A brilliant brain and a high IQ are of little use if you do not understand empathy, if you do not read your own emotions and that of others, if you are foreign to your heart and stateless of that social conscience in which to learn to connect , to manage fear, to be assertive … Emotional intelligence is, whether you like it or not, the real key to being happy.
It will not surprise you to know that nowadays the debate on what intelligence is seems not to have completely died out yet. The empirical evidence supports, for example, the existence of Spearman’s “G” factor, intended as a basic and essential foundation that defines all intelligent behavior. There is also Robert J. Sternber’s triarchic theory, as well as Howard Gardner’s well-known theory of multiple intelligences.
Where, then, is Daniel Goleman’s so-called “emotional intelligence” positioned? It is actually interesting to know that this idea, this concept and this essence has always been present in the history of psychology. Professor Goleman did not formulate it, but made it popular in 1995 thanks to his book Emotional Intelligence , which has sold more than 5 million copies.
Edward L. Thorndike, for example, as early as 1920 defined what he called “social intelligence”, or the basic ability to understand and motivate other people. David Wechsler, for his part, in the 1940s made it clear to everyone that no intelligence test could be valid if the emotional aspects were not taken into account. Later, Howard Gardner himself would establish the foundations of the idea of seventh intelligence, the so-called interpersonal intelligence, certainly very similar to emotional intelligence.
Despite everything, it was only in 1985 that the term “emotional intelligence” appeared for the first time, thanks to Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis entitled A Study of Emotion: developing Emotional Intelligence (“A study of emotions: development of Emotional Intelligence” ). Only 10 years later, the North American psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman started a phenomenon still in vogue that has allowed all of us to discover the enormous power that emotions have on us, on what we do and on our way of living. relate.
Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman began his career as a reporter for The New York Times and later became the guru of emotional intelligence. She is now over 70 years old, she is living the sweetest phase of her life and attracts attention with her serene smile and her penetrating and steady gaze. It almost seems that he always manages to perceive something more than others, a man who does not miss the details and who finds connections where others see only coincidences.
He always says that his passion for psychology was handed down to him by his mother, a social worker specializing in psychiatry who accumulated books on neuroscience, the human mind and behavioral sciences. It was those volumes that decorated and enriched his childhood.
At first they were nothing more than indecipherable texts, but which exerted an inexplicable fascination on him, and they soon turned into the source of motivation that propelled him on the path to what he is now: the greatest disseminator of social intelligence in each of the its acceptance, the educational one, the organizational one, the one associated with leadership …
What is emotional intelligence really?
This dimension responds to a different way of understanding intelligence, which goes beyond cognitive aspects – such as memory or the ability to understand problems. First of all, we talk about the ability to effectively direct oneself to other human beings and to oneself, to connect with one’s emotions, to manage them, to self-motivate, to curb impulses, to overcome frustration …
Goleman explains that his approach to emotional intelligence has four basic dimensions:
- The first is self-consciousness, and refers to our ability to understand what we feel and to remain attached to our values, to our essence.
- The second aspect is that of self-motivation and our ability to orient ourselves towards our goals, to recover from setbacks, to manage stress.
- The third has to do with social consciousness and empathy.
- The fourth dimension is undoubtedly the philosopher’s stone of Emotional Intelligence: our ability to relate to communicate, reach agreements and create positive and respectful connections with others.
In his books, Daniel Goleman reminds us of the need to be competent in all four areas. Otherwise there is the risk of finding himself in the classic scenario of the head prepared in Emotional Intelligence, but who has managed to reach only the level of self-consciousness and is, therefore, unable to empathize with others, to understand worlds other than his own needs. and values. The four areas must therefore be understood as a whole.
Emotional Intelligence can be learned and enhanced
Both in his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and in his Social Intelligence (2006) the author explains to us that part of this capacity resides in our epigenetics. In other words, it is possible to activate or deactivate it according to the emotional and social environment in which one grows and is educated.
However, and here lies the authentic magic, Emotional Intelligence responds to that brain elasticity where any stimulus, continued practice or systematic learning leads to changes, builds connections and new areas that increase competence in each of the 4 dimensions indicated.
Daniel Goleman also points out the need to educate children through this point of view. Whether at school or at home, we should all be able to create a valid and meaningful context in terms of emotional intelligence. On the other hand, as regards the adult world, we know that there is no shortage of courses, seminars and conferences of all kinds, as well as books and magazines that are always available to us for our training.
To achieve it, you need willpower, perseverance and the ability to apply that real consciousness that allows you to make present and constant the keys that Professor Goleman points out to us in his works:
- We need to identify the emotion behind each of our actions.
- It is necessary to broaden our emotional language (sometimes it is not enough to say “I’m sad”, we need to be more concrete: “I’m sad because I feel disappointed, a little angry and confused at the same time”).
- Check what we think to check how we behave.
- Finding a reason for the behavior of others, being able to understand the perspectives and emotional worlds of others.
- Expressing our emotions assertively.
- Improve our social skills.
- Learn to self-motivate and fight for our goals to achieve authentic happiness.
In conclusion, it is good to remember that intelligence is not just a figure derived from a standardized test. There is another sphere, another dimension and another intelligence that can allow us to achieve success. We talk about personal success linked to the ability to manage behaviors and emotions, connect with others, live in balance and harmony, feeling competent, free, happy and personally fulfilled. It is an adventure that must be conquered day by day.