Going along to get along

Q: Are people who go along to get along unethical? Meaning practicing avoidance.

It depends. There is much to be said for a spirit of cooperation, and getting along – top-performing teams, for example, thrive on harmony. On the other hand, when this means turning a blind eye to major ethical wrongs, then avoiding action is unethical.  We need people willing to speak the truth, even to power.»

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Leaders, followers and EI

Q: Is it possible to measure a leader’s EI from a follower’s perspective? Which is the suitable survey for a leader’s EI?

A: Getting followers’ reports on a leader is one of the best ways to guage her performance. Even if objective metrics like hitting quarterly numbers look good, how a leader hits the target matters enormously in the long run: a tyrannical boss may reach short-term objectives, but the attrition of talent and drop in morale will hurt longer term. There are, for example “kiss-up-kick-down” types who are charming to their own boss but hell to work for.  The best tool for getter followers to rate a boss is a confidential 360-degree questionnaire, one they can fill our anonymously, and with the data from everyone aggregated so no one can be identified.»

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“Design emotional maturity”

Q: I have read 3 of your books and I am writing my graphic design thesis investigating my “design emotional maturity” and how it will help me to overcome my fears in order to create better communication work. How can our emotional intelligence affect our performance as a designer?

A: The answer is in your question: fear itself, in all its forms, is the enemy of great performance – not just in design, but in any domain. The fundamental reason: when the brain’s circuitry for fear, worry, and anxiety takes over, it paralyzes the executive functions of the brain, the parts we use for thinking, creating, and execution of our plans. »

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What motivates you, Dr. Goleman?

Q: What has motivated you to accomplish so much in your lifetime? I am doing a short presentation focusing on bringing your name from the text book to real life, so any interesting facts from your childhood till now would be greatly appreciated.

A: I credit much of my motivating drive to my parents, both college professors. My mother was inspired early in her life by the example of Jane Adams, who founded one of the first “settlement houses,” dedicated to help impoverished immigrants make their way in fulfilling their dreams. As my mother was growing up in Chicago in the early years of the 20th century, herself the child of immigrants, she decided to follow in the footsteps of Adams, and so became a social worker in the early years of that profession. »

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Howard Gardner & multiple intelligences

Q: I am currently doing a research on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and I hope to ask if you feel that the identification of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Intelligences in Gardner’s theory is, in essence, Emotional Intelligence?

A: Yes. When I wrote Emotional Intelligence, I was building on Howard Gardner’s model of multiple intelligence. As I noted in the book, my model of emotional intelligence unpacks what Gardner calls the “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal” intelligences. In my theory, self-awareness and self-regulation are the intrapersonal abilities, and empathy and social skill the interpersonal.»

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Is there such a thing as too young for SEL?

Q: Is there a danger of teaching social and emotional issues to young children aged 4 to 7? I am wondering if they are developed enough to understand and isn’t there a danger of socializing impressionable minds and how do you teach when there are so many cultures in each class?

A: No danger, if done well – but great benefits. The best programs for young children in social and emotional learning, or SEL, are designed by child development specialists who know what is appropriate for each age.  So during the 4-to-7 years, for instance, learning to delay gratification and not give in to every impulse (like hitting when you’re angry) is an essential lesson, particularly because the brain’s circuitry for managing impulse is going through a growth spurt just about then.»

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Emotional response levels: low vs. high

Q: If psychopaths are people who can’t experience emotion or have low levels of emotional response, are there people with inappropriately high levels of emotional response?

A: One place way psychology categorizes people who have inappropriately high levels of emotional response is in terms of the “affective disorders,” like depression and anxiety. Both diagnoses refer to people who have distressing emotions too strong, too long-lasting, and too out-of-place. From the EI perspective, these problems are with emotional self-regulation.  While psychiatry tends to treat these too-high emotional response conditions with drugs, an alternative approach is to teach people to enhance their emotional self-management skills themselves, without medication.»

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EI & education: where to begin?

Q: After 20+ years in public & private education, I had to get out in order to redirect my energies for the last decade of service. My expertise has always been developing holistic education and emotional intelligence while struggling to maintain academic standards. I am now searching to get a certification to allow reentry to system. Any ideas or guidance?

A: The movement in social/emotional learning is flourishing, with more and more schools, both public and private, implementing these programs.  The main clearinghouse for information on this approach to education is the Consortium for Research on Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, www.casel.org. »

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EI as a job performance predictor

Q: Is it true that a major problem with the idea of EI is that studies have failed to show that EI predicts job performance above and beyond the “Big five” personality dimensions or beyond  ‘g’, the shorthand for core intelligence?

A: That criticism was made early in the history of EI, but has been weakened by new findings. EI is a young concept – it was proposed first just two decades ago, by Yale psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer, in an obscure psychological journal. I wrote Emotional Intelligence 15 years ago, calling wider attention to the concept. It’s only in the last decade that sound research on EI has accelerated – including good studies on how well EI predicts job performance.»

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Emotional intelligence & the obesity epidemic

Q: I am a Doctoral student working on a dissertation currently titled “A Mixed-Methods Study of the Correlation and Educator Perceptions among a Middle School Student’s Body Mass Index and Academics, Attendance, and Behavior.” While interviewing educators, they expressed their concern about obesity prevention and intervention not only occurring in the schools, but society. Another concern was that most people do not recognize themselves or someone else as being overweight or obese, when in fact they are. I instantly thought about ecological intelligence and wondered how you think society should respond to this epidemic. Any thoughts that you could provide would be greatly appreciated.


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