“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

AUTHOR: Daniel Goleman

AUTHOR: Daniel Goleman

You can’t learn about emotional intelligence without reading one of the most fundamental books that examines the role of emotional intelligence by a leading psychologist in the field. As a science journalist, author Daniel Goleman is a worldwide expert on emotional intelligence, having written many books on social and emotional learning, self-deception and destructive emotions. Goleman makes an interesting case for emotional intelligence being the strongest indicator of human success, and defines emotional intelligence in terms of personal motivation, empathy, altruism, and self-awareness, all such topics which are covered in the “Diplomatic Planner”.  

To help you get to grips about the fundamental learnings of emotional intelligence, we recommend the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman to support Chapter 3 - Enhanced Emotional Intelligence of the “Diplomatic Planner”. The book paints an excellent picture on how emotional intelligence impacts on many aspects of our life, depicting the ways emotional intelligence evolves and how it can be boosted. The book can get quite scientific in places but the general themes and nuggets of wisdom are quite clear in his writing in an engaging manner. His insight can really help you understand your own character and that of others, particularly in how our background is shaped by our personality and learning to survive emotionally. The key lessons of emotional intelligence is learning to be less judgmental of others and their reactions and attitudes, particularly when faced in difficult situations.

Our use of emotions can create positive outcomes and avoid situations that may cause us harm. Our emotions at times can also lead us astray where irrational behaviour starts to come into play. Understanding and tapping into our emotions is important to help us learn new things, understand one another and push us into action, and it is shocking how little training is done in international relations on a skill that fundamentally makes us human. In fact, emotions are vital to us as it provides us with many advantages we can utilise in the operational field of diplomacy and international relations.

One of the many ways to using emotions to our advantage is to help us learn from our memories - another source that I mention in a previous article/podcast. Our brains doesn’t just store facts and experiences. It records our feelings and helps us learn from it. Our emotions help us to interpret the feelings of others, which can aid us to predict their actions. In negotiations, judging body language and reading emotions is key to coming to a conclusion.  Our emotions guides us to action, to react quickly to a situation, and prepare us for an attack. According to Goleman, people who lost their capacity for emotion also lose the drive to act. A common example of this are patients in a psychiatric ward who are inhibited to feel emotion, and therefore don’t act.

Our emotions are important tools for understanding interacting with our environment, but there is a line between acting rationally and irrational. For example, when you are scared, you may find that you overreact to certain situations and become hyper sensitive to the environment around you. Everything seems dangerous and your body goes into flight or fight mode. Such heightened emotion may cause us to make a mistake or perceive information as a threat to us. Our emotional mind reacts to situations in the present based on past experiences even when conditions have changed.

Once you start to understand how emotions plays a huge part to our actions, motivations, decisions, and thoughts, you can start to tap into the power that emotions has on humans. This is how we start to form emotional intelligence, by managing our feelings without being controlled by them. Doesn’t that sound like an awesome super power? If you can control your emotions when working with vulnerable children and still guide them to safety, you WILL be a superhero. Studies have shown that people who aren’t able to recognise their own feelings are prone to violent outbursts and in an environment where you are the professional, you don’t want to be caught in this situation.  

Once you are able to recognise your own emotions, you need to become aware of what causes them. This is where behavioural science comes in. Imagine a situation where you are good friends with a colleague and they walk by you in the morning without acknowledging you, will you become upset or angry, or just accept it? Whatever the case, your emotions will urge you to react over something that is normally familiar to you. When you begin to recognise and manage your feelings, emotional intelligence can help you concentrate on achieving certain goals. Emotional intelligence trains you to think of situations from another angle and helps you navigate the social world. There will always be people who play a role in your existence and you will need to socially engage with them if you want to remain living a fulfilled life. Emotional intelligence helps us foster these social interaction because it helps you put yourself in the shoes of others, allowing the world of empathy to become your norm.  

If emotional intelligence can open up all these subtle cues that we think we already know about, imagine how effective we can become when we engage with people from different cultures, background and societal upbringing? People with emotional intelligence develop social aptitudes such as the ability to teach or resolve conflict because they are good at maintaining relationships in social environments. Unless you plan to work from an office by yourself with no one else around you, emotional intelligence is vitally important if you want to operate in an environment where you are bound to be with others. Given the great impact of emotional intelligence, it is surprisingly how little is taught to international relations practitioners, until now.  

If you want to enhance your self-awareness and self-management, there are several things you can do. Goleman suggests practising inner dialogues, i.e, talking quietly to yourself to assist you in identifying and naming your feelings. If you want to improve empathy, try to mirror another person’ body language. How you speak to yourself and carry yourself is a huge part to training yourself and training yourself well in emotional intelligence.  

The book provides ample example from personal to professional settings to help you really get to grips to how important emotional intelligence is. Goleman’s writing on “Emotional Intelligence” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register