We are wired to connect. To engage. To interact with others.
This is the basis of what’s called social intelligence, a new science that explores and explains various phenomena, from the way we connect with others, how we make friends, to how we influence others.
It’s officially defined as:
the capacity to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments.
If you think about it, social intelligence is more valuable than pure intelligence in many ways. Those with a high level of social intelligence tend to be very successful, even with an average IQ. You may even know someone with a very high IQ that doesn’t do very well in social settings, which can be a very limiting way to live.
However, even though the term is new, the phenomenon of interacting is not. The way to socially connect today is pretty much the same as it’s always been in the last century and beyond.
Increase your level of social intelligence
- Smile. Smiling is normal human behavior. Few things are more odd or uncomfortable than a person that never smiles. Smiling puts others at ease and it will even make you feel better. Smile often!
- Be sensitive to others. It’s important to be able to recognize emotions in others. The easiest way to do this is to study people. Their actions, words, and facial expressions will reveal their emotional state. Even though we are each unique, we have more in common than we think. Focusing on the emotional state of helps us to react appropriately.
- Listen. Do you listen when others are speaking, or are you merely waiting for your next opportunity to speak? Others appreciate a good listener. We feel more important and validated when we have someone’s undivided attention. Avoid looking around the room or fidgeting while others are speaking. Wait until the other person is done talking before you open your mouth. Most importantly, be patient.
- Eye contact is key. It’s much more challenging to read others if you’re not looking at them. You also send a message of shyness or submissiveness if you avoid making good eye contact. More eye contact suggests a higher level of seriousness.
- Learn about body language. Scientists believe that we communicate more with our bodies than we do with our words. While it’s easy to say something that isn’t true, it’s much more difficult to fake body language. Watch others and observe their gestures, eye contact, and body positioning. What can you see? I like to play a game when I’m around others. I sit back and observe interactions and speculate on the situation. It’s fun; try it!
- Be assertive without being aggressive. We admire and respect assertive people. It’s frustrating when others beat around the bush or attempt to be indirect. But there’s a difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Assertiveness is the honest and reasonable statement of your opinions, needs, and feelings. “I would prefer to have dinner at Maggio’s tonight” is an assertive statement. Aggressiveness lacks respect for the rights of others. “We’re having dinner at Maggio’s tonight” is an aggressive statement, because it ignores the other person’s right to have an opinion.
- Actively manage your relationships. Relationships are constantly changing and evolving. It’s necessary to maintain your relationships and make them a priority if they’re going to flourish. This is a part of life that requires assertiveness. Being too passive will eventually lead to challenges and usually don’t create win-win experiences for everyone.
Over to you
How high do you think your social intelligence IQ is? It consists of communication and social skills. Honestly, I think social intelligence is becoming more challenging to grow and maintain due to the increasing reliance on electronic communication versus face to face interactions.
What do you think?