Category Archives: Emotional Intelligence

David Merrill & Roger Reid: Social Styles

Social Styles are a model of personality that focuses on our outer behaviour, rather than the inner you. Its founders described it as ‘the you that’s on display’.

In the early 1960s, two industrial psychologists, David Merrill and Roger Reid wanted to understand whether they could predict managerial, leadership and sales performance. To do this, they explored how people behave in social situations. They chose not to concern themselves with why.

Starting with BF Skinner’s ideas of behaviourism and James Taylor’s structured list of behavioural descriptions, Merrill and Reid discovered that people’s behaviour follows two continua, which they labelled: assertiveness and responsiveness.

Assertiveness and Responsiveness

Assertiveness styles range from ‘asking’ behaviours to ‘telling’ behaviours, while our responsiveness varies from ’emoting’, or displaying our feelings, to ‘controlling’ our emotions.

From these two dimensions, they defined four behavioural styles that we each display. As with other models, we each have our preferences, but can display all of the styles from time to time.

The value of the model lies in using it to assess the people around you, and knowing how to get the best from people with each preference.

Merrill and Reid labelled our ability to adapt to other people’s styles as ‘versatility’.

Four Quadrants: The Social Styles

David Merrill & Roger Reid - Social Styles

David Merrill & Roger Reid – Social Styles

The four quadrants that the two dimensions of assertiveness and responsiveness create, give the four social styles.


The analytical style of interaction asserts itself by asking, rather than telling. It is also characterised by a high level of emotional control. It values facts, logic and accuracy, presenting a disciplined and unemotional – some would say cold – face to the world. This manifests in a deep need to be right about things, and therefore a highly deliberative, data-driven approach to decisions. As with all styles, there is a weakness, which is a lack of willingness to state a position until the analytical person is certain of their ground.


The driving style is the typical task-oriented behaviour that prefers to tell rather than ask and shows little concern for feelings. It cares more about results. This is a fast-paced style, keen to make decisions, take power, and exert control. Often unco-operative, this is an efficient, results-driven behaviour, the inevitable compromise of which is to sacrifice personal relationships in the short term and, in extremis, in the long term too. The weakness of this style is evident: a frequent unwillingness to listen and accommodate the needs of others.


The expressive style is also assertive, but uses feelings to achieve its objectives. The behaviour is highly spontaneous and demands recognition and approval, and favours gut instinct in decision-making. At its best, this style comes across as charismatic, enthusiastic and idealistic. At its worst, however, the expressive style can be seen as impulsive, shallow and even manipulative.


The amiable style expresses concern for people above all else. Keen to share emotion and not to assert itself over others, building and maintaining relationships dominate behaviour. These concerns manifest a slow, deliberate pace, coming across as sensitive, supportive and dependable. The corollary is a certain nervousness about, and even a resistance to, change. This arises from a deep need for personal security. The weaknesses of this style are the reverse of the strengths of the opposite quadrant: a low willingness to initiate change, and take action.

Assessment of Merrill and Reid’s Social Styles

Is this just another four box model?

Well, yes and no. In its current form, the company that David Merrill formed, Tracom, uses the model with a third, fully-integrated dimension: versatility. This is about how the four styles manifest in the real world, to meet other people’s needs. It is  closely related to ideas of Emotional Intelligence.

Even as ‘just another four box model’, it’s a good one. As a result, it has been widely emulated. A very similar model by Tony Alessandra uses the styles of Thinker, Director, Socialiser and Relater to replace Merrill and Reid’s four social styles, and dimensions of relationship and task orientation, to replace responsiveness and assertiveness.

Both models have considerable power in helping managers understand their behaviours and those of other people around them. And by adapting their style, the models allow managers to get the best from any social situation. And work is, of course, if nothing else… social.

Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and journalist who catalysed a significant shift in the way we see human potential and capabilities – not just at work. It is not as though we did not know about the importance of our emotional response. Nor was the work he described his own. But his combination of timing, accessible writing, and psychological training made his  book, Emotional Intelligence, a stand-out best seller that started a revolution in management and leadership training.

Daniel Goleman

Short Biography

Daniel Goleman was born in 1946 and grew up in California. He went to Amherst College, Massachusetts, but spent much of his study time closer to home, at University of California, Berkeley. He majored in Anthropology, and graduated Cum Laude, winning a scholarship to study Clinical Psychology at Harvard.

