Reading Guide Questions
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
. We hope they will enrich your understanding of the follow-up
work to Dr. Goleman's groundbreaking international bestseller, Emotional
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.
- 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?
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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
"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?
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?
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"?
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?
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
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.