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Strengthening Social Intelligence

by Linda A. Janssen

Social intelligence is the other half of the emotional/social intelligence coin, and is generally portrayed as 'other-centered', social relationships/awareness, and working with others in a positive manner for everyone involved.

Increased awareness of our feelings and emotions, better management of them, help with how resilient we are. The manner in which we relate to others and how they relate to us affect how we feel about ourselves, just as how we feel about ourselves can impact how we react to and interact with individuals.

Social Intelligence Skills -The Benefits

When do we benefit by employing sound social intelligence skills? As with emotional intelligence skills, the answer is always. When we are new to a place or culture and interact with others as we get to know our neighborhood, school, place of employment, or community.

When our children seek help in dealing with difficult emotions or with friends, teachers, dating, bullies. Moments of change, challenge and difficulty tend to put us in social situations where our words, actions and behavior can greatly benefit us or contribute to misunderstanding, uneasiness, awkwardness or pain.

The key lies in reading the feelings, emotions and actions of others to help ourselves act or react in a socially acceptable manner as we interface with others.

Ways in Which we can Enhance our Skills

  • Present ourselves in a positive manner to receive positivity back
  • Be receptive to others by being welcoming: make eye contact, smile and be approachable
  • Focus on being thoughtful of the feelings of others as it tends to lead us to be thoughtful in our own actions
  • Focus on being thoughtful of the feelings of others as it tends to lead us to be thoughtful in our own actions
  • During conversation, give the other person(s) our undivided attention to help convey that what they say matters
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Listen intently, without interruption
  • Lean forward slightly to indicate that we don't want to miss anything said
  • Occasionally nod our head in agreement to show that we are taking in what they are saying
  • Make receptive comments in a supportive manner
  • Be gentle when asking questions, not demanding, insistent or interrogative
  • Work on regulating our emotions to act appropriately
  • Think before speaking to avoid unnecessarily instigating negative interaction
  • Break the negative feeling/thought/action cycle to avoid whining, gossiping, lashing out in irritation or anger
  • Take deep breaths, count to twenty, refrain from speaking or remove ourselves from a situation if we feel unable to interact in a positive manner
  • Be open to learning about the world in general and others in particular
  • By embracing new knowledge and information, we expand our horizons
  • 'Read' people's emotions and behavior by employing empathy, the capacity to recognize feelings in others
  • Make an effort to understand, not simply the words spoken but also the tone and use of body language
  • Consider the situations others may face, and the feelings and emotions behind them
  • Ask ourselves why they might be acting as they are and what could be motivating them
  • Put ourselves in their place and consider how we would feel in that situation
  • As empathy grows, so does our capacity for feeling compassion (sympathy for others' misfortunes)
  • Compassion makes it easier to relate to and understand others, and to act in a helpful manner
  • Sympathy can lead to refraining from actively negatively, and encourage our wanting to help others or alleviate their pain
  • If we want to understand and interact better with the outer world, practice gratitude
  • Regularly reflect on what we have to be grateful for
  • Make a list to remind ourselves of the abundance in our life, or journal about it
  • Actively express appreciation to ourselves and others
  • Working with others on a common project, cause or organization allows us to get to know others better and to feel greater ease in social situations
  • Seek out opportunities to work with others at school, in the workplace, neighborhood or the wider community
  • Volunteering helps shift our focus onto the plight of others while helping reinforce feelings of appreciation and gratitude for our own situation
  • Offer your time and skills to assist in making a difference in the lives of others

Social Intelligence

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