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Education Should be More than Academic Basics

Education Should be More than Academic Basics

    Smart and Stupid at the Same Time

    I’ve spoken before about human intelligence being a multi-dimensional thing and today I thought we’d take a brief look at, what I believe to be, one of the most important and valuable components of overall intelligence: Social Intelligence. Some people are very intelligent (capable, competent, efficient) when it comes to completing certain tasks but surprisingly inept (dare I say, stupid?) when it comes to others.

    You know what I mean.

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    This Piece Goes Where?

    Some people might suggest that I’m reasonably intelligent when it comes to writing, communicating and expressing my ideas but if those same people saw me trying to put together a piece of DIY furniture and understand the accompanying instruction sheet, they might (reasonably) conclude that I am, in fact, an idiot. It’s probably fair to say that my mechanical intelligence is low. Actually, no, low would be a significant step up.

    And if those same people saw the quizzical (confused, lost, stupid) look on my face in any movie with a plot more complex than Porky’s Revenge, they’d probably realise that their initial assessment was spot on. It’s fair to assume that I won’t be recruited by the FBI, NASA or MENSA any time soon. Sadly, I’m often confused and asking stupid questions before the opening scene has finished.

    Yep, smart comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you won’t realise how smart somebody is until you’re stuck on an island with them and they build you a house, catch you some fish and save your life all before sunset. This might also be the same person who struggles to spell or calculate simple equations.

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    IQ Tests

    When most of us talk about measured intelligence we are generally talking about a score someone has achieved completing, what we know as, an IQ test. While a score from an IQ test can tell us a little about a person, there’s far more that it doesn’t tell us. And quite often the information an IQ test doesn’t provide is exactly what will make the difference between success and failure (depending on the task, of course).

    We all know at least one person who, if required, could write a quick overview of quantum physics in ten minutes (in three languages) yet would struggle to walk into a social setting and engage a stranger in casual conversation. Neither would they get your joke or know when they’re pissing someone off. And if they had to do something complex like change a baby’s nappy(diaper) (1) they’d panic and (2) they’d have to Google it.

    While there are several definitions for Social Intelligence, what I’m talking about today is our ability to interact effectively with other people in a range of settings, situations and circumstances. Following are some indicators of a person’s level of social intelligence.

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    How do you rate yourself on the following?

    • Being an active listener.
    • Reading and responding to non-verbal cues – keeping in mind that the majority of our communication is non-verbal.
    • Being able to create connection and build rapport.
    • Reading situations and people in those situations.
    • Knowing what is and what isn’t appropriate for that conversation and that moment.
    • Being able to avoid and, when necessary, resolve conflict.
    • Making others feel valued, respected and appreciated.
    • Knowing when to say nothing.
    • Knowing how to start a conversation.
    • Assessing the feelings of others and understanding a perspective other than your own.
    • Demonstrating humility.
    • Being able to hold a conversation with someone with whom you have nothing in common.
    • Being able to adapt your communication style for your audience (individual or group) in terms of language, vocabulary, volume, speed and content.
    • Being able to motivate, inspire and empower others.

    The Right Person for the Right Job

    Since I started my business (just after the last ice-age), I’ve employed somewhere in the vicinity of four hundred people. When I’m interviewing prospective staff I always rate people skills, communication and social intelligence above academic intelligence on the employability scale. Of course I want knowledgeable, qualified and technically competent staff but I’m acutely aware that those three ingredients don’t automatically equal a great trainer, teacher, coach, motivator or employee. It’s my experience that people with a high level of social intelligence are well suited to (the numerous) careers which involve significant face-to-face contact and social interaction.

    Over the years, I’ve met, worked with and employed many people who have had limited technical knowledge (to begin with) and basic qualifications yet they constantly produced great results, built fantastic relationships and were always in demand because they simply had a high level of social intelligence. They were smart where and when it counted. They had excellent awareness, empathy, insight, understanding and overall people skills.

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    A Different Education

    How great would it be if our school kids were part of an educational system which not only valued and taught the academic basics (mathematics, sciences, humanities), but also one that held the development of their social and interpersonal skills in the same esteem? If this were to happen, I believe our kids would come out of school much better prepared for the practical realities and challenges of life beyond the classroom. Imagine if they had the choice of elective subjects such as communication, conflict resolution, leadership, emotional intelligence and relationship building 101… just to name a few.

    Very cool.

    I might build that school.

    Let me know your thoughts on this topic.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 24, 2021

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

    And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

    Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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    At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

    How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

    Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

    But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

    3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

    If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

    Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

    You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

    4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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    How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

      Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

      6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

      If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

      Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

      Final Thoughts

      Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

      Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

      Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

      More Tips on How to Say No

      Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
      [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
      [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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