Emotional Intelligence…Not So Much (Part 1)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Emotional Intelligence Part 1I was recently at the airport, to fly out of town, when I spotted a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0 in the airport bookstore.  Had to buy it.  I’m a perpetual student of all things potentially helpful with regard to our emotions.

I was already familiar with (and somewhat disappointed by) some of the earlier books on emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman, which began to appear in 2002.  But this 2009 book, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, promised to be even better. 

Instead of simply explaining what emotional intelligence (designated EQ to distinguish it from IQ) is and giving us a way to measure our own score via an online questionnaire, this book promised to show us how to raise our EQ skills with a series of 66 “proven action strategies.”

Great Sales Pitch…Very Poor Delivery

Unfortunately, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 disappointed me once again.  While it correctly pointed out that EQ is an important contributor to personal happiness, harmonious relationships, and both business and financial success, it did not offer truly powerful, transformative improvement strategies.

For example, the authors point out that only 36% of the more than 500,000 people they tested were able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. However, none of their 66 proven strategies helps you distinguish one emotion from another.

They also correctly point out that emotional awareness and understanding are not taught in schools, and that most people enter the workforce lacking key coping skills for managing their emotions in the heat of the many challenging business and interpersonal problems they are likely to encounter.

Yet their “solutions” to this problem are just more of the same superficial strategies that haven’t worked so well in the past.  Here are just a few of their 66 recommendations:

  • Quit treating your feelings as good or bad
  • Know who and what pushes your buttons
  • Keep a journal about your emotions
  • Get to know yourself under stress
  • Breathe right
  • Count to ten
  • Sleep on it
  • Smile and laugh more
  • Take control of your self-talk

See what I mean?  Instead of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, this sounds more like Emotional Intelligence 500 B.C.  To be fair, there are a few of the 66 strategies that are somewhat more helpful, but not all that much.

If The Emotional Intelligence Gurus Can’t Get It Right…

I am a firm believer that we have a gigantic problem with understanding and managing our emotions today.  It is a society-wide problem, and from my perspective it is only getting worse as each decade passes.

We desperately need more emotional intelligence…the type that can lead us to true emotional mastery…but what does it tell us when even the “established” emotional intelligence gurus can’t get it right?

Well, this tells me that something very important is still missing. Probably multiple things, but one of them for sure is a well-grounded model for understanding where our emotions truly come from and how they get produced within our bodies.  Emotional Intelligence 2.0 does present a model, but it’s not a complete model, and this is partly why I believe the advice it contains is so weak.

In my next two posts on this topic, I’m going to introduce you to two more books that I believe can move us in the direction of acquiring true emotional mastery:

  • Been There, Done That, Do This: An Insider’s Guide To Overcoming Your Dysfunctional Past, by Sam Orbitz (2003)
  • How To Eliminate Your Fear Of Spiders, by yours truly (2013)

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Best wishes and happy reading (and learning)!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chuck Wolfe January 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Hello Doc,

I laughed when I read your commentary, but Emotional Intelligence 500 B.C., seems a bit unfair. I am not sure if you have about my radio talk show and I am not sure if you are familiar with the work of Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey. My radio talk show is called “The Emotion Roadmap: Take the Wheel and Control How You Feel” and it is based on the work of Mayer and Salovey. Their model is unique and truly represents a breakthrough. Hopefully people also feel my Emotion Roadmap is also a innovative breakthrough that provides a template and process for helping people improve how they deal with emotionally challenging situations. If you want to know more about my show you can go to http://www.prx.org and type in my name to see a number of archived interviews I have done that I am proud to share.

Warm regards,
Chuck Wolfe


Doc Orman, M.D. January 16, 2013 at 8:37 PM

Chuck: Thanks for taking the time to let me and others know about your work. I will definitely check out the link you provided. Regards…Doc


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