The Other Kind of Smart

Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success

The Other Kind of Smart

Author: Harvey Deutschendorf
Pub Date: May 2009
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814414057
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814414064

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

What Is EI?

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by changing the attitude of the mind.”

—William James, Psychologist and Philosopher

The idea that our emotions influence how well we do in life is not

new. It has been around as long as humans have been on earth. The

ancient Greek philosophers spoke of the impact that emotions had on

themselves and on those around them. In the last few decades, we have

made major breakthroughs in the study of our emotions and their effect

on our lives.

History of a Concept

During the early part of the twentieth century, researchers and psychologists

seriously began to study various forms of general intelligence. By

the time the IQ test was established and being used in schools, David

Wechsler, who developed the latest version of the IQ test in 1940, already

felt that there were other areas of intelligence that needed to be measured.

He inferred that one of the areas we needed to look at was what

is now called emotional intelligence. In 1955, Albert Ellis, the founder of

rational-emotive therapy, speculated that people could learn to deal with

their emotions by using their rationale. In 1980, Dr. Reuven BarOn, an

Israeli psychologist and Rhodes Scholar, began to study how emotions

affect people’s functioning.

Using his own work and that of earlier researchers, BarOn began to

develop the emotional quotient, or EQ test, for emotional intelligence,

the first scientifically valid assessment for emotional intelligence. The

American Psychological Association approved the test, known as the

BarOn EQ-i®, or Emotional Quotient Inventory.

The term emotional intelligence is credited to John Mayer of the

University of New Hampshire and Peter Salovey of Yale University.

In 1990, the two psychology professors, along with colleague David

Caruso, developed an alternate test for emotional intelligence. Their test,

the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), is an

ability-based test of emotional intelligence. The discussion around who

actually discovered emotional intelligence or who first coined the term

is a moot point. Our knowledge base had progressed to the point that

researchers and social scientists were making new breakthroughs in the

area of human functioning. With our new understanding, it was becoming

possible to measure and test for the effects of emotions in our lives in

an accurate and meaningful way.

Think of it as being similar to technical breakthroughs such as

the automobile or airplane. Although the Wright brothers have gone

down in history as the first to achieve sustained airborne flight, there

were others who were working on this and close to achieving flight.

Technology had advanced to the point that airborne flight was possible

and there were inventors at that time in all the industrial nations such

as England, France, and Germany who were getting close to achieving a

breakthrough. If the Wright brothers had not made their historic flight in

Kitty Hawk, it is likely that someone would have flown shortly after that

time. It was an idea whose time had come. The same principle applies to

emotional intelligence.

In 1995 Daniel Goleman published Emotional Intelligence, which

summed up the work that had been done up to that point in the field.

It became a bestseller, and Goleman appeared as a guest on the Oprah

Winfrey Show. If there was a defining moment for emotional intelligence,

this was it. Public awareness of the concept, which up until this point

had been minuscule, jumped dramatically. People began to talk about

emotional intelligence as articles began to appear in major magazines

such as Time and Newsweek.

In 1998, Goleman followed up his highly successful first book with

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, in which he researched how

businesses were benefiting from implementing emotional intelligence

concepts in the workplace. Like his first book, this one also became successful

and the author again appeared on Oprah. In the last few years,

articles have appeared in prestigious business publications such as the

Harvard Business Review and Fast Company, quickly clearing up any

misconceptions that emotional intelligence is some “fuzzy, feel good”

idea that has no place in the real world.

Misconceptions

Since the term emotional intelligence has been around, there have been

some misconceptions regarding what it means. Without digging further

and investigating as to what the term actually means, people have

jumped to conclusions based solely on their connotations of the word

emotional. In the book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel

Goleman attempts to set the record straight and clear up some misconceptions

surrounding the term emotional intelligence.

Playing Nice

Rather than simply being nice, emotional intelligence means being real,

open, and honest regarding our feelings. This can take courage as it is

often easier to skirt around issues than to confront them directly. Rather,

we need to be real in our interactions with others. While we should

be sensitive to other people’s feelings, ignoring or overlooking their

negative or destructive behavior does them no favors. If we truly care

about someone, we must be forthright and honest even though it may be

uncomfortable for us at the time and not appreciated. True friends will

end up appreciating that we had the courage, and cared enough, to be

honest with them.

Letting It All Hang Out

As Goleman points out, “Emotional intelligence does not mean giving

free rein to feelings—‘letting it all hang out.’ Rather, it means managing

feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling

people to work together smoothly toward common goals.”1

There is a time and place for expressing strong emotional feelings to

others. For example, during a staff meeting is not the right time or place

to vent anger at a coworker. Later, once we are calmed down and have

carefully thought out what we are going to say and are in a private setting

with the coworker would be a much better time and place.

Women Have More Emotional Intelligence

Another aspect of EI that is frequently misunderstood is the differences

between the genders’ natural ability to express it. Women in our society

have always had a great deal more freedom and permission to express

and show their emotions than men. This is slowly starting to change as

Western culture has been waking up to the negative consequences of not

allowing men to openly express their emotions. Because women have

been much more open and expressive in general with their emotions, it

is assumed by some that they will be better in all areas of EI than men.

Daniel Goleman tried to clear up misconceptions regarding gender differences

when he wrote that “women are not ‘smarter’ than men when

it comes to emotional intelligence, nor are men superior to women. Each

of us has a personal profile of strengths and weaknesses in these capacities.

Some of us may be highly empathic but lack some abilities to handle

our own distress; others may be quite aware of the subtlest shift in our

own moods, yet be inept socially.”2

When we add up male/female profiles, we find that women on the

whole are more aware of their emotions and are better at forming relationships

with others while men adapt more easily and handle stress

better. However, it is important to remember that this finding does

not account for individual variations where these differences could be

reversed. There are men who are very aware of their emotions and are

able to form strong relationships, just as there are women who adapt

easily and are good at handling stress.

Emotional Intelligence Is Not Fixed at Birth

The most exciting and promising aspect of emotional intelligence is that

we are able to change it. In other words, unlike our IQ, we are not stuck

with what we are born with. The great news about EQ is that it is not

fixed or only developed at a certain stage in life. It has been shown that

life experiences can be used to increase EQ and that we can continue to

develop our capacity to learn and adapt as we grow older. The EQ realm

is one area that does reward us for successfully having gone through

stages of our lives.

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