We all strive to be successful and happy in both our professional and personal lives. The key to a successful career and personal happiness is also social intelligence, as numerous studies have already shown. People who build relationships and can find their way around in a social environment are referred to as socially intelligent. You are open-minded, empathetic and emotionally present.
So it stands to reason that knowledge is not the only thing that is important for a great career. For executives and companies in particular, building the right relationships opens up more opportunities, says career and communications coach Michael Thompson. He therefore dealt with the question of the characteristics and behaviors of socially intelligent people who are permanently successful both in their work and in their private life.
Thompson has listed five key characteristics that socially intelligent people have in common. These can be summarized under the acronym SPACE and stand for situational awareness, presence, authenticity, clarity and empathy. The breakdown goes back to Karl Albrecht’s book “Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success”.
There are countless opportunities every day when we can all work on our social intelligence. So Thompson gives some useful suggestions on how to overcome social anxiety and better manage your career and relationships. By making social intelligence a priority, we learn not only from our own successes and failures, but also from the people around us.
S – situation awareness
According to Thompson, socially intelligent people take the time to read another person’s situation and emotional state before making contact. He calls this the “social radar”. By observing the verbal and non-verbal communication of your counterpart, you can get a first picture of the personality of the person or the social dynamics that prevail in a room.
Pay attention to people’s body language and mood and whether they seem reserved or not. How are their facial expressions and gestures? Are you tense or relaxed? Do they seem interested in the people around them or are they rather disinterested? The more you study the people around you, the faster you can make real connections with them.
P – presence
Distraction is a hindrance to productivity at work, but also to productive interpersonal interactions. In relationships, in particular, it is important that you are not only present physically, but above all mentally and emotionally. You have to learn to calm both external distractions and the internal dialogue in your head in order to be able to concentrate on the other person.
Remind yourself every day anew to always adopt the learner’s mindset in conversations and, above all, to listen. You can practice this by writing down the things that are obviously important to the person in front of you. And if you notice that your thoughts are wandering, try to restore eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Mindfulness meditation can also help you train your emotional presence.
A – authenticity
To appear authentic, you should have respect for yourself and trust in your personal values and beliefs. You should also always be honest with others. So the key to authenticity is how we perceive ourselves. For this you should make yourself aware of your values and your mission statement. As an exercise, you can try to write down your five most important values and summarize them in a sentence of a maximum of 50 words, which you can always use for orientation.
What are your talents and what motivates you? Which experiences in your life have shaped you particularly? And how can you help the community with it? Use these questions to become aware of your values and to increase your self-confidence. Because only when you are clear about yourself can you be honest with others.
C – Clarity
Clarity is essential for successful communication. So always try to express your thoughts and feelings in an easily understandable way. The ability to simplify complex ideas into easy, yet engaging language is an important skill that socially intelligent people master.
You can also practice clear communication. Think about how you would introduce yourself or a company within a minute. For example, write down everything you know about yourself, because writing means thinking. How do you present yourself and how do you master complicated situations? But you can also watch famous speeches and pay attention to what and how is spoken. In any case, you should absorb yourself speaking and practice until you are satisfied. You can also simply read your favorite book aloud.
E – empathy
Probably the most important aspect of social intelligence is empathy. It brings people together and creates relationships. Through empathy you can identify with the other person and create a feeling of connectedness. But you can also use it to inspire people to cooperate. When you are mindful, respectful, and value the people you face, it is easier to connect. You should keep toxic behaviors in check and not constantly criticize or talk badly about them.
Socially intelligent people question whether they are listening enough and trying to see things from different perspectives. They strive to be open-minded and to withhold their own established opinions and beliefs in order to better understand others’ thoughts and feelings.