69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2006
This is an easy to read book that will verify what you may have already noticed and couldn't put your finger on. Backed by new and hard science, innumerable studies and experiments, Dr. Goleman weaves a picture of everyday life that is profoundly affected by our natural empathy for other human beings. Dr. Goleman provides a road map for developing social awareness and facility.
Dr. Goleman describes the interdependence of nature and nurture. He discusses our brains' capacity to read and map what is going on within another person. Our social brain is triggered by mirroring neurons that instantaneously and unconsciously align themselves with those we are with. Our genes are designed to express themselves when triggered by a matching external social stimulus. If our parents worry about the future we worry about the future whether or not they said worrisome things out loud, the worry was transmitted unconsciously. Most of what we know about interacting with others is learned. So according to Dr. Goleman what you may not have learned when younger can be learned. This book makes it possible to see the world of human relationships as a field of new possibilities and gives us a lot to ponder about the state of our culture and what we might do about it and ourselves.
"How to Create Magical Relationships", written by Ariel and Shya Kane, is a great companion book to "Social Intelligence". This book is very down to earth with stories and examples of how people's lives and relationships have transformed. They offer a living example of social intelligence and ignite the possibility of everyone having magical relationships. The Kanes value living in the present with non-judgmental awareness. Their style and delivery are very practical. Using real world examples and illustrations from their own experience, they make a life filled with excellence, well being, and passion a vivid possibility for everyone.
291 of 335 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2006
I heard an interview with Daniel Goleman on NPR and thought this book sounded fascinating. Goleman explained that research into neuroscience was exploding, and that researchers had recently discovered biological, chemical and structural aspects of the brain that correspond to fluency in social interactions. When people strongly connect in social situations, the chemical activity in each person's brain actually synchs up with the other participants'. This causes a ripple effect throughout the body, causing greater and greater physiological connections. A person with high "social intelligence" has this effect to a much greater degree than others; an charimatic person can affect the physiology of a crowd of hundreds or even thousands. Goleman claims that such research will have a profound effect on the theory of social interactions and interpersonal relationships.
Unfortunately, the ten-minute interview was much more interesting and informative than the book. After making that basic point in the first five pages in the introduction, Goleman wanders incoherently from topic to topic, with no attempt at all to structure a cohesive argument or to draw any overarching conclusions from the material he discusses. Instead, each chapter consists of a series of only loosely related anecdotes that supposedly correspond to one research study or another. Goleman makes no attempt to explain the connections between these subsections or to thread them together into a coherent whole. Indeed, the entire book consists almost entirely of a series of examples, but Goleman never explains what the examples are supposed to be illustrating.
I found it impossible to read this book straight through. It's as if Goleman knew that most of the readers would just flip the book open at random and read a tiny snippet here and there. If the book is approached in that manner, a reader might think that the book looks pretty interesting and conclude that there must be something there. Goleman must have been banking on the fact that most people would not go beyond such superficial browsing. As someone who made a sincere attempt to read the book straight through, I actually feel deceived.
188 of 217 people found the following review helpful
I am a huge fan of Daniel Goleman. He's the bestselling author who coined the term "Emotional Intelligence" with his 1995 book of the same name. Now he's got a new book, "Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships." Social intelligence is the ability to read other people's cues and then act on them. Life is all about relationships, and there is a science to how we relate to each other. It's fascinating to see how Goleman breaks down each aspect of communication. We can learn how to more effectively express ourselves so that we feel understood. And we can learn how to better "read" other people so that we can better understand. This helps to improve our interactions and ultimately strengthen our relationships. He talks about "synchrony" or interacting smoothly at the nonverbal level, which is an important, yet often overlooked, part of relating. Goleman also scientifically explains "the capacity for joy" and how that affects our social intelligence. He shows how our resilience plays an important role in our happiness, which comes into play as we express ourselves to others.
