Daniel Goleman: Why Self-Improvement Begins with Self-Reflection

When people feel a need to transition into a new phase in their lives, they often think the shift needs to be external: new job, new house, new relationship. While those changes are often warranted, I recommend taking stock of your inner world to help guide your decisions. You may discover that you don’t need to change jobs; you just want to move to a different division. Or you would prefer downsizing into an apartment versus owning a two-family unit.

But finding clarity takes some effort. It requires asking the right questions that invite us to consider what really matters to us.»

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Daniel Goleman: Three Ingredients for Sales Success

“We have a brilliant systems analyst, but we’re afraid to put him in front of clients,” an IBM executive told me. “He’s rude and arrogant. The minute he sits down he starts telling the client what he thinks they need – never asks what they think, or even listens.”

As anyone in sales will tell you, the best sales people take the time to listen to what a customer or client needs, and then offers a solution. That takes a combination of IQ and emotional intelligence.

Any effective sales person needs enough basic smarts to understand what she is selling – psychologists call this a “floor effect” for IQ.»

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Daniel Goleman: The Chemistry of Connection

Two European telecoms had an agreement to jointly develop a new product. Each had its teams of engineers working hard on the project, and they coordinated by email.

But something went wrong. The emails degenerated into heated “flame wars,” and the project stalled.

A consultant was summoned, and came up with a remedy: he asked both teams to get together for a weekend offsite, just to get to know each other. Soon there were no more heated emails.

“We couldn’t connect.” You hear that simple explanation over and over for why a relationship failed – at work, dating, just about anywhere.»

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Daniel Goleman: Let’s Not Underrate Emotional Intelligence

  • “Passionate engineers or myopic entrepreneurs often lack certain EQ, but EQ is an indispensable trait of leaders that grow and scale companies,” observes a seasoned executive.
  • “Normally agree with you, but you couldn’t be any more wrong on this. The LACK of emotional intelligence by management is a huge gap right now,” says a marketing consultant.
  • “Don’t ignore the negative effect on teams of a leader with low emotional intelligence,” objects a web designer.

All these comments are responses to an acerbic take-down of emotional intelligence on LinkedIn by Adam Grant. To be sure, many commentators agree with his points. But I don’t take Grant’s arguments very seriously.»

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Daniel Goleman: The Art of Moving On

We all experience disappointments at work. Passed over for a promotion. Argument with a client or colleague. Office politics run amok. As a leader, your colleagues may see you as the cause of their frustrations – justified or not. Regardless of the source of grief, these distractions can impact performance on all levels. How can you help your team get past emotional roadblocks?

I spoke with my colleague, George Kohlrieser, a professor at IMD about high performance leadership in my master class series. During our discussion, he offered ways to rebound from difficult emotions.

Bonding is crucial for any conflict management and negotiation

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Daniel Goleman: The Valuable Data in Your Gut

The best business decisions take into account all the numbers and facts on the table, and then something from beyond the table: the brain’s total understanding of a deal.

This requires that we tune into brain circuitry that manages our entire life wisdom on the subject. The tricky part: none of this circuitry connects to the part of the brain that thinks in words. It connects largely to the gastrointestinal tract.

Specifically, we need to sense our gut feeling.

A study done at USC found that when highly successful entrepreneurs make decisions, they gather information as widely as possible, then check it against their gut sense.»

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Daniel Goleman: Starting a New Career? Consider Good Work

One reason Ebola has broken out so dangerously in countries like Sierra Leone traces to local customs that inadvertently spread the disease. One of these is the burial tradition where relatives kiss the deceased as a sign of respect.

But then a native health worker explained to locals why that was now a bad idea, and they came up with a neat solution: plant a banana tree with the deceased, and kiss the bananas instead of the person.

This works well within the set of local beliefs and eliminates one vector of the epidemic.

That brilliant insight was the result of methods that native health worker learned by being trained in ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

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Daniel Goleman: What are the Habits of a Systems Thinker?

Innate systems intelligence is present from our very early years. If nurtured, it can develop to surprising scope and depth in older students.

But the key to this progression is offering developmentally appropriate tools that enable students to articulate and hone their systems intelligence – whether through simple visual tools like a reinforcing feedback loop or software to build dynamic simulation models.

There is a natural interplay between tools and skills. As the old saying goes, “You need hammers to build houses but also to build carpenters.” Without usable tools, this innate systems intelligence lays fallow, much like our innate musical intelligence would if children were never given musical instruments.»

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Daniel Goleman: How to Hear Your Inner Voice

After being diagnosed with the liver cancer that was to take his life a few years later, Steve Jobs gave a heartfelt talk to a graduating class at Stanford University. His advice: “Don’t let the voice of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” But how do you hear “your inner voice,” that your heart and intuition somehow already know?

You need to depend on your body’s signals.

Monitoring of our internal organs is done by the insula, tucked behind the frontal lobes of the brain.»

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Daniel Goleman: Why We Need Caring Classrooms

More educators are recognizing that compassion can be taught. But I don’t think it’s enough to have children just learn about compassion, because we need to embody our ethical beliefs by acting on them. This begins with empathy.

There are three main kinds of empathy, each involving distinct sets of brain circuits.

1: Cognitive empathy: understanding how other people see the world and how they think about it. This lets us put what we have to say in ways the other person will best comprehend.

2. Emotional empathy: a brain-to-brain linkage that gives us an instant inner sense of how the other person feels – sensing their emotions from moment to moment.»

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