What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

How to make a difference in the information world

Social intelligence is the potential of an individual to interpret and comprehend their social environment and establish meaningful relationships with others. It is often referred to in lay terms as “street smartness”.

It is an acquired trait that grows with the person. The level of a person’s social intelligence determines how well they interact with others. It is important to improve one’s social intelligence as this has numerous benefits.

Here are some of my favourite tips on how to achieve this.

1. Pay attention to other people

It is true that people are wired differently. Some are extroverts by nature, while others are introverts.

Regardless, however, studies have shown that being sensitive and listening to others can help nurture one’s social intelligence. This does not equal to an introvert becoming extroverted. The mere act of paying attention to others without necessarily opening up is key to establishing successful interpersonal relationships.

As you interact with more people, you learn to trust and let them in.

2. Understand yourself

Before being able to understand your social environment, it is most important to understand oneself first.

How do you respond to social stimuli? How do you react when a stranger greets you? Is your social behavior repulsive? Answering these and other questions will help you identify your social strengths and weaknesses, and help you know which areas to work on. This in turn will boost your social intelligence.

3. Improve your communication skills

Effective communication is at the heart at social interaction. It may mean the difference between a successful and a failed social relationship.

Competent communication starts with verbal fluency, or being able to articulate your ideas freely without strain. This is accompanied by proper body language. Body language says a ton about a person, perhaps more than verbal communication. Take cues from people around you and learn the right body language.

Maintaining eye contact is also important for proper communication. This is a show of confidence and assertiveness, both of which help build social intelligence.

4. Learn how to resolve conflicts

Conflicts are almost inevitable in any social setting. People have diverse opinions and feelings about things, and this difference is bound to bring out conflict. Social disputes can make or break relationships.

To improve your social intelligence, establish healthy ways of conflict resolution. Learn from people around you and ask them how they feel about how your methods. Improve them where possible.

5. Be empathetic

We all feel good when other people understand and can relate to our predicaments. Research has shown that empathy is indispensable to establishing healthy relationships and improving social intelligence.

When we show empathy to others it makes them feel supported and they are more likely to responsive to us socially.

6. Invest in your relationships

Relationships of any type are dynamic. To keep them, you have to invest time and effort and adapt to their changing nature.

Remember: it is a lot easier to establish a relationship than it is to maintain one. Also, learn to give back- one sided relationships do not flourish.


Humans are social beings. We cannot live in isolation. It is as such important to improve our social intelligence in order to enhance our social interactions. Not only does doing this improve our overall social performance, it also keeps us healthy.

Social intelligence is the key to career and life success. Do you have it?

Intelligence, or IQ, is largely what you are born with. Genetics play a large part. Social intelligence (SI), on the other hand, is mostly learned. SI develops from experience with people and learning from success and failures in social settings. It is more commonly referred to as “tact,” “common sense,” or “street smarts.”

What are the key elements of social intelligence?

  1. Verbal Fluency and Conversational Skills. You can easily spot someone with lots of SI at a party or social gathering because he or she knows how to “work the room.” The highly socially intelligent person can carry on conversations with a wide variety of people, and is tactful and appropriate in what is said. Combined, these represent what are called “social expressiveness skills.”
  2. Knowledge of Social Roles, Rules, and Scripts. Socially intelligent individuals learn how to play various social roles. They are also well versed in the informal rules, or “norms,” that govern social interaction. In other words, they “know how to play the game” of social interaction. As a result, they come off as socially sophisticated and wise.
  3. Effective Listening Skills. Socially intelligent persons are great listeners. As a result, others come away from an interaction with an SI person feeling as if they had a good “connection” with him or her.
  4. Understanding What Makes Other People Tick. Great people watchers, individuals high in social intelligence attune themselves to what others are saying, and how they are behaving, in order to try to “read” what the other person is thinking or feeling. Understanding emotions is part of Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are correlated — people who are especially skilled are high on both.
  5. Role Playing and Social Self-Efficacy. The socially intelligent person knows how to play different social roles — allowing him or her to feel comfortable with all types of people. As a result, the SI individual feels socially self-confident and effective — what psychologists call “social self-efficacy.”
  6. Impression Management Skills. Persons with SI are concerned with the impression they are making on others. They engage in what I call the “Dangerous Art of Impression Management,” which is a delicate balance between managing and controlling the image you portray to others and being reasonably “authentic” and letting others see the true self. This is perhaps the most complex element of social intelligence.

