Emotional Intelligence was an international phenomenon, appearing on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year and selling more than five million copies worldwide. Now, once again, Daniel Goleman has written a groundbreaking synthesis of the latest findings in biology and brain science, revealing that we are "wired to connect" and the surprisingly deep impact of our relationships on every aspect of our lives.
Far more than we are consciously aware, our daily encounters with parents, spouses, bosses, and even strangers shape our brains and affect cells throughout our bodies - down to the level of our genes - for good or ill. In Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman explores an emerging new science with startling implications for our interpersonal world. Its most fundamental discovery: we are designed for sociability, constantly engaged in a "neural ballet" that connects us brain to brain with those around us.
In this companion volume to his bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, Goleman persuasively argues for a new social model of intelligence drawn from the emerging field of social neuroscience. Describing what happens to our brains when we connect with others, Goleman demonstrates how relationships have the power to mold not only human experience but also human biology. In lucid prose he describes from a neurobiological perspective sexual attraction, marriage, parenting, psychopathic behaviors and the group dynamics of teachers and workers. Goleman frames his discussion in a critique of society's creeping disconnection in the age of the iPod, constant digital connectivity and multitasking. Vividly evoking the power of social interaction to influence mood and brain chemistry, Goleman discusses the "toxicity" of insult and unpleasant social experience as he warns of the dangers of self-absorption and poor attention and reveals the positive effects of feel-good neurochemicals that are released in loving relationships and in caregiving. Drawing on numerous studies, Goleman illuminates new theories about attachment, bonding, and the making and remaking of memory as he examines how our brains are wired for altruism, compassion, concern and rapport. The massive audience for Emotional Intelligence will revel in Goleman's latest passionately argued case for the benefits to society of empathetic social attunement. (Oct. 3) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 26, 2006
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Excerpt from Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The Emotional Economy
One day, late for a meeting in midtown Manhattan, I was looking for a shortcut. So I walked into an indoor atrium on the ground floor of a skyscraper, planning to use an exit door I had spotted on the other side that would give me a faster route through the block.
But as soon as I reached the building's lobby, with its banks of elevators, a uniformed guard stormed over to me, waving his arms and yelling, "You can't walk through here!"
"Why not " I asked, puzzled.
"Private property! It's private property!" he shouted, visibly agitated.
I seemed to have inadvertently intruded into an unmarked security zone. "It would help," I suggested in a shaky attempt to infuse a bit of reasoning, "if there were a sign on the door saying 'Do Not Enter.' "
My remark made him even angrier. "Get out! Get out!" he screamed.
Unsettled, I hastily beat my retreat, his anger reverberating in my own gut for the next several blocks.
When someone dumps their toxic feelings on us ' explodes in anger or threats, shows disgust or contempt ' they activate in us circuitry for those very same distressing emotions. Their act has potent neurological consequences: emotions are contagious. We "catch" strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus ' and so can come down with the emotional equivalent of a cold.
Every interaction has an emotional subtext. Along with whatever else we are doing, we can make each other feel a little better, or even a lot better, or a little worse ' or a lot worse, as happened to me. Beyond what transpires in the moment, we can retain a mood that stays with us long after the direct encounter ends ' an emotional afterglow (or afterglower, in my case).
These tacit transactions drive what amounts to an emotional economy, the net inner gains and losses we experience with a given person, or in a given conversation, or on any given day. By evening the net balance of feelings we have exchanged largely determines what kind of day ' "good" or "bad" ' we feel we've had.
We participate in this interpersonal economy whenever a social interaction results in a transfer of feeling ' which is virtually always. Such interpersonal judo has countless variations, but they all come down to our ability to change another person's mood, and they ours. When I make you frown, I evoke in you a touch of worry; when you make me smile, I feel happy. In this clandestine exchange, emotions pass from person to person, from outside to inside ' hopefully for the best.