Social Intelligence Book Summary & Review

Author: Daniel Goleman

Social Intelligence (2006) is based on the revolutionary new science that has emerged in the last decade, including insights from neuroscience and psychology. In particular, Social Intelligence uncovers the significance of “mirror neurons”, our empathy mechanism. We frequently attribute too much importance to conscious thought (as was the belief in the pre-scientific era).
social intelligence book

Detailed Summary of Social Intelligence Book

Social intelligence is not only an important skill in its own right, but it is also vital for our happiness, career success, and making a difference in the world. The presence of a socially intelligent person can transform the emotional atmosphere in a room and create a feeling of harmony and safety. Their ability to manage relationships helps them become influential leaders and successful innovators.

But the human brain and body communicate with each other via chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), genetic expression, and physiological signals. Our experience of emotions, feelings, and social cues is not a direct response to what is happening in the outside world.

But it is a constant interaction between ourselves and others that emanates from many different parts of our brains.

Neuroscientist and bestselling author Daniel Goleman has identified the five core social intelligence (also known as emotional intelligence). They are:

  • Emotionally intelligent self-awareness,
  • Emotionally intelligent self-management,
  • Emotionally intelligent relationship skills,
  • Emotionally intelligent empathy, and
  • Emotionally intelligent social skills.

This book is about these five bits of intelligence. It explains how they work, how you can use them to manage yourself and develop your relationships, and how together they form the basis for emotional intelligence.

Social Intelligence Book Summary Key Points

How we behave and interact with others leaves an impact on others. And then others adopt that behavior. It is how this cycle proceeds. We get easily attached to our surroundings. When we meet someone their health, emotions, and even cellular functions leave marks on us. That’s how human nature grows.

Neuroscientists studies that why we behave differently with others depending upon their nature, attitude, and also how they treat us. Their behavior shows whether their intentions are pure or threatening. Positive interaction helps us to get an optimistic mindset which boosts our energy and growth. Moreover, it promotes our happiness and regulates our health better.

On the contrary, negative leaves an unhealthy impact on our health, nature, behavior, and attitude. The following key points will uncover how social relationships can modify our personality and why we need good people around us to encourage and influence us.

You might also like to read The Road Less Traveled Summary.

Childhood and culture impact your social skills

One of the components of social intelligence is your ability to focus on other people. The more attention you can pay to the people around you, the more likely you are to understand what they are trying to say to you. A large part of social intelligence is your ability to be an active listener.

Active listening involves showing interest in others by nodding, smiling, and making eye contact. These nonverbal signals communicate to the person you are speaking with that you are engaged and interested in what they are saying.

Social intelligence is often misunderstood to mean charisma or the ability to have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone. The fact is, that is only one little piece of the overall package. Social intelligence is a huge concept, which is not about being suave or knowing how to talk to other people. It’s about having the ability to be a good person who understands how to relate to and interact with other people.

That’s why it’s important to know that your culture and upbringing shape your social skills. There are multiple studies suggesting that there is a strong correlation between people who grew up in “protective” homes, where parents took care of them and those who grew up in unstable environments, where they had to fight for themselves and overcome problems on their own.

Keep balance while being Socially involved

Goleman emphasizes the importance of being aware of one’s needs, as well as the needs of others. He suggests that if we are too available for others, we will run out of the energy needed to be socially intelligent.

However, it’s important to note that Goleman doesn’t suggest that we should put ourselves last. Rather, he encourages us to find a balance between what’s best for us and what’s best for others. He suggests that we can replenish our energy by exercising more and by eating more nutritiously.

When it comes to our professional lives, Goleman suggests that socially intelligent leaders are not generally those who can remember all the facts or names, but rather those who can read the room and respond appropriately to the mood and energy level of their audience. Emotionally intelligent leaders are also compassionate, and empathetic and do not expect people to be perfect or motivated solely by self-interest.

Being socially intelligent is as useful as it can be tiring. That’s because being available for others consumes your body’s resources in a very real way. Fortunately, Goleman also provides practical ideas for how to remain in balance while being socially involved.

Social Connections are Healthful for Life

Having social support is one of the most life-changing and health-affirming things you can do for yourself. It helps you live a more balanced and meaningful life. Yet an estimated 42 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic loneliness.

An estimated 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related issues. And that’s not even counting the cases of stress that go untreated because people are unaware of their condition.

There’s an assumption that lonely people are loners. Social introverts. People who don’t want to connect with others, who enjoy their solitude too much to bother being around other people. Social connection is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and wellness.

Your social network is an important part of how you perceive yourself, and how you think and feel. You shouldn’t wait until you become sick to start investing in your social network, though. Do it while you are well.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been around for a while now and we use them all the time. So, what exactly is the problem? As it turns out, it’s not social media, it’s us. You see, our brains are wired for connection with others (which has its pros and cons), so when you use social networks or even just check Facebook often, it affects your brain’s pleasure center – making us feel happy and satisfied.

Research spanning 18 studies by Brigham Young University, the University of North Carolina, the US National Library of Medicine, and several others have found that how often you engage in social activities, how well connected you are to your friends and other people in your community, and how much you participate in organized groups has a direct impact on your health.

Social Intelligence Quotes

“When the eyes of a woman that a man finds attractive look directly at him, his brain secretes the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine – but not when she looks elsewhere.” –Daniel Goleman

“Though they are quick to put others down, unhealthy narcissists view themselves in absolutely positive terms.” –Daniel Goleman

Social Intelligence Book Summary Review

This book is very thoughtful and well-organized. The subject matter is new and different and unless you have made a deep study of the brain, its various parts, and functions, you will often need to refresh your memory about what the various parts do. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about neuro-sciences.

To whom I would recommend The Social Intelligence Book Summary?

  • Anyone who wants an understanding of human relationships.
  • Anyone who wants to enhance his social skills.
  • Any psychologist or psychotherapist.