110 of 130 people found the following review helpful
I read a book a day, and have for 30 years. I sometimes read a book looking for that one scintillating page, sometimes it's just a paragraph, in some books only a sentence. I begin by reading the inside cover of the book. I then scan the preface, and turn to any random page usually deep in the book. I start to read. Whether something strikes my fancy or not, I turn to another page somewhere else in the book. I probably look at five pages this way. Within those five pages, I can tell if I am going to like this book.
With Goleman's Social Intelligence, every page was fascinating. I literally had difficulty putting it down. This whole book is jam-packed with fabulous and interesting information on topics, which I feel are important to all of us as human beings. Some of this material has been covered in other places in other ways. When Goleman covers it, it seems so fresh.
His work seems to indicate that as human beings, we are DESIGNED FOR SOCIALIBILITY. Our emotions are CONTAGIOUS. Now there's a thought I have never thought about. You can catch a cold; we all know that. What I didn't know is that I could literally catch somebody's emotional state.
Yes, I know that classically trained psychoanalysts go through "transference issues" with their patients. That's not the point. What about being in a room with a group of very down people, and your soul picks up on it and accommodates them by making you depressed. This is what Goleman is writing about, and he gives example after example. The difference is that the author uses the phrase, "TOXIC PEOPLE".
I have been fortunate in many of the friendships I have formed through the years. One of my friends is among the brightest people on earth. He is categorized as Mensa, Mensa, the top 1% of 1% of geniuses on earth. Several years ago when I was describing a relationship I had with another person, he said something so profound that it transformed me immediately. He said, "You know, you think you can reach down into the murk, and pull that person out. You can't, you never will, THEY PULL YOU IN." He was so right, so penetrating, so spot on dead accurate. You can't change TOXIC PEOPLE, and Goleman writes about this. They change you. You simply have to AVOID THEM.
I loved Goleman's story of "Yacht Envy". He talked about being on a magnificent yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. Each person on board had a room fit for a king. The yacht was a converted commercial vessel of some kind, but beautifully decked out. On the coffee table in each room was a copy of a very special book on the world's most beautiful yachts. There was a piece of paper pointing to a certain page in the book, and on that page was a multiage color layout of the very yacht you were on.
Goleman talks about how everybody felt so fortunate to be on this beautiful craft. Suddenly one morning, as the guests climbed the stairs to the deck, they saw this other yacht four times longer than the yacht they were on, close by. It absolutely dwarfed the ship they had all thought so highly of, and then there was the tender. The tender is an auxiliary ship used to service the yacht they were looking at. It brings provisions and other goods to the yacht. The tender was bigger than the yacht they were on. The author ends the story by saying, "Is there such a thing as YACHT ENVY."
What you will learn from this book will blow you away. Some of the topics that I find fascinating and covered in detail in Social Intelligence include:
· Nourishing relationships
· Reshaping our brains with enriching personal relationships
· Forthrightness is the brain's DEFAULT response
· People lying begin verbalizing 2/10ths of a second later than truth tellers
· A new explanation for Jung's concept of synchronicity
I will leave you with this thought. You are probably familiar with MRI. The doctors use them medically to find tumors and so forth. There is a more complex machine called an fMRI which brain investigators are doing mind-boggling research with. As an example if you are wired up, and all of a sudden are expressing anger over something, a researcher can look at an MRI and see precisely what parts of the brain are lighting up during the emotional outburst. You can just guess at the possibilities of this work. It is covered thoroughly in this book as is over 100 other fabulous concepts. Read it, delight yourself, and don't put it down. Social Intelligence is COMPELLING.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2008
For Goleman fans, who seek an in-depth coverage of the scientific
research behind social intelligence, this book will satisfy. It can be an essential resource for researchers and human development practitioners, but may have less appeal for those seeking a more applied, "how-to" explanation. Goleman provides lots of scientific tidbits, but little advice on how to actually describe, assess, or teach social intelligence as a set of practical competencies. As with his first book, "Emotional Intelligence: Why It May Be More Important than IQ," educators and business users will find it necessary to develop their own methods for application.
