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Customer Review

on April 20, 2011
This digital book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what emotional intelligence truly is: Daniel Goleman will help you understand the neural basis of emotional intelligence versus IQ. While the book is an essential tool for any educators/trainers or coaches specializing in field, it is also very useful for anyone who wants to improve their emotional intelligence abilities. Business leaders, for example, will find some useful tools for employee engagement. There is even a section that will be of interest to parents.

The book consists of 15 rich chapters:

1. Is Emotional Intelligence a Distinct Set of Abilities?
2. Self-Awareness
3. The Right Brain State for the Job
4. The Creative Brain
5. Self-Mastery
6. Managing Stress
7. Motivation: What Moves Us
8. Optimal Performance
9. The Social Brain
10. The Social Brain Online
11. The Varieties of Empathy
12. Gender Differences
13. The Dark Side (sociopaths in the workplace)
14. Developing Emotional Intelligence
15. Social Emotional Learning

Using seminal studies conducted by Reuven Bar-On, Goleman helps us see that there are unique areas of the brain that govern emotional intelligence. This is explained in concise, crystal-clear language, with well-illustrated diagrams of brain areas associated with emotional intelligence. The illustrations showed up in beautiful color on my IPAD.

Among the many things you will derive from reading this book is an understanding, for example, of why bad habits are so entrenched: they form a thick circuitry and become hard wired but we can use the power of neuroplasticity (i.e. the brain continually reshapes itself according to new experiences) to form new habits that become the brain's new default option. Goleman provides tips on how to overcome bad habits and form new ones.

In the chapter on managing stress, we learn that when we are in the grip of an emotional hijack, there is intense activity in the right prefrontal cortex while when we are feeling great, "enthused, energized, like we could take on anything," it is the left prefrontal area that lights up. We all have an "emotional setpoint," a left-to-right ratio of prefrontal activity that is an accurate prediction of our typical mood range from day to day.

We find out that there are three kinds of empathy: cognitive, emotional and empathic concern and each relies on different brain circuitry -- the book gives a few pointers on how to boost our empathy abilities.

On the Social Brain Online: Goleman reminds us that "Nature designed the social brain for face-to-face interactions," not for the digital world and he outlines the implications this has for our communications. You'll learn an interesting fact about the "negativity bias to email" and the one factor that can lower a group's IQ.

In the chapter on Optimal Performance, the author clearly outlines the relationship between stress and performance and the concept of flow, what is commonly known as "being in the zone." As a leader, it is your responsibility to understand where your team is in terms of a) disengagement (bored, uninspired), b) frazzled (overwhelmed by pressure), or c) in a flow state (optimal performance), so that you can create the conditions for everyone to do their best work. This book shows you the various pathways to flow for yourself and others on your team.

For parents, Goleman explains that emotional intelligence abilities start in early years and develop over the course of one's life. You'll understand the stages of brain growth in a child and why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs in schools give your child a head start: they provide the neural lessons they need as their brain grows. Goleman outlines research that shows that SEL programs reduce anti-social behavior and improve academic performance.

A lot of useful information is packed in this very brief e-book that you can read in one sitting. It brings in one convenient place studies done by some of the big names in the field, for example, Antonio Damasio (decision-making without emotion is neurologically impossible); Daniel Siegel (mindfulness and the brain); Barbara Frederickson(positivity), to name a few. It's a gift to have the latest brain science applicable to emotional intelligence in one small package, easily accessible to anyone.
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