Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ


Our rational and emotional brain shapes our personalities and our decisions. Emotional skills are often overlooked when compared to what is typically thought of as intelligence but is every bit as important. By combining the rational and emotional, we can improve our performance in every facet of life.

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways
  1. Resisting impulse is the root of all self-control. This was stressed a dozen different ways and those who have better impulse control tend to be emotionally more stable, smarter, more successful...marshmallow test
  2. People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change.
  3. Coordination of moods is the essence of rapport
  4. Those who had a dependable web of intimacy showed no relationship whatsoever between high stress levels and death rates
  5. Fundamentals of EI (can be summed up with competency)
    1. Self-awareness - know what you are feeling and why
    2. Self-management (ability to motivate oneself/persistence)
    3. Social awareness
    4. Ability to manage relationships
  6. 5 key abilities of emotional intelligence
    1. Knowing one's emotions - have a better sense of how they really feel about something
    2. Managing emotions
    3. Motivating oneself - delaying gratification and pushing off impulses
    4. Recognizing emotions in others
    5. Handling relationships - often simply handling other's emotions
  7. XYZ method - When you did X, it made me feel Y, and I wish you did Z instead
  8. Cannot decide when we have our emotional outbreaks but can decide how long they last, a sign of emotional maturity
  9. Key to impulse control is knowing the difference between feelings and actions
What I got out of it
  1. Very interesting book which highlights the importance emotion plays in our everyday lives, our personalities, our decisions and our relationships. He makes great points but I found that he reiterated them so many times that it became redundant.
  • Improving Emotional Intelligence (EI) also helps academically
  • 3 models for EI
    • Based on original work on IQ (Salovey and Mayar)
    • Based on well-being (Reuven Bar-On)
    • Performance at work and organizational leadership (Goleman)
  • EI is definitely not more important than IQ in all realms but for relationships, health, top level of competitive endeavors/sports
  • EI helps predict who will be able to lead most ably amongst a talented/intelligent pool of people
  • IQ and technical expertise are much better predictors of excellence in lower rung jobs
  • "The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character. By the same token, the root of altruism lies in empathy, the ability to read emotions in others; lacking a sense of another’s need or despair, there is no caring. And if there are any two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these, self-restraint and compassion."
Part One - The Emotional Brain
  • Brain's emotional architecture which helps explain when emotion overwhelms rationality
  • All emotions are in essence impulses to act
  • Have 2 minds - thinking brain and feeling brain
    • Often in balance but when passion hits the balance tips with the emotional brain often winning
  • Limbic system in charge of learning and memory - automatic reactions
  • Emotional brain retains great control over rational brain as rational brain built on top of emotional brain
  • Amygdala acts as storehouse of emotional memory
  • Amygdala allows us to act before neocortex fully absorbs all information and makes a "rational" decision
  • Brain has 2 memory systems - one for ordinary facts and one for emotionally charged ones
  • Interactions between caretaker and infant during early years creates an emotional blueprint they will use the rest of their life
  • Feelings/emotions necessary to make rational decisions
Part Two - The Nature of Emotional Intelligence
  • How to control emotional impulses, handle relationships, read other's feelings
  • Emotional intelligence is often linked to happiness as people can effectively determine what makes them happy and take steps to get there
  • Howard Gardner first argued that IQ is only one type of intelligence and that there are many others
  • Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other people: what motivates them, how they work, how to work cooperatively with them.
    • Gardner noted that the core of interpersonal intelligence includes the capacities to discern and respond appropriately to the moods, temperaments, motivations, and desires of other people.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence is a correlative ability, turned inward. It is a capacity to form an accurate, veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life. access to one’s own feelings and the ability to discriminate among them and draw upon them to guide behavior.
  • Being self-aware extremely important - know when feeling an emotion, be like an unbiased bystander when classifying your emotions
  • Those who are aware and notice their emotions tend to live a richer life
  • Self-mastery, not falling prey to one's passions/emotions, has long been considered a virtue (temperance, emotional balance)
  • Emotions often build on themselves and escalate - often what happens when we lose control and get enraged
  • Resisting impulse is the root of all self-control
