Sometimes, how far you get in life isn’t just dictated by your work ethic or educational attainment.
In this increasingly competitive world, being socially intelligent will give you a distinct edge over those with similar skill sets and backgrounds.
You see, when you’re socially intelligent, you have the power to navigate social situations and influence people.
In this article, I’ll go through nine conversational phrases that are commonly used by socially intelligent people. Once you incorporate these words into your encounters, expect some good things to come your way!
Let’s dive in!
1) “I understand where you’re coming from.”
Here’s the thing: being socially intelligent isn’t merely limited to words, it’s a whole way of being.
When you use phrases like “I understand where you’re coming from,” for instance, you’re communicating a compassionate, caring, and empathetic nature, even if you disagree.
This mentality is also a telltale sign of someone who is paying attention; meaning active listening, taking in the other person’s point of view, and seeking to understand other perspectives.
When you’re socially intelligent, you know that everyone’s inherently unique and shaped by different backgrounds and experiences. Hence, you tend to respond to people with a desire to understand rather than knee-jerk emotional reactions.
You’re able to defuse tensions instead of inflaming them using your language alone.
2) “Could you tell me more about that?”
While many people might dismiss something they’re not interested in or zone out mid-convo, socially intelligent people are genuinely curious about people and alternative viewpoints.
In essence, they have become interesting by being interested.
I recall my aunt telling me she values people who are curious since, according to her, most people “don’t ask questions.”
I thought about this sentiment for a while and concluded that it was mostly true: most people want to get past (what they perceive to be) mundane interactions and get on with their day.
Showing actual interest and engagement takes effort and a sense of selflessness. And at the end of the day, not many are willing to give this much.
By following up and asking for additional information, you’re encouraging the other person to share more deeply; promoting meaningful dialogue and ultimately forming closer bonds in the process.
3) “I appreciate your insight on this.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret: at the end of the day, most people just want to feel valued.
By verbally recognizing people’s insights, you’re showing them respect and validating their contributions instead of ignoring them.
Remember the group discussions you’d have in school?
When it was your turn to speak and offer your opinion, did your professor ignore your thoughts or validate you by appearing interested or impressed?
If it was the latter, then I’ll bet you walked out of class feeling content.
Validation makes people feel pretty damn good about themselves, whether consciously or not.
And the opposite also must’ve been true: if you offered your opinion, only to be met with blank stares and a monosyllabic response by the teacher as they moved to the next person, you might feel a bit disappointed.
The socially intelligent individual is attuned to this distinction.
4) “Let’s find a solution together.”
Sometimes, our stresses can overwhelm us to the point of melting down. Do you recall an anxiety-inducing problem that gnawed away at you over time?
It’s this stressfully looming presence that has the potential to disrupt your day-to-day activities like work, sleep, or study.
What if I told you you weren’t alone, that I’d be able to help you and we could solve the issue together?
I know firsthand that hearing this type of verbal affirmation is incredibly powerful and comforting in times of vulnerability–it’s as if a weight is literally lifted off your back.
In short, our words have the capability to transform lives. The socially intelligent person is all about this.
5) “I respect your viewpoint, even though we disagree.”
The world would be a better place if more people used this one. We could avoid war, rampant injustice, and divorce, among many other painful things.
When you respect someone you disagree with (and avoid the far more tempting route of arguing), you’re making life easier for everyone.
The pandemic was a strange time for everyone. We also had an excess of idle time, to say the least. Simultaneously, online misinformation reached record levels.
People would fill their days by wandering down deep internet rabbit holes, developing some far-out opinions on climate change, contentious elections, and a host of other global issues as a result.
It was a phenomenon. Even some of my closest friends and relatives bought into some of these outrageous views.
Many would cut ties with those they disagreed with. By clicking ‘unfriend’ on social media, burning bridges became a way of life.
To the few who were able to rise above the toxic fervor of the time, I’d like to tip my hat to them. By harboring sentiments like “I respect your viewpoint, even though we disagree,” they showcased emotional maturity, respectful dialogues, and diverse opinions without hostility.
6) “What are your thoughts?”
Many people have this narcissistic tendency to go on self-indulgent tirades about themselves without really taking the other person into account.
Therefore it’s pretty refreshing to meet socially intelligent individuals who convey respect and actively encourage two-way conversation.
Also, when someone asks your thoughts on something, like a social issue or your interpretation of the Succession finale, you tend to feel more appreciated and valued… something we can all use a little more of.
Authentic conversation is about give and take, about the exchange of ideas; when it’s one-sided, it’s no longer conversation, it’s a Shakespearean monologue.
7) “I apologize.”
Real talk: a genuine apology goes a long way.
From my experience, socially intelligent folks operate on a heightened sense of awareness, so they’re able to admit when they’re wrong and have no issues working to make things right again.
They don’t wait, they apologize the moment they realize their wrongdoing–a simple practice that demonstrates humility and the ability to take accountability.
I’m friends with a newlywed couple who are going through some issues. Maybe it’s an adjustment period, maybe they’re incompatible. Who knows.
Regardless, as of this writing, they haven’t spoken in three days, respectively going about their business at home as if the other person doesn’t exist.
It’s a proper marital standoff, like a domesticated Cuban missile crisis, with both parties unwilling to crack.
Based on my own relationship squabbles, I know that with a simple apology and a bit of respectful communication, these types of prolonged, stressful disputes can mostly be avoided.
For many couples going through petty fights, harmony is just an “I’m sorry” away.
8) “Thank you for your patience.”
One of my pet peeves in life is people who are habitually late. They can come up with all the excuses in the world, but if I’m on time, they can be too.
I remember having a meeting set with a prospective franchisee for my business a few years ago.
The guy was over an hour late, and when he did finally arrive, he offered zero apologies, and no sense of shame for his glaring lack of punctuality.
He showed up and expected the meeting to begin promptly.
I saw this as a red flag; the simple lack of consideration (coupled with a few other issues that came to fruition down the line) resulted in me ultimately not accepting his application to be my franchisee.
By showing respect for people’s time, you’re communicating an awareness of your actions, which contributes to more rewarding social interactions.
9) “I value our relationship.”
I’ll be honest: the reality is that many people will drop you like a hot potato if you don’t benefit them in some way or the other.
When someone tells you they value their relationship with you, it’s a sincere way of reassuring you of your significance in their life–and a testament to your value in general.
“I value you,” has the power to strengthen relationships and build deeper emotional connections, setting your bond apart from daily vapid acquaintances.
But remember, truly socially intelligent individuals don’t just use these phrases, they also embody the sentiments behind them.
You know that old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?
While there is a degree of truth to this saying, I’ve found it to be somewhat misleading–it downplays the importance of the things we say; when in reality, words have the power to change the world.
When we talk about social intelligence, we shouldn’t limit this to connecting with the people around us. We’re also referring to things like taking the time to understand their points of view, validating their feelings, and showing you’re genuinely interested in their experiences.
And to accomplish these things in your personal and professional lives, our words (and conversational styles) with others are everything.
So if you tend to dream big in life, I firmly believe that developing your social intelligence is an ideal place to start.