10 things socially intelligent people always do (but never talk about)

Do you enjoy social interactions?

Do you think people are happier after talking to you?

A great deal of someone’s fulfillment, happiness, and success in life comes from their interpersonal relationships.

People with high social intelligence are able to connect with others on a deeper level and get ahead in many aspects of their lives.

Understanding the habits of highly socially intelligent people can help you improve your own social skills to find greater satisfaction and success in life.

Here are 10 things socially intelligent people always do (but never talk about).

1. They listen

Conversation is a two-way street. Highly socially intelligent people listen as much as they talk.

When they’re confronted with silent moments, they try not to always fill it with chatter about themselves.

Instead, they know you can never go wrong when you “listen first, talk second”.

A socially intelligent person knows that when you and the one you’re talking to take turns to actually listen to each other, things will flow more naturally.

You’ll also have more time to observe and read people to understand them better.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. ” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

2. They are empathetic

A socially intelligent person tries to put themselves in the shoes of the speaker.

They know that people love to be seen and heard so when you empathize with them, they will feel comfortable in your presence.

A socially intelligent person works hard to genuinely understand people’s struggles and why they do what they do.

It’s simply the ability to engage with someone on their level. It allows there to be a safe space where they can share anything without fear of being criticized.

In turn, it will make the conversation flow naturally.

With empathic listening, the conversation becomes all about the other person. You put yourself in their shoes and understand what they’re saying from their perspective.

“Empathic listening is so powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. Instead of projecting your own autobiography and assuming thoughts, feelings, motives and interpretation, you’re dealing with the reality inside another person’s head and heart. You’re listening to understand. You’re focused on receiving the deep communication of another human soul.” – Stephen Covey

3. They encourage people to talk about themselves

The main question people have when it comes to making conversation is, “what do I talk about?”

But socially intelligent people know that’s the wrong question to ask.

Instead, they know you should ask questions to get people to talk about themselves.

According to research, when people talk about themselves, it triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money. After all, we all have a bit of conversational narcissism in us.

“Self-disclosure is extra rewarding…People were even willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves.” – Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir

FBI behavior expert Robin Dreeke says that the number one strategy he keeps at the forefront of his mind when he talks to anyone is non-judgmental validation.

“Seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them. People do not want to be judged in any thought or opinion that they have or in any action that they take. It doesn’t mean you agree with someone. Validation is taking the time to understand what their needs, wants, dreams and aspirations are.”

4. They don’t assume people will agree with them

According to research on social psychology, most of us engage in the “assumed similarity bias.” It refers to the mental shortcut that leads us to the unconscious assumption that others share the same or similar values, thoughts, and beliefs.

But a socially intelligent person doesn’t conclude that just because you like a particular person, then the person you’re talking to has the same views about that same person.

They do not force people to accept, or “like” their opinions. Because everyone has the right to their own.

Socially intelligent realize that debates can make for a fun conversation, but when you first meet someone, it can also cause you to start off on the wrong foot and end up with it in your mouth.

If you want to develop rapport and a strong connection with others, take a step back and get to know people’s beliefs before making controversial statements.

5. They ask open-ended questions

A socially intelligent person knows that the fastest and easiest way to make people talk is to ask open-ended questions.

Those that are answerable with yes or no are not really helpful especially if you haven’t found any common ground yet with the person.

Because communication is a two-way process, a socially intelligent person knows it is better if you shift the focus from yourself to the other person through asking.

If you don’t know, open questions begin with who, what, where, when, and how.

The next time you find yourself struggling with what to talk about, just put a “what” or “how” in front of your thought. Another tip is to say “tell me more” to keep the conversation open and interesting.

Open-ended questions require a person to reflect and think. Answers won’t be facts, but personal feelings or opinions about a subject.

The great thing about open-ended questions is that you’re giving air time to the person you’re having a conversation with.

If you’re only asking close-ended questions (questions with only yes or no answers) then the control remains with you. And that’s not really a conversation – more like an interrogation or interview.

According to FBI behavior expert Robin Dreeke, a great question to ask us is about challenges.