There, Goleman’s mentor was David McClelland, whom he quotes in his writings. His doctoral dissertation was on meditation as a treatment for stress. He travelled to India to study ancient psychological knowledge and returned after his PhD, where further research resulted in his first book, The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience, summarising his research on meditation.

After a spell as a visiting lecturer at Harvard, teaching the psychology of consciousness, Goleman was invited to write as a journalist for Psychology Today, and found he liked writing. In 1984, he moved to the New York Times on the science editorial staff, covering psychology. While he was there, he realised that many of the stories and research he was covering came together in his mind and demanded a deeper treatment than his journalism would allow. From that, came his massive 1995 best-seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ.

This ignited a huge interest in the public, and also, to Goleman’s surprise, in the business world. It led him to write Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998) and also one of the most reprinted ever of Harvard Business Review’s articles, ‘What makes a leader?’ Finding this a fertile area, and having left the New York Times, Goleman then collaborated with former Harvard Grad student colleague Richard Boyatzis, and Boyatzis’ former student Annie McKee, to write The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership (published in the US as: Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence).

Pocketblog has already covered Emotional Intelligence in earlier articles. What Goleman has given us, in summary, are a five-fold emotional intelligence framework (in Emotional Intelligence), an inventory of 25 emotional competencies (in Working with Emotional Intelligence), and six leadership styles (in The New Leaders).

For a first rate primer on the topic, you may enjoy The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook.

Goleman’s more recent work

Goleman’s actively curious mind continues to synthesise and create ideas. Having established links with the Dalai Lama, his 1997 book Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions and Health was followed in 2004 by Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

His other books include:


Goleman’s thesis in Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence is simple: to succeed in a busier, more complex world, we need to focus our attention. Variously seen as groundbreaking and disappointing, insightful or just pop psychology, there is no doubt that, in Focus, Goleman is really returning to his roots.

As a grad student, he started to ask what ancient wisdom could teach us about human psychology. In Focus, he alights on one valuable lesson: focus. I think it no coincidence that, when asked what the secret is to their great success, both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have each cited one answer: the ability to focus on one thing at a time.

Whatever you think of the way this book is written, it is, without doubt, a message to hear.

Why aren’t we More Compassionate?

Daniel Goleman at TED, in 2007.


Angela Duckworth: True Grit

What are the best predictors of success in life? Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence blew the bottom out of general intelligence for most of us, back in the mid 1990s.

One facet of emotional intelligence is motivation, and this is front and centre of the work of another psychologist. Angela Lee Duckworth’s research interest is competencies other than general intelligence that predict academic and professional achievement. And she has been putting the spotlight on two of them: self-control and perseverance.

Angela Duckworth

Very Short Biography

Angela Lee was born in 1970, and grew up in New Jersey. She was the third child of immigrants from China, who had fled the cultural revolution. The parents were exceptionally results-oriented, leading to three children who have all excelled. However, as the third child, Duckworth recalls feeling a sense of benign neglect, as her parents focused their attention on her older siblings.

She was exceptionally bright and worked hard, entering Harvard and graduating in neuro-biology in 1992. Two years later, she took up a scholarship to study neuroscience at the University of Oxford, leaving with an MSc in 1996.

From there, she joined consulting firm McKinsey and Company (where she met her husband, Jason Duckworth). Promised opportunities to do pro bono work, but being allocated work in the pharmaceuticals sector, Duckworth left and started teaching, first in New York. During this time, she started paying attention to why some children succeeded and others failed.

She joined a doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Positive Psychology Center, under the leadership of Martin Seligman, who supervised her study. She was awarded her PhD in 2006 and took up an academic post there. She is now a Professor of Psychology and leads the Duckworth Lab, which focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control.

Grit and Self-control

Duckworth’s work shows that two traits predict success in life:

  • Grit
    the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals
  • Self-control
    the voluntary regulation of behavioural, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions.

These two are different. Grit equips you to pursue especially challenging aims over long periods; years or even decades. Self-control operates at a short timescale in the battle against distractions and temptations – willpower, if you like.

Duckworth’s research shows that the two are related, but not totally correlated. People who are gritty tend to be more self-controlled, but the correlation is not total: some people have masses of grit but little self-control, while some exceptionally self-controlling people are not especially gritty. Her team has developed non-commercial scales that measure each.

