Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 27, 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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    social intelligence What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours) What Is Analysis Paralysis (And How to Overcome It) How to Cope with COVID Anxiety And Stress How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership What Is Unconscious Bias (And How to Reduce It for Good)

    Trending in Brain Power

    1 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People 2 Effective Decision Making Process: How to Make Wise Decisions 3 What Is Social Intelligence (And How to Increase Yours) 4 How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything 5 How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on November 27, 2020

    How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

    How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

    People like to joke that the only thing you really “learn” in school is how to memorize. As it turns out, that’s not even the case for most of us. If you go around the room and ask a handful of people how to memorize things quickly and how to remember things, most of them will probably tell you that the key is repetition.

    However, if you were to talk to memory athletes, you would learn that that advice is not pointing you in the right direction. If you want to memorize something quickly and thoroughly, repetition won’t cut it; however, recalling something will. The problem is that recalling something requires paying attention and learning, and we all learn in different ways.

    So, how can you memorize something fast?

    In this article, you will learn memory techniques to master the art of recalling so that you can start memorizing a ton of data in a short amount of time.

    Before You Start, Know Your Learning Style

    Before you get started, you need to establish something: are you an auditory, visual, or experiential learner?

    If you’re an auditory learner, then the most effective way for you to grasp information is by hearing it. As you can imagine, visual learners favor seeing something in order to learn it. Experiential learning types are more likely to learn from events and experiences (or, doing something with the material).

    Find out your learning style here: There Are 7 Types of Learners: Which One Are You?

    Advertising

    Most of us are a combination of at least two of these categories, but I will denote which step is most favorable to your most agreeable learning style so that you can start to memorize things quickly and efficiently.

    Follow the steps below to start your memory training and store all of those useful pieces of information in your long term memory.

    1. Prepare

    To optimize your memorization session and learn how to memorize something fast, pay close attention to which environment you choose. For most people, this means choosing an area with few distractions, though some people do thrive off of learning in public areas. Figure out what is most conducive to your learning so that you can get started.

    Next, start drinking some tea. I could link you to mounds of scientific studies that confirm green tea as a natural catalyst for improving memory. Mechanically speaking, our ability to recall information comes down to the strength between neurons in our mind, which are connected by synapses. The more you exercise the synapse (repetition), the stronger it is, resulting in the ability to memorize.

    As we get older, toxic chemicals will damage our neurons and synapses, leading to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s. Green tea contains compounds that block this toxicity and keep your brain cells working properly a lot longer.

    2. Record What You’re Memorizing

    This is especially useful if you’re trying to memorize information from a lecture. Use a tape recorder to track all of the acquired facts being spoken and listen to it. If you’re doing something more complicated, like learning a foreign language, it may be useful to make notecards of the new words you’re trying to memorize.

    If you’re trying to memorize a speech, record yourself reading the speech aloud and listen to yourself speaking. Obviously, this is most helpful for auditory learners, but it’s also handy because it ensures that you’re getting more context from a lecture that will help you learn the information faster.

    Advertising

    3. Write Everything Down

    Before you start trying to recall everything from memory, write and rewrite the information. This will help you become more familiar with what you’re trying to memorize. Of course, we said above that repetition isn’t always the best way to memorize something, but this can be great for visual learners as you’ll be able to see the information in front of you.

    Doing this while listening to the recordings can also help you retain a lot of the data. This is most useful for experiential learners.

    4. Section Your Notes

    Now that you have everything written down in one set of notes, separate them into sections. This is ideal for visual learners, especially if you use color coding to differentiate between subjects.

    This will help you break everything down and start compartmentalizing the information being recorded in your brain.

    5. Use the Memory Palace Technique

    A great way to “section off” information is through the memory palace technique[1]. This is especially good for visual learners, but it can also work as a sort of “experience” for experiential learners, and if you say the path out loud, it can work for auditory learners as well.

    There are several steps to this technique, but it basically involves choosing a place you know well, identifying it’s distinctive features, and using those features to “store” bits of information you want to remember.

    For example, if you’re working on learning how to memorize lines, you can find a place in your memory palace for each line of text, and as you’re reciting them when the time comes, you’ll simply have to walk through the room to pick up each line of text in the correct order. When everything has its place, it’ll be waiting for you to retrieve it.

    Advertising

    To learn how to apply the memory palace technique, read this article, which offers details on each step: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything.

    6. Apply Repetition to Cumulative Memorization

    For each line of text, repeat it a few times and try to recall it without looking. As you memorize each set of text, be cumulative by adding the new information to what you’ve just learned. This will keep everything within your short-term memory from fading.

    How does this work? It’s actually related to two distinct modes of brain functioning: System 1 and System 2. You can take a look at how these systems work if you want to improve your memory.

    Keep doing this until you have memorized that section and are able to recall the entire thing. Do not move on to another section until you have memorized that one completely.

    This is mostly visual learning, but if you are speaking aloud, then you are also applying auditory.

    7. Teach It to Someone

    Studies have shown that teaching information to someone is a surefire way to remember that information as it requires you to retrieve the information from your own memory[2]. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can lecture the knowledge to someone sitting right in front of you (or the mirror, if you can’t convince anyone to sit through it).

    If what you’ve learned needs to be recited verbatim, then do this in front of someone as well in order to get a feel for what it will be like to recite the text to the intended audience.

    Advertising

    My favorite method for this is creating tests for other people. Take the information and predict what questions will come out of them. Use multiple choice, matching, and so on to present the data in test format and see how someone else does.

    All of this is experiential learning since you are actually practicing and manipulating the concepts you’ve learned.

    8. Listen to the Recordings Continuously

    While doing unrelated tasks like laundry or driving, go over the information again by listening to your recordings. This is certainly auditory learning, but it will still supplement everything you’ve shoved into your short-term memory.

    9. Take a Break

    Finally, let your mind breathe. Go for a short time without thinking about what you just learned and come back to it later on. Better yet, get out and take a walk while you’re on your break in order to absorb the benefits of being in nature.

    You’ll find out what you really know once you come back to the information, and this will help you focus on the sections you might be weakest at.

    Try these steps now, and you will find remembering things a lot easier, and you’ll memorize more than a lot of other people!

    Final Thoughts

    Whether you’re learning how to memorize a speech, learn a new language, or cramming for tomorrow’s exam, memory serves us in nearly every area of our lives. Once you learn how to memorize information faster and more efficiently, you’ll put yourself ahead of the pack of those who are still struggling to remember and recall necessary bits of information. Get started today!

    More on How to Memorize Information

    Featured photo credit: Caleb Angel via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next