It's worth noting that this book was published a year after the publication of Dr. Karl Albrecht's book, "Social Intelligence: the New Science of Success." Albrecht's book offers a more practical, "street level" treatment of the subject, with a five-point descriptive model of social intelligence, ("S.P.A.C.E.," which stands for Situational Awareness, Presence, Authenticity, Clarity, and Empathy) and a primary focus on how those dimensions can be measured and developed.
Recommendation: read both books.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
I had loved Emotional Intelligence so much that I was really excited to read Social Intelligence as I expected an indepth look on Interpersonal Intelligence. However, this material is better covered by Louis Cozolino in his newest book "The Neuroscience of Social Relationships."
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2008
Okay, I was prepared to get drowsy as I opened this book. The subject of social intelligence intrigued me, but books like this can be so chock-full of scientific jargon that your eyes cross before you've finished the first half dozen pages. But what Goleman offers is a highly readable text, revealing much about the brain's role in our social interactions - from the most simple to the more complex. He cites numerous experimental studies that help the reader draw clear conclusions amid the complicated neurological reactions set off in our brains as we interact socially. The book increased my awareness of how I operate in similar situations.
If you're interested in increasing your awareness and looking at how you operate, you may also be interested in Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Can Instantaneously Transform Your Life, by Ariel and Shya Kane. The Kanes' no-nonsense approach to self-discovery debunks the myth that setting copious goals, making resolutions and being hard on yourself is the way to a better life. Instead, the book shows how transforming your life can be as simple as seeing how you do what you do. The authors also have a great web site with a lot of helpful content, including podcasts and downloads of their weekly radio show called "Being Here."
84 of 101 people found the following review helpful
Five AMAZING Stars!! Welcome to the brave new world of "Social Neuroscience"! This book may change the way you see life, relationships, and how you approach both! In "Social Intelligence", the companion volume to the highly successful and informative "Emotional Intelligence", award-winning author Dr. Daniel Goleman examines the emerging science of Social Neuroscience and reveals it's most basic concept: "we are wired to connect" with each other. Our brains are "sociable" and interact, from the basic one-to-one relationship to those relationships much more complex and layered. He then tells us specifically how this happens in our everyday lives. From the bedroom to the boardroom to recreational activities and beyond, it's always there affecting us. Even more importantly, the book shows how the direct one-on-one neural bridge between two people emotionally affects the brain of the other person. That emphasis is how this book differs from "Emotional Intelligence" which dealt with what happens within the individual. Each individual social interaction becomes a mental thermostat, affecting both specific parts of the brain and individual emotional functions with each changing situation. Each new situation will "reset key aspects of our brain function as they orchestrate our emotions" each time. While each discussion gets technical, Dr. Goleman gives specific simple examples of everyday occurrences that we all can recognize and which reinforces his points.
We can take this information and use it: at work, at home, in our relationships with friends, lovers, or strangers. Eye-opening findings abound, as well as things we have long suspected which are proven in the book. All of which occurs in normal environments or in environments where individuals are increasingly isolated by their cars, their TV, or their headphones whether in a crowd or alone. "Social Intelligence" is loaded with interesting findings, challenging concepts, and individual bits of data that most readiers will find fascinating. And best of all the "hidden patterns" that emerge. That alone will make this book rewarding for readers of almost any particular leaning, because it enlightens us about our "social brains" in this complex world. The identification by Dr. Goleman of the situational functioning of specific parts of the brain in this regard is quite stunning. This book does a wonderful job of giving us the latest findings and concepts from this field of Social Neuroscience. Highly recommended! Five HUGE Stars!!
(This review is based on an Ebook digital download in Adobe Reader 7. Save a tree, download your books!)