Duckworth’s research has found that, when they strip out the effects of intelligence, grit and self-control predict objectively measured success outcomes. They have used contexts as diverse as children’s spelling competitions, military officer training, and general high school graduation results.

Because of the importance of these factors, therefore, Duckworth has introduced them into the routines for her family: husband and two daughters. Academically, her team is researching ways to instil self-control and grit into children. She has shown that children can learn and practise strategies to build grit and self-control.

In a recent Pocketblog, we looked at the work of Carol Dweck, on Growth Mindset. Duckworth sees Dweck as a role model and is collaborating with her because she has found that children who have more of a growth mindset tend to be grittier. Once again, there isn’t a perfect correlation, but enough to suggest that one of the things that makes you gritty is  a growth mindset: the attitude ‘I can get better if I try harder’. This should help you to be tenacious, determined, and hard-working: gritty.

Angela Duckworth’s work in her own words

Angela Duckworth’s 6 minute talk on Grit is one of my favourites and has over 6 million views. She is also working on a book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance due for publication in early 2016.

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.

‘How intelligent are you?’

We like to measure each other and measuring intelligence seems particularly important to some. Its practice has a long and often unpleasant history. Harvard psychologist, Howard Gardner, has done more than anybody to challenge the ‘single measure’ approach to understanding intelligence, and has introduced a more comprehensive understanding of intelligence.

Instead, Gardner proposed that a better question is:

‘How are you intelligent?’

… in what ways? He proposed that we each have a range of intelligences, which we deploy in varying strengths. Our talents derive from combinations of these intelligences.

Gardner has worked hard to define ‘intelligence’ and set criteria for which capacities to consider as intelligences. Predictably, each of these has attracted much debate. Gardner himself has settled on eight intelligences – others propose more.

Howard Gradner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

Our ability to read, write and communicate using language, used by authors, journalists, orators, debaters and people who speak several languages.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

This is shown by analytical thinkers who value reason and are good at calculation; people well suited to science and engineering, the law and accountancy, economics and even detective work.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

This makes us highly aware of spatial relationships, shape, colour and form; strong in artists, architects and designers – also navigators and cartographers.

Musical and Rhythmic Intelligence

Do you listen to, make or compose music? This intelligence makes you sensitive to tone, melody, harmony and rhythm. The term virtuoso applies to people such as singers, performers, and composers who have and deploy this intelligence to a high degree.

Bodily/Kinaesthetic Intelligence

This intelligence manifests in two ways – both linked to a precise awareness of movement, and control of our bodies.

  1. Some excel at balance and co-ordination, using their whole body with grace and power – think about sportspeople, actors and dancers.
  2. Others exercise control, but through precise use of their hands or feet, excelling in areas like sculpture, surgery, craft.

Interpersonal (Social) Intelligence

This helps us socialise and collaborate, giving an understanding of people (empathy) and helping us to put them at their ease. It accounts for confidence in making small-talk, listening intently and leading naturally. Teachers, therapists, nurses and good salespeople excel interpersonally.

Intrapersonal Intelligence

This reflects both the ability to reflect and introspect (mindfulness), and our ability to manage our own motivation, feelings and behaviour.

* For more on Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences, take a look at this Pocketblog: There’s more to Emotional Intelligence than Daniel Goleman.

Naturalist Intelligence

Stamp collectors exhibit this intelligence in a world apart from nature: they love to collect. The naturalist has affinity for the natural world, understanding how it works and often having an uncanny knack for memorising hundreds of names. If they can, they collect – rocks, insects, photos – anything. Gardeners, pet-owners, environmentalists, and scientists exercise this intelligence. So too do the people who photograph bus, train or lorry numbers.


If we each have different strengths, then the power of a team comes from its diversity and therefore the abilities of its members to apply differences intelligences to the problems they must solve and the decisions they must take.

Gardner’s work has polarised debate in some quarters of education and psychology. Some love it; it fits with their world view, making intelligence more egalitarian and recognising that there is more to learning and knowledge than literacy and numeracy. Others challenge its lack of empirical support from either well-validated testing processes or neurology.

