I have just finished reading a book that I find profoundly important. Social Intelligence by Daniel Coleman deals with the new science of social empathy and social awareness. It should be read by every parent!
The book follows his earlier work published in 1995 and he makes the point that virtually all the research on which it is based has been done since then. It rests on the scientific ability to uncover which parts of the brain are reacting to different stimuli. Most of the findings one could say are essentially common-sense such as that children who grow up in a violent home themselves become violent; but it is much more than that because the findings are given a scientific basis and hence an understanding that can lead to tools to improve our society.
Each example is given a real-life story and the research basis on which it is founded. A mother that relates closely to her child and “feels” what they want will bring up a more balanced child than one who doesn’t. This gives the child the confidence through a feeling of security to be able to take on challenges and to face new situations; at home, at school, at work.
The boss who takes care of his employees and understands when they need help will get better results than one who just sets targets. Indeed, for all my ex-colleagues in EADS, he quotes work that shows that the most satisfied employees are ones who reply positively to the question “I have a best friend at work”.
I found the ideas presented really exciting and that they give hope for us to achieve a more balanced society. It will take a long time, generations to achieve, but results can be delivered quite quickly in areas of child-raising, delinquency and crime. One story talks about an area in the US that introduced collectively a new way of dealing with child offenders. Now the prison population trend is increasingly middle aged men as recidivism is reduced. I commend the book to everyone!