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Raising Your Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide
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Raising Your Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide

by Jeanne S. Segal

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Employing exercises, self-tests, case studies, and step-by-step instructions, Segal shows readers how to listen to their intuition and their body's messages, make those signals part of their decision-making process, and thus realize the full benefit of their emotional resources.


Employing exercises, self-tests, case studies, and step-by-step instructions, Segal shows readers how to listen to their intuition and their body's messages, make those signals part of their decision-making process, and thus realize the full benefit of their emotional resources.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Emotional intelligence, defined by Daniel Goleman as "abilities such as being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one's moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope," has been shown to be a powerful predictor of success in life. Following on Goleman's excellent best seller, Emotional Intelligence (LJ 9/1/95), are these two books purporting to provide a program for raising one's own E.Q. and that of one's children. In both cases, the authors state that their work, while relevant to Goleman's ideas, is based on decades of experience. However, Segal's (Living Beyond Fear, Borgo, 1987) book seems to be a rehash of the old gestalt notion that the root of most psychological distress is an inability to feel one's "true" emotionsan unproved assertion that has little relevance to Goleman's definition. Readers interested in Goleman's emotional intelligence will be disappointedor badly misledby Segal's book. Recommended only for public libraries with a large and dedicated audience for titles by authors like Wayne Dyer and Robert Covey. The author of numerous works in psychology, Shapiro, on the other hand, actually seems to address the issues included in Goleman's definition. Unlike so many parenting books full of generalizations, this title includes specific ideas for games, projects, and even computer games. Highly recommended for all parenting collections.Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.

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Raising Your Emotional Intelligence

A Practical Guide

By Jeanne Segal

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 1997 Jeanne Segal
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62779-836-5


It's Smart to Feel

Why doesn't anybody like Lucy Leroy? As she'll be quick to tell you, she's smart, conscientious, well organized, and industrious. She cares about other people; she really does. But time after time, when the invitations go out, her name is left off the list; she hears chitchat of lunch plans in the making at the office but eats alone at her desk.

And whatever happened to Tom O'Brian? Tom was the kid in the neighborhood all the moms envied — so smart he got sent to a school for gifted kids; so creative his inventions won science prizes usually reserved for much older children. He was awarded a scholarship to some Ivy League school, but lately a rumor's been circulating that he dropped out and is repairing toasters out of his apartment. Could it be possible?

How about you? How's your life going? Have you achieved all you expected you would? Are you content with the number and depth of your friendships? Is your marriage the fountain of intimacy and support you dreamed it would be? Have you been promoted with the alacrity you deserve at work? Do you feel generally at ease in the world — or a little out of synch, for reasons you can't quite discern?

If you feel out of synch; if you answered no to many of the questions above, I can diagnose your problem in a snap. You're normal. You, Lucy, Tom — and Dick and Harry and Jane and Joan — are average, red-blooded, thinking Americans, trained in family, school, and work to value the intellect and devalue the emotions, to squelch passion and to use your head to "figure out" what your body is feeling, to be, in short, smart — not emotional.

But what exactly is "smart" and at what cost do we stifle the emotional component of our identities?

I say the price is far too high, for ignoring our emotions leaves all of us — at least to some degree — lacking the skills we need to lead healthy, satisfying, fulfilling lives. Our IQ may help us understand and deal with the world on one level, but we need our emotions to understand and deal with ourselves and, in turn, others. Without an awareness of our emotions, without the ability to recognize and value our feelings and act in honest accordance with those feelings, we cannot get along well with other people, we cannot get ahead in the world (regardless of how "smart" we are), we cannot make decisions easily, and we are often simply at sea, out of touch with our sense of self.

Culturally, Americans (along with those of many other Western societies) have been taught to think of consciousness itself as an intellectual activity rather than as a heart or gut response. We've learned not to trust our emotions; we've been told emotions distort the allegedly more accurate information our intellect supplies. Even the term emotional signifies weak, out of control, even childish. "Don't be a baby!" we say to the little boy who is crying on the playground; "Leave him alone! Let him work it out!" we admonish the little girl who runs to help the little boy. In fact, we tend to mold our entire self-image around our intellect. Our abilities to memorize and problem-solve, to spell words and do mathematical calculations are easily measured on written tests; those measurements are slapped onto report cards in the form of grades and ultimately dictate which college will accept us and which career paths we should follow. If we do not perform well on these standardized tests, we clearly feel the impact of the label — any goal we have becomes that much tougher to reach when we know we may well not be smart enough to attain it.

Does your instinct tell you there's something wrong with that picture? That's because as much as our society tells us that being objective and rational is the way to get ahead, the sense that people weren't meant to be thinking-only beings runs strong in us all. When we see a film that moves us, we agree it was wonderful; when we see someone act with compassion, we applaud him or her. But we accept our emotionality only in the proper contexts: it's OK to cry at the movies but not on the job; it's fine to trust your gut playing poker but not when it comes to picking a product to market. Therein is the paradox. We are told to value the head and devalue the heart; instinctively, we value the heart and feel wrong for doing so. We are not wrong.

