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Published on August 31, 2020

What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours)

What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours)

Have you been wondering how many past scenarios in your life could have turned out differently if you only knew the right way to react to them? Do you find yourself vowing to respond in a better way to similar situations if given a chance? You are not alone — not everyone is born with top-notch social intelligence.

Many people allowed opportunities to pass them by just because they were not attuned to the nuances of their social interactions. In truth, they could have avoided a lot of personal and professional disasters if the conflicts had been analyzed and dealt with correctly.[1]

However, to anticipate and handle critical social interactions with grace, you have to build up and tap into your social intelligence. In this complex world that we live in, you’ll be glad to have social intelligence backing you up as you navigate increasingly tumultuous waters.

What Does It Mean to Be Socially Intelligent?

To start with, most people associate intelligence with just the general type as it relates to analysis and reasoning. That’s all well and good, but there are also other forms of intelligence, which factor significantly in human interactions.

For one, there’s emotional intelligence, which refers to skills in understanding and managing your emotions. Emotionally intelligent folks can identify and evaluate these emotions and ultimately control them.[2]

  • If you were able to confirm that a misunderstanding or miscommunication occurred, take implicit or explicit blame for it. Apologize for what happened, regardless of whether it’s your fault or not. Instead of being misleading, you are using a diplomatic way of bringing up the issue so that the other person can still save face. The latter will be grateful to you for doing so, especially if they are the ones who misunderstood or misread the situation. Then, be explicit in explaining what you’d like to see and draw clear boundaries that you don’t want to see crossed.
  • If there aren’t misunderstandings, and there is a conflict between your desires and the other person’s, you may have the meta-conversation first. Take a step back with the person you are in conflict with and talk about the discussion that you are about to have. Instead of simply diving into the battle, convey something like, “Hey, it looks like we disagree here,” and figure out the nature of the disagreement.
  • If you realize that you are at fault, take responsibility and apologize to the other person. After that, discuss what you will do to prevent this kind of problem in the future.
  • In case someone else is at fault, though, don’t expect them to apologize or take responsibility, no matter how nice that would be. Many people are emotionally afraid of losing face and social status and will refuse to apologize or be responsible for their actions. Regardless, don’t let this get in the way of resolving the problem. Steer the conversation into what can be done to resolve the situation now and what can be done to prevent the same thing from occurring later.
  • If the disagreement is about what should be done about an issue, explore the reasons behind the conflict and be emotionally sensitive when doing so. Minimize blaming the other person and take blame quickly yourself when it’s appropriate. Differentiate what is definitively known versus what is assumed and then gather a reasonable amount of evidence to test assumptions. Finally, look for ways to resolve the disagreement in a win-win manner.
  • Each of these methods can be applied to a wide range of personal and professional situations.

    Being a human being can be hard, and we all want positive, productive, and genuine relationships.[3] When you use these social intelligence skills correctly, you will be able to get the best out of each interaction, and those you interact with will also place more confidence in you due to your consistent and transparent display. No one becomes a loser then even after the toughest of conflicts.

    Bottom Line

    There’s no doubt that social intelligence plays a crucial role in forming and fortifying human interactions. Learning and harnessing social intelligence skills will not only keep you highly relevant but also turn you into a trusted influencer in your personal and professional circles.

    More Social Skills for Success

    Featured photo credit: Phil Coffman via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Disaster Avoidance Experts: Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters
    [2] Know more about them in this guide: What Is Emotional Intelligence (And How to Develop It))

    As mentioned above, social intelligence exists, too. It is especially crucial during this pandemic when our routines and relationships have been rattled, if not upended. The uncertainty in the air calls for more careful handling of social interactions, specifically when dealing with new life scenarios, physical distance from our colleagues, and social changes in our close personal relationships.

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    Most people tend to simplify being socially intelligent into merely being friendly or approachable. But the truth is, learning to develop and harness your social intelligence can spell the difference between seeming approachable and having the capacity to build secure connections, diffuse conflicts, and communicate long-term solutions.

    Social intelligence is the capacity to evaluate and influence other people’s emotions and relationships by knowing one’s self and others. It develops through time and experience with people concerning success and failure in social settings.

    Even more significantly, some social intelligence-based skills and methods will allow you to break the ice and strengthen trust in valuable relationships. (Check out What Socially Intelligent People Would Never Do)

    6 Essential Social Intelligence Skills

    Socially intelligent individuals tend to have an extensive, efficient network of social connections that they can rely on personally and professionally. This is because social intelligence comes with a set of powerful skills that you can use to build, maintain, and improve relationships.

    The following skills can help you identify key people, understand and pay attention to them, and smoothly resolve any conflict that comes up during different scenarios:

    1. Assessing Life Influencers

    As you go through life, you will meet and regularly interact with people who have a significant impact on your journey. They are your life influencers.

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    To determine who they are, look for these three attributes:

    • Life influencer has a significant impact on your personal or professional growth. Your long-term success hinges heavily on a continued relationship with this individual.
    • The influencer cannot easily be replaced. Your time-tested relationship with this person has already yielded continuous positive effects on your life. You can identify who this influencer is by assessing the impact of past advice or interactions.
    • The relationship is mutual: you can identify what you need from the influencer and vice versa. Your goals and desired results are aligned with this person.