However, many educators find plenty of support in the educational results they attain, using it to guide their teaching. For managers, this offers a powerful model of learning styles which can be applied to developing people, and a valuable way to understand why a diverse team will outperform a homogeneous one. As Gardner notes:

These intelligences are fictions – at most, useful fictions
– for discussing processes and abilities that (like all of life)
are continuous with one another.’

 Further Reading

  1. The Learner’s Pocketbook
  2. The Accelerated Learning Pocketbook
  3. Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner, Basic Books, 4th Edition, 2011
  4. Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences, the encyclopedia of informal education, Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008),
  5. Pocketblog: There’s more to Emotional Intelligence than Daniel Goleman

Boost your EQ

Last week, I wrote about Emotional Intelligence (EI) from a fairly abstract, theoretical perspective.  So, to redress the balance, this week I want to get wholly practical.  I have been through The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook, by Margaret Chapman, and selected my favourite tips and tools to help you increase your EQ, and adapted them for you.

Step 1: Self Awareness

Tune in to mood – yours and others.  Start to notice the way people stand or sit.  Where they look when they are interacting with you or other people, the quality of their voices, and their gestures and expressions.

Now tune in to your own mood.  How are you feeling?  Start to inventory your body for tensions and awkwardness.  What does this tell you?  How do you move and what postures are you adopting?  Listen to your voice, is it steady and confident or hesitant and weak?

Get into the habit of doing this and it will start to become second nature.

* Adapted from Gauging the Mood and Getting in Touch with your Feelings exercises

Step 2: Emotion Management

If you detect a stressful or uncomfortable feeling in yourself, Stop!

Calm yourself by relaxing your muscles and adjusting your posture.  Take deeper, slower breaths.  Recall a time when you felt strong, confident, playful…  Now think about how you want to handle the situation that you are facing.

* Adapted from Freeze Frame Technique

Step 3: Self Motivation

The Build your A Team exercise is spot on.  Margaret offers a useful worksheet which, if you want to identify and create a supportive and life enhancing network of friends and colleagues is worth the price of the book alone.  Think of all of the types of support you would like or need (Margaret has done this) and list them.  Then, for each one, think who you know at work, and who you know outside of work that can best provide that support.

Now make a plan to speak with each of them.

Step 4: Relationship Management

Extend your A Team list in a new way.  This time, list all the people, at work and outside, that you see regularly.  Against each one, make a note of their particular skills, knowledge and expertise.  This will help you to appreciate the people in your life more, and encourage you to call upon help more readily.

* This one’s my own, inspired by Margaret’s Top Ten Tips.

Step 5: Emotional Coaching

I absolutely concur with the top two skills that Margaret suggests.  If you want to coach anyone, hone your abilities to listen and to ask questions.  You need little else when you can do these two.

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook is rightly a top-seller

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook

There’s More to Emotional Intelligence than Daniel Goleman

Dr Daniel GolemanWell, the title is not a controversial statement and I am certain Dr Goleman would be the first to agree with it.  So why is it that almost all business-oriented articulations of Emotional Intelligence (EI) are founded on one or another of his models?



‘One or another’?

Goleman’s recent work identifies four components of EI, whilst his earliest writing on the subject identifies five.


Brilliant Writing

The simple answer, I suspect, is that Goleman brought the concept to the public’s awareness with his first, 5 million selling, book, and then made it an equally popular topic for business people and managers with his follow-up ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’.

Each of these books and his subsequent publications are written with a strong journalistic flair that makes them compellingly readable and highly accessible to non-psychologists.  This is clearly one reason.  But I think there is another, even stronger reason.

Alternative Models

EIPocketbookEIModelThere is a wealth of alternative models and mash-ups, including the one in The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook.  This one looks superficially like the earlier Goleman model, but combines the two social competences and introduces a new capability of ‘Emotion Coaching’.









MayerSaloveyEIModelGoleman himself acknowledges the seminal influence of Peter Salovey, whose joint paper written with John Mayer was his first introduction to the topic in 1990.  Salovey and Mayer’s thinking has evolved, and their current model (1997) sets out four branches of EI.

The difference between this model and Goleman’s arises from the authors’ mission to demonstrate that EI is a true intelligence.  This gives rise to four mental abilities, or aptitudes, that we can develop and harness to practical purposes.



You can view Goleman’s four or five competencies as practical skill sets that we can develop and put immediately to use.  Margaret Chapman takes this further with her entirely new skill set of Emotion Coaching.