The Heart and the Head: Not So Separate After All

In studying people with strokes, brain tumors, and other types of brain damage, scientists have recently made some fascinating discoveries about intelligence. When the parts of our brains that enable us to feel emotions are damaged, our intellects remain intact. We can still talk, analyze, perform excellently on IQ tests, and even predict how one should act in social situations. But under these tragic circumstances we are unable to make decisions in the real world, to interact successfully with other people and/or to act appropriately, to plan for the immediate or long-term future, to reason, or finally to succeed.

The exact neurological workings are not yet clear, but the brain-imaging technologies that are now helping scientists "map the human heart" suggest that the rational and emotional parts of the brain depend on each other.

In evolutionary terms our emotional facility is the more ancient, having existed in the primitive human brain stem well before the thinking part of the brain — the neocortex — even began to develop above it. Even more telling, though, is the fact that the centers of emotion in the brain continued to evolve right along with the neocortex and are now woven throughout that part of the brain, where they wield tremendous power over all brain functions. Could it be that emotion is meant to have more control of thought than thought has over emotion? Just a few years ago such a suggestion would have been scoffed at by scientists. But then along came Joseph LeDoux of New York University, who in the early nineties discovered that in fact the messages from our senses — our eyes, our ears — are first registered by the brain structure most heavily involved in emotional memory — the amygdala — before moving into the neocortex.

This means emotional intelligence actually contributes to rational thought. Which is why, physiologically, when the emotional centers of our brains are harmed, our overall intelligence is short-circuited. However, we don't need to suffer brain damage to rob our intellect of its essential emotional partner. We pay so little heed to our feelings now that our emotional resources have atrophied, like any unused muscle.

A Name for Emotional Smarts: EQ

Emotion and intellect are two halves of a whole. That's why the term recently coined to describe the intelligence of the heart is EQ. EQ is deliberately reminiscent of the standard measure of brainpower, IQ. IQ and EQ are synergistic resources: without one the other is incomplete and ineffectual. IQ without EQ can get you an A on a test but won't get you ahead in life. EQ's domain is personal and interpersonal relationships; it is responsible for your self-esteem, self-awareness, social sensitivity, and social adaptability.

When your EQ is high, you are able to experience feelings fully as they happen and truly get to know yourself. Keeping the lines of communication wide open between the amygdala and the neocortex thus endows you with compassion, empathy, adaptability, and self-control.

EQ provides a critical edge in work, family, social, romantic, and even spiritual settings; emotional awareness brings our inner world into focus. It enables us to make good choices about what to eat, whom to marry, what job to take, and how to strike a mutually healthy balance between our own needs and the needs of others.

Getting Back to Lucy

All of this may sound right — but does it feel a bit empty? That's because while I've told you what EQ can bring, I haven't engaged your emotions in the process. I've supplied words for your intellectual understanding. Now I'd like to try to hook your empathy by taking a closer look at how a low EQ gets in the way of so many of our day-to-day lives, out here in the real world.

Lonely People Who Need People: Why People with a Low EQ Push Other People Away

There are reasons Lucy is not on anybody's guest list. Lucy is a very angry woman. Maybe she's mad she didn't get promoted; maybe she's furious that her mother loved her sister more than her — we don't need to explore her reasons. (As we'll see, you don't need in-depth analysis to raise your EQ.) But Lucy doesn't want to know she's angry. Most of Lucy's focus is pushing away her feelings. And she's good at it. She numbs herself to her own feelings through constant mental chatter: "No one ever gives me a chance ... They're so unfair ... It wasn't my fault." She pushes those feelings right out — and right on to everyone else.

Because Lucy is unaware of both her own feelings and the feelings of others, she is always caught off guard and hurt by direct confrontations. She is therefore always on guard. Lucy defends herself at every turn — if you say the room feels warm, she'll tell you she was nowhere near the thermostat. When something upsets Lucy — and most things upset Lucy — it is a complete surprise to her, and her knee-jerk response is "I've done nothing wrong."

People sense the anger that Lucy tries to evade and get a vague feeling they'd rather not hang around her. Meanwhile, rather than experience the pain of consistent rejection, Lucy obsesses endlessly about how unfairly she is treated — and so perpetuates the cycle.

Lucy's EQ 101 Lesson: Our thoughts obscure our feelings and the crucial information that emotion provides.

As we'll explore throughout this book, there is a major difference between experiencing our feelings and thinking about them. Most of us are neophytes at the former, laureates at the latter. Lucy intellectualizes about her feelings all the time, shifting from feeling to thinking so quickly that she doesn't even realize she has crossed a line. She broods, she wallows; she rationalizes and rehearses, and in doing so all she does is change the emotion she experiences from internal hurt into inappropriate, poorly hidden rage.

