Reading guide for Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

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Working With Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman

Working With Emotional Intelligence
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  • Hardcover: Nov 1998,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2000,
    383 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Working with Emotional Intelligence. We hope they will enrich your understanding of the follow-up work to Dr. Goleman's groundbreaking international bestseller, Emotional Intelligence.

Working with Emotional Intelligence further expands Dr. Goleman's theories of how emotional intelligence is more important than IQ, specifically in relation to today's fluid work environment. Drawing on numerous tests and studies, as well as countless personal histories, he draws an electrifying argument in support of working with emotional intelligence.

Not only do star performers excel as individuals, but they are the ones who are best able to maximize a team's potential, through their use of such emotional competencies as building bonds, collaboration, and creating group synergy in pursuit of collective goals. The good news is, we can all learn from these star performers. Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed; we can train ourselves out of bad habits and into good ones, we can heighten our emotional sensitivity to others, and we can expand on our own self-awareness.

Working with Emotional Intelligence is a must read for anyone interested in maximizing their potential. The book sets down the guidelines for effective emotional competence training, and points the way for employers and employees alike to better themselves and their organizations in the face of these increasingly unstable times.

FOR DISCUSSION
  1. Working with Emotional Intelligence argues that the business environment has changed radically since the 1970's, producing new challenges, and hence, a demand for new talents. "Data tracking the talents of star performers over several decades reveal that two abilities that mattered relatively little for success in the 1970's have become crucially important in the 1990's: team building and adapting to change. And entirely new capabilities have begun to appear as traits for star performers, notably change catalyst and leveraging diversity." Do you agree? Have you noticed this trend in your own field? How do these changes manifest themselves in the job market?

  2. Why do you think businesses and colleges continue to ignore emotional intelligence when assessing an applicant's strengths, and focus almost exclusively on measures of IQ? Is there a way of accurately gauging emotional intelligence? Do you think there should be widespread use of emotional intelligence testing? How might such tests be standardized?

  3. Goleman draws a distinction between "good stress" and "bad stress," arguing that they result in different biological responses; producing adrenaline and cortisol, respectively. What are the challenges that you find invigorating, versus those that overwhelm, or paralyze you? Do you believe it's possible to transform your biological response to these challenges through a heightened emotional intelligence? What are some steps you might take to increase your desired emotional competencies?

  4. How might businesses use the information in Working with Emotional Intelligence to transform their companies? What are some specific tools that Goleman provides to a CEO, enabling them to cut costs and increase earnings?

  5. Each job demands different emotional competencies. Which do you think pertain to your chosen field? How would you rate your own level of ability in those competencies? Do you feel proficient in any emotional competencies that are superfluous to your work? When do these abilities come into play?

  6. Goleman describes an integrated program for developing emotional intelligence in the workplace, and notes that optimum success is seen when all of the elements are used in combination. Which of the "best practices" do you think is most difficult to implement? Which ones are you currently using in your own workplace? Which elements present a new challenge for you?

  7. Emotional intelligence does not mean, "being nice" or "giving free reign to feelings." When does an excess of social sensitivity become distracting and harmful? When can positive qualities, such as affiliation, initiative, empathy, and gregariousness get in the way of productivity and success? What is it that enables us to strike the desired balance? How does that balance shift according to differing environments and different jobs?

  8. The book points out a frequent disparity between how well people fare academically and their subsequent success level upon joining the work force. "Paradoxically, IQ has the least power in predicting success among that pool of people smart enough to handle the most cognitively demanding fields, and the value of emotional intelligence for success grows more powerful the higher the intelligence barriers for entry into a field." Why do you think this is so? Do you know of academic geniuses who failed to measure up to their potential? Do you think their lack of emotional intelligence was at fault?

  9. "An emotional competence is a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work." Our emotional intelligence determines our potential, our emotional competence indicates "how much of that potential has been translated into on-the-job capabilities." Are you living up to your emotional intelligence potential? What emotional intelligence talents do you feel you possess, that remain untapped, or undeveloped?

  10. Throughout the book, Goleman links many aspects of emotional intelligence to evolutionary developments that took place hundreds of thousands of years ago. Do you agree that these sensitivities are rooted in our species' development? What are some evolutionarily inherited behaviors that are no longer applicable to modern life?

  11. Goleman writes, "The rhythm and pace of modern life give us too little time to assimilate, reflect, and react-- We need time to be introspective, but we don't get it - or don't take it." How do you take the time to be introspective, and process your emotions? What form do your moments of quietude take? Meditation? Gardening? Walks? Do you wish you had more such "do nothing" time? How might you find additional opportunities to listen to your "inner voice"?

  12. A list of common blind spots that might prevent someone from pursuing self-awareness are: blind ambition, unrealistic goals, relentless striving, drives others, power hungry, insatiable need for recognition, preoccupation with appearances, need to seem perfect. Do any of your co-workers exhibit such tendencies? Does it restrict their emotional competencies? Do any of the above qualities impair your own sense of self? What other blind spots can you think of?

  13. Goleman stresses the importance of "team capabilities" and the notion that it is a group's collective emotional intelligence that propels a company's success much more than any individual's talents. In an ideal group, each individual contributes different, complimentary emotional competencies that produce a "critical mass" for success. Have you seen such EQ team work in action and noticed its positive results? In your own work, do you collaborate with individuals whose emotional competencies compliment your own? Or are there certain important deficiencies you all share?

Reproduced with the permission of Random House, inc.
Page numbers in reading guides usually refer to paperback editions.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Bantam Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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