B O O K S
Not according to psychologist Daniel Goleman. In his book "Emotional Intelligence," the New York Times writer and former magazine editor sets forth his theory that even a genius smarter than Albert Einstein might not get anywhere if he or she doesn't understand the formula for human emotions.
According to this theory, success in professional and personal life does not rely solely upon being smart in the traditional sense (i.e. having a wide range of knowledge and technical expertise). Instead, success depends just as much on how we interact with the people around us.
Author Daniel Goleman outlines five main areas of "emotional intelligence." In short, developing these five skills is the key to becoming emotionally intelligent.
So while an intelligent person may come up with a plan to solve all the world's environmental problems, it would take an emotionally intelligent person to get the great plan implemented.
"In a sense we have two brains, two minds," Goleman writes, "and two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional. How we do in life is determined by both - it is not just IQ, but emotional intelligence that matters."
Once you become aware of the way emotions affect everyday human behavior, you will be able to improve your effectiveness in dealing with others. This could lead to improved business success, better personal relationships, or, in the case of environmental training, more effective results.
By applying Goleman's ideas and recognizing the emotional factors in the learning process, we can tailor trainings to best suit those who seek to learn.
Meanwhile, the neocortex brings a more analytic or appropriate response to emotional impulses, regulating the amygdala. "The connections between the amygdala and the neocortex are the hub of the battles… between thought and feeling. This circuitry explains why emotion is so crucial to effective thought, both in making wise decisions and in simply allowing us to think clearly."
With everything we do, both of these two parts of the brain generate a response of some kind. Therefore, the key is to develop an awareness of the emotional responses we can expect in different circumstances and train ourselves to respond in a rational manner.
Another emotional phenomenon in the learning process involves the feeling of "flow." This emotional state happens when someone gets so caught up in what they are doing they forget about the rest of the world.
"Flow represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performance and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized and aligned with the task at hand. … It is a state in which people become utterly absorbed in what they are doing, paying undivided attention to the task, their awareness merged with their actions."
Because flow is so powerful and absorbing, teachers and trainers can achieve unparalleled results by tapping into areas that provide flow for learners. "Knowing a student's profile can help a teacher fine-tune the way a topic is presented and offer lessons at the level that is most likely to provide an optimal challenge. This makes learning more pleasurable, neither fearsome nor a bore."
While some of the material may seem like common sense, Goleman's theory of emotional intelligence explains much about the reasons people succeed or don't succeed. The book also offers insight into how even successful people can make their lives and work more rewarding. However, the countless examples of criminals and small children only serve to explain the concepts and do not provide many concrete steps for implementing Goleman's ideas.
Even so, the book is interesting reading for trainers and for anyone else who deals with other people in daily life. The ability to hold back rash emotions, to recognize what others are feeling and to build a rapport with other people are skills anyone can learn and master. And by adding emotional skill to the definition of what it means to be smart, we are likely to find we've suddenly become a lot more intelligent than we ever were before.
- Reuben J. Stern