You may have heard the theory that creativity is linked to the left side of the brain, but modern neuroscience has revealed it’s not actually that simple. This episode of the podcast features an excerpt from Daniel Goleman’s audio book, The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, in which Goleman introduces the new understanding of the creative pathways within the brain, and shares ways that that understanding can be applied to support one’s own creative process.
Mental health experts Dr. Patricia Gerbarg and Dr. Richard Brown specialize in integrative psychiatry, and are two of the authors of the book How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care. In a conversation with More Than Sound, Gerbarg and Brown discussed some essential concepts regarding the effects of stress, and methods to reduce it. This episode of the podcast features an excerpt from that conversation, about the importance of breath in the reduction of stress and anxiety.
Anthony Gell- In terms of predicting who is going to be in the top 10 percent of performers, ie: the sort of star performers, you say that EI, emotional intelligence, is a better gauge than IQ. Why?
Daniel Goleman- The answer is very simple. Study after study shows that in order to be in a top profession, in order to get an MBA, in order to get an MD, or be a top executive, you need an IQ that’s about one standard deviation above normal, or higher. That puts you at about 115 IQ. But then studies show there is no correlation between your IQ and actual effectiveness or success in that particular line of work. Whether you’re a CEO, academic, engineer, doesn’t matter. Why? Because that is the IQ level you need to master the technical skills, and is the cognitive capacity you need to handle that profession. But after that, think about it. Once you’re in the field you are competing with people who are about as smart as you are.
Throughout school, IQ is huge advantage for grades. In the workplace, after reaching that criterion level, it has no added benefit and what makes the difference are your personal abilities. How you manage yourself- Do you stay focused? Are you adaptable? Are you self aware? And interpersonal abilities. Can you read other people? Do you know how to get along well? Are you a good team player? Can you be a leader? Those depend on emotional intelligence.
AG- Daniel, I’ve got no doubt that people watching this are sold on your premise of emotional intelligence, but the big question I think they’ll be wanting to ask is, “Once you know your EI level can you improve, or can you become more emotionally intelligent?”
DG- The good news is that you can improve emotional intelligence competencies. These are learned abilities that build from fundamentals. So, for example, emotional self control, being calm under pressure. This is a capacity that can be learned, the steps are quite well known. But you have to want to get better. Listening, listening well, listening deeply is critical, and if you have poor listening habits- the common cold of leadership- then you can improve but, again, you need to be motivated. Why? Because in adulthood you have to undo, at the brain level, over-rehearsed habits, that’s your habitual way of reacting, and build a new one until it becomes more strongly practiced than the old one. Then you’ll do it naturally. And that takes real effort and motivation.
AG- Daniel, talk about self motivation. What’s the core essence of being self driven and motivated to move forward as an individual?
DG- I think motivation has to be true, that you need to align the desire to improve with your own sense of values of purpose, what you really feel is important. What are your dreams? Where do you want to go in life? Is something holding you back? Can you change that for the better. That’s the kind of genuine motivation that helps people really make the change.
Anthony Gell- Daniel, you talk about how important it is to bring consciousness back into emotion, to sort of push time between impulse and action is critical before you react. Is that why emails can be dangerous?
Daniel Goleman- When we’re face to face with someone, part of brain, which I describe in the book Social Intelligence and then more deeply in the series Wired to Connect, the part of the brain called the social brain, is monitoring person we’re with continually, moment to moment, microsecond to microsecond, and telling us, unconsciously, “Well, this person is responding that way to what you just did, so what you should do next is the following to keep things smooth, harmonious, on track, on the same page.” This is what makes interactions go smoothly, this part of the brain. That part of brain, however, is crippled online. When you’re sitting there in front of your video screen there is no feedback loop. All you have is the words you send. However, there is a sort of optical illusion in the mind where you assume that all of your little emotional signals that go with whatever you say or do face to face, are going along with your email, but they’re not. And there is an actual negativity bias in email where senders think that a message was positive, but that’s because they assume all the other cues went along. It’s an unconscious assumption. Receivers think that positive email was more neutral. When the sender thinks it’s neutral, receivers tend to think it’s more negative. In other words there is a negativity skew to email, generally. That’s baseline.
But then there’s another problem:
Very often in face-to-face interaction you get an impulse to do something or say something and your social brain says, “Uh-uh-uh! That’s not going to be effective.” But that message never comes back to you when you’re sitting writing an email, because there’s no feedback loop. The result is what’s called flaming. Flaming has been known since the earliest days of email. It’s when you’re worked up about something, and you sit down and you furiously type up a message, you hit send. And for a split second you have a feeling of satisfaction, and then this morbid sense of, “Oh my god, why did I do that? Why did I say that?” hits you. That’s a flame. It’s a disaster. And it’s a disaster that would not have occurred face to face, most likely.