We often hear about the importance of intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence, but it’s not often you hear the words socially intelligent thrown around.
But out of them all, it’s probably the most important.
After all, human beings are social animals, and we need to interact with the world around us to get what we need and want.
The good news?
Social intelligence can be improved. All it takes is a little bit of knowledge and a lot of practice.
There are certain things socially intelligent people do well that help them stand a mile apart from the annoying habits of those who aren’t as socially savvy.
Let’s go over some of the things socially intelligent people would never do. See if you can recognize any of these habits in yourself or others.
1. They never interrupt
Socially intelligent people are good listeners. They don’t feel the need to dominate a conversation.
They remain confident and calm while waiting for their turn to talk.
They also fully take in the speaker’s message and ask follow-up questions if anything isn’t clear.
Many people think of what they’re going to say while someone else is talking, but socially intelligent people don’t do that.
They’re confident that they’ll be able to think of what they’re going to say while they talk.
This is why many socially intelligent people take their time when they talk and aren’t afraid of pausing midsentence to gather their thoughts.
And they know they won’t be able to fully take in someone’s message if they’re already thinking of what their response will be.
2. They don’t think they already know what someone else is going to say
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey
We’ve all spoken to that “know-it-all” type of person before.
Before you open your mouth, they already think they know what you’re about to say.
As a consequence, they don’t listen and they freely interrupt you so they can start talking.
But socially intelligent people have greater respect for others. They don’t cut straight in with what they think others are talking about.
They give the speaker the time to convey their message, without presupposing what they’re trying to say.
They listen without judgment, take in the message fully, and then craft their response when it is their time to speak.
As Stephen Covey said, listening intently to someone’s whole message is critical so that you have accurate data to work. If you presuppose what someone will say, you miss out on a lot of useful information:
“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.”
3. They won’t make themselves the center of attention
Socially intelligent people are secure in themselves and don’t feel the need to be the center of attention.
They’d rather everyone have an equal opportunity to talk about themselves in a conversation.
Socially intelligent people also know that one of the best ways to make positive connections with others is to let people talk about themselves.
Not only that but actually be interested in what they have to say.
If someone has a chance to reveal something about themselves from a conversation, they’ll walk away from that interaction in a positive mood.
As Dr. Rachel Namoi Remen says, the most powerful way to connect with others is to simply listen:
“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. ”
4. They won’t negatively judge others to make themselves feel better
Socially intelligent people have an attitude of acceptance and openness.
They understand that everyone has a unique journey in life, and it’s impossible to know what’s going on in someone’s life behind the curtain.
They don’t judge people who are different from them. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to learn.
5. They don’t try to convince others, they just say what they think
A socially intelligent person doesn’t need you to agree with them in order to feel better about themselves.
They have trust and faith in themselves.
In other words, they speak their truth based on their knowledge and experience and understand that what others think is none of their business.
6. They don’t disregard other people’s feelings
Our feelings are important. Socially intelligent people won’t invalidate another person’s feelings, instead, they show understanding.
They know that a person’s feelings stem from somewhere, and it’s disrespectful to disregard them as if they’re that person’s fault.
A socially intelligent person knows that a savvy and mature way to approach an interaction is to show understanding.
Understanding leads to a productive and peaceful outcome.
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.”
Socially intelligent people don’t need to make others feel bad about themselves in order to feel better.
That’s why people are comfortable around them.
A socially intelligent person’s one and only goal is a productive and peaceful conversation.
7. They don’t use anger to express their point of view
Anger, or passive aggression disguised as assertiveness, never leads to positive outcomes.
Socially intelligent people remain confident and calm about what they want to say and are also knowledgeable about how to use their voice.
They listen and engage and have a conversation confidently with the purpose of having a useful conversation.
8. They don’t pick fights
Socially intelligent people avoid arguing with people. Arguing is counterproductive.
Even if you win an argument, you don’t gain any social points from it. Most of the time, it just makes someone look bad.
As Dale Carnegie said:
“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s goodwill.”
Now don’t get me wrong:
Socially intelligent people enjoy discussing ideas, even people they disagree with.
But they know that a calm conversation where both people genuinely listen to each other leads to much better outcomes than a heated exchange.
If someone is angry when speaking to them, they simply try to listen to what they have to say and they respond in a calm and collected manner.
If the other person continues to be aggressive and angry, a socially intelligent person will walk away from the conversation because they know it’s just a waste of time.
9. They don’t show off
People who feel the need to show off aren’t secure in themselves.
But a socially intelligent person knows that their positive traits will be self-evident when they talk to people. They don’t have to go out of their way to use big words, and always have an answer to every question.
Trying to make yourself look good also doesn’t help in having a productive conversation because when others get the sense that you feel like you’re better than them, they’ll be less likely to open up.
10. They don’t reveal too much
It’s easy to be socially intelligent. Heck, being socially intelligent is often a product of doing less.
Socially intelligent people know that it’s better to hold a bit back.
As Abraham Lincoln said:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that a socially intelligent person becomes mute. They don’t avoid sharing their opinion altogether.
They take that extra second to think about what they’re going to say, and they make sure that what they say actually adds value.
By saying a bit less, you have more impact on what you do say. This means that people are more likely to listen to you when you speak.
After all, think of the people you know who constantly talk and talk and talk. Do you take them seriously?
Socially intelligent people know that it’s better to be someone who doesn’t run their mouths constantly, and instead jumps into a conversation when they having something worth saying.
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