Sunday, March 18, 2007

Social Intelligence

I am in the lounge in Toronto waiting for a flight to California.

I am sore from a 2 1/2 hour run yesterday. It was probably just procrastinating from doing what I should be doing. On the other hand, I can justify it as balance. Of all the vices, I think running would not rank high on the list of bad ones.

I read a great book called Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. In the interest of time and because the following is a good review, I share with you Michael Sposato's from review off Amazon. I do not know him or endorse him. I do know he reads even more books that I do. And he writes good reviews. His Review:

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.

Richard Stoyeck


At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Ann said...

I guess I will have to read this book, as I'm not clear the message it is delivering on 'Toxic People'. I can agree that emotion is contagious, but not that all depressed people will depress you.

I think some people do have the ability to raise others around them 'from the murk' and sometimes one person is all it takes.

A dear friend of mine committed suicide two years ago, I know what it is like to lose someone to depression; however, I would not have cut them out of my life for anything. Did it change me? Of course, but I am not depressed.

I would hope that 'social intelligence' also includes compassion otherwise I don't understand the social aspect to it. Sounds elitist to me.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

This message is possibly accurate for the most part, however, in all situations, those TOXIC people, more than likely have alot to contribute. Maybe one single situation is making them toxic, that would normally not effect them this way - Desiderata has alot to say about this in a single poem. Sure, you don't have to save the world, nobody does or can, we can all do our little part to assist, there are a few points you've made in the past that should be taken into consideration by many, " each little bit helps" i.e. conservation, etc. . .

sounds like a very good read, thanks for the recommendation on the book. Like Ann's comment as well - very positive outlook.


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