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David Baxter

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Gandhi "offers a model for social intelligence"
Wednesday September 6, 2006
By Rohit Karir, Deutsche Presse

New Delhi -- Leaders such as Gandhi, who drew on India's rich spiritual legacy, offer a positive model of social intelligence, Dr Daniel Goleman, best-selling author and expert in behavioural psychology, said on Wednesday. Goleman, born in 1946, in California, has a Ph.D. from Harvard. An internationally known psychologist, before becoming a full-time author, he reported on the brain and behavioural sciences for The New York Times for many years.

Less than three weeks before his latest book, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, is scheduled to be published on September 26, Dr Goleman says that, "Goodwill organisations and individuals in India and abroad can become beacons toward resolving inter-group conflict."

"Principles of social intelligence can be applied to such situations by leaders provided they model an "us" approach to others, and cultivate positive relationships with people who otherwise are considered "them"," he says.

The book on social intelligence is Dr Goleman's ninth. His book entitled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, published in 1995, popularized understanding and managing of the emotions and made EQ (emotional quotient) part of popular idiom.

The book was a bestseller in many countries - with more than five million copies in print in more than 30 languages.

In his new book, drawing on numerous studies, Goleman has sought to illuminate new theories about attachment, bonding, and the making and remaking of memory.

The book examines how our brains are wired for altruism, compassion, concern and rapport.

He describes a socially intelligent person as someone who has "more positive exchanges than negative, and attunes well to the other person; empathy is key. These are the people in our lives we enjoy being with; they make us feel good. And we should have the same impact on them."

The latest research in neuroscience, he says in his prologue to the book, has discovered that, "Our brain's very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain link-up whenever we engage with another person."

"We are wired to connect," says Dr Goleman. "The more strongly connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the mutual force. The most potent exchanges occur with those people with whom we spend the greatest amount of time day in and day out, year after year, particularly those we care about the most."

Since social intelligence can involve groups, are some communities better at social intelligence? "Perhaps," says Dr Goleman. "This is a question that demands research. But generally speaking, people in Asian cultures tend to be more attuned to the feelings and the best interests of their core group or family".

"This "collectivist" stance contrasts with the "individualistic" emphasis of cultures like Britain, the US and Australia, where there is more premium on self-focus and less on the group," he says.

But can empathy or a high emotional and social intelligence lead to avoidance of taking assertive decisions at home and work? "The most skilful response in a situation comes from remaining calm and clear under pressure - the idea is not to be aggressive, but rather assertive: taking strong action as needed, but without the hint of anger. Forceful is fine. Force is not - it signifies that emotion has overcome reason".
 

David Baxter

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Normally, yes, although there are certain people with cognitive issues (e.g., dyslexia) or psychiatric conditions (e.g., schizophrenia) that may have greater difficulty than average with social interretation.
 

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