle those emotions of others. In one particular case, Jeannie Coyle, who is now a special educations teacher, was formerly with Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association in Washington D.C., where she was an exhibit manager. On one rather already rough day, she and her exhibitors were prepping for a meeting hall. They had to first wait out twelve hours for another group to finish and because they waited that long Coyle and her team were in there all night. To ward off irritated and exhausted exhibitors she ordered lots of room service and committed herself to stay with them all night until 5:00 a.m. (Meany, 2000). I think this demonstrates a high emotional intelligence in the field of empathy and social skills; she demonstrated that she understood, cared, and most importantly did something about it.

There are many other examples of emotional intelligence in practice not only in industries, but now perhaps in curriculums in college for college students. One case reveals EI being taught to future leaders for business graduates. At some business schools EI is taught through stages or phases as Cherniss and Goleman (1995) put it. “There would be four stages:

  1. Stage 1: Students deny that they have any need for change.
  2. Stage 2: Students see the need to improve but are not sure that anything can be done or they delay action.
  3. Stage 3: Students recognize the problem and understand that there are alternative ways of dealing with it, but have not worked out a plan.
  4. Stage 4: Students have a plan and put it into action.”

Through these stages tailored to college students, professors can map the EI structure and lead students from stage one to stage four increasing the students morale, motivation, and perseverance (Tucker, Sojka, Barone, & McCarthy, 2000).

Evaluation

I thought the articles were very interesting and closely related to the text, however, the text contains only a paragraph on emotional intelligence. After reading these articles and doing my own extended research, I find that I wish we spent more time on emotional intelligence. I feel that this particular topic would be 90% of OB – organizational behavior and how to be successful managers.

I agreed with most of the comments and summaries in the articles, with the exception of a few. To name one example of disagreement, with my “working knowledge” of EI, the article on You’re Smarter Than You Think, under “Get Them Under Control” Meany expounds Mike Kunkle’s experience with warding off “snide remarks”, continuing with his speech, and being able to maintain a productive meeting, she says is not the works of EI. However, I say otherwise. Kunkle clearly demonstrated self-management and self-motivation. To reiterate, he controlled his emotions by not letting the “passive-aggressive” member to get to him and utilized self-motivation in terms of his perseverance to continue the meeting and, in turn, had a productive meeting. These two values are a part of personal competencies outlined by Goleman and Kunkle demonstrated a high emotional intelligence.

References

Goleman, Daniel (1995). Emotional intelligence. NewYork: Bantam Books.

Meany, R. (2000). You’re smarter than you think. Successful Meetings, 49 (12), 52-56.

Tucker, M. L., Sojka, J. Z., Barone, F. J., & McCarthy, A. M. (2000). Training tomorrow’s leaders: Enhancing the emotional intelligence of business. Journal of Education for Business, 75 (6), 331-338.


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