It is the more practical nature of Goleman’s models that, I suspect, has made them far more popular.

A Combined Model of Emotional Intelligence

Goleman’s model clearly distinguishes the Intra-personal and the inter-personal domains (a distinction also drawn by Howard Gardner, founder of the theory of Multiple Intelligences).  Mayer and Salovey’s model resolutely does not.  So I can’t help wondering what happens if we impose this distinction upon their model.

I hasten to note that they are engaged in rigorous academic research and this new construct is little more than a whim of my own.  But here goes…


Some Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook contains many fine resources.  You may also like:

Half way between New Year and Valentine’s day

Last week, I was counting basic plots and getting nowhere with the numbers game – I think if you follow all of the references in the article, you get to 18 or 54 or something in between.  I didn’t try to put a number on it.

But have you noticed how many of us like to enumerate and collect?  Mostly it’s men, I hear some of you say, but I am not so sure.  Anyway, Howard Gardner noticed this, belatedly, when he added to his original seven Multiple Intelligences an eighth: Naturalist.

Seven …
there’s another magic number to add to last week’s three:

  1. Seven samurai
  2. Seven pillars of wisdom
  3. Seven deadly sins
  4. Seven wonders of the world
  5. Seven against Thebes
  6. Seven dwarves
  7. Seven habits of highly effective people

One characteristic of the naturalist intelligence is the desire and facility to characterise, categorise and count (ooops three again!).

Let’s get Emotional

This time, I have been wondering how many emotions there are.  Two things may come to your mind: the pragmatists will say ‘but what has this to do with management?’ while the theorists will challenge ‘can you really count emotions?’

Let’s start with the theorists: counting emotions

No.  I don’t think that you can create a full count of the infinite varieties of human emotion, but I did think it may be interesting to try to list the main ones, and see where it takes me.

I started with a throwaway comment I remembered from a training course that there is a ‘big five’ set of emotions.  I can find no reference to these (unlike the ‘big five personality factors’ in any psychology books).  But I did find a Reiki Healing site, and as my NLP teachers were also reiki practitioners, I’m going to make a guess…

Anyway, this led me to:

  1. Joy
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger
  4. Fear
  5. Grief

… which are big and there are five.  But there are other big ones too.  Next stop: Claudia Hammond’s excellent ‘Emotional Rollercoaster: A Journey Through the Science of Feelings’.  Dr Hammond lists

  1. Joy
  2. Sadness
  3. Disgust
  4. Anger
  5. Fear
  6. Jealousy
  7. Love
  8. Guilt
  9. Hope

She doesn’t set out to be comprehensive, just to present fascinating research results.  The web will offer you uncountable numbers of lists, but in my £2.99 copy of the textbook ‘Psychology’ (I love charity shops), I found Plutchik’s Multi-dimensional Model of Emotions.  Oh how I love the idea of a multidimensional model!

Plutchik’s Multi-dimensional Model of Emotions, reproduced as Fig 12.1 in Psychology (Bernstein, Roy, Srull, Wickens)As you can see, Plutchik’s model has eight primary emotions which are shown next to the ones they are most like and opposite the ones that are like polar opposites.  Each has a spectrum of intensity, giving a third dimension, with the peak intensity emotions at the top.  By combining adjacent pairs, you get more complex emotions.

To see this more clearly, we need to open out the solid, and this is done in many places on the web.  Here is my favourite representation (a public domain image from Wikipedia).


You’ll notice that the two versions don’t quite match up (-  as my editor did!*).  The opened out “net” seems the more current and common articulation, with the levels on the “solid” diagram either poorly represented or from earlier thinking.

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

What has this to do with management?

Well, firstly, if you think that emotions and management have nothing to do with one another, you’re crazy.  But my serious point is that a greater understanding of emotions seems to me to be a major gap in much management training and education.  This is even true in many workshops and courses about ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

Yet Emotional Intelligence is one of the most powerful management models of the last twenty years.  I think we can now tentatively apply the label ‘enduring’.  So we’ll be taking a deeper look over the next two weeks.


* In trying to answer my editor’s comment, I found two absolutely  fascinating articles on the web (30 minutes of displacement activity – thank you Ros) that you might like.  Plutchik’s original 1960 article is not available on the web (unless you have £23 to spare).  Anyway, check out: