5 Tips to Developing Your Social Intelligence

Social intelligence refers to your ability to understand social situations, other people’s behaviour and have insight into your own to use your social skills in appropriate ways. It is one of the 24 key character strengths of positive psychology that can be developed to promote well being and happiness.
08 -- Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: What You Need -- Some of the Icons for Anthony Iannarino's New BookHere is a very simple example of social intelligence:

“I’m having a party – would you like to come?” asks your friend.

Wanting to know what the occasion is a socially intelligent response might be to say “Is it a birthday?” with a curious yet slightly excited smile.

For a lot this might be a very common sense answer but some of us who lack this might find ourselves saying “What’s that in aid of?” in quite an abrupt grumpy tone.

Developing the strength of social intelligence can help you guard against such misunderstanding and give you a greater resilience to our relationships.

1. Practice assertiveness techniques

You can develop your social intelligence by reflecting on your own actions and responses and by learning specific assertiveness techniques.

These techniques give you of ways of saying things in kind ways that express what you are feeling or wanting without appearing aggressive. They are not ways of forcing people to do what you want them to do – that is a misunderstanding of assertiveness.

Social intelligence comes more naturally for some than for others. Sometimes you need to use very conscious techniques to compensate for a lack of natural social intelligence so that you can express your kindness and compassion towards people that otherwise they may be completely oblivious to your feelings.

2. Be aware of your non-verbal communication

A real advantage of offline face to face communication is all the body language and tone of voice that goes with it.

Sometimes you may feel that someone is being rude or aggressive to you and wonder why. If you lack social intelligence, it may be that something that you said has been misunderstood. It such cases it may be that your body language has communicated something that you did not intend.

If you are concentrating hard it may appear that you are worried.

If you’ve ever been frustrated at your computer for going slow you may have found that someone else takes your comments and body language as anger towards them.

3. Don’t fall into the vicious circles of misunderstanding

If someone responds to your frustration or concentration in a particular way then it may lead to you responding with irritation towards them – not understanding why they are in such a bad mood. You may feel that the other person was getting at you and so become defensive or even angry at them.

For about a year now I’ve worn hearing aids. My hearing had steadily decreased during my time in my forties. The result was that I spoke louder than I intended.

With hearing aids I found that speaking loudly or at least feeling that I have to speak loudly can make me appear more aggressive. I think just doing it may activate the stress response to some extent. This means that I began to feel angry by just doing it – even when there is nothing to feel angry about.

Then when someone responded to me as though I am angry then I did start getting angry and I found myself saying “Well, you started it”!

Vicious circle!

4. Use social intelligence online as well as offline

I think those of us who lack this social intelligence may come over better online as it gives us chance to think through what we want to say and how things might be misunderstood and misread before we say them. In face to face spoken conversation we rarely have that opportunity.

There is a danger of answering posts too quickly. Increasingly the online world is getting faster and if you stop to think through your comment you feel that the opportunity has past. Someone else might comment on the blog post, or the thread on facebook might get out of date and no-one see your comment.

But it is important to think it through what you right as you may come over unnecessarily aggressive or confrontational. What happens online is that one misunderstood comment can lead to another misunderstood comment.

5. Communicate authentically

Developing social intelligence is not about becoming manipulative. It is important to use it effectively that you are aiming to convey clearly your true intentions. By doing this your strengths of integrity is working alongside your social intelligence helping you to display other strengths such as kindness and patience.

Related posts

What is Positive Psychology?
How to be Assertive
How to be Assertive in Any Situation


August 1, 2013Permalink Leave a comment

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