How can you develop social intelligence?

It takes effort and hard work. Begin by paying more attention to the social world around you. Work on becoming a better speaker or conversationalist. Networking organizations, or speaking groups, such as Toastmasters, are good at helping develop basic communication skills. Work on becoming a more effective listener, through what is called “active listening” where you reflect back what you believe the speaker said in order to ensure clear understanding. Most importantly, study social situations and your own behavior. Learn from your social successes and failures. I’ll give some more specific SI exercises in a future post.

How can we improve intelligence and how do we know if a method works?

This is a summary of a longer essay. Anyone interested in the complete essay can email me at [email protected] and I will be glad to send a copy.

Americans want sharp minds and flat abs. The internet, magazines, and TV abound with advertisements offering ways to sculpt your mind and chisel your body. Or is it the other way around? Whatever … there is a remarkable analogy between programs trumpeted to improve intelligence and to improve physique. What is going on?

Many of the claims assert that they are revolutionary, because intelligence researchers, or psychologists, or somebody, has said that you can’t improve your intelligence, In fact, no respectable intelligence researcher has said that problem-solving abilities cannot be improved. They have said that you have a genetically established potential for intelligence, and that the environment determines the extent to which you realize that potential. Intelligence researchers have also said that your intelligence test score, which indicates your relative standing in the population, is pretty stable once you reach early teenage years. There are certainly changes in cognitive power over the life span. A 70-year-old can solve a lot more problems than an 11-year-old can. The relative ordering of people at 70, though, is surprisingly similar, though not identical, to the relative ordering at 11.

Athletic ability can be improved by practicing relevant skills (such as keeping your eye on the ball), exercising to build up muscles (push-ups anyone?), and by using bodybuilding substances, which can range from a Mediterranean diet (red wine with fish) to steroids. Attempts to improve intelligence are similar. You can become smarter by acquiring useful, widely applicable cognitive skills, such as logical reasoning, critical thinking or mathematics. That’s like learning to keep your eye on the ball. Learning these skills is equivalent to becoming educated. You can also take the mental pushup approach; practice tasks that exercise the neural pathways central to cognition. The brain … even the adult brain … is surprisingly plastic. Using a circuit will improve the efficiency of transmission along the circuit, probably by strengthening the relevant synaptic connections. The “new” mental exercise programs are designed to exercise the working memory and control of attention circuits in the brain, because working memory and the control of attention have been shown to be a key component of general intelligence. Finally, there are both pharmacological and neuropathic agents that will make temporary improvements in cognition. These change either the supply of neurotransmitting chemicals in the brain or the brain’s sensitivity to them.

Education clearly works. It’s been estimated that every year of education adds from two to three points to a student’s IQ. Kids, pay attention in school. Senior citizens, head for the community college! It is important to learn both the thinking skills and the circumstances under which those skills are useful. This is one of my gripes with education, from roughly high school through graduate school. Educators too often stress how to execute thinking skills without explaining when to execute them.

Most of the programs marketed to improve intelligence resemble mental calisthenics and brain pills more than education. The tasks are not great new discoveries, in spite of what the advertisements say. The most popular task, the N-back task, “exercises” the brain circuits underlying working memory and the control of attention. This has been a staple in cognitive psychology laboratories for almost 40 years. Exercise using it and you will improve intelligence? Maybe, but warning—I’ve done the N-back task and I’ve done push-ups. Push-ups are more exciting. Eat this diet, or take Yakov’s elixir, and your neurons will work better? Various forms of ‘brain pills’ have been around for a long time. One of the most popular nutritional additives, ginkgo balboa, has been a staple of Asian medicine for hundreds of years.

How should you evaluate claims to improve intelligence? I offer these guidelines.

1. Beware of testimonials. Any advertiser can find (three out of five doctors) (an actor who looks like a doctor) (a pretty young woman) (a gracefully graying senior citizen) to go on TV and say, “I was a dolt, I took this course (or took this pill) and now I am the reincarnation of Einstein.” Well, maybe they won’t put it that strongly, but you get my idea.

