Of course, the world is made up of people! With more than 7.5 billion people on earth, interacting with people is part of life every day. Even in the business world, strong relationships and healthy social exchanges can make all the difference.
Brian had always believed that his business and social worlds were distinctly different, with very little overlap. On his mind, the people at work were not meant to be his friends, so he saw no reason to connect with them on a personal level.
Eventually, Brian realised that he was struggling to lead his team. They didn’t seem to respond well to his instructions and they weren’t motivated to perform. Hearing this, Brian’s mentor challenged him with the idea that the most successful leaders in the business world rank high in social intelligence!
What Is Social Intelligence?
Vital in business, social intelligence allows leaders to:
- engage with the community
- understand market trends
- gain deeper insight
- foster new ideas and
- manage staff in the most effective way
Just like mental intelligence and emotional intelligence, social intelligence is something we can continue to learn and grow in. We can build skills that provide us with increased social intelligence. We do this by interacting with others, learning from failures, and experiencing new social situations.
When played out in everyday life, social intelligence is evidenced by several different factors that seem extremely natural when they are exercised well. However, when a person is not practiced with social intelligence, the signs may be obvious and uncomfortable.
Fluency: This is the ability to adapt to conversations and topics in various social situations. What is said in conversation is appropriate and tactful so that the parties are mostly comfortable and have a fairly natural exchange.
Understanding Social Rules: In addition to speaking appropriately, socially adept people are able to understand social norms and “unwritten rules” that are vital to human interactions. These people can usually “read the room” and understand what is expected in the moment and then play it out.
Listening: Excellent at making the other person feel heard, socially intelligent people use eye contact, body language, and reflective conversation tactics.
Practicing Empathy: This simply means the ability (and willingness) to put yourself in “someone else’s shoes”. This means using context clues to gauge what the other person might be thinking or feeling and then respond appropriately.
Confidence: A practiced socially intelligent person will feel comfortable and confident about interactions with other people. This type of confidence often puts at ease others who may be less socially effective.
Self-Awareness : This is the ability to look inwardly and be attentive to the ways you respond to others. A socially intelligent person will be able to identify where they are lacking and consider places to improve.
How to Improve Your Social Intelligence
Consider these simple tips to improving the way you interact with others:
Watch. As you observe interactions with others, begin to notice what works (and what doesn’t). Observing how people interact as a whole--groups and individuals will help you understand and adapt to various social situations and settings.
Listen. Open your ears and pay attention to what others are saying. Listen to the words people use to connect with (or disconnect from) others, and watch for non-verbal communication as well.
Speak. Using the same approach in every social situation is not effective. You must change up the way you speak with people in various social circles. Before you open up your mouth to speak, think about it first! Consider how others might respond or feel about what you say. It may be helpful to practice this skill at home.
Interest. Remember, social situations are not about you. Learning to take a keen and attentive interest in other people will equip you to function better around all sorts of individuals and groups.
Social Cues. Often, the words that are said are only part of what is happening in a social situation. Body language and social cues are critical forms of communication within the workplace and business situations.
Practicing the above skills is only one small part of the whole picture! In order to skyrocket your business efforts, you must add social intelligence to many other characteristics of a successful leader. And I would love to help you do that.
Are you interested how all of this works together? I have setup a small masterclass, where I explain this and a few other aspects.
Take a look!