|How do we become socially intelligent? |
Seminal author Daniel Goleman tells Charlotte Northedge why we need to understand the barely perceptible human interactions that affect our daily lives – for better or worse.
Your first book introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence. How is Social Intelligence different?
Emotional Intelligence is about us as individuals, learning to understand and manage our own emotions better. Social Intelligence is a two-person psychology. It opens the scope to what happens to both of us when we’re together, interacting; and what emerges in that relationship and how it impacts on each of us. It is about the science of relationships and the hidden power they have on our lives, and it’s based on new research into the social brain and the systems of the brain that orchestrate all our interactions and relationships, whether we are aware of it or not.
What has been your biggest breakthrough in studying Social Intelligence?
That we are wired to connect, for better or for worse. Our brains are hooked up to connect us silently, instantaneously and intimately with the other people in our lives. We are constantly passing emotions back and forth – at work, in the family, in a couple. Not just when we notice it – when we think, ‘we’re having a nice time’ or ‘she’s in a bad mood’ – but every moment of the day. So Social Intelligence is about learning how to read these exchanges.
How can understanding Social Intelligence help us in our relationships?
First we can learn to read what happens when we initially meet someone: understanding the snap decisions we tend to make about people in the first moments of meeting them, and the little emotions we all express all the time. These micro-expressions are automatic, only lasting around one twentieth of a second, but our brains are interpreting them all the time. So if you have problems interacting, learning to read micro-expressions can help improve your empathy.
Is empathy one of the ingredients of a ‘moment of rapport’?
Yes. When I talk about a rapport, I don’t mean first impressions, but what emerges between two people when they feel good about an interaction. And the ingredients of that are tuning in to each other, or empathising, paying close attention and getting in sync with each other, which happens verbally and non-verbally through body language and rhythm.
Why do we establish a rapport with some people and not others?
We exchange emotions with other people all the time. Some people are senders and some are receivers, and this affects how easily you interact. Charismatic people are those who are so secure in themselves and their feelings that they aren’t buffeted by every passing emotion sent out by someone else. Rather they transmit their emotions. This gives them a powerful presence, and attracts other people.
Why are nourishing relationships so important?
A nourishing relationship is one that provides empathy, caring, consistency and a secure base emotionally. We know that these are important psychologically, but what we are now realising is that nourishing relationships are biologically active ingredients. The people in our lives who love us the most are actually our biological allies. They help us to stay robust in terms of our health and immune systems. One study looked at women’s brain scans just before they were given an electric shock, so they were very anxious. The researchers found that when a stranger held the women’s hands, they were slightly more relaxed, but when their husbands held their hands, their anxiety disappeared. That means that someone who loves you can calm your body in a way that makes it more resistant to disease and stress. And the closer they are to us, the more we care about them, the more impact they have on us.
So can this emotional closeness also be damaging?
Yes. A toxic relationship can work in exactly the opposite way. If you spend time with someone who you always feel uneasy around, someone whose mood you can never gauge, or someone who is always angry or panicked, then you can actually absorb some of that toxicity. Through studying Social Intelligence, we have realised that emotions are contagious. If someone passes their stress or anger on to us, it can be bad for our health, too.
The concept of Emotional Intelligence has had an enormous impact on the workplace, where employers have realised the importance of so-called ‘soft skills’. What impact do you think the concept of Social Intelligence will have?
I think, again, this will have an impact at work. The fact that emotions are contagious makes it clear that our colleagues and bosses affect our ability to do our best, which puts more responsibility on creating a happy, secure working environment. Bosses who rant all the time are shooting themselves in the foot, because that puts the people who their own success depends on into a state where they can’t do their best. Socially Intelligent bosses will realise that their responsibility is to help people who work for them to get to and stay in the brain-state where they can work happily and efficiently. The same applies in the education system, with teachers and students. Teachers have to behave in a way that allows students to learn at their best. And I hope Social Intelligence will also make a difference to the medical system, because at the moment the system is so time-deprived there’s little time for caring. We have found that patients who feel their physician cares about them are more likely to understand what he or she is saying, and follow their advice.
What can we as individuals take away from the concept of Social Intelligence?
The value of nourishing our connections; taking the time and making the effort to strengthen our relationships with the people who matter the most to us. The model of this is parenting, but it is also important with your partner or your friends. It could be something as small as being present. If a friend calls and she’s talking about something that’s really upsetting her, don’t answer emails at the same time. Pay full attention; be present. For me, what studying Social Intelligence has taught me is to value and make time for my family, my two sons and my grandchildren. It’s important to them and it’s important to me. Whether I realise it or not, it’s what makes life worth living.
