This is a book review of Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships .
Goleman in his groundbreaking book reveals that human minds and bodies communicate with one another. The invisible bridges give us the ability to change people’s moods, emotions, and health – as people can do to us.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience state that humans are wired to connect. This connection of influence instantaneously occurs upon human contact – sometimes without any contact at all. Relationships shape emotional states, general psychological experience, and another person’s physiology. Your interactions with people influence, for example, your immune system, circulation, hormones, and breathing.
Unlike emotional intelligence , social intelligence focuses on the intimate connection between two human minds. Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence focuses on skills and capabilities within the individual – it deals with self-motivation, self-awareness, anxiety, and detecting social cues.
Social Intelligence goes beyond the one-person psychology to a two-person psychology that looks at the connection shared between individuals. Goleman defines social intelligence as: 1) social awareness, which comprises of primal empathy, attunement, empathic accuracy, and social cognition, and 2) social facility, which includes synchrony, self-presentation, influence, and concern.
Theories of social intelligence confine it to a cognitive context. Social intelligence tests ask participants what they would do in specific situations – a process that uses the brain’s “high road”, a slow neurological path used when we analyze and think. His model of social intelligence seeks to include the brain’s low-road, the neural circuitry hidden from consciousness that functions at incredible speeds, because an awareness of what people think or feel does not make you socially intelligent. As the book’s titles states: social intelligence is beyond the intelligence quotient (I.Q.) and emotional intelligence.
Social Intelligence draws on hundreds of studies covering altruism, primal empathy, attachment, rapport, and compassion to name a few topics emerging from this new field of study. From the amygdala and prefrontal cortex to spindle cells and mirror neurons, like Emotional Intelligence , Goleman once again digs deep into neuroscience and vast studies. He provides many interesting anecdotes to demonstrate his principles in action, which to me gives the book more power for its application.
A standout for the book is chapter one. It reveals the emotional economy, a term that describes the give-take process of emotions. It discusses how a smile makes you happy and a worried face makes you unsure – the biological process of how
emotions transmit through people like a virus .
The fourth chapter looks at human instinct for altruism. While it touches on worldly altruistic behaviors seen through people like Mother Teresa, it focuses on empathy in small-scale relationships. We have instinctive compassion to help people we value like animals who assist a fellow member of its species in trouble. It is attention and empathy that bring forth this innate desire to love.
The last chapter I’ll mention in hope of motivating you to buy the book is chapter fifteen. It looks at the male and female brain and the connection they share. The research in this chapter, like all chapters, is amazing and provides insight into attraction, sexual desire, libido, narcissism, and more intimate – or not so intimate – topics. You’re sure to gain a lot of advice about the opposite sex as well as your own gender.
Without the jargon all too common in a professor’s books within emerging fields of study, Social Intelligence is a free-flowing read in layman’s terms made easy by Goleman’s enjoyable writing style. The emerging field of social intelligence has fascinating dynamics worth learning more about from Goleman. Just like my review of Emotional Intelligence , I recommend you read Social Intelligence if you’re after a book that provides interesting research and insights into human interactions; not if you’re after vast skills to use in your interactions.
Title: Social Intelligence
Author: Daniel Goleman
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