Are you socially intelligent?
Even though only 36% of people are said to be emotionally intelligent, social intelligence is a different game in the same ballpark. The critical difference is that social intelligence is our ability to interact with others.
In other words, we need it to build relationships and sustain them. We can claim to be socially intelligent all we want, but several red flags exist to prove otherwise.
Let’s examine some common phrases that show someone lacks social intelligence.
1) “Your feelings don’t matter in this situation.”
Case in point. If you’re someone who dismisses someone’s feelings, you might be lacking in social intelligence.
Take Hugh Laurie’s character Dr. Gregory House. He once said, “Feelings? Look, the patient’s symptoms don’t care about your feelings.”
2) “I like to tell it how it is.”
Telling it how it is is all the rage these days. Nobody has exemplified and promoted this phrase as much as former president Donald J. Trump.
Like everything, there’s a time and place to tell it like it is. But too often, those who wield that phrase tend to use it as a justification to be mean or just plain insulting.
3) “I was only joking. Get over it.”
Perhaps the most prominent red flag is when someone attempts to wipe hurt and upset away with this phrase.
And this is often paired with, “Why are people so sensitive these days?”
Socially unintelligent people often believe that they can say whatever they want and that anyone taking umbrage is oversensitive.
It’s not going to make you many friends. But read on for something else that won’t win you many allies, either.
4) “It’s not a big deal. I was only X minutes late.”
Socially intelligent people respect others and their time. They also understand the importance of fulfilling their promises and obligations.
The same cannot be said for the opposite side of the spectrum.
They believe they are the center of the universe. They may even suffer from Main Character Syndrome. And that’s one easy way to rub people the wrong way.
5) “Oh, sorry, I [Insert Wild Excuses Here].”
Here’s the thing about socially unintelligent people. Most of them are also liars because they don’t value you as a person or your position.
I used to work with someone who would come up with the wildest excuses around. Whether her mother was eaten by a grizzly bear or a falling plane broke her ankle and knocked out her Internet, it was always something.
It’ll only worsen if you don’t nip this behavior in the bud ASAP. And here’s another lesson you’ll learn the hard way if you can’t spot socially unintelligent people.
6) “You’re still upset about that? But that happened ages ago!”
Socially intelligent people aren’t perfect, and they know that. But unlike others, they take responsibility for their actions and look to make up for their mistakes.
Not so for the socially unintelligent. Whenever I still feel angry about something one of my coworkers did, I wonder whether they made a real effort to make up for missing a deadline, turning up late, or performing poorly.
If not, I know they have to go because I’m dealing with somebody who doesn’t value me.
7) “Why are people offended by everything these days?”
Social intelligence isn’t a zero-sum game. Yes, even the socially intelligent might think this quote, but they acknowledge that everybody is different. Not everyone will think like them.
Lorelai from the TV show Gilmore Girls is a perfect example of this. Her strong social intelligence allows her to navigate different social dynamics and put people at ease. She often uses humor to cheer people up and bring people together.
It shows that socially intelligent people know it’s not about how you feel. It’s about how they feel, even if you don’t necessarily agree with why they feel that way.
8) “I say what I think because honesty is the best policy.”
According to a University of Alabama study, three-quarters of people are largely honest, telling few lies. Integrity is essential in life, but there’s a time, a place, and a way to go about it.
Would you tell a drug addict who’s hit rock bottom that it’s all his fault, even when it is? No, because why would you? That’s not what they need at that moment, especially not from you.
If you disagree, then you might lack social intelligence. And here’s something you might disagree with if you are socially intelligent.
9) “It’s only a small mistake, so why are you making a big deal about it?”
Mistakes happen, and mature adults take responsibility. You may wonder how this statement can be a red flag if you lack social intelligence. After all, some people just don’t let things go.
And you’d be right.
Some people just don’t let things go. But socially intelligent people can reflect and ask, “Why?” At first glance, a small mistake may not be a big deal but take the big picture view.
Let’s say you’re working construction and forget to wear your helmet or gloves. Nothing terrible happened, so it’s good, right? Wrong.
From a foreman’s perspective, if they don’t hammer people for these small mistakes, it could eventually lead to an accident that costs the company millions of dollars.
It only takes a few small stones to cause an avalanche, and that’s the vista the socially intelligent are looking at when they wonder why someone is making a big deal about a relatively minor error.
10) “I don’t care about social norms. I go my own way.”
Seeing deviation from social norms as an example of a freethinker and a champion of individuality could prove that you need to work on your social intelligence.
Social norms become social norms when most of your community views something as acceptable or unacceptable. They’re the very essence of what makes a society.
Saying the n-word or walking around Main Street naked has long deviated from social norms. Would you think it acceptable to do either of these things?
If you’re socially intelligent, the very idea should horrify you.
11) “I hate small talk. It’s a waste of my time.”
Did you know Elon Musk once said, “Why is small talk even legal?”
Small talk may seem like a waste of time, but it has its purposes. These are the throwaway conversations that help people learn about each other. They’re the seedlings that blossom into life-long relationships.
And this is precisely what creates love and loyalty during hard times and brings teams closer together.
Hating small talk is one thing. But refusing to partake at all doesn’t make you a lone wolf. It makes you socially inept.
12) “I don’t know why people care about social media.”
Everyone has an opinion on social media. But when people are fervently against all forms of social media in every scenario, it tells you something.
I’ve met countless people on my travels that pride themselves in not being on any form of social media. And I’ve never once thought that these people are breaking the mold or are in any way special.
All it says to me is that they want to be different for the sake of it. Instead of taking advantage of a helpful tool that 92.7% of all Internet users are on, they’re isolating themselves for no good reason.
Socially intelligent people know that if most people’s chosen communication tool is Skype, Zoom, Messenger, or WhatsApp, it doesn’t make sense to be difficult to refuse to have any of these channels.
I’m not going to play their game. I just won’t stay in contact with them. How many opportunities could you be throwing away because you want to deviate from social norms?
13) “I’m not good with names.”
If you’re meeting new people constantly, it may sound like a smart move to get your excuses in quickly.
But you’re really saying, “You’re not important enough for me to remember your name.”
Names matter. It’s our identity. And if you’re saying you won’t remember it, you’re telling me I don’t matter.
Suppose I encounter someone who’s this socially unintelligent. Why would I invest my time and energy into someone already telling me they’re incapable of remembering this basic fact about me?
Social intelligence is nurture, not nature
Social intelligence isn’t a natural genetic trait. It’s something that’s defined by the people and the environment we grow up in. And that’s good news if you recognize yourself saying any of the above.
Work on your social intelligence, and you’ll form stronger relationships, improve your emotional intelligence, and unlock new opportunities at home and work.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.