What is social intelligence, and why is it worth developing it
Communicating with people is less important than having a sharp mind. Learn what social intelligence is and how to develop it. But first, subscribe to our Telegram channel. We often publish such valuable articles!
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What is social intelligence, and what is its peculiarity
Social intelligence is the knowledge, skills, and abilities that help a person successfully interact with others. The ability to understand the behavior of other people and your own, to act according to circumstances — these are the components of this concept.
This concept is broader than emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and empathize with others. Instead, such a skill can be considered a component of social intelligence since the ability to empathize — to recognize one’s and others’ feelings — is an integral part of communication.
Social intelligence is weakly related to the general mental development of a person. When we communicate with others, we inevitably evaluate them. However, people usually do not realize the criteria for these assessments, and when they try to formulate, the assessment changes. Intuition and personal qualities are of great importance in social intelligence.
Social intelligence indicates how much a person understands people and everyday situations. In ordinary life, such skills are called tact and common sense. There is no generally accepted definition of social intelligence, and its structure and place in the human mind are still not fully developed. Some interpretations also include the ability to evaluate yourself from the outside.
The concept of social intelligence as the ability to understand people appeared in 1920. The then president of the American Psychological Association (APA), E. L. Thorndike, used it along with two other types of intelligence: mechanical or technical (the ability to manage objects and equipment); abstract (the ability to understand ideas and symbols).
Thorndike also believed that social intelligence is the key to success in life and meaningful behavior in a situation where you need to make a sound decision. Later this idea was developed.
The hypothesis of social intelligence has become the basis for many interesting concepts. The theory of investment creativity by R. J. Sternberg, for example, says that creative people invest in some idea, which, having been developed, brings them dividends in the future.
What is the benefit of a developed social intelligence?
In the modern world, the division of labor is growing more and more, and, consequently, achievements from individual ones are increasingly turning into collective ones. And to achieve success, today it is no longer enough to be just a professional in your field. You also need to be able to maintain ties with people, promote your ideas in society, and not just create them. For example, do not be afraid to put forward bold proposals and be able to explain complex things in simple words. In this regard, social intelligence becomes an essential element of self-realization (read Self-realization and career are not the same things).
The inability to maintain social contacts nullifies even the sharpest mind. Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock are great examples of such personalities.
There is also an opinion that the higher our level of social intelligence, the more objective we are about ourselves and others.
Thus, a person with high social intelligence can keep up a conversation with anyone, is tactful and correctly selects words, knows how to listen, and understands formal and informal roles. He is also good at discovering other people’s real motives and “picking up clues” to different personality types. People with developed social skills feel more confident, know what they want from life and endure life’s blows more easily. It is facilitated mainly by the fact that they do not experience communication difficulties and quickly establish social ties.
How to develop social intelligence
A person develops social intelligence skills throughout his life from the experience of communication, successes, and failures. Critical in this regard is the period of childhood. A significant investment of energy in studying abstract and distant disciplines (for example, algebra) at a young age can lead to the child not developing the skills to communicate with peers. Because of this, he may have difficulty finding friends and become a target of ridicule.
Informal (extracurricular) communication with adults and role-playing games with peers (“daughters-mothers,” for example) are considered helpful for the development of social intelligence in children under 7–8 years old.
If you did not become pleasant as a child, do not despair. Just like general intelligence (IQ), you can increase your social intelligence (SQ). However, you will have to change your behavior and attitude toward the environment, which will require considerable effort.
To get started, look closely at those you communicate with. Learn to listen and, most importantly, understand what is being said to you and form your own opinion. Work on your oratory skills. To do this, analyze the words, facial expressions, and gestures (your own and those of your interlocutors), work on the mistakes, and find those you can consider an example. It will not be superfluous to work on your emotional intelligence.
Also, try to get more social interaction experience. Try to notice how you behave in certain situations and how you can correct what does not suit you. For example, learn techniques to deal with anxiety if the anticipation of any meaningful conversation makes you shiver. Analyzing your successes and failures is your best assistance in this matter.
Not everyone is required to have highly developed social intelligence. We are all different: someone loves to be the center of attention and prefers to keep contact with people to a minimum. Nevertheless, specific social skills, such as the ability to explain and listen to respond to apparent falsehoods and lies, will come in handy in personal relationships, at work, and in society.
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