I like it when a science writer (NYTimes) is also a smart scientist. This was a surprisingly good read considering I never did finish his Emotional Intelligence book. The core thesis is that social intelligence was developed as humans lived in social groups and it allowed us to identify leaders etc and live together. In our brains there are apparently two routes that this follows , the very fast reactive, (gut instinct) low route and the slower analytical higher route. Since I have at times been accused of diminished social intelligence, I had probably had lots of room to grow in this direction. He covers development stages from post natal through to adulthood, fascinating stuff as I recognized behaviors that my children had exhibited in the fist few months of life. He shows applicability of the research in schools, healthcare , politics and the work force. This is also a personal lifestyle book with lots of applicability to HR departments and leadership. Its a good size, very readable and it flows well. I recommend it
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I wasn't expecting what I got. I am amazed at how much information this man can cram into a book. Daniel Goleman is one of those authors who has the knack and capacity for wowing the audience time and again. I'm very happy I made this purchase. I'm only halfway through and I will say that the only thing I dislike about the book is that it will eventually - inevitably - come to an end. It's something I will read again at a later date because I'm positive there are things I would have missed or forgot.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Being smart in relationships or understanding our neural circuitryDec 1 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
258 of 298 people found the following review helpful
Lacks coherenceNov. 25 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
185 of 213 people found the following review helpful
A Textbook on Human CommunicationOct. 10 2006
Lissa Coffey, Host of coffeytalk.com
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
101 of 121 people found the following review helpful
WOW- Every Page is WORTHWHILEDec 2 2006
Richad of Connecticut
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Easy On Your BrainOct. 2 2008
Mark E. Lanham
- Published on Amazon.com
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."