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Useful Book: Emotional Intelligence


Psychologist Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence may be 15 years old, but the ideas and information in it, far from being out of date, are being confirmed and expanded in psychological research to an extent that might be surprising even Goleman.

When the book first came out, the idea that emotional skills–like patience, self-control, focus, cooperation, and empathy, for instance–might be as important as intellectual skills was one that needed to be argued for. Goleman’s argument seems to have succeeded: these days as a general rule people seem to take it for granted that emotional skills are important for success, but exactly what those skills are, how they’re useful, and how they’re gained is still not common knowledge.

If you’ve read posts on this site regularly, you might find this book unnecessary: most of the information in it has been adopted and built upon by the relatively new field of Positive Psychology, and therefore has been demonstrated or even taken as a starting point in much of the research I’ve delved into over the past few years. However, as an introduction to the subject of emotional intelligence or even self-improvement in general, Goleman’s book covers more of the bases than pretty much any other book I could readily name.

Goleman also pays special attention to how emotional intelligence works in children and to strategies and school programs that can make a dramatic difference in a child’s life. As such, I’d doubly recommend the book to teachers and to parents wanting an introduction to some of the approaches used to help kids learn emotional skills.

A note about editions: I read the original version of this book rather than the revised, 2006 version I link to here, which appears to have some improvements and added, more recent material. Confusingly, there’s an apparently unrelated book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0, which appears to be getting good reviews from readers and selling very well. While I understand the marketing appeal of usurping the name of Goleman’s popular book (which I assume isn’t trademarked), I’m disappointed in the approach. However, it’s always possible that the authors really are working with Goleman or have his blessing and it just isn’t apparent from the book listing. In any case, to be clear, I’m referring to Goleman’s book in this post, and recommend it highly unless you’ve already learned all the basics of the subject.

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