Through the techniques in this book Lucy can learn to remain aware of all her feelings and not be caught off guard by emotional exchanges. A higher EQ would give her the ability to stay connected to herself even as she takes note of the feelings of others. This ability would permit her to hear unpleasant things without becoming defensive and to feel hurt without expressing that hurt as hostility. Lucy would become a much more desirable person to be around.

Low EQ + High IQ = Repairing Toasters: Why Smart Folks Get Lost

I don't know why Tom ended up repairing toasters, but I'd bet he got there very soon after he experienced his first emotional setback. Maybe his father walked out on the family; maybe his first love dumped him for a football player. Whatever it was, it destroyed his confidence in a snap, because his entire identity was wrapped around the fragile and unpredictable trait of intellect.

Our intellectual abilities are innate and largely unchangeable. For very smart kids, good grades come naturally. It is therefore often hard to develop a strong sense of self-esteem when you are constantly rewarded for something that seems to be a transient gift. It came easily — and perhaps could go just as easily. People like Tom, who were in all likelihood encouraged to value only their intellectual achievements at the expense of their inner selves, end up with little fundamental sense of how they feel and therefore who they are. They are devastated by their first emotional setback, with little or no ability to handle the emotional fallout of even a minor failure. They do not know who they are if they are not the smartest kid in town. They feel lost and often end up getting lost, taking unchallenging jobs, giving up and dropping out.

Tom's EQ 101 Lesson: Without EQ, IQ will always fall short.

Expecting to ride through life on the coattails of a high IQ alone is like expecting to be handed your first driver's license after only a written test. IQ predicts only how we'll do on paper, how we measure up to standards set by someone else. EQ helps us set our own standards.

That's because EQ illumines our inner world. People who are emotionally intelligent know the difference between what's important to them and what's important to someone else; they also know the difference between what they need to survive and a passing whim. Most important, they can weather life's thousands of setbacks. They have a sense of proportion that the "brainiest" among us often lose at a young age.

Low EQ on the Job = Middle Management Forever

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Henry. Henry is a brilliant accountant with an IQ of 160. Henry spends much of his day at his desk, sweating out figures in a race against himself and succeeding often enough to go home a little early. Henry spends much of his evenings complaining to his wife: "My boss has an IQ of 90. He has no idea what I do! My coworkers never give me the support I need to get things done right." This is all true. Is it unjust? Henry thinks so, and so does his ulcer.

What Henry hasn't told his wife is that his work is unimpressive in the ways that really matter. He's oblivious to the fact that he's a lousy troubleshooter who gets so bogged down in detail he rarely sees the big picture. He also doesn't see his boss grimace when he hands her unnecessarily technical and complex reports that are a painful struggle to decipher. It doesn't occur to him that everyone sees him leave early at least once a week, but no one's around to notice how often he comes in early because his ulcer often wakes him up before the alarm.

Henry doesn't see why he should spend any time worrying about other people's feelings. After all, he never gets any sympathy from them when, year after year, he's passed over for promotion, does he?

Henry's EQ 101 Lesson: While thinking certainly interferes with feeling, feeling does not interfere with thinking.

Intellect alone cannot help Henry — or any of us — navigate the choppy political and psychological waters of an office full of people, each with a different set of needs and desires. It takes empathy to second-guess a boss and learn which projects really carry the most corporate weight; to see a secretary's tension and not overload her with work on that particular day; to sense a client's dissatisfaction with your team's work despite his protestations to the contrary.

Though our cultural prejudices tell us otherwise, emotional acceptance supports our ability to reason effectively. Were Henry to follow the principles of this book and learn to raise his EQ, he would find his intellectual accomplishments expanded and his social skills enhanced. Secure in his ability to perceive and respond to his own emotional needs, Henry can risk reaching out and responding to the needs of others. In doing so, he will get ahead — big time. And maybe do something about that ulcer in the process.

When You Know How You Feel, You Know How You Feel

Sandy can't make up her mind. When she goes out to dinner, she orders "whatever everybody's having." She falls in love at the drop of a hat, unfortunately often with two men at once. Her relationships are passionate and short-lived. When pressed about her indecisiveness, she bursts into tears. "I just don't know what I want!" she yells.

Sandy is certainly emotional, but like so many low-EQ people, she hasn't really learned to trust her full range of feelings. When she doesn't like how she feels, she tries to cast it off by acting out her emotions — but her feelings remain tied to her intellectual expectations of what she should do and how she should act. She knows she should find a mate, so she ignores her heart's messages that she's with the wrong men. She knows everything there is to know about what to order in a restaurant (low-fat, skip the veal, go-ahead indulge, keep the price down, know the wine, skip the wine), but that knowledge gives her no clue as to what she really wants. Her head spins, and she just feels like crying.

Sandy's EQ 101 Lesson: Decision making is a key benefit of raising your EQ.

While intellect can tell us many things objectively, it can't tell us how we feel, and it's our feelings that make our decisions wise.


Excerpted from Raising Your Emotional Intelligence by Jeanne Segal. Copyright © 1997 Jeanne Segal. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., is the author of Raising Your Emotional Intelligence.

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