Daniel Goleman is a psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Working as a science journalist, Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half.
Goleman’s latest book is Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything. The book argues that new information technologies will create “radical transparency,” allowing us to know the environmental, health, and social consequences of what we buy. As shoppers use point-of-purchase ecological comparisons to guide their purchases, market share will shift to support steady, incremental upgrades in how products are made – changing every thing for the better.
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, was published in 2006. Social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence, can now be understood in terms of recent findings from neuroscience. Goleman’s book describes the many implications of this new science, including for altruism, parenting, love, health, learning and leadership.
Question: How can we improve our emotional intelligence?
Daniel Goleman: Well, the biggest tip-off is do you find yourself repeating the same interpersonal disaster. I keep going out with guys who do X and it ends horribly or, you know, I don’t know… I’m really good at what I do but I seem to get fired all the time, or whatever perplex there may be. That’s a clue, for sure. So, you know, any pattern of problems in the domain of human relationships is a good tip-off.
Question: What can parents do?
Daniel Goleman: Well, parents should realize their child’s main and first coach in this domain. But you don’t have to make a big deal of it, you just have to be a good enough parent. You have to attune. You have to empathize. You have to be concern. You have to spend time. Kids learn an enormous amount in this domain non-verbally. They learn it by modeling. There’s a set of neurons, actually, that are designed for this. They’re called mirror neurons. And mirror neurons activate in your own brain what you see in other person do and tend to feel. And it appears that a huge amount of learning in… particularly in early childhood comes from a child just watching how the adults and the other kids in the environment are behaving. And they take that and they model that. So it… You don’t have… You know, just being a good human being helps a lot to raise your child to be a good human being. And there are guides, there are books on how to raise an emotional intelligent child and so on. And if you want to, you know, get into the specifics you can, it’s out there. But you don’t really need to worry about it if you care and if you give your child time.