Thursday, December 17, 2009

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman's first book Emotional Intelligence focused on the individuals emotions in every day life. Social Intelligence is about how people interact together in social settings. It is about the neurology, biology, and psychology of social interactions. It focuses on why some individuals are more able to succeed socially. Much of this book relies on recent advances in our understanding of neuroscience and how the brain works.

The reader learns about mirror neurons which act because of how we interact with other people in social situations. We learn about how facial expressions, built in instincts for altruism, and a natural instinct for synchrony effect our every day interactions. We are neurally wired to live with and interact with other people.

The book is full of detail every paragraph tries to tell you something new. This makes it slow reading. It also makes the book an attempt to be comprehensive. Daniel Goleman asks and answers many questions. Why are some people shy? What is the social effect of Aspergers Syndrome on relationships? Why is being socially connected so important to attainment and success? Each chapter could have an entire book written on the subjects he is covering.

I found the book to be very entertaining and useful. It gave me some insights into the darker side of human nature. We got a nice overview of how impulse control is important to stay out of jail. He also described many of the characteristics of people who treat other people as objects not as a source of relationships.

It succeeds in giving summaries of subjects like sex, happines, stress, anger, and other human social interactions. The thing which binds the book together is the concept of "social intelligence". The definition he gave for social intelligence on page 84 fills half a page. It is very broad and includes both social awareness and social facility. The idea is interesting but a bit nebulous.

I thought this book was far better than Emotional Intelligence. The writing is much clearer and it reads much more smoothly. He has a lot to say in this book covering a wide array of topics. He argues that humans have an ability to develop strong empathy, cooperation, and altruism if we act intelligently. There are 56 pages of notes and an extensive index.

No comments: