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Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Daniel Goleman

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action.”

“The argument has long been made that we humans are by nature compassionate and empathic despite the occasional streak of meanness, but torrents of bad news throughout history have contradicted that claim, and little sound science has backed it. But try this thought experiment. Imagine the number of opportunities people around the world today might have to commit an antisocial act, from rape or murder to simple rudeness and dishonesty. Make that number the bottom of a fraction. Now for the top value you put the number of such antisocial acts that will actually occur today. That ratio of potential to enacted meanness holds at close to zero any day of the year. And if for the top value you put the number of benevolent acts performed in a given day, the ratio of kindness to cruelty will always be positive. (The news, however, comes to us as though that ratio was reversed.) Harvard's Jerome Kagan proposes this mental exercise to make a simple point about human nature: the sum total of goodness vastly outweighs that of meanness. 'Although humans inherit a biological bias that permits them to feel anger, jealousy, selfishness and envy, and to be rude, aggressive or violent,' Kagan notes, 'they inherit an even stronger biological bias for kindness, compassion, cooperation, love and nurture – especially toward those in need.' This inbuilt ethical sense, he adds, 'is a biological feature of our species.”

“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.”

“From the vantage point of the brain, doing well in school and at work involves one and the same state, the brain’s sweet spot for performance. The biology of anxiety casts us out of that zone for excellence. “Banish fear” was a slogan of the late quality-control guru W. Edwards Deming. He saw that fear froze a workplace: workers were reluctant to speak up, to share new ideas, or to coordinate well, let alone to improve the quality of their output. The same slogan applies to the classroom—fear frazzles the mind, disrupting learning.”

“Social rejection—or fearing it—is one of the most common causes of anxiety. Feelings of inclusion depend not so much on having frequent social contacts or numerous relationships as on how accepted we feel, even in just a few key relationships.20 Small wonder that we have a hardwired system that is alert to the threat of abandonment, separation, or rejection: these were once actual threats to life itself, though they are only symbolically so today. Still, when we hope to be a You, being treated like an It, as though we do not matter, carries a particularly harsh sting.”

“Forthrightness is the brain’s default response: our neural wiring transmits our every minor mood onto the muscles of our face, making our feelings instantly visible. The display of emotion is automatic and unconscious, and so its suppression demands conscious effort. Being devious about what we feel—trying to hide our fear or anger—demands active effort and rarely succeeds perfectly.22”

“As Marcus Aurelius said millennia ago, pain “is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

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

“when we hope to be a You, being treated like an It, as though we do not matter, carries a particularly harsh sting.”

“Others point to data showing that even as toddlers, 40 percent of American two-year-olds watch TV for at least three hours a day—hours they are not interacting with people who can help them learn to get along better. The more TV they watch, the more unruly they are by school age.”

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Book Keywords:

compassion, empathy, social-intelligence, ethics, selfishness, human-nature

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