    2. Empathetic Listening

    Go beyond the surface level and try to understand the people you interact with, whether you’ve just met them or they are one of your life influencers. In other words, when they are communicating with you, you need to listen to what they mean and not just what they are saying.

    Your goal is empathy — the skill of understanding what other people feel. Focus not only on their message’s content but also on their tone and body language. By doing so, you will be able to figure out the meaning behind their words and what explains their feelings.

    One of the best ways to demonstrate empathy while engaging with others is by showing them that you are paying full attention to them via:

    1. Nonverbal signs include:

    • Constant eye contact (casual, not intense)
    • Keeping your feet and shoulders pointed to them
    • Keeping your arms open (if you are sitting)
    • Standing straight and not slouching (if you are standing)
    • Smiling, nodding, and using hand gestures at appropriate times
    • Duchenne smile, not fake smile (includes eyes in smiling)

    2. Non-interruptive verbal signs such as saying “uh-huh,” “ok,” “go on,” etc. at appropriate times

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    3. Echoing and Mirroring

    Another way to show your undivided attention is by echoing and mirroring, which uses one or a combination of the following methods:

    • Rephrasing the essence of what your life influencer is saying with your own words every one to three minutes – If you do it right, the person you are talking to will be grateful for your attention. If you don’t, they will be thankful that you checked and will correct it.
    • Using their jargon – Notice specific words that the other person is using relevant to the issue and integrate them into your echoing.
    • Mirroring their tone and posture in broad terms – For example, if someone is speaking formally, do the same thing. If they’re leaning towards you, do so as well. Just pay attention to their body language and tone and try to match it, but don’t try to mirror everything quickly. When done correctly, it will help people feel connected to you and trust you.

    4. Building Rapport

    You can also convey how you understand the person you are interacting with by building rapport. You need to help them feel that you are on their side and that you are a part of their tribe. Without explicitly stating it, signal that you grasp their emotions, goals, incentives, values, and obstacles by doing any of the following:

    • Express compassion (sense of caring) towards their feelings.
    • Find points of commonality between your goals and values and theirs.
    • Convey implicitly that you get what their obstacles and incentives are.
    • Use humor to help bring down defenses while avoiding making fun of them or what they value or using sarcasm as it’s too often misunderstood. Instead, you can lightly make fun of yourself since you’re the safest target.
    • Remember that the most impactful humor feels spontaneous. However, you can build it in, and people will still appreciate it.

    5. Curious Questioning

    Injecting some genuine curiosity in your conversations will go a long way in expressing your sincere interest in your influencers’ needs and concerns. It will help facilitate effective knowledge-sharing and further refine your understanding.

    To do it correctly, try to envision what someone wants you to ask them. Express curiosity in your questions without coming off as probing or provocative. Keep in mind that many people may not want to reveal their emotions directly, so a practical approach is to throw an indirect question at them. For example, you can say, “If I were in this situation, I would feel _______. How about you?”

    You can also share a story about someone who felt an emotion that you think the other person is feeling in a similar situation and see how they respond.

    6. Conflict Mediation and Resolution

    Manage your feelings and then try to resolve the conflict through social intelligence. As a proactive measure, try to scan your relationships for signs of conflict. Don’t give in to the temptation of ignoring potential disputes in hopes of seeing them disappear because that’s when minor molehills turn into major mountains.

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    Then, you may employ the following ideas during interactions:

    1. Remember that a great deal of conflict comes from misunderstanding other people’s emotions and focusing solely on the content of their message. When you start noticing growing tensions, check for misconceptions around both.
    2. Be diplomatic when checking for misunderstandings and treat the situation as a miscommunication on your part.((Business Insider: How to disagree with someone successfully and still effectively communicate
    [3] New Harbinger: The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships

    More by this author

    Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

    Cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist; CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts; multiple best-selling author

    How to Cope with COVID Anxiety And Stress social intelligence What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours) How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good) How Not to Let Cognitive Bias Control Us When Dealing with COVID-19

    Trending in Brain

    1 How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways 2 9 Types of Intelligence (And How to Know Your Type) 3 25 Memory Exercises That Actually Help You Remember More 4 What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours) 5 How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

    How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

    Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

    Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

    Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

    1. Meditate

    We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

    Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

    Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

    Fortunately, meditation can help.

    Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

    While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

    Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

    However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

    2. Get Plenty of Sleep

    If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

    If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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    If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

    Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

    If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

      Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

      Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

      • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
      • Don’t eat too late
      • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

      Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

      However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

      3. Challenge Your Brain

      When was the last time you challenged your brain?

      I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

      To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

      Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

      There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

      • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
      • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
      • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

      If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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      Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

      4. Take More Breaks

      When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

      At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

      However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

      Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

      One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

      This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

      When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

      It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

      Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

      5. Learn a New Skill

      I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

      “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

      From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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      Let me give you an example of this:

      Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

      Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

      The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

      Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

      It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

      Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

      If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

      6. Start Working out

      If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

      Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

      Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

      Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

      Interested in getting started?

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      Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

      • Join a gym
      • Join a sports team
      • Buy a bike
      • Take up hiking
      • Dance to your favorite music

      7. Eat Healthier Foods

      I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

      This applies to your brain, too.

      The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

      Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

      Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

      If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

      • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
      • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
      • Nuts – Improves memory
      • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
      • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

      Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

      Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

      Final Thoughts

      I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

      You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

      But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

      More on How to Improve Memory

      Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

      Reference

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