People with high social intelligence never display these 10 behaviors in public

How well you get along with others and how likable you are makes a world of difference to not only your happiness but also your success.

After all, we’ve all heard the expression “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. There’s a lot of truth in that.

Being able to effectively navigate social interactions affects all areas of our lives from romantic relationships to friendships and careers.

Certain behaviors help us, whilst others can harm our connections. Understanding this takes social intelligence.

It’s about recognizing our own and other people’s actions so that we can create more awareness around our interactions.

That way we can avoid the following social blunders.

1) Bad mobile phone etiquette

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in a tech age.

Most of us carry with us at least one electronic device pretty much everywhere we go.

It’s not uncommon to see couples or even groups of people sitting in silence whilst each scrolls through their phone.

But there is still an unspoken etiquette that we have to be mindful of. It includes things like:

  • Putting your phone on silent when you’re meeting with someone
  • Not having your phone out on the dinner table
  • Not taking calls at inappropriate times
  • Not scrolling through your phone or replying to texts whilst someone is talking to you

It all comes down to respecting other people’s time and energy.

When you’re constantly on your phone, it can feel like you are neglecting the person you are with face to face.

Even though some people won’t mind excessive phone use, others will. A socially intelligent person is conscious of this.

2) A lack of tact

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference.

I’m sure most of us can recall a time or two when we have unwittingly put our foot in it.

Often it happens when we engage our mouths before our brain. But those with the highest levels of social intelligence are far less likely to fall foul of this.

They recognize that communication is nuanced. It’s not just about saying what we think. It matters how that may be received.

That doesn’t mean engaging in self-censorship, but it can involve using a filter sometimes.

It requires being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This helps us to be more sensitive to everyone’s differences so that we don’t unintentionally offend or hurt.

People with lower levels of social intelligence often excuse their lack of tact as “just being honest”.

But people with greater social intelligence realize that kindness and compassion matter when it comes to how we talk to others.

Just because you think something, it doesn’t give you an automatic right to say it out loud.

3) Hogging the conversation

A few months ago I went to a social meetup in my city.

It was a networking event bringing together people who wanted to make new connections for both friendship and business.

I only ended up staying for about an hour, and here’s why:

In the 5 or 6 conversations I had, not one person asked me anything about myself.

I diligently encouraged them to speak, asking questions to try to get to know them. But to my surprise, not one reciprocated.

Instead, they happily kept the entire focus of our chat on themselves.

I get it, we all love to talk about ourselves. In fact, one study by Harvard neuroscientists found that people would pass up money for the opportunity to talk about themselves.

But hogging a conversation doesn’t just come down to how much you speak, it’s also the attention you give to the other person.

That involves asking questions that show you’re taking an interest. No wonder research has found doing so increases likeability.

4) Poor listening skills

It turns out many of us fall down when it comes to our listening. The evidence suggests we think we’re better at it than we really are.

Part of the problem is that it takes quite a lot of concentration.

It’s not just about passively keeping quiet, good listening is an active process.

How well we listen to others is important when it comes to building trust, reducing misunderstandings, and generally fostering strong relationships.

It’s a huge social faux pas when you fail to pay attention to someone who is speaking. And chances are, they can tell.

I remember having a friend once who would absent-mindedly scan the room with her eyes whilst I was talking to her.

Whether she meant to or not, it felt dismissive and as though what I was saying was unimportant.

At the end of the day, listening is how we show someone they are valued.

5) Showing off

People tend to show off when they desperately want to impress others. Yet it usually backfires and ends up having the opposite effect.

That’s because it’s ultimately driven by insecurity which only highlights low self-esteem.

Showing off can crop up in all sorts of ways.

  • The humble brag (a modest or self-deprecating statement still designed to draw attention)
  • Boasting about a skill, talent, or achievement
  • Flaunting your wealth or possessions
  • Attention-grabbing behavior designed to get all eyes on you
  • Lying to try to make yourself sound better
  • Embellishing stories

It’s all a different form of attention-seeking and so it quite often smacks of desperation.

When someone engages in obvious showing off, it lacks self-awareness about how that might come across.

6) TMI (too much information)

It can feel like a tricky balance to strike.

We’re often told how vital both vulnerability and authenticity are to creating connection. And it’s true.

But knowing how to use these two elements appropriately is also a skill of social intelligence.

Honestly and sincerity are needed, but so too is discretion.

When we’re getting to know others, sharing stories and information is all part of the bonding process.

But I’m sure we have all had a conversation with someone and have been left thinking TMI.

When someone else gives away all the juiciest and most intimate details without having an established relationship with them, it can be awkward.

Recognizing that certain titbits of our lives shouldn’t be shared with just anyone is about maintaining some privacy and decorum in social settings.

7) Temper tantrums

Emotions sometimes get the better of us all.

It’s not that social intelligence makes you immune to the overpowering nature of feelings. But it does often come with an emotional skill set that helps you to keep it under control.

People who are socially intelligent often have good emotional intelligence too, and that involves plenty of self-awareness.

Being able to spot your emotions and understand them when they arise helps you keep a lid on them.

That means, even in trying times, it’s easier to keep your cool rather than fly off the handle.

When we fail to take responsibility for our emotions and how they impact our actions, it often hurts those around us.

You’ll never hear a socially intelligent person blame their behavior and emotions on other people. They own it.

8) Malicious gossip

Whenever I talk bout the dangers of gossip I’m always very aware of this fact:

Most of us gossip in some way, shape, or form.

In fact, some experts have suggested that certain types of gossip are a social skill.

It’s not passing on information that’s bad, it’s more about how you do it.

A so-called “good gossiper” has the best intentions at heart and uses information in a prosocial and responsible way to try to help others.

But as highlighted by NBC News, a so-called “bad gossiper” only damages their own reputation:

“A bad gossiper, on the other hand, is someone who shares information about others in order to get ahead or get an advantage themselves, or just plain recklessly. Others don’t tend to trust “bad” gossipers with information when they have it.”

9) Talking over others

This is a bad habit I’ve had to work hard to quit.

It often arises from genuine enthusiasm in a conversation.

I would just get a little overzealous and want to contribute. But that may lead to impatience or jumping the gun when it comes to my turn to speak.

The first step is noticing this pesky bad habit and acknowledging how rude it is.

Because regardless of your intentions, most people end up feeling disrespected when you don’t let them finish what they’re saying.

As Marty Nemko points out in Psychology Today:

“You appear egotistical and seem to believe the other person is inferior. Interrupting implies that you deem your words more worthy than the remainder of what the other person has to say.”

Ultimately it comes to being more mindful of other people’s feelings.

Which as we’re about to see next, is something socially intelligent people are skilled at navigating.

10) Dismissing other people’s feelings

One of the keys to cultivating stronger social intelligence is honing your empathy.

This helps to create greater understanding, better communication, and more sensitivity.

The more we can see things from someone else’s point of view, the less likely we are to disregard their opinions or their feelings.

Here’s the thing:

This isn’t about always agreeing with others.

You can have incredibly high social intelligence and still respectfully disagree with what someone says.

It’s about doing so in a way that acknowledges and accepts differences.

Those who belittle and condescend take a dismissive approach that lacks both sensitivity and compassion.

It’s not about perfection, it’s about mindfulness

Social intelligence takes practice.

But even then, navigating relationships with others is always going to be tricky and we won’t always get it right.

We don’t have to be perfect to the point of paranoia when we interact with others. It is important to be yourself.

What we do need to focus on is being more aware of ourselves and others.

When we think about how our actions may be interpreted we tend to become more considerate.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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