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The reworked English version of my book "7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence" is now available!

Introduction to the Book " 7 X EQ "

Patrick E Merlevede, M.Sc.

It was Daniel Goleman's best seller and the press coverage around it that introduced me to the term "Emotional Intelligence". Goleman's book raises a whole series of problems and proposes only few solutions that are of immediate use. On the other hand, if we consider the various models of neurolinguistics, it becomes clear that this study-domain gives the answers to the problems raised by Goleman.

The solutions one can derive from neurolinguistics will help you to increase your emotional intelligence, whether you are 12 or 65 years old. This is shouldn't come as a surprise, since the field of neurolinguistics has been studying the secrets of success for nearly 25 years to find the key. Geniuses such as Leonard de Vinci, Albert Einstein, John F Kennedy or Walt Disney were analyzed and indexed according to these models. Since 1974 of the million people followed training in this discipline, including employees of companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Boeing. Other companies, such as British Telecom in the United Kingdom, Volkswagen in Mexico, FIAT in Italy or Levi-Strauss in the United States, came in contact with neurolinguistics through consultants using this approach.

The sales of Goleman's book " Emotional Intelligence " as well as the number of other works which appeared on this subject since 1995, indicate that QE became a concept that's hard to ignore. Unfortunately, the majority of the authors don't get any further than teaching some tricks to their audience, crossbred with some anecdotes. Since I wouldn't qualify a dog that learned some smart tricks as "intelligent", to me this approach seems rather unsatisfactory. That's why this book follows the approach of teaching you a series of models that will enable you to develop your own tricks!

This work is conceived like a manual, complete with exercises. In total you will find about fifty exercises, placed at the end of the development of a subject. For a number of exercises we recommend you to do them in pairs or in a small group, but we designed this book for self-improvement. In spite of being "hands-on", the book explains you the models that underlie each lesson; complete with concrete examples and some applications given in example, as well as indications of later development of the model suggested. Given its design, this book is usable as well for a course in emotional intelligence as for a course into neurolinguistics. We tried to explain the models in plain words, but we also mention the jargon of the neurolinguistics. However, ignoring this jargon won't hurt your comprehension of this material. Finally, this book can also be an excellent link towards other books or courses that deal with this field of study.

 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The least to from this work is a clear definition of emotional intelligence. The term of emotional intelligence was launched when people started to realize that a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is no guarantee against failures in everyday life, whereas others with an average IQ succeed. The caricature of the inattentive professor that is used in certain comic strips serves as an excellent example. Whether you call the life of professor Tournesol a success, depends on your definition of success. However, it is difficult to qualify his life as "socially integrated". Therefor, I recommend, at least for the sake of a definition, to make a distinction between "traditional" intelligence and "emotional" intelligence.

Some will conclude, from the observation of caricature above, that the traditional intelligence contributes only for 20% to the success that a person can reach. This kind of assertions immediately brings along questions as: " how do they measure success? " and " how do they know that the IQ determines only 20% of success? ". Based on this type of questions, you can dispute the complete pseudo-scientific approach underneath most books on EQ. Thus we encountered a mayor problem of psychology as a science: it is extremely difficult to prove whatever point you are trying to make! It is one of the reasons for which the psychologists use the statistics, but like says it Benjamin Disraeli: " there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics " 

So it's too ambitious to claim that an assertion is absolutely true. In spite of that I would like to ask you to accept the following definition throughout this book:

  1. Problem description: get the facts together in an overview of the problem (basically what is taught starting during primary school);
  2. Problem solving: get to a (theoretical) solution that takes into account all elements of the problem description;
  3. Implementing the solution: find a way to bring the solution into practice.

The first two parts of problem solving belong to the domain of "classic intelligence". It is the result of applying "logical thinking". However, the third part requires more emotional intelligence.

  1. intrapersonal intelligence: determining moods, feelings and other mental states in oneself, altering (or managing) these states, self-motivation, …
  2. interpersonal or social intelligence: recognizing emotions in others, sing this information as a guide for behavior, building and maintaining relationships.

 

The classic intelligence

Since centuries, intelligence is a mystery. Let us start by mentioning some questions people have been asking (without claiming we can give "the" answer):

At this moment, scientists seem to converge to a point of view where both genetic elements and environmental (socio-cultural) factors have their role to play for explaining one's IQ. The discussion then becomes focussed on explaining which elements have the biggest influence. In this discussion, statistical "evidence" is used by all sides as well as strategies to prove that the opponent's theory don't have much scientific ground (and moreover, includes serious scientific mistakes). The fact that IQ doesn't seem to be a good measure doesn't help neither. Probably there is a genetic link between the intelligence of the parents and the child. But this doesn't prove everything: if you just base your tests on descent than you'll find this doesn't explain 100% of the intelligence.