  • Anxiety has a disastrous and measurable effect on any task/test
  • Hope has shown to be a better predictor of first semester grades than one's SAT score
  • People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change.
  • Speaks to "flow' and how this is the ultimate form of emotional intelligence
  • Scolding kids by saying - look how badly you made her feel, is more effective than that was bad. (playing on their empathy)
    • Empathy is biologically ingrained
  • Different cultures have different "display rules" - how much/what emotions can be shown depending on what one is trying to accomplish and the audience
  • The more synchrony (feeling similar emotions as your partner/friend/etc.) shows how close they are
  • Setting the emotional tone of a conversation is a sign of dominance
  • Interpersonal intelligence
    • Organizing Groups
    • Negotiating solutions
    • Personal connection
    • Social Analysis
  • Social chameleon's exist and everyone likes them but often have few intimate and lasting friendships
Part Three - Emotional Intelligence Applied
  • How EI helps to preserve some of our most cherished things - relationships, health, and well-being
  • Speaks a lot to how couples handle their emotions in relationships
  • How criticism is given and received is extremely important for a relationship
    • Make them something that can be worked on as opposed to a personal attack
    • People often complain/criticize once it is too late and they are angry - try to give constant feedback
    • An artful critique focuses on what a person has done and can do rather than reading a mark of character into a job poorly done.
    • Be very specific with criticism
  • The highest performing teams are not the ones with the highest IQ but the ones with the highest emotional intelligence
  • Stars in work tend to have a rapport with key people (made up of conversation, expertise and trust webs)
  • Much more connection and interaction between brain, cardiovascular and immune systems than originally thought - stress has a very strong and negative effect on our health (anger, anxiety, loneliness, pessimism, depression worst of all)
  • In people with cancer, depression is a better predictor of death than any medical sign
  • Social isolation doubles the chance of sickness or death
    • Found it interesting that social isolation had a more dramatic effect on men than women - making men more susceptible to death compared to social men
    • Those who had a dependable web of intimacy showed no relationship whatsoever between high stress levels and death rates
  • Writing down your most traumatic events, even if don't share it with anyone, has shown to have tremendous positive effects on one's health
Part Four - Windows of Opportunity
  • Emotional lessons we learn as children shape our emotional circuitry for life
  • Common parenting mistakes - ignoring feelings altogether, too laissez-faire (thinking pretty much any reaction is fine), not showing respect for how child feels
  • People need certain characteristics in order to learn well - confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self control, relatedness, capacity to communicate, cooperativeness
  • A child is extremely impressionable the first couple years of life and their "emotional diet" at this time will shape their personalities and relationships of the future
  • Severe traumas and scary situations can biologically change the brain but it is possible to relearn through games and reliving the memory which desensitizes the traumatic situation
  • Temperament is given at birth but how we are treated by our parents and the experiences we have can play a big role too
  • There are 4 main categories - timid, melancholy, bold and upbeat and are due to different patterns of brain activity
  • Timid people tend to have more fears and react more easily to novelty
  • Parents of timid children can help them overcome their shyness by not protecting them so much and learning to adapt
  • It is critical for babies to learn how to soothe themselves
Part Five - Emotional Literacy
  • Shows hazards which await those who do not develop their EI
  • Drugs, depression, violence, pregnancy have all increased substantially the last 30 years
    • While poorer kids are worse off to begin with, as a whole the rate of deterioration in these areas is the same
  • Early signs of bullying often lead to violent crimes. they have lower thresholds for getting upset and this appears in every facet of their life
  • One of the best skills for anger control is recognizing and verbalizing your feelings
  • Depression is spreading drastically and starting at younger ages
  • Feeling like you can change your outcome (studying harder leading to better grades) or that you have no control are big indicators of whether or not you will get depressed (optimist vs pessimist)
  • Some obese people cannot tell the difference emotionally between hunger, fear, or anger and end up lumping them all into hunger
  • Alcoholism develops a lot as a form of self-medication - alcoholics tend to be very anxious people and can only relax when they drink

In the Latticework, we've distilled, curated, and interconnected the 750+book summaries from The Rabbit Hole. If you're looking to make the ideas from these books actionable in your day-to-day life and join a global tribe of lifelong learners, you'll love The Latticework. Join us today.