Social Intelligence: The new science of success

 Social Intelligence: The new science of success
Author: Karl Albrecht
Price: £15.99
From Pfeiffer, an imprint of John Wiley
ISBN: 0787979384

Ever since Harvard professor Howard Gardner introduced the idea that human intelligence is not a single trait but a collection of capabilities, the race has been on to identify those capabilities or ‘intelligences’.

The concept of spiritual intelligence has been gaining credibility over the past 18 months, but has yet to catch up with Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence – or EQ – which seized the imagination on both sides of the Atlantic after the book was published in 1995.

This is a fresh attempt to jump on the intelligences bandwagon. Management consultant Karl Albrecht has come up with the notion of social intelligence (SI), which he defines as the “ability to get along well with others while winning their co-operation”.

This book has the declared aim of offering a guided tour of the five dimensions of social intelligence, summed up by the acronym SPACE: Situational awareness, Presence, Authenticity, Clarity and Empathy.

With chapter headings that sound as though they might be relevant, such as ‘Assessing and Developing SI’ and ‘SI in the World of Work’, the book should be exciting – but it isn’t. The problem lies not with Albrecht’s initial concept, but in its execution.

The author reinforces his arguments by calling on various aspects and personalities of popular US culture, so we ‘learn to learn’ from the likes of Clint Eastwood, Donald Trump and Homer Simpson. But his thoughts are couched in the language of the self-help books that proliferated in the US during the 1950s and 60s. Albrecht even comes up with tips on how to make the most of a post-work cocktail reception party.

A little more intellectual rigour could have moved the intelligences debate forward. Unfortunately, this book is stuck in a time warp, along with How to Win Friends and Influence People. Cheesy nibble and Martini anyone?

Useful? Two stars
Well-written? Three stars
Value for money? Two stars

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