2. Look for reports of randomized controlled studies, sponsored by a reputable body, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) or a well-known university. Research by a wonderfully named foundation that you never heard of is suspect. The National Institute of Health has useful public information web pages discussing pharmaceuticals and nutritional additives.

3. Ask how big the effect is, and who benefits from it. Many treatments have their greatest effects upon moderately poor cognitive performance. Very bad performance may indicate brain damage that requires great efforts to overcome. If performance is already in the good range there is a general law of diminishing effects; the better you are before treatment, the harder it is to improve performance. This rule applies to mental exercise, brain food, and brain pills.

4. Educational effects can last for years. Mental exercise and various sorts of brain food will have temporary effects. (Just as you don’t stay fit forever after you stop exercising!) The effects do not stop at once but they will fade.

5. Long-term improvement requires a long term effort. Weight lifting for one day won’t do much for your body. Practicing the N-back task for one day won’t do much for your brain. Just as it takes discipline to keep up a weight lifting regimen, it takes discipline to keep up a mental exercise program. As for the pills approach, be sure to read the NIH informational website for discussions of any long term effects.

6. Improving intelligence should have widespread effects. Any claim that relies on just one test is suspect, for the effect may be on the special cognitive skills required on that test rather than on intelligence in general. In fact, the best evidence is probably not that performance on an intelligence test has been improved. The best evidence is that people who do these exercises or take these substances show improved cognition in their daily life. Unfortunately, such evidence is hard to get, so instead we rely on “intelligence tests.” These evaluate some important cognitive skills, but not all of them.

Social intelligence has become a key tool for workers in the labor market.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Social intelligence is the capacity to communicate and form relationships with empathy and assertiveness. It comes from knowing yourself and exercising proper emotional management. We can say it is closely linked to emotional intelligence, but it is not exactly the same thing.

Emotional intelligence comes from introspection and covers aspects like emotional awareness and the role of emotions in the problem-solving process. It has more to do with how people manage themselves before they make contact with another person.

When you start interacting, social intelligence skills should kick in, along with emotional intelligence which covers tasks like expression, dialogue, listening, conciliation, and learning through communication with others.

What abilities does social intelligence convey?

Social intelligence manages the required abilities for effective communication based on empathy, self-knowledge, listening, and reading of emotions. These abilities are:

1. Verbal and non-verbal fluency

Conversational skills are the most basic form of social intelligence. Verbal and non-verbal expressions are the primary platforms for sending any message. The use of the right words, the ideal tone, and clear intention underlies the first step to effective communication.

2. Knowledge of social rules and roles

When you interact with a group, knowing their social rules, customs, and idiosyncrasies is a fundamental skill for socially intelligent people. This facilitates interaction with individuals who belong to different social groups, like people of different ages, countries, religion, or cultural identities.

3. Listening skills

Active listening is instrumental in the development of social intelligence. It helps to connect with other people, prevents conflict, and enables learning through dialogue. This contributes significantly to personal growth.

4. Understanding how other people’s emotions work

Understanding what triggers people’s emotions (either negatively or positively) is a key component in the exercise of empathy. This competency enables communication that takes into consideration the attributes and sensibilities of other people, which makes the message authentic and effective.

5. Playing social roles efficiently

This ability allows people to adapt to different social environments. Having a clear idea of what’s expected of us in a variety of different settings reduces stress in any situation and enables more constructive interactions.

6. Self-Image and impression management

This is the ability to present ourselves in a way that connects with others without stretching too far from our natural personality. The objective is to maintain a sincere demeanor that appeals to others, shows empathy, and reinforces our idea of self.

Why is social intelligence necessary for education and future jobs?

Social intelligence uses the management of emotions and self-awareness to improve interactions, foster leadership, and enable the execution of unique intellectual tasks.

There has been a lot of debate about automation and the potential unemployment this could bring. The workers’ capacity for re-skilling, adaptation, and continuous learning will be indispensable for them to maintain their value in the job market.

The less a task is susceptible to computerization, the more likely it will be done by humans. Political commentator and comedian John Oliver offers a sharp insight into this subject. In a piece about automation, he provides an accurate perspective about why social intelligence is so vital to creating jobs only humans can do: “You can do a series of non-routine tasks that require social intelligence, complex critical thinking, and creative problem-solving,” said Oliver to answer a boy who asked about possible jobs he could do in the future that robots could not perform.