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2010
I just finished reading Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. In a chapter about prisons, he scientifically expresses what I've witnessed over the last ten years, namely that prisons cultivate criminal instincts instead of "correcting" them. Our prisons, as they are today, should be called "corruptions" rather than "corrections." The cure is worse than the disease, or rather in this case, the cure exacerbates the disease.
Biologically speaking, survival in prison demands that the part of the brain called the amygdala be set for "paranoid hyper-vigilance." The amygdala triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. Fear forces the amygdala to override the areas of the brain which are responsible for rational thought. A key to inhibiting these primitive responses is a group of neurons in the OFC (orbitofrontal cortex) that can curb impulses from the amygdala. The circuitry running from the amygdala to the OFC can be strengthened or weakened through conditioning. During imprisonment, we have a choice to mold this crucial brain circuitry for self-control. It's like molding a statue. In the early stages, you have a chance to get the pose just right, but once the arm or some other body part is in position, it quickly becomes too late to correct it.
Most prisoners never get a chance to correct the habits and circumstances that keep them out of prison's revolving doors. As Goleman says, "Prisons are colleges for crime, strengthening an inmate's predilection and skill sets for criminality. Younger prisoners...typically become mentored by more seasoned inmates, so that on their release they are...endowed with greater skills as criminals." I've witnessed this happen time and time again over the last ten years. Prisons are supposed to be a tool to protect society, but the opposite is happening. We put law breakers in prison to punish them and make them suffer, but then release them as more sophisticated and violent criminals to do ever greater damage to society.
We can view criminals as being socially sick, an illness marked by lack of empathy for others and lack of emotional intelligence and impulse control. For various reasons they've violated the rights of others and the rules of society for their own selfish motives. This sickness is what needs to be "corrected." Punishment and suffering do nothing to achieve this objective. It only makes it worse.
Goleman makes a few recommendations. He says prisons need to be reinvented to offer a remedial neural education using programs which strengthen the circuits of the social brain for empathy and for regulating emotional impulses. These programs have been used in schools to reduce fighting by 69 percent, bullying by 75 percent and harassment by 67 percent.
Another component of a better justice system would be the use of "restorative justice." Criminals should have to face the emotional aftermath of their crimes and make amends to the victims. Victim impact sessions are already practiced in some states but not in the federal system. I had several victims in my string of robberies and I never had to face even one of them. I have no idea what I did to them. I don't know if they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, if they had to quit their jobs, or of any way that my crimes may have negatively impacted their lives. I can only assume that I hurt them more than I'll ever know. But facing them and listening to them would have went a long way in helping me atone for my crimes and heal my social sickness, so that I can become a better functioning human being. But instead, I was thrown into a violent prison, a hell where everyone fights for respect and violence wins prestige, where the physically powerful prevail and fear rules all.
Everything I've done to improve myself in prison, I've had to do on my own with little or no help from a soulless, robotic, prison bureaucracy. Even this book, Social Intelligence, had to be borrowed from another inmate, even though the information inside is invaluable to someone wanting to recover from a life of addiction and crime. If I didn't make a daily, conscious effort to repair my broken life, I would fall fast into a pit of bitterness, apathy and self-defeat as the vast majority of my fellow inmates have, only to be released back to the streets worse than before.
David Allan Reeves
Author of "Running Away From Me"
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2006
Even more so than with "Emotional Intelligence," Goleman amazes by telling us just how much we didn't know. Then, towards the final chapters, he tells us how we can apply that knowledge to our lives and society. Its not nuture vs. nature, but rather the nuture OF nature that shapes who we are and how we intereact with the world. Social Intelligence will let you know why you are who you are, why those you love interact with you the way they do, and how you can effect change in yourself or others. Personally, I put the book down with a much deeper understanding of myself and everyone in my life. New parents, health care pros, prison wardens, school teachers ...oh forget it, anyone who interacts with anyone else (that nails it down) can gain exceptional insight from this book. Required reading. 5+ stars.