Reading Week – Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goldman

In this book Daniel Goleman attempts to make a case for an unquantifiable ‘emotional intelligence’ which is a better predictor of all sorts of positive life outcomes than the traditional intelligence quotient so oft revered in the American school system.

Dr Goleman makes a persuasive case that one be happier and more successful if one was willing to let things go and tell others what they wish to hear.

The book has not aged well in some regards, the extrapolations on marriage breakdown rates or increases in violent crime have not come to fruition and I find many of the reported claims “too neat.” Perhaps it is because I came to this book from Tim Hartford’s “Messy” but does anyone really believe that the first and second tiers of violinists at a Berlin school were easily clusterable on some metric and neatly packaged into a 10,000 hours and 7,500 hours of practice group? Like many of the results and stories it fits too neatly with our all too human desire for an ‘A’ follows ‘B’ narrative.

That being said I found a number of the arguments about children’s education persuasive. I can definitely believe that children with friends do better than those without and can testify from experience that listening to others before jumping to conclusions about what they are going to say can lead to unexpected outcomes, and more interesting conversations.

Overall I found the book lacking in any practical advice in either how to modify ones own behaviour or how to raise ones children apart from the very generic mindfulness style ‘pay attention’ and ‘be present.’

This book did not present any philosophical arguments merely highlighting that one will ‘be more successful’ if you comply with what others do.

From time-to-time the book did look at how certain approaches could make one happier and that one should focus on attacking the actions and not the person.

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