There are several kinds of intelligence in the world. Social intelligence is one of them, and it’s unique to every person.
Some of us may have a lower level of social intelligence, and it may make it harder to recognize our own flaws. As a result, it may push away other people and make our life harder than it should be.
So, if you’re wondering how to recognize low levels of social intelligence and why it matters, this article is for you.
1) People with a lack of social intelligence can’t cope in healthy ways
One of the biggest signs of low social intelligence is the inability to manage emotionally charged moments with others.
For example, when someone’s friend is crying over a loss, these people might not know what to do or how to comfort the person.
They might also be unable to cope when they’re going through something difficult themselves.
This is why so many people resort to unhealthy coping strategies over time, like alcohol or drugs.
Another sign of the lack of coping mechanism is that people with low social intelligence could walk away when things become “too much,” and they avoid dealing with the consequences of those emotions.
Lastly, they tend to hide their true feelings, so others can’t help them.
2) Relationships are a struggle for them
Both platonic and romantic relationships require vulnerability, sharing our emotions, and having a reciprocal give and take.
This isn’t something that people with a low level of social intelligence can do easily. Since they aren’t able to know exactly what they’re feeling or how to communicate, they often struggle and have very few friends.
They might even come off as unfeeling or insensitive to others.
3) They speak without thinking
You can easily spot folks with low social intelligence because they always want to hog the spotlight in every conversation. They’re the ones who do most of the talking and make it all about themselves.
It’s like they believe they’re superior to everyone else, constantly trying to one-up you.
If you happen to be a skilled athlete, someone with low social intelligence will drop subtle hints about being an even better sportsperson, as if their accomplishments surpass yours.
Another example would be when people with low social intelligence levels feel like they’re entitled and have to be constantly admired.
People with low social intelligence don’t consider the impact their words might have on others. They’re opinionated and don’t care if they harm people with what they say.
4) They lack self-awareness
People with no social intelligence will find themselves intimidating, especially in their emotional responses.
They don’t understand why they say and do the things they do.
However, people with high social intelligence are in touch with their feelings. They actually listen to and follow their intuition. This way, they control the impact and potential damage their intense emotions can provoke.
People with low social intelligence should dare to explore their emotions without letting these feelings control them at the same time.
5) They have issues with their friends and family
Even if they have few friends, people with low social intelligence struggle to communicate with them. It’s hard for them to maintain healthy connections. They don’t have important skills for forming and developing close connections.
Unfortunately, this is what happens unless they learn how to manage themselves and express their emotions better. If they can’t share an emotional moment, they risk being left alone.
Every relationship requires being supportive, and it is so essential that it can make or break a friendship over time.
6) They don’t assume their responsibility
For people with low social intelligence, it’s not possible or even good to feel guilty or responsible for a mistake. This is why they will avoid taking responsibility in any way they can.
These are some examples of their lack of accountability:
- If they fail an exam, they explain it by the teacher being mean to them.
- If they don’t deliver something on time, they would say there were external factors that prevented them from doing it.
- If they are laid off from work, they’d say that the manager was out to get them.
Making mistakes is part of being human: we can learn and improve instead of letting them take over our lives. Moreover, if someone doesn’t learn from their mistakes, they can repeat them again and again.
This is why holding ourselves accountable for our mistakes is so important: we can avoid hurting others and making more problems for ourselves.
7) They may struggle with mental health issues
Mental health issues can stem from emotional issues and social problems. Anxiety, depression, and other disorders develop really quickly when people can’t manage their feelings with healthy techniques and when they don’t know how to ask for help.
This creates a vicious circle. For example, if you have social anxiety, you will avoid meeting friends or going out, and the fear of being around others will become stronger over time.
Moreover, low social intelligence and addictions are very closely related. Most addicts can’t cope with their lack of support, and they use alcohol or drugs to numb themselves to it.
8) They are prejudiced
You know, folks who lack social intelligence tend to jump to conclusions very quickly and then fall into this trap called “confirmation bias.”
It’s like they only pay attention to evidence that backs up their opinion and completely brush off anything that goes against it.
They also tend to argue tirelessly to prove their point, like it’s on a never-ending loop.
Leaders with low social intelligence are in an even more difficult position because they have the power to make choices.
If they choose not to listen to their team, they can compromise the future of the project… to put it mildly.
9) They’re not popular among people
People with low social intelligence levels can’t read a room, so they impose in the same way in every situation.
It’s important to be able to decipher the “mood” others are in when we’re with a group of people, in order to respect what’s happening. We can’t behave exactly the same in every setting.
People lacking social intelligence have difficulty responding effectively to what others say, how they feel, and even to their actions.
It’s like they’re missing out on a chance to connect with someone on a deeper level, and it’s just pushing them further into isolation.
10) They only talk about themselves
This might be the most evident sign of somebody who can’t really deal with emotions.
Even if they ask questions throughout a conversation, it’s not because they’re listening. They might be trying to see how their experience fits into that narrative and push them into the conversation.
Usually, they have to prove that they’ve always been in a better/worse situation than the other person. This is why they shift everything back to what they’ve gone through.
Here are some examples:
- Have you traveled and wanted to share your experience? They’ve been to more places.
- Did you buy a phone? They have a better model, and they got it cheaper than yours.
Once I told someone that I was going to a concert for the first time in my life. Their response was that they’d gone to see the same artist three times already. Duh.
Where does low social intelligence come from?
There are several factors to consider when we’re trying to know where low social intelligence originates.
Social awareness and empathy are things that start to take shape in your early years.
Parents and other caregivers are responsible for shaping these skills as you grow up.
Typically, kids end up having a greater level of social intelligence when their main caregivers:
- Know how to answer their needs;
- Offer support and love to the child;
- Encourage kids to open up and talk about feelings;
- Expose the kids to different social situations that are suitable for their developmental stage;
- Educate them on social norms.
This is why sometimes a low level of social intelligence can run in families. Parents with bad social skills can pass this on to their children, and later they will have to seek opportunities to heal this wound.
Inconsistent parenting behaviors might also cause low social intelligence levels because you don’t know when it’s safe or good to express and manage your feelings.
Mental health problems
As we mentioned before, mental health issues have a higher chance of developing for those with a low level of social intelligence.
If you notice that some of the behaviors described in this article identify you, seek a therapist to help you learn new managing techniques.
Don’t fall into other mechanisms, like drug use or avoiding people altogether.
How to increase social intelligence
There are several ways in which we can learn and relearn techniques to have a higher level of social intelligence:
- Set a goal for the day, like being more empathetic or supportive of the people you know.
- Take a breath and try to think before reacting;
- Practice active listening;
- Develop your negotiation skills in order to work better with different teams;
- Learn how to make small talk;
- Consider the impact you have on others.
Remember these important things that people with high levels of social intelligence can teach us:
- Emotions aren’t here to stay. This is why it’s important to take time to process and cope with our feelings before making a choice or giving an important reply.
- Folks with high levels of social intelligence let their ideas “marinate” in order to consider the pros and cons of making a choice.
- They communicate their ideas clearly and effectively so that other people can contribute with their own thoughts.
Remember, social intelligence isn’t set in stone. Our brains can rewire and learn new tools until they become habits, so not everything is lost!