Emotional Intelligence 101

A course by Susan David.

Susan David

Susan David

Harvard Medical School Psychologist

Emotional Intelligence 101
  • Overview
  • Episodes
  • Recommended for you


In this masterclass, Susan David offers a science-based approach to navigating personal and professional challenges with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind that’s better trained to lead, manage, and learn.

What You'll Learn

  • How to set intrinsic goals
  • How to improve the agility of yourself and your organization
  • How to deal with difficult emotions
  • How to take control of your decisions


9 Episodes

1. Self-Motivate with Intrinsic Goals


Focus on What You Really Want.Because adult responsibility sometimes means facing and doing things we don’t want to, we can get a bit mixed up in our goal setting, building our lives around external threats rather than internal purpose. Why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail? Partly because people set “have-to” goals for themselves rather than “want-to” goals.

2. Affirming Your Values


Values is one of those words we use so often and so loosely that it can lose its meaning. We can start to think of “values” as something external to ourselves—an organizational marketing mantra or a politically expedient slogan. But knowing and affirming your values is the difference between having a compass to guide you on your path to success and well-being, and being vulnerable to envy, prejudice, and every passing impulse.

3. Becoming an Agile Leader


Leadership is first and foremost about taking charge of oneself. When it comes to inspiring your team, intuition is overrated. Also called “system 1 thinking” by cognitive psychology, it defaults to past thoughts, emotions, and stories to choose quick responses to present stimuli. In working with team members, system 1 leaves a leader vulnerable to misinterpreting, overreacting, or otherwise missing the point. It leads to inagility, which can immobilize your entire organization.

4. The Warning Signs of Being Hooked


Agility of thought and action is about independence of mind. In order to take in the flood of information in a complex problem set and make wise decisions, you need to be free of predetermined thoughts, emotions, and narratives. You need to be active rather than reactive. Susan David refers to the reactive state as being “hooked”. If you’re hooked, you’re not in charge—you’re panicking, prosecuting old grievances, or using outdated models to address current problems. But since reactivity i...

5. Dealing with Difficult Emotions


“Bottling” and “brooding” are two common and often unhelpful ways that we tend to deal with difficult emotions—either pushing them away in order to stay focused on the situation at hand or dwelling on how we feel in an obsessive attempt to get to the bottom of it. There’s some research showing that these tendencies break down along gender lines, with bottling being a more typically masculine behavior and brooding more typically feminine, but both strategies can result in diminished cogniti...

6. Walking with Your Fear


For most of our evolutionary history as a species, we lived with the constant threat of sudden death. A sudden rustling from a nearby bush. A new, brightly-colored fruit—these could betoken a tasty meal, it’s true, but a ferocious tiger or toxic snack are forever. We’re inclined, therefore, all these millennia later, to overreact to novelty as a potential threat. Even if you’re the adventurous type, the excitement of new experiences is likely mixed with adrenaline-pumping fear. And the truly...

7. Common Happiness Myths Debunked


There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. In fact, it’s probably no exaggeration to call this a universal wish. But as Susan David and others have observed, the way western popular culture promotes happiness often, paradoxically, causes us a lot of suffering. Common beliefs and messages like “think positive,” “happiness is a choice,” and “don’t worry, be happy” can set up unrealistic (and therefore doomed) expectations, disconnect us from our emotional lives, unwittingly ignore th...

8. The Case for Agility in Organizations


Complexity. This one word sums up the core challenge every organization today is facing. Technology and globalization have created a business climate composed of rapidly-evolving networks and instantaneous disruptive change. And every business knows the solution: Agility. Companies need to be able to adapt in real-time to changing conditions and make wise, carefully considered decisions.But there’s a paradox here. Because for most of us complexity means uncertainty, stress, and decision fatigu...

9. A 4-Step Process for Getting Unhooked


“Hooked” is how most of us spend most of our lives—outsourcing decision making to thoughts, emotions, and internal narratives that we’re only dimly aware of. Once you’ve learned to recognize the warning signs in yourself, you’re in a position to outgrow these unhelpful patterns and take back control. Susan David breaks this process down into four steps.

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