Daniel Goleman is the author of ‘Social Intelligence: the New Science of Human Relationships’
How do we become socially intelligent?
You’ve just read the article. Do some exercises to summmarise the ideas and to work on your vocabulary enrichment.
1. True or false:
1/ SI tells you how to manage your own emotions better.
2/ Relationship in our lives have a hidden power on us.
3/ Every person and society in general have a social brain.
4/Other people can’t notice our thoughts unless we put them into words.
5/ The snap decisions are impressions you are sure about after you know a person for some time.
6/Human’s brain is always busy interpreting micro-expressions.
7/We tend to communicate with some people because we like them.
8/ Charismatic people are emotional vampires.
2. The last paragraphs convey the basic concepts of interpersonal rapport. Chose the main ideas of the last three paragraphs:
1. You shouldn’t communicate with people whose emotions you can’t predict.
2. Emotions are contagious.
3. We shouldn’t communicate with people who produce a toxic emotional environment.
1. Our colleagues and our boss are responsible for creating secure and happy working environment.
2. People can do their best at a secure and happy working environment.
3. Teachers should love their students.
1. Listen to your close friend when she’s having problems, be present.
2. Try to invest into your positive connections.
3. Learn to value your family and find the time for it.
3. Identify the meaning of the words:
Secure in themselves: a. very confident in themselves; b. know how to protect themselves; c. don’t need any friends.
Buffed by: a. put out by other emotions; b. knocked down; c. overwhelmed by.
transmit their emotions: a. send; b.hide their emotions;
to stay robust: a. stay strong; b. stay calm; c. to stay healthy.
Snap decisions: wrong decisions; b. very quick; c. first impressions.
Instantaneously: a. immediately; b. silently; c. intimately.
A toxic relationship; a. a relationship which is not healthy for u; b. absorbing toxicity.
Contagious: a. it passes on to others; b. not healthy; c. toxic.
They’re shooting themselves in the foot: they are spoiling the whole business; b. they are hurting themselves; c. they are starting a new business.
To rant: a. to shout angrily; b. to listen to problems; c. to give support.
Time- deprived: a. having little time; b. not eager to spend some time on smth.
Nourishing: a. developing and caring; b. giving food; c. giving support.
4. Find the expressions: едва различимый, иметь влияние (2), к лучшему или к худшему,
Взаимодействие, выходить как результат; раскрывает горизонты, увеличивает масштабы; основывается на; осознавать, соединенный (2); интерпретировать, отношения, сонастраиваться, синхронизироваться, взаимодействовать, постоянство и надежная основа, близость, определять/отгадывать, поглощать, накладывает больше ответственности на, тоже относится и к, усиливать, ценить, делает жизнь стоящей того, чтобы ее прожить.
5. You’ve come across some expressions in the text. Try to guess the translation of the sentences and expressions covering their usage.
(a teacher should supply the students only with the 1st 2 columns of the grid).
example Your variant of translation The translation
He buffeted for a long time with the boisterous waves. Он долгое время боролся с бурными волнами.
The letter was like a buffet on the cheek Это письмо было как пощечина.
The price includes a buffet, all entertainment, в цену входят ужин "а-ля фуршет",
and live entertainment. любые напитки и живой концерт.
The water transmit electricity.
Every minute or so I could hear a snap, Почти ежеминутно я слышал треск, грохот и сильный
a crack and a crash as another tree went down. удар при падении очередного дерева
He shut the book with a snap and stood up Он с треском захлопнул книгу и встал.
I could obtain with the snap of my fingers anything I chose. Я мог получить все, что захочу, одним щелчком пальцев.
We had a bit snap with one another. Мы повздорили друг с другом.
She felt the effects of the snap of winter last week Она ощутила влияние зимнего похолодания
на прошлой неделе.
I like to see a man who has got snap in every part of him. (Beecher) Мне нравится видеть человека, полного энергии
I opened the door and the cat shot in, with the dog after it. Я открыл дверь, и в нее ворвался кот, а сразу за ним - пес.
We'll give your men covering fire by shooting them Мы прикроем огнем ваших людей, пока они будут
in while they attack the enemy positions. атаковать вражеские позиции.
I was not aware of your presence. Your foot is so light. Я не заметил, как вы вошли. У вас такая легкая походка.
She always lands on her feet. Ей всегда удается выйти сухой из воды.
to put one's best foot forward пытаться произвести хорошее впечатление