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


3 Dangers of Positive Thinking

dangerI am all for Positive Psychology. I believe that optimism and a positive attitude are vital to help us achieve our goals. Negative thinking is a malaise that can keep us from being productive in our life and even lead to mental health problems such as depression. But I think there are dangers with the popular understanding of “positive thinking”.

1. Positive thinking can just be lying

I believe that we need to be authentic – that is we need integrity, to be true to ourselves and to be honest. There is a problem with positive thinking that it can work against these.

Yes, there is value in challenging and replacing our automatic negative thoughts. But sometimes this can be done very ineffectively by repeating over-optimistic statements that are blatantly not true.

OK you might not be lying to other people but actually there can be something self deceptive about positive confessions that is not healthy

2. Positive thinking might stop you being prepared

This can lead to us failing to prepare for real possibilities because we will not allow ourselves to think that they may happen.

It is important to take health and safety precautions seriously – to stay inside if there is a severe weather warning or to wear a seatbelt in your car.

We also might need to save ‘for rainy day’.

3. Positive thinking can be treated like a sort of magic.

If you say something enough… if you focus your mind on it happening… then… you say to yourself, then… it must happen!

But really to make things happen we need to take practical positive steps towards them. There is an important key to making your dreams come true that is often overlooked. It is hard work!

These are some of the dangers with positive thinking that I see. Perhaps I’m over reacting. What do you think?

Related Posts

Barbara Enrenreich Exposes the Myth of Positive Thinking
Should we through away our vision boards?


My Google A to Z of Positive Psychology

A quick way to research what people are searching for on the internet is to use Google’s predictive feature. You start typing a word and Google with give you a few suggestions based on popular searches. By typing a word followed by each letter of the alphabet it is easy to collate an A to Z of that topic by just picking one of the four words or phrases that Google gives you.
I’ve just done this with positive psychology.

googling positive psychology

A is for an introduction
B is for books. Buy positive psychology from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
C is for coaching
D is for definition: What is Positive Psychology?
E is for exercises
F is for flow
G is for gratitude
H is for happiness – as in Authentic Happiness
I is for interventions
J is for journal
K is for kindness
L is for leadership
M is for Martin Seligman
N is for news as in Positive Psychology News Daily
O is for optimism
P is for PERMA – Positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and accomplishmant or achievement
Q is for quotes
R is for resilience
S is for Shawn Achor
T is for theory
U is for University East London – where you can do a do an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology
V is for virtues as in Seligman’s Character Strengths and Virtues
W is for weight loss as in the Happiness Diet
X is for XKCD a web comic satirising science takes on positive psychology with this cartoon on Positive Attitude and optimism
Y is for YouTube – where you’ll find plenty of videos on Positive Psychology such as this
Z is for Zeitgeist