Nowadays, there’s been a lot of chatter around how social intelligence is more important than IQ for success — whether success means wealth or dating. The best part about this news? You can improve social intelligence if you know how whereas you can’t improve IQ. This article will be your definitive guide to improving social intelligence because frankly, there’s too much content on how useful it is and not enough on how to improve it.
What is Social Intelligence?
Social intelligence is the ability to navigate, gauge, communicate, and understand humans in social situations effectively. There will be situations when you have to look beyond your thoughts and emotions to another person’s emotions and motives to avoid failing at life.
More than ever, societies as a whole are less socially intelligent. They don’t talk as much or meet up in groups because they’re glued to video games, tablets, TV’s, and phones.
But as a species, we’re still biologically wired to socialize. In fact, research reveals that emotions and mood are contagious. Enthusiasm or anxiety spread like viruses. The neurons, brain regions, and eyes take on some of the moods they see thanks to mirror neurons. Studies have shown that this mirroring happens even when people don’t believe they’re mirroring.
Here are some examples:
A general was commanding troops in a tense region. As they walked past soldiers, he immediately sensed the mood, told them to point their guns upward and SMILE — then, back away. This split-second sensing and adjusting of the mood and wisdom of body language illustrates strong social intelligence.
Our ancestors had to deal with situations when a ruler controlled everything. Whether or not it was fair or logical, they had the final say and could execute you if you pissed them off. While some things a king says may not have been logical, to take it too literally and argue with him each time could endanger his ego and cause your death. Being aware of and masterful over this social factor is one distinguisher between the socially intelligent and unintelligent.
To use a modern example, let’s say you have an overbearing, emotional mom. When your mom is mad at you for always having your cell phone off at work, you tell her how you’ve read productivity tips from the best people on how it improves your efficiency. However, it becomes clear she will not accept this point because of her own priorities with calling you. She wants complete access to her son.
It would be socially unintelligent to keep arguing your productivity point logically, as you’ve already tried and failed. A socially intelligent person would understand how people behave emotionally for their own means and find the best situation. He may agree with her, apologize, and find a successful compromise, especially when emotions have cooled down and reason has resumed.
If you see a girl with a guy and you don’t approach immediately, you’re not being cowardly. It’s actually socially intelligent.
Your body is immediately reacting to see if this woman is with her boyfriend. It may be wise to gauge the situation and get to know them first rather than risk long-term friendship and something more by coming off too strong.
By seeing if this is actually true, you can see where to go.
My philosophy is always to be ethical and have an abundance mindset. If they are together, move on. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.
I was once in a dating group for Asian men online where people exchanged free tips. It became clear one day that these people were willing to get girls to cheat on their boyfriends. And they had. These guys celebrated it. I went to the admins in anger. They didn’t care either way. I immediately left the group.
Those were people I would never consider to be friends or anything of the sort. What happens if that happened to them? That sort of back-stabbing behavior bleeds off. If you make them your friends, they will eventually do it to you.
It’s also a scarcity mindset even though they won’t admit it. They don’t think they can get a single girl of equal quality easily so they will go after whatever they can get.
How do you look out for situations when you should make sure to use social intelligence? Any time you can gauge feedback and can use empathy.
When you touch a girl you’re dating on the shoulder or hug her to see if she is comfortable with touch, you should be gauging feedback. Based on her facial expression, tone, and body language, she may express discomfort or disinterest. Being poor at identifying this may be bad for you, especially if you’re too assertive or timid. Practice and feedback help.
She will push away more if you’re too aggressive when she’s not interested. Being too shy or reactive can be seen as too submissive or inconfident. It’s a bit of a dance.
As hinted, improving social intelligence comes down to putting yourself in a lot of social situations, gauging feedback from others and skilled people, and learning from past experiences.
How to Improve Social Intelligence
When you’re experiencing anxiety, you’re more likely to take on emotional contagion for safety.
Try mimicking the facial expression of someone to figure out what they’re thinking if you are unsure.
Using empathy to understand what someone else fees uses the same brain regions as experiencing your own feelings.
Research shows that priming people with paper with synonyms of rude versus polite caused people to interrupt a conversation later more or wait before interrupting more, even up to ten minutes.
The feelings of the most expressive person in a meeting usually permeate to the others by the end.
A study of students who got to know new classmates for three minutes found that their first impressions held extremely true to their relationships for the rest of the semester.
Listening well distinguishes the best managers, leaders, and teachers. Deep listening is also about asking questions.
Real life communication offers feedback based on body language to adjust language. A study of science students who introduced and communicated with classmates in chat rooms found that twenty percent of conversations turned sexual. Obviously, this doesn’t happen in person, likely because online communication lacks visual feedback.
The total count of selfish, unempathetic acts committed (rape, murder, theft, etc.) compared to the total count of potential selfish acts that can be committed when given the chance is a low fraction, almost close to zero. While they do occur and you see it in the news, most humans are wired to help others and be sympathetic to others’ suffering to help the survival and reproduction of the tribe.
Interpersonal skills are key to social intelligence. Some people lack good social skills because of a lack of experience and practice when they were growing up or because they only had role models with strange social quirks.
Finding common interests create a social bond, which strengthens the more it is reinforced.
Lack of caring is a key trait needed for serial killers and rapists. It is also an essential trait in what psychologists call the Dark Triad, narcissists, machiavelli, and chauvinists. Many who have these aren’t strong enough to be diagnosed or put away, but to an extreme, they lead to mental illness. Narcissists only see their personal enjoyment rather than the suffering in others during rape.
There are three types of attachment styles: secure, anxious, and avoidant, the first being ideal. How you are has a 70% chance of translating to your child based on your parenting. Avoidants close off to prevent emotional contagion to spread to them. (Emotions are contagious)
You should not shelter your child from all unpleasant events to make him or her happy. It is better that he or she learn how to deal with undesirable emotions and return quicker to a happy state, mental resiliency.
While research shows that men car more about physical beauty and women about status and power in attraction, those are not the most important factors, just the biggest difference between sexes. The biggest factor for both genders is kindness. (Wills note: to interject, other research shows this diminishes in importance for short term relationships.)
How many positive experiences a couple has is the greatest scientific indicator of relationship success, and how well couples deal with conflict is the greatest indicator for marriage.
Unhealthy relationships cause you to be 2.5 times more likely to catch a cold, compromising your immune system. The more warm, strong friendships you have, the stronger your immune system is. The more lonely, the less.
At least 18 studies correlate social connectivity with how long you live. Join groups like churches and meet up groups to build social networks. Research shows that these relationships help people heal faster from an illness.
Almost female mammals show similar behaviors of partially showing interest but then looking or moving away to a mate. Likely, this is to gauge if the male has the skills to identify if a child needs help.
Socially intelligent leaders are compassionate to employees during emotionally tough times. Callousness and lack of sympathy can cause outrage, causing employees to move or quit. A nurse in practice delivered a stillborn baby. While she was still emotionally recovering in her room, her boss asked her when she can return. His coldness caused her to get outraged and move departments.
Studies show that displaying role models of an ethnicity before testing someone on racial bias influences their response positively.
Let me know if you have any advice or lessons that might be of use. I might update this article to include some of the best ones.
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