April 26, 2011

Uncovering social intelligence

Social Intelligence: The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships (repost from my previous microsite)

Random photo from the internet

About the Author
Daniel Goleman is an author, psychologist, science journalist and an individual whom the overall persona cannot be captured in a written biography alone. He was born in Stockton, California on March 7, 1946, the leading tip of the tidal wave post-war baby boomers (Goleman, 2006). His parents were college professors of humanities and sociology so he thought of being one as well, but writing appealed to him so much that he became a science journalist for New York Times for twelve years. He's very interested with researches on emotions and the brain that he decided to write a book, and so Emotional Intelligence came to be. It was so successful that he had less and less time for writing in the Times, that's why he left the paper and devoted his efforts to the message of the book. His other works include Working with Emotional Intelligence, Harvard Business Review on What Makes a Leader, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Destructive Emotions, Social Intelligence and Ecological Intelligence. He continues to write in Massachusetts where his wife Tara and he live (Goleman, 2006).


Random photo from the internet

Our brains are wired to connect with other peoples brain, thats why we continue to react and interact with them. When someone shouts in an angry voice, we tend to react in an angry manner too but if someone smiles at us, we tend to smile back at them. This is because emotions and actions are contagious, and we have to learn how to give off positive emotions and actions so as to positively affect our world. We have to keep in mind that whatever happens, we cannot not communicate. If that is the case then, lets communicate a positive aura.

Knowing how to effectively empathize with other people is a measure of Social Intelligence. In this modern world where being absorbed with our work and neglecting the people around us have become the norms, we have to learn to fix our interpersonal relationships, to treat people as a "you" and not just an "it". Being too self centered kills empathy, when one is too absorbed with himself/herself, s/he fails to focus on other people, with this lack of attention, empathy doesn't stand a chance. Whenever we disregard the feelings and thoughts of someone, we are treating that someone as an it. When physicians see patients as only patients, and not human beings
who may feel scared and sad about their disease, then they are narrowing the person in the role of a patient. Sometimes, treating the person, more than just the disease is what matters the most. There is nothing wrong with having some sense of detachment sometimes so that we can do our job more efficiently. Take for an example a waiter who just serves customers and does not ask them private questions, whom in turn doesn't ask him such, with this scenario; the waiter can do his job efficiently making only small talks if necessary. Nonetheless, we have to be careful in being completely or partially detached, keeping in mind that social interaction plays an important role in our development. When teachers interact with their students, considering their needs and feelings, not just as a student but as a person, then that teacher is treating the student as a "you" and this, Goleman argues to be very productive for our relationship and well being.

Our genes affect our attitudes in the latter part of our life, but this does not mean that someone will become abusive just because that person has a problematic family. Hence, the question should not be nature versus nurture since both factors are significant. In fact nurturing nature has been a widely accepted notion now. The way children are brought up can give a tremendous impact in the way children will handle life in the future.

No matter what the context is, developing our social intelligence means not only developing us but also the world.

Personal Insights

Disregarding the scientific and technical explanations of Daniel Goleman, I felt that it wasnt somebody elses work. It feels as if it's the story of my life, something which I can very much easily relate to. Thoughts that I have always thought about, that upon encountering it in the book, chapter by chapter, it all seems to be common sense to me. When I was younger, I care a lot about other people, I attend to them, I get embarrassed when I feel that I acted wrong but somehow when I started college, I changed. I cared less, I didn't bother anymore.

Whenever someone sings Christmas carols, I give candies or money, when I see street children, I give food or money, when someone can't sit properly in the jeep, I try to squeeze myself just so they could feel more comfortable, whenever I know I could do something that isn't very demanding to help, I do it- but that was before. Now, I'm very busy with my own squabbles and problems- something which I suddenly felt ashamed of. I guess, for a while I believed that I can't help everyone in the world so I should just focus on myself and the people Im close with but then because of the book, I thought to myself that yes, I cant help everyone, but maybe, just maybe, this is the one person that I could help.
I truly believe that it's about time (its actually very late) that we spread the "do good virus". I shall start with the person in the mirror.

Goleman, D. (2006). Biography. Retrieved from http://danielgoleman.info/biography/
Goleman, D. (2006). Social Intelligence: The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships. New York: Bantam Dell.

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