Social intelligence is essential for unlocking the skills of effective communication, dialogue, and teamwork to create an optimal and productive work environment. Until recently, social intelligence was a priority that few people had, mostly because they already had the right mindset for it and picked up the associated skills along the way, but training to develop social intelligence is relatively new.

Today, teaching social intelligence is indispensable because it is the best resource to build and maintain a good work culture and to protect jobs in an era of increasing automation. Students need the tools to develop social intelligence beginning in the first levels of education so they can acquire it through their school years and master it in their adult lives.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a measure of your mental agility or comprehension speed. The average IQ for a 32-year old British man is 100, and while experts believe this is increasing by 3% a decade, you can fast-track yours right now and go from Fury to Feynman by motivating your melon. We’ve consulted leading psychologists to provide seven simple steps to improve your IQ by a not-to-be-sniffed-at 17 points over just one week, and help you solve any problem life can throw at you. Except, perhaps, a punch from Klitschko

Monday: play games

Fluid intelligence is a major part of every IQ test, and relates to your working memory. Dr Susanne Jäggi at the University of Michigan used Dual N-Back games, where the player is asked to remember a sequence of geometric shapes and sounds, to boost this factor. Her research discovered 25 minutes every day will raise your IQ by an impressive 4 points.
How to do it Try puzzles at
It takes 25 minutes
You gain +4 IQ points

Tuesday: take supplements

Ingesting 5g of creatine a day can get your IQ stacked by no less than 15 points over a six-week period. Researchers gave volunteers this dose, testing their ability to spot missing items in grid patterns. “Creatine gave a significant boost to brain power,” says study leader Caroline Rae. It raises the energy levels available for computation in your brain.
How to do it Buy it from (£4 per 1,000mg)
It takes 1 minute
You gain +2 IQ points

Wednesday: be a social gamer

When it comes to improving your brain power, Scrabble is your friend. “Activities which involve a diverse range of skills plus social interaction, are excellent options if you’re aiming to enhance your IQ,” says MENSA’s consultant psychologist Maria Leitner. You can get all the interaction by playing the Scrabble app and playing head to head with a friend every day over WiFi.
How to do it Visit (59p)
It takes 50 minutes
You gain +1 IQ point

Thursday: blast some bad guys

A recent study at the University of Rochester, US, confirmed a link between first-person video games and enhanced visual awareness in the ‘real’ world – a crucial building block for IQ. When having your IQ tested, the ability to take in visual cues accurately at speed is invaluable, explains clinical psychologist Dr Anita Abrams. Yes, playing Call of Duty 4 is good for you.
How to do it Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox, £31.99 from
It takes 60 minutes
You gain +2 IQ points

Friday: pull on your trainers

Drop those weights and hit the treadmill if you want to be smarter. A Swedish study proved cardiovascular fitness can raise your verbal intelligence by 50%. “Increased cardiovascular fitness was associated with better cognitive scores,” says Maria Aberg, who led the study. “In contrast, muscular strength was only weakly associated with intelligence.”
How to do it Get some tough cardio routines here.
It takes 20 minutes
You gain +5 IQ points

Saturday: do practice tests

Retaking IQ tests can actually raise your score by as many as two points. The ‘practice effect’ is a proven technique that arms you with the skills to comprehend the next test. “If the interval is very short – for example, a few hours – then examinees are likely to recall the strategies that proved most successful,” says educational psychologist Professor Alan S. Kaufman.
How to do it Visit
It takes 30 minutes
You gain +2 IQ points

Sunday: go veggie

Meat eaters look away now. “A number of studies have linked higher IQ with a vegetarian diet,” says Leitner. “Both the lifestyle and nutritional choices of vegetarians are associated with strong intellectual functioning and a slower cognitive decline.” Fixing your diet now could bring back 10 years of your IQ age. And that means more Scrabble wins too.
How to do it For recipe ideas, go to
It takes 10 minutes
You gain +1 IQ point

Total 7-day IQ gain: 17 points

Words: Ed Chipperfield
Illustration: Chris Price at Debut Art

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Picture this – you’re introduced to the CEO of a French start-up that your company is in the process of acquiring.

The CEO grabs your hand and leans in for some repeated lip action on your cheeks. His breath has a hint of garlic and something else you can’t identify.

His grip on your hand is lasting so long you start worrying that he might propose.

