8 surprising habits of people with high social intelligence

You might think that social intelligence is something you’re just born with, but in reality, some people can increase it through continuous practice.

Don’t get me wrong, you may never be a pro if you’re not a natural social butterfly, but it’s possible you’ll boost your confidence and decrease your anxiety in social situations, which definitely counts for something.

So, what do people with high social intelligence do differently? These are their 8 surprising habits.

1) They read fiction

Look, you don’t have to read a hundred books a year just to be socially intelligent – there are many people out there who move through crowded parties with ease and charm almost anyone they meet without having read fiction every evening for decades.

But reading fiction definitely helps, and many highly socially intelligent people do it on quite a regular basis. Why?

The answer is empathy. Social intelligence relies on your ability to read other people’s emotions, put yourself in their shoes, and react appropriately to what they say. When you read fiction, it’s like practicing for this kind of interaction without actually having to socialize.

Books open up your world to a large variety of experiences and perceptions, which in turn helps you understand the human mind on a more nuanced level. You can then apply this knowledge in real life.

Research agrees – reading fiction has been shown to increase empathy, as well as critical thinking and other important EQ (emotional intelligence) factors.

2) They focus on the details

When a socially clever person meets someone new, their habit is to automatically look for the small things – the way their energy shifts depending on the topic, the facial expressions they pull, their body language, and the way they react to certain questions.

Oftentimes, it’s not *what* someone says as much as *how* and *when* they say it that reveals a great deal about them.

Socially intelligent people know this, and so they put in extra effort to pay attention to details during social interactions.

3) They study themselves

Observing others is one thing, but the ability to study one’s own thoughts and actions is perhaps even more important as far as social intelligence is concerned.

This is because the most essential key to unlocking other people’s minds is the one that’s already inside you – your own humanity.

Do you regularly journal or unpack your thought processes? Do you incorporate negative feedback in positive ways? Do you make it a habit to remain as self-aware as possible, taking great care to think before you speak and acting in symbiosis with your principles?

If so, it’s a big sign your social intelligence is already quite high.

4) They turn every interaction into fun chitchat

One of my friends has such excellent people skills it never ceases to amaze me.

After years of friendship, I can now confidently say that one of her habits is to grab at every opportunity to have a fun chat with someone, be it the cashier in the supermarket, the receptionist at the swimming pool, or the person waiting in line behind her.

I always laugh and say that she’d make a friend out of anyone, but truth be told, her high social intelligence is one of my favorite things about her.

As someone who used to suffer from a lot of anxiety in the past, I find the ease with which she talks to strangers incredibly inspiring.

She makes it look so easy, and so I feel more motivated to go outside my comfort zone and do the same.

5) They put in the effort to maintain friendships

Cultivating a long-term friendship is one of the best ways to increase social awareness because it helps you build an intimate portrait of someone else’s personality. The more you get to know them, the more you learn, and the more complex your understanding of people may become.

Not only that but maintaining healthy friendships is an incredibly important part of one’s well-being.

That friend I mentioned? She always sticks to her promises. She shows up on time. She doesn’t cancel on me. She asks me about my life with so much enthusiasm that I feel heard and understood.

This habit of hers increases her social intelligence – thanks to her effort, we’re developing a strong friendship that teaches us to navigate one another’s minds – but also contributes to her and my happiness.

A win-win!

6) They invest their energy in self-care

One of the perks of having people skills is that you know what others require to feel happy and cared for – and the same applies to you.

If you’re socially intelligent, you won’t shy away from some much-needed self-care time, be it a rejuvenating meditation session, a spa day, or an evening spent reading a good book.

You’ll know that these things aren’t “guilty pleasure” or a “reward” for all your hard work but rather a necessary component of a good and happy life.

7) They avoid bringing in a lot of negativity during social interactions

Do you catch yourself in time before you complain during every conversation? Do you try to make the other person laugh or smile, talking about things that brighten up their day rather than sour their mood?


This is a sign your social intelligence is high because it means you have the self-awareness to realize you shouldn’t connect with others over shared negativity, the self-regulation to think over your words before you speak, and the empathy to understand that most of us want to leave conversations feeling lighter, not heavier.

Of course, you shouldn’t keep all your complaints bottled down. It’s okay to vent from time to time. It’s okay to be angry. Just make sure that negativity isn’t the main focus of all your social interactions.

8) They’re up to date on culturally significant news

The last habit on our list is…

Watching the news!

Just kidding. You don’t have to watch the news to have people skills. However, it helps to keep yourself up to date when it comes to culturally significant events, such as popular TV shows, memes, or general trends in society.

This is because your social interactions will occur with a multitude of different people, and if you’re in the loop, you’ll automatically increase your chances of getting on with others and reacting to their subtle hints or inside jokes with inherent understanding.

What’s more, looking into societal trends and cultural news is a very good way to gain a deeper insight into how people act on a larger scale, and the more knowledge you have about humans in general, the easier your conversations with others will be.

And that’s us!

Before we part for today, remember that social awareness is but one part of intelligence, and while some people have naturally better social skills than others, there *is* a way to improve yours.

However, if you still struggle with people skills, that is also completely valid. You are amazing as you are. The most important thing is that you recognize all the beauty that’s already inside you.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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