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Starts in a fluffy muddle but picks up a bit at the end
on 22 July 2014
This was a book difficult to get into - The main problem is that the first half is full of the bane of most PowerPoint presentations: The strange need to tell you what they're about to tell you. As such, you have to wade through something akin to:
"Book on Stuff
In this book, you will learn about stuff. In chapter one, we will learn that things are a type of stuff. So read on!
Chapter One - Things
In this chapter, we will see how things are a type of stuff
Here's the cool bit: Things are a type of stuff!
By now you should understand that things are a type of stuff. In chapter two we will build upon this knowledge to understand how objects are also a type of stuff..."
... and so on. It is an unpleasant slog that repeats itself a lot and seems to be more a basic overview than really go into any detail... so when you strip away most of the fluff, there's very little useful content left (though the box on how to teach children emotional empathy is superb). It might be worth skipping the intro altogether, as it's easy to get sick of the word 'emotion' numerous times in every single tiny paragraph
One of my huge gripes in the early sections is the "Your emotions are what YOU create" bit: A feel-good concept peddled about with no scientific backing and about as useful as the "Hey, don't care what people think! Those who don't care don't matter"-type posts you see on FaceBook - Sounds great, but in reality is a very grey area that should be explored and guided in considerably more detail. And that's what I feel this book grudgingly lacks: Detail. You get a lot of broad statements with little explanation, such as (this one stuck out for me) "Facial expressions: try and maintain an expression that reflects openness and interest, but which is also responsive and reflects what the other person is conveying" - as opposed to y'know... something difficult
Part 2 I'm undecided on. It's ok, but the lack of detail makes it suffer heavily. We flit about assertiveness, listening and being positive - without really delving into any properly. We're also told things like assertiveness is good in some cases, but so is being passive, or being aggressive, or being passive-aggressive... it's down to us to choose the best one. Whilst the previous statement is certainly true, you notice it doesn't actually tell us anything helpful either. And it's that kind of "fluff" that gets in the way of some of the good advice
That said, things start to pick up around the half way mark. The blanch statements take a back-seat for lots of short-sharp points and tactics to start managing emotions properly. Part 3 in particular, covering specific tactics for Anxiety/Anger/Bullying, is pretty damn good - especially re-framing anger as a challenge. That I loved. Unfortunately, where these sections are crammed into the latter sections of the book - it suffers from being very short and lacking detail. The general tips are good, but I craved more examples and situations to really dig into the nuts and bolts of an emotion
Disappointingly, it just wasn't an enjoyable read. It reads more like an introduction to Emotional Intelligence than a guide. If you've never covered anything of its style before, you might find it quite a good read (it's hard for me to say) - But if you've been working with this sort of material, you'll probably find that it loiters around territory you covered ages ago. And that's emotional intelligence! (comments like that bugged me too...)