And then there is some good news for the "average person: it seems that the average IQ has risen since the Second World War: so all together we become smarter! Probably the explanation for this can be found in environmental factors, such as the democratization of education and the prolongation of the time actually spent in the educational system. On the other had, we can use this extra intelligence, given that some other studies show that the number of jobs requiring a lot of intelligence has risen dramatically over the same period.

Given the large variety in opinions on this topic, the only thing we can state with a lot of certainty is that we can expect a rise in the amount of paper that will be spend on this topic. Researchers have counted over 200 articles that were published between 1994 and 1996 that were reactions on the book "The Bell Curve". In stead of continuing this discussion, we'd rather point out to you which characteristics are typical for someone who corresponds to our definition of classic intelligence. We make abstraction of the origin of these characteristics, since there isn't much you can do about things that someone learned in the past. However, from it we can derive what you can learn to increase your own intelligence.

An intelligent person's reasoning is often based on images; he is able to make connections between different domains and looks at a problem from different perspectives. He trusts that his unconsciousness will help him to solve problems. He can see the big picture but still can zoom in on all relevant details. This kind of person learns fast and is able to quickly master a new domain. If it seems hard to find a solution to a problem, this person will translate the problem description and use other knowledge to find an approximate answer. He reasons upon the structure that underlies a domain and can organize himself. He often has a clear vision of the future and his mission is to contribute to this future.

Maybe we'll see some new tests in the coming years that will measure intelligence based upon this description taken from the field of Neurolinguistics. This kind of studies can then create some more controversy around the measurements for IQ, but that brings us beyond the scope of this book.

 

The emotional intelligence

The classic intelligence and the rational thinking have dominated the western society for centuries. It was Freud who showed through his analysis of the unconsciousness that there is more than rational thinking. The development of psychology brought us the insight that a person's actions aren't just rational. Emotional intelligence seems a good term to name the effect of the "non rational" way of thinking and being, even if the source of this intelligence has kept researchers busy from fields as psychology, anthropology, sociology for the last 150 years.

From our definition you learned that emotional intelligence means to be able to reach one's goals through the interaction with one's environment. But what is it really? In Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence" you'll find some vague terms as perseverance, self-confidence, enthusiasm and self-motivation. These elements are connected to your emotional state. If you put yourself in a resourceful state, you can access your perseverance, self-confidence, enthusiasm and self-motivation. The definition of Peter Savoley, a professor at Yale University, adds self-awareness and empathy to these characteristics of emotional intelligence. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand another's situation, feelings, and motives. Observation skills help you to achieve this: you can learn to "read" what is someone's emotional state and you use this information to improve your ability to enter into the part.

Summarizing the above, we can say that emotional intelligence is a container term that encloses a series of skills that one has learned more or less intuitively. The best sales persons, lawyers, politicians and psychologists have often well developed these skills and use them unconsciously. This book will bring back these abilities to the conscious and will explain you the structure of these skills, thus giving you more control over them.

It happens all to often that people do not show perseverance when they need it most or lose control over their emotion in difficult periods. Aristotle expressed it this way: "Everybody can get angry - that's easy. But getting angry at the right person, with the right intensity, at the right time, for the right reason and in the right way - that's hard." A manager who loses his temper won't reach his goal and risks that he to lose his credibility with his employees. A consultant who thinks he can outsmart the people working in a company will create resistance in stead of gaining respect. A parent using his physical superiority to impose rules upon a child (because there doesn't seem to be another way?) will stimulate anger in this child. Moreover, this strategy to "convince" the child will stop working once the physical advantage disappears, as the child grows older. Finding constructive ways to use your emotions is the key.

Now try this: put down this book, stand up and bent your upper body so that you (almost) can touch the ground with your hands. Now say: "I feel successful". You will notice that is very hard to feel good in this position. This body posture doesn't "fit" with the feeling. And here is a second one: stand up straight, head up, shoulders back, belly pulled inwards en say: "I feel sad". Again you'll notice incongruency between body posture and the feeling. We'll investigate this matter in chapter 4 and you'll learn what elements influence your emotional state.

Finally we'd like you to consider the following: the well known geniuses of this world weren't perfect. Most of them only excelled in one or a few specific areas of life. Walt Disney didn't want to pay tribute to his collaborators for the work they did, claiming he did it all. President J.F. Kennedy is known for chasing woman around the White House. Martin Luther King did beat up his wife… Given our definition of emotional intelligence it seems all of these public figures had area's in their life where their EQ failed on them. They were quite lucky to be able to keep these areas out of the public attention.



Introduction originally written in Dutch in December 1997 - translated and published on this website on 30 December 1998

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