We often hear people talk about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, which is the ability to use your emotions to form and nurture relationships with your peers. However, another form of intelligence that is often overlooked but is just as important is social intelligence.
We live in a society where we interact with people to get things done and use networking as a tool to grow in our careers, making the need for social intelligence vitally important. However, attaining social intelligence is easier said than done, and many of us need to work toward changing our behavior to adapt to those around us. Here are some effective ways to improve your social intelligence in the workplace.
Pay Attention To Those Around You
One of the cornerstones of social intelligence is effective listening, so that the people who work with you feel confident and safe when talking to you. Hence, the first step to improving your social intelligence in the workplace is to observe and pay attention to your peers.
When working on your social intelligence, you need to watch before you speak. People can give off a lot of social cues when they talk and there's a lot to learn about a person by observation. If you have a friend or colleague with strong interpersonal skills, you can watch and learn how they communicate with others.
Respect Other Cultures
We all work in diverse environments and there's a lot to be learned about different cultures in the workplace. When interacting with your peers, try to focus on understanding the differences in the various cultures rather than trying to point them out.
Our responses and ways of thinking are a reflection of the upbringing we had and our family values. A person who is truly socially intelligent will understand different cultures and know that people will have different responses based on their upbringing, helping them to navigate a diverse work environment.
Before you begin to focus on others to improve your social intelligence, you need to first try and understand yourself. This includes deciphering your own social cues -- how you react to a stranger, how you respond to others in a happy or sad situation, or how you interact with others on a daily basis.
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses in this way can improve your social intelligence as it gives you a base that you can work from. It can help you analyze which social skills to work on or how to change your behavior to adapt to certain situations.
The best way to improve your social intelligence is to work on your communication skills, that is, how you interact with people every day. In order to improve your social skills, you need to watch and listen first.
This is why many experts recommend that you practice active listening before you take any steps toward improving your social situation. You can do this by not interrupting someone when they are talking so you can grasp the full meaning of their words. Additionally, you can take time to think before you respond to a situation. This can also help you understand any hidden meanings behind their words.
Increase Emotional Intelligence
Another type of intelligence that can help you nurture relationships in the workplace is emotional intelligence. This involves using your emotions to effectively interact with others. Social and emotional intelligence go hand-in-hand and can help you improve your interactions with others.
There are many ways to improve your emotional intelligence. You can practice being empathetic toward others and put yourself in their position before you respond to a situation. Also, you should be able to recognize emotions like happiness and anger so you can control them in a social setting.
Assess Your Strengths And Weaknesses
Social intelligence is how you communicate with those around you in an effective way and is not something that can be achieved overnight, hence, you need to take baby steps and work at becoming socially intelligent. This involves doing a critical assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
Your strengths help you understand who you are and give you the confidence to mingle with others and work on improving your social intelligence. Your weaknesses or liabilities provide a good starting point for the aspects of your social intelligence that you need to work on. Taking your current behavior into account will help you more informed decisions about social cues you might receive.
Have Straightforward Conversations
An important step to improving your social intelligence is to be clear and concise when having a conversation with someone. If you know a lot of big words, your daily conversations with your co-workers are not the best time to use them. People are more willing to interact with people who stick to the point.
Keep your language free of jargon and you will find yourself becoming more socially intelligent. When you are clear in your communication, the person you are talking to will also be more confident and clear in their response. Unnecessary details only serve to confuse people.
While it's always good to put your best foot forward and remain optimistic, some people tend to put on a smile for show while hiding behind their emotions. This can have a serious impact on our social intelligence as we let go of our true personality and self-worth. Staying true to yourself and remaining genuine is one of the most important parts of social intelligence.
One way to do this is to have a real and honest conversation with your peers at work. This can help you pick up on their social cues and understand their response. You can also decide how much of yourself you want to share based on how people react. Nevertheless, people are more likely to connect with you when you are more real.
Use Your Senses
When interacting with our peers, we often tend to go on auto-pilot when responding to others instead of using our senses to understand what the other person truly means. One great way to build your social intelligence is to use all of your senses as you move through the day. This could be as simple as observing the world around you on your way to work.
To make things easier, you can even focus on one sense at a time and observe the changes. You'd be surprised by how much you can learn just by using your senses to increase social intelligence. Your newfound awareness will make it easier to pick up on cues and react in the most optimal way.
When communicating with others, it's easy to focus on our response to the situation rather than on what the other person is saying. When we do this, there’s a good chance that we may misread messages or may even come off as uninterested in what the person is saying. Therefore, it is important to immerse yourself fully when interacting with others.
