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  • Writer's pictureFanny Baert

How to practice social intelligence?



My local swimming pool is not only a place where I relax and do my favorite sport but it’s also an interesting spot to observe people and socialize. To swim in lanes you need social skills and intelligence; you need to share the lane while knowing how to adjust to the informal rules of the pool. You also need to know when you have to let others overtake you, or recognize your speed and give subtle signs of acknowledgment when others let you pass. I love it! It’s a real lesson in social intelligence and a great place to meet new people.


So what is social intelligence?

Social Intelligence is another one of Seligman and Peterson’s 24 character strengths that make up the best of our personality and thus have a positive impact on everything we do. On the website of the Via Institute, you can do a free survey which will rank your 24 character strengths. Our top strengths help us overcome challenges in our life such as a career change or a new relationship.


According to the Via Institute, when a person knows what makes other people tick, he or she is displaying social intelligence. They’re aware of the motives and feelings of themselves and others, and know how to fit into different social situations. They can feel comfortable and say the right thing wherever they are. Social intelligence involves two general components: 1) Social awareness: what we sense about others and 2) Social facility: what we do with our awareness.


Social Intelligence is important because it

  • Increases your wellbeing in your relationships with your partner, with your family and friends.

  • Increases your wellbeing in your professional environment, by preventing conflict with your colleagues.

  • Increases your success as a manager. If you are able to read and take into account the emotions of your colleagues, you can communicate better and are better placed to motivate them and encourage them towards common goals.

  • Helps you to reach out to others when you face difficult situations in life as you will feel at ease not only sharing your vulnerabilities but also knowing with whom you can share.

  • Helps you move into a new work or life environment as you will get to know people much faster.

How can you practice social intelligence? Here are some tips;


1. Engage in active listening: go beyond simply hearing the words that another person speaks but also seek to understand the meaning and intent behind them. It requires being an active participant in the communication process. Chose one conversation and pay attention to following points;

  • Be fully present in the conversation

  • Show interest by practicing good eye contact

  • Notice (and use) non-verbal cues

  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage further responses

  • Paraphrase and reflect back on what has been said

  • Listen to understand rather than to respond

  • Withhold judgment and advice

2. Step out of your comfort zone and choose to go to a social gathering even when you do not know anybody. Do not go there as somebody who is afraid but rather as somebody with a purpose. You can put goals like;

  • I will meet 2 new people.

  • I will introduce myself to so and so because they have similar interests as me.

  • I want to meet one stranger and practice active listening even if the subject does no interest me.

  • I just want to have fun observing people.

3. Pay close attention to what (and who) is around you. When you are a newcomer in a group, be observant, pay attention to subtle social cues. Observe the people; how do they communicate? What is the clue for you to join them?


4. Last but not least, appreciate the people who are important to you!


So, when will you put your social intelligence to the test? Please feel free to share your thoughts.🙏


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