Social intelligence is the potential of an individual to interpret and comprehend their social environment and establish meaningful relationships with others. It is often referred to in lay terms as “street smartness”.
It is an acquired trait that grows with the person. The level of a person’s social intelligence determines how well they interact with others. It is important to improve one’s social intelligence as this has numerous benefits.
Here are some of my favourite tips on how to achieve this.
1. Pay attention to other people
It is true that people are wired differently. Some are extroverts by nature, while others are introverts.
Regardless, however, studies have shown that being sensitive and listening to others can help nurture one’s social intelligence. This does not equal to an introvert becoming extroverted. The mere act of paying attention to others without necessarily opening up is key to establishing successful interpersonal relationships.
As you interact with more people, you learn to trust and let them in.
2. Understand yourself
Before being able to understand your social environment, it is most important to understand oneself first.
How do you respond to social stimuli? How do you react when a stranger greets you? Is your social behavior repulsive? Answering these and other questions will help you identify your social strengths and weaknesses, and help you know which areas to work on. This in turn will boost your social intelligence.
3. Improve your communication skills
Effective communication is at the heart at social interaction. It may mean the difference between a successful and a failed social relationship.
Competent communication starts with verbal fluency, or being able to articulate your ideas freely without strain. This is accompanied by proper body language. Body language says a ton about a person, perhaps more than verbal communication. Take cues from people around you and learn the right body language.
Maintaining eye contact is also important for proper communication. This is a show of confidence and assertiveness, both of which help build social intelligence.
4. Learn how to resolve conflicts
Conflicts are almost inevitable in any social setting. People have diverse opinions and feelings about things, and this difference is bound to bring out conflict. Social disputes can make or break relationships.
To improve your social intelligence, establish healthy ways of conflict resolution. Learn from people around you and ask them how they feel about how your methods. Improve them where possible.
5. Be empathetic
We all feel good when other people understand and can relate to our predicaments. Research has shown that empathy is indispensable to establishing healthy relationships and improving social intelligence.
When we show empathy to others it makes them feel supported and they are more likely to responsive to us socially.
6. Invest in your relationships
Relationships of any type are dynamic. To keep them, you have to invest time and effort and adapt to their changing nature.
Remember: it is a lot easier to establish a relationship than it is to maintain one. Also, learn to give back- one sided relationships do not flourish.
Humans are social beings. We cannot live in isolation. It is as such important to improve our social intelligence in order to enhance our social interactions. Not only does doing this improve our overall social performance, it also keeps us healthy.