When talking to someone, remain empathetic to their situation and put your biases, opinions, and values aside. Once you are judgment-free, it becomes much easier to read the person and pick up on their social cues.
Look At Things From Their Point Of View
When discussing a situation or topic with your peers, it is important to really put yourself in their shoes and look at things from their perspective rather than just trying to understand their opinions. There's a lot that can be learned by a person’s values and ideas so seeing things from their point of view can help us see what’s important to them.
Having an idea of what a person likes and dislikes talking about can help you communicate with them in a way that appeals to them. This not only improves your social intelligence but you are also able to break down any walls in your relationship with others and really get to know them.
Appreciate The People Who Are Important To You
Social intelligence isn't just about communicating well with others, it’s also about creating close-knit relationships with the people around you. Before you work on your social intelligence at work, take a moment to connect with the important people in your life.
This could be your close family and friends and even their spouses and loved ones. Understanding their emotions can provide a deeper insight into what they value and dislike. Picking up on these social cues can help you build strong relationships and improve your social intelligence at work as well.
Learn To Resolve Conflicts
In a social environment like the workplace, many people bring different ideas and opinions to the table, making conflicts almost inevitable. Different opinions can cause arguments between peers and can even break relationships. An important aspect of improving your social intelligence is to understand how to resolve these conflicts.
Instead of taking sides, understand the problem at hand and try to act as a mediator and diffuse the situation right away. You can watch and learn how to do this from others and also ask for feedback when you put your conflict resolution skills to the test.
Share Your Vulnerabilities
While it's important for leaders to recognize a job well done, it's just as important to recognize mistakes. But before you point a finger in another person’s direction, take a moment to admit your own flaws. Nobody is perfect and admitting your vulnerabilities can encourage others to do the same.
Sharing your vulnerabilities helps you connect with your co-workers on a deeper level as they'll feel more confident in communicating any concerns or thoughts they may have as well. You can even take this a step further and let your peers know where the mistakes have led you so that it serves as a learning opportunity.
Get Good At Small Talk
A great way to make new friends in the workplace is to get good at small talk. As a leader and a co-worker, it is important to sit down and connect with the people you work with. This can either be in a formal 1:1 meeting or it can be an informal discussion at lunch.
When you initiate a conversation with another person, you immediately become more approachable and your social intelligence increases. When people feel comfortable around you, it opens doors to connect with them and nurture the relationship. Making connections in and outside of work is important for career growth.
In every social environment, you have optimists and pessimists. Optimists look at the world with a positive outlook and have a glass-half-full mentality. On the other hand, pessimists have a negative outlook towards most things and have a glass-half-empty mentality.
In the workplace, people prefer to be around those who are always and upbeat. Positivity is contagious and management likes it when employees are enthusiastic about their work. It also helps improve your social intelligence, as people are more willing to open up to you if you are happy and positive.
Diffuse An Awkward Situation
When there is an argument or a conflict of interest among co-workers, things are bound to get a little awkward at times. This almost impossible to avoid in the workplace and while some conflict is good to expand your views on certain issues, too many arguments can do more harm than good. It can affect your enthusiasm for your job as well as your health.
A great way to increase your social intelligence at work is to get better at diffusing awkward situations. When you see a conflict arising, act as a mediator between the two parties and try to find some common ground for the argument. This is not a skill that comes naturally to people and is something that should be worked on.
Improve Your Communication Skills
The basis of improving your social intelligence is good communication skills. When your coworkers help you out, make sure to thank them and appreciate their efforts. This is much better than not showing any reaction which can only be misread as uninterested or aloofness.
Social cues are also very important and a lack of communication can make you seem intimidating and unapproachable. When talking to others, remain gentle and let them know you care about their ideas and feelings. This can increase your social intelligence.
Stop Trying To Get Everyone's Approval
One of the biggest hindrances to your social intelligence is getting everyone's approval. Unfortunately, this habit is second nature for many people as it makes us feel welcome and accepted by others. But when we get rejected, it can translate to stress and lower levels of self-esteem.
Getting everyone’s approval can kill your social intelligence as you are more focused on being liked rather than growing the existing relationships in your life. Once you get out of the habit of trying to get accepted by everyone, your social intelligence will increase almost immediately.
Having the ability to tell stories is a true talent. Stories can bring people together and strengthen bonds. Effective storytelling also lets people know that you are a good communicator and they will be more open to having conversations with you.
When you tell stories it also improves your social intelligence as you can pick up on signs from people at once and read the crowd better. It is a powerful way to create a sense of community in the team that you work with.