anonymous tech woman

Yet another woman in technology blog. I'm actually a developer who uses a variety of Java and database technologies on a variety of platforms.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Emotional Intelligence

I am currently reading "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence is the factors of self-awareness, self-discipline and empathy which make people what they are or simply put another name for "Character". The reason I read this book is IT is an area which seems dominated by people with poor emotional intelligence. I have experienced this myself in companies where senior management don't have the ability to see that improper criticism and blame, personal attacks, in effective hierarchies of middle management, managers who intimidation of staff below and give poor feedback leads to poor staff morale, high staff turnover and a company who is likely to have staff who turn to the law to resolve issues. While this doesn't not affect profit margins in the short term in the long term profit margins are seriously suffer.

Good emotional intelligence makes people successful in work, relationships and social settings, whilst bad emotional intelligence makes people more likely to be criminals, jobless and be divorced. Emotional Intelligence is not linked to IQ which explains why you get people who do well academically but seem to do badly in other aspects of their lives.

The majority of the factors involved in the development of emotional intelligence are developed during childhood but they can be nurtured during adulthood. The reason emotional intelligence is important that it under pins learning new skills, the control of impulsive behaviour and our relationships with others.

The book is divided in to 5 sections. The first section is "The Emotional Brain". This section explains the concept of emotional intelligence and the neuroanatomy of emotional intelligence. It explains why some of our instincts and behaviours are a throw back to caveman times.

"The nature of Emotional Intelligence" starts with a chapter about self-awareness. This breaks people down into those who are self-aware, engulfed or accepting of their emotions, and gives examples of people who cannot show their emotions for different reasons such as alexithymia for people who seem to lack any emotions.

"Emotional Intelligence Applied" is the section that shows that different ways of how you interact with people can produce good or bad results. For example a domineering boss who intimidates people will not have team of people behind them that will warn of any disasters, so if this boss is a lead pilot it can cause a plane crash. This section explains the roots of prejudice and shows that children are taught hateful stereotypes against a group at a young age but with the reasoning behind their hatred given to them when they are older. It also shows that even if people are not given reasons later for their hateful stereotypes they will still discriminate for example when choosing a non-white job applicant they will decide that applicant doesn't fit exactly whilst the white applicant who also doesn't fit gets the job. It then uses an US restaurant chain to show how ineffective leadership and individuals who say nothing will allow "evil" to flourish. Other examples are used to show how bad emotional intelligence is likely to lead to depression, drug addiction, criminality and divorce.

"Windows of Opportunity" talks about where people learn their emotional intelligence. It uses studies of families and gives good and bad examples of parenting that lead to well adjusted children. Inept parenting styles include ignoring the child's feelings altogether, being laissez-fair, being contemptuous and showing no respect for how the child feels and being simply abusive. This section also mentions post-traumatic stress disorder in adults and children, and examples of how to heal from the trauma.

"Emotional Literacy" gives examples of school programs where children learn emotional intelligence from the youngest age possible. It illustrates how wars on drugs etc. don't work but teaching children emotional intelligence at school will lead them to resist drugs, stop girls getting pregnant and stop children being criminals at a young age.

This book is an eye-opener by explaining what people are really seeking for psychotherapy and shows how emotional intelligence affects our daily life. It doesn't not show how you can affectively harness what you have learnt to apply it to your own life but aims to give a broad background to what is emotional intelligence.


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