Will you recoil?

Will your facial expressions give away how you really feel?

Your cultural intelligence, or lack of same, could make or break your next big professional venture.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re actually going on an overseas excursion or staying put. Most any professional settings these days require you to work with people who have a different cultural background than you. You will have to be able to interpret what culturally different people are doing and why, so that you can figure out how to respond.

If you have high cultural intelligence, then you can do that no matter where the people you’re interacting with are from. Fortunately, just as you can change your general intelligence, you can also develop cultural intelligence.

Getting to the (Head, Body, and) Heart of Cultural Intelligence

Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowski from Purdue University have spent their careers studying business executives and managers who work overseas. They have noticed that some professionals are better at working with people from other cultures than others. They attribute this to high cultural intelligence.

You may have heard about social intelligence. A person with high social intelligence can get along and work well with others. We sometimes say they have people skills. Cultural intelligence is like that. Only it implies that a person is able to get along with other people no matter what their cultural background.

That’s because a person who has cultural intelligence is able to interpret and even imitate gestures and styles of communicating that seem unfamiliar to them at first.

Earley and Mosakowski published an article in the Harvard Business Review that gives practical advice about how to improve cultural intelligence. They suggest that cultural intelligence has three parts: a head, a body, and a heart.

Let’s look at the three areas and how you might go about improving in each of them.

1. Devise Learning Strategies to find Entry Points into to the New Culture

You can’t know everything about a new culture before you enter it. This means you have to learn. To do that, you have to first figure out where to start. Going into a new culture can be overwhelming at first. You have to find your way in.

Earley advises that to find a point of entry into a new culture you should be on the lookout for clues to the culture’s shared understanding.

If you find yourself puzzled or surprised about something members of the culture say or do, that can be an entry point to the culture. The fact that you don’t immediately understand what’s going on is a sign that they may have a different shared understanding than you. This can be a good point to ask questions or otherwise get more information.

In our article on cross-cultural competence we describe some specific ways to handle surprises and give more strategies for learning about new cultures. A little background in world history doesn’t hurt.

Earley suggests that a good way to improve your ability to reason about culture and develop your cultural intelligence might be to read case studies and spend some time thinking about the common threads. Craig Storti’s collection of intercultural conversations or Ken Cushner’s stories about interactions between Americans and foreigners are good places to start.

2. Show that You Accept People from the Other Culture

Telling people that you understand them isn’t enough. You have to show that you accept them.

Earley and Mosakowski suggest that the best way to do that is through your actions; in other words, by using your body. More specifically, moving your body in the same way members of the other culture do.

If you imitate the gestures and mannerisms used by the members of another culture it shows that you think highly enough of them to want to be like them.

Moving like they do is a simple way to establish the kind of bond you need to have to accomplish something with the other person. This doesn’t have to mean that you want to be like them in every way or that you endorse everything the culture stands for. You don’t have to truly become them, but you do have to appear genuine in acting like them.

If you’re not confident that you’d be able to pull this off you might attend an acting class or two to help you feel more comfortable.

3. Believe in Your Ability to Adapt to the Culture

Even when things aren’t going as you expected in the new culture and you’re starting to get frustrated, you need to have confidence in your ability to figure it out. You heart has to be in it.

As the old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Having and growing cultural intelligence, Earley and Mosakowski suggest, requires that you don’t become discouraged when you’re challenged. It will sometimes be tempting to say to yourself “These people just don’t make sense!” When that happens, you have to remember that they do make sense to each other.

It will also help to remember past experiences you have had where you were able to figure something out or interact successfully. Of course, that becomes easier the more past experiences you have had.

Earley suggests that a good way to start increasing your confidence is to come up with a few simple tasks to complete when you first encounter the new culture. This could be going to buy a newspaper, asking for directions, or greeting someone. Once you have had some smaller wins and master simple activities you will feel better prepared for more challenging situations.

Look Back to Get Ahead

Perhaps the most important ingredient to improving in all three areas of cultural intelligence is to stay aware of how well (or not) you are doing.

Each time you have an experience or encounter with someone from another culture, reflect on what happened. Evaluate how well you did. You might ask a friend, a colleague, or even another member of the other culture. It’s important to find someone you trust. This may mean looking for answers in more than one place.

Finally, don’t be discouraged if you feel that you’re not even