- Michael Thompson
“Being good with people is an art, and the person who provides it, is an artist.” — Seth Godin
I can’t remember one time growing up where I felt confident around other people. Combine a severe speech impediment, moving every two years for my dad’s job, and living in a world where most people expected some form of verbal communication and on a daily basis I experienced some form of social anxiety.
However, after I graduated from college, I realized since the world wasn’t going to change, I would have to. A few days later, I started my first sales job.
Some people focus on their strengths to win the life they want. I didn’t. I choose the opposite. By studying socially intelligent people, and taking the time to learn from my own successes and failures when interacting with others, I’ve managed to improve my ability to connect with them. Fast-forward to today and I make my living helping people to do the same.
The best part is, by adopting the five actions below, you can get started boosting your social intelligence today.
“There will always be someone smarter than you. There will always be someone faster than you. There will always be someone stronger than you. That means that your only real job is to be the best at connecting with other people.” — Julien Smith
Socially intelligent people proactively share their network
Socially intelligent people understand that the best problem-solver is a strong network. However, plenty of people know that. What separates socially intelligent people is they know that the best way to build their strong network, is by helping others to grow theirs.
Friendships are best shared. Socially intelligent people live by this. Experience has shown them just how much one can truly get when their default setting is locked on giving.
Today, when someone is explaining a challenge they are facing, take a moment and think about the people in your network who have faced a similar situation. Then take it one step further and make an introduction. You may find that your tribe is not the only thing that grows, but also the meaning you have in your life. This is because few things matter more than helping others to reach their goals.
Socially intelligent people withhold judgment
Whether it is the person holding the door, someone sharing the elevator, or the person serving them coffee, socially intelligent people acknowledge them and show them respect.
They do this because life has taught them that magic is everywhere and that absolutely everyone is capable of making it. Not only that, but they also do this because they know the world is small — and people have a funny way of coming in and out of our lives.
Today, steal a line from socially intelligent people and the next time you leave the house, put down your phone and lift up your head. Then make it a point to smile and say hello to each person you pass. You may be surprised how memorable it is for the person on the receiving end. This is for the simple fact that most people today are so busy worrying about themselves, they fail to recognize that the secret to happiness is literally standing in front of them.
Socially intelligent people listen more than they speak
You want to know who wins? Listeners do. Socially intelligent people understand this, and instead of constantly pushing their own agenda, they prioritize asking others about theirs.
The fastest way for people to like you is by showing them that you like them. Socially intelligent people grasp this often overlooked aspect of human behavior, and they use it to their advantage by asking questions that bring out the best in others. However, instead of being like most people, who instead of listening, think about only what they are going to say next, socially intelligent people shut up, and give the person they are speaking with their full presence.
Today, when you are talking with someone, make a note to listen more than you speak. You may be surprised by how effective it is when it comes to building relationships.
Socially intelligent people approach every interaction as a learning opportunity
Socially intelligent people enjoy nothing more than learning about the perspectives, thoughts, and feelings of the people around them. This is because they already know what they know and what makes life fun is learning about what other people know.
Nothing creates more opportunities than adopting the mindset of a student. Socially intelligent understand this. As a result, they walk through each new door with the sole purpose of meeting a new someone, with the intention of learning a new something.
Our only job is to leave each person better than we found them. Few things accomplish this better than giving someone the opportunity to teach. So today, with each door you walk through, be the student and soak in the perspectives, thoughts, and feelings of those around you. Your relationships will thank you for it.
Socially intelligent people give for the sake of giving
Socially intelligent people do not sit around prior to doing something nice for someone thinking about whether the favor will be returned. Like John Maxwell said, “Keeping score is for games, not friendships.” Give for the sake of giving and adopt the mindset that doing good by others is always the right thing to do.
Today when you have the opportunity to do something nice for someone, don’t hesitate, and definitely don’t think to yourself potential ways that you can benefit from this action. You may just find that by helping people to move their own needle, yours moves forward as well.
When it comes to our IQ, genetics plays a role and there is only so much we can do. Fortunately, when it comes to raising our social intelligence there is loads that we can do — and every encounter offers an opportunity to develop this skill.
There is no reason why each time you leave the house today you cannot acknowledge every person you come into contact with.
There is no reason why each time you have a conversation today you cannot prioritize listening to their agenda instead of pushing ours.
There is no reason why each time someone describes to you a problem they’re facing you can’t think about who in our network could help them to solve it.
There is no reason why each time we meet with someone today you cannot adopt the mindset of a student and allow the person in front of you to teach you a thing or two.
There is no reason why each time the opportunity to give presents itself today you cannot do just that — without expecting anything in return.
My mom got it dead right, “Nothing compounds faster than kindness.”
Steal a line from my mom and be proactively good to people.
The future is kind.