EQ For Youths For You (Singapore:
SNP Publishing Pte Ltd, 1999) is a book written in Chinese
by Asst Prof Chan Cheng from the Department of Social Work
& Psychology, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, based
on his experiences working with the Juvenile Court and various
youth organisations in Singapore. Targeted at teenagers, the
book aims to help young people to understand the concept of
Emotional Intelligence (also known as Emotional Quotient or
EQ) and how it relates to their lives.
The book has three main sections. The first explains the concepts
of EQ. The second consists of eleven local case studies that
highlight teenagers who ineffectively exercised their EQ and
include the author’s suggestions on how to better manage
their problems. The third section contains some useful tips
on EQ training methods for teenagers, youth workers, and teachers.
Also included in this section is a locally formulated EQ questionnaire
with local norms for comparison.
I. The Five Underlying Concepts of EQ
Studies have shown that a person with high EQ has a higher
chance of success compared to a person with high IQ (but low
EQ), as a high-EQ person is better able to manage his emotions
appropriately and overcome his problems. There are five underlying
concepts of EQ (For further elaboration of these 5 qualities,
please see box on following page): -
- Self-knowledge: A lot of people do not know
themselves and therefore are unaware of their true feelings,
often making them regret their actions or words. With self-knowledge,
one is better equipped to cope with life. Especially when
faced with negative emotions, self-knowledge can help one
overcome and gain control over such negativity.
- Control of Emotions: The emotions the author
mentions here are the negative ones such as anger. Like
temporary insanity, an emotional outburst prevents one from
thinking clearly. By learning to control their emotions
and keep calm when faced with problems or conflicts, teenagers
are then able to handle the situation and maintain friendships.
- Self-motivation: From his counselling experience,
the author considers that self-motivation is what often
differentiates a good from bad student. The former is able
to set his own goals and push himself to achieve his targets.
In contrast, the latter lacks self-control, makes no self-demands
and is unable to accomplish anything when lacking external
- Impulse Control: Many students always lament
that they are unable to finish their schoolwork during the
holidays despite good intentions, blaming the fault on the
many activities that entice them away from the schoolwork.
But the main problem is their inability to exercise self-control
over their impulses for immediate gratification. Teenagers
must learn to defer short-term gratification to achieve
long term goals.
- Social Skills: Empathy is the basis of interpersonal
relations. In order to develop good social skills, one must
first be able to see things from another person’s
point of view, and understand their feelings. With a sense
of empathy, one will be able to choose the appropriate actions
to take when dealing with problems.
II. Case Studies
To illustrate the need to apply each of the five EQ qualities
mentioned above, the author presents several real life case
studies. One example of the importance of developing self-motivation
is as follows:
A boy who did very well during his primary school years
was regularly rewarded by his school as well as by his parents
for his excellent grades. He subsequently entered into a local
elite secondary school. The new school did not have the same
reward system the boy was used to. The boy soon find himself
resenting the school for not acknowledging his performance.
He lost interest in his study. His initial internal motivation
(i.e. curiosity to learn and explore new knowledge) to study
was replaced by external motivation (i.e. rewards by school
and parents) to perform. He incorrectly attributed his attitude
towards school to reinforcement from external sources rather
than to the sense of accomplishment from within himself. The
constant external rewards have effectively murdered the boy’s
intrinsic drive to self-improve.
III. EQ Training Methods/Questionnaire
The final section of the book contains topical exercises
and training methods that readers can use to improve their
EQ. For instance, one important aspect of effective communication
is the ability to process and express non-verbal bodily or
facial expression. Readers are given guided instructions to
practise their facial expressions of the different emotions
in front of a mirror to make themselves more aware of their
non-verbal expressions. Teachers, parents, counsellors and
youth workers can also help develop youngsters’ EQ by
discussing with them the various concepts of EQ and how to
apply it in their daily lives. Last but not least, the book
comes with an EQ inventory checklist for each of the five
components of EQ; readers can take a short test and compare
their scores with the normative data to see where they stand.
The aim of this questionnaire is to promote active introspection
and improve self-awareness among readers as well as for readers
to determine if they have grasped the concepts of EQ.
The book also includes interesting cartoons to illustrate
important concepts. The foreword is written by Deputy Vice
Chancellor Professor Hang Chang Chieh. The book has been endorsed
by the Curriculum Planning and Development Division of the
Ministry of Education as recommended reading for students.
The author is currently working on an English version of EQ
For Youths For You that will be published by
The Core Qualities of EQ
In a workshop on EQ that Asst Prof Chan Cheng gave at CDTL
on 6 March 1999, he explained EQ as follows:
- Self-awareness: Knowing one’s strengths
and weaknesses, knowing your life goals and potentials in
achieving those goals are keys to a person’s self-concept
and self-confidence. Without which, one will be floundering
in life and may find success and life satisfaction to be
- Mood Management: While self-awareness helps
us to know our potentials, mood management skills help us
to handle negative life events. Successful people can see
new opportunities (e.g. start a business, revamp company
policies) in the face of negative encounters (e.g. retrenchment,
lose a contract). The skills help us to avoid unnecessary
conflicts in life and have more positive drives to focus
on important life goals.
- Self-motivation: Ever wonder why some people
just have that extra time and energy to do the things they
set out to do? Well, self-motivation is the answer. A motivated
person knows how to plan and manage his time in a productive
way. He is willing to leave his comfort zone of life style
and venture into risk zone where he is likely to experience
some stress. However, his purpose in life gives him the
strength to overcome the anxiety associated with stress.
Self-motivation differentiates a proactive from a passive
individual, a doer from a procrastinator, an achiever from
- Reward Delay: Shakespeare once wrote, “What
win I, if I gain the thing I seek? A dream, a breath, a
froth of fleeting joy. Who buys a minute’s mirth to
wail a week?” He was talking about sacrificing
one’s future for a brief moment of joy. In real life,
are there not many of those who cannot resist momentary
impulses to buy a minute of happiness (mirth) for a week’s
worth of pain? A sheep gets lost and separated from the
herd because it nibbles at the juicy grass that meet the
eyes but forgets to look up to see the whole green lawn
ahead of him. So, be it for school, career, or other life
aspirations, the ability to control impulses to get immediate
but insignificant gratification in the interest of long-term
life goals is the crux to many great successful life stories.
- People Skills: One quality that characterises
successful people is their social aptness. They have good
social networks, are pleasant to be with, and win support.
Successful people tend to get things others find difficult
or even impossible done. Do they do the tasks themselves?
The answer is often “no”. They get things done
because they can mobilise their friends and associates to
help them achieve the tasks at hand. The skills involved
are categorised under the notion of people skills in EQ.