“What kind of challenges did you have at work this week? What kind of challenges do you have with running?”

There are plenty of ways you can use “challenges” to start a conversation. It gets people to share what their priorities in life are at that point in time.

6. They don’t try to impress

“Instead of you trying to impress others, why don’t you strive to become the one that people would love to positively impress?” – Edmond Mbiaka

Most people believe that a good conversation means making a great impression.

In reality, socially intelligent people realize this isn’t really the case.

Sometimes, you don’t need to be meaningful for people to be interested in you. Just say whatever it is that you want to say.

At the end of the day, a socially intelligent person is real to themselves.

And they know that the easiest way to become interesting is to be interested.

“Curiosity leads to the accumulation of new experiences or viewpoints with which to view the world,” explains Moses Namkung, a quant analyst at Google.

A socially intelligent person is a curious person and this gives them plenty to talk about and new ways to connect with others.

And as we’ve mentioned above, you’ll undoubtedly make a better impression if you focus on actively listening to others, than talking about how great you are.

7. They are not a “know-it-all”

A socially intelligent person doesn’t strive to be a “know it all”. If they don’t know the answer to something, they won’t pretend they do to make themselves look better.

They don’t want to dominate conversations because that result in a backlash.

Socially intelligent people suspend their ego when they’re talking with others, and that means avoiding any behaviors that would be considered one-upmanship.

Even if they know the answer to something, they won’t say it in a way that is talking down to others, and they’ll always let them finish before they start talking.

According to FBI behavior expert Robin Dreeke, “ego suspension” makes the best conversationalists:

“Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story… Those individuals who allow others to continue talking without taking their own turn are generally regarded as the best conversationalists.”

8. If they don’t know a topic, they rephrase what’s been said

One thing that can stop a conversation from going on is when you can’t relate to the topic they’re talking about.

If you have little knowledge only about the subject, it can make you feel awkward.

But when a socially intelligent person is confronted with this situation they rephrase what the other person has said. In other words, they are clarifying their words.

If you do this, it will show that you’re interested in and listening to what they’re saying. As such, they may also become eager to tell you more because of your interest.

If you’re looking to rephrase to be more socially intelligent yourself, here are some tips you can implement:

  • Make sure you don’t correct others when you paraphrase what they said. Instead of “I believe what you meant to say was…” say “If I’m hearing you right, you conveyed that…?” –
  • Paraphrase as a question: “So you’re saying that?” This gives them the opportunity to correct you.
  • – Put the ownership of the paraphrase on you: “If I’m hearing you right” or “If I understand you correctly…”.
  • Use mirroring: Repeat the last 1-3 words they said as a question.

9. They don’t complain to others

A socially intelligent person doesn’t drag others down with a pity party.

Socially intelligent people know that nobody likes bad vibes.

In this age of positivity and self-care, so many of us now prioritize protecting our energy, because the moment you start to go slide down, it can be so easy to fall into a spiral.

And one of the worst things to expose your energy to is the bad vibes of someone who can’t stop complaining about everything.

Bad vibes are bad vibes in whatever form they may be, and people just don’t want to deal with someone who is nothing but a giant wellspring of bad vibes.

A socially intelligent person tries to focus on the positive things when they’re talking to someone.

They don’t complain or act like a victim. They focus on solutions and try to encourage other people to see the brighter side of life.

10. They are non-judgemental

To be fair, rather than being non-judgemental, a socially intelligent person would perhaps better be defined as reserving judgment and not expressing judgment.

That’s because, in reality, there is a little voice within each and every one of us who will always judge others. It doesn’t make you a bad person when this voice pops into your head.

It usually comes from that ego chatterbox in the mind that rarely shuts up, and always has something to say. It’s also largely a reflex that we aren’t necessarily in control of. What we are in control of though is what we choose will come out of our mouth.

A socially intelligent person knows that the best thing to do when we feel judgment arise is to simply notice it and label it as such, before letting it go.

They know that criticizing or condemning others is never a good way to have productive conversations.

The most socially intelligent of people are open to new perspectives and resist the urge to impose what they feel and think onto others’ choices in life.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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