Are you able to make the most out of your social interactions? A great deal of a person’s peace, happiness, and success in life comes down to their ability to successfully navigate interpersonal relationships.
People with high social intelligence understand that their ability to receive or achieve things requires them to connect with other people in a meaningful way.
That may include family, friends, or people at work. We all play a role in the lives of each other. Understanding the ways in which socially intelligent people interact with others can help you hone your own social understanding so you can find greater peace, happiness, and success in your life too.
So what do people with a high social intelligence do differently that we can learn from?
1. They choose their words carefully.
A person with a high social IQ understands that the way they present information or an idea is often more important than what the message is.
It is impossible to inform against ignorance when anger is clouding a person’s ability to listen. Insults, talking down to, or disparaging people with different ideas and perceptions incites anger. Anger puts a listener on the defensive. A defensive audience is no longer listening.
Acknowledging other perspectives and perceptions while offering examples from your own point-of-view goes much further than stirring up anger and conflict.
2. They can listen to and entertain perspectives other than their own.
Life is a complicated thing. It becomes even more complicated when you consider that each person on this planet is going to have a different perspective on life. Those people with high social intelligence will be curious to understand other perspectives so that they can learn from them.
After all, we all have the same 24 hours in our day. It’s just not possible to develop a full understanding of every facet of every life experience in a meaningful way. What you can do is listen to the perspective of others and explore why they see the world the way they do. That doesn’t mean you should accept their word as gospel, but simply hear them so you can add their experiences and thoughts to your own worldview.
3. They do not waste their time arguing with other people.
Arguing is often a pointless exercise. There is a world of difference between arguing and having a discussion where both parties are interested in learning and are receptive to the ideas of one another.
Arguing is a waste of time and emotional energy that can be better invested in doing literally anything else. It is a waste of time to try to force information on a person who is not interested in listening or learning. A person may pick a fight because it lets them use their anger as validation for their perceptions or beliefs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because we feel passionately about something, we must automatically be right. That just isn’t the case.
4. They listen to understand, rather than just reply.
Listening is an important skill to hone and implement. Far too many people engage in conversations but do not actively listen or consider what the other person is saying. Instead, they are merely waiting for their turn to respond, to vent out their own perceptions or beliefs, without giving due consideration to what is being said.
And that is not counting the people who divide their attention by not looking away from their television or smart phone to focus on their conversation partner. Focus on the conversation. Hearing is more than just listening, because you’re not letting the conversation flow in one ear and out the other.
It can be difficult to face criticism, be it constructive or not. Constructive criticism is a valuable tool for honing one’s craft, whatever it may be. An audience is always going to have opinions and criticism, and though we would like it to be kind or spoken well, that isn’t always the case.
People with a high social IQ understand that criticism is an opportunity to learn and grow, even if not spoken well. Not everyone is skilled enough with their words to speak their perception of the truth in a way we deem acceptable. Some people have a thick skin, others do not.
6. They do not judge people by the opinions of others.
Everyone has an opinion, and not all of them are positive. A socially intelligent person is going to understand that they should not judge people by the opinions of others. Yes, it can be helpful to have a starting point in case the person is destructive, but one must be careful not to take opinion as truth.
There are always multiple sides to a story, and it is foolish to assume that what you’re hearing is the objective truth. Plus, it is a bad idea to engage in rumor-mongering and gossiping. It’s a quick way to erode trust and cause people to question your character.
7. They rarely use absolutes in the way that they communicate.
An absolute statement is a good way to instigate an argument, because very few things in life are completely black or white. There are always things we don’t or can’t know. It’s good to be confident in the delivery of a message or in a conversation, but a person with a high social intelligence is going to be aware that they can be wrong.
The easiest way to avoid inciting an argument or causing another person to go on the attack is to not use absolute statements unless it is necessary. Even then, you can still expect someone to find fault with the message and attack, because many people out there love to argue, right or wrong.
8. They avoid taking dissenting opinions and criticism personally.
It’s easy to take a conflicting opinion or an attack personally in the heat of the moment. We are often told how important it is to stand up for ourselves and what we believe in. But, it’s also important to be aware of when the other person is just trying to bait us or resorting to ad hominem attacks (those against a person’s character or motive rather than against the opinions they are presenting) to undermine what we have to say.
The greatest defense against such behavior is quiet calm. Defending oneself does not necessarily mean we have to resort to anger and attacking back. Maintaining your calm in the face of criticism or adversity is much easier when you avoid investing your own emotions in a conflict.
A person with a high social intelligence is going to understand and acknowledge when they are wrong. They know that it is not worth wasting valuable time arguing over nothing or dodging responsibility for being incorrect. Everyone is wrong from time to time. Sometimes we make bad choices, choose the wrong words, or simply aren’t aware of all of the facts.
Furthermore, the person is going to be able to gracefully accept an apology when it is fair and right to do so. Not every apology is equal. Sometimes people will use an apology as a way to try to escape responsibility for a bad action or choice they willfully made.
The choice to accept an apology often comes down to the intent behind a hurtful action. Was it a mistake? An accident? Or was it an act of purposeful maliciousness? Even if forgiven, maliciousness should not be forgotten. Accepting an apology does not mean you should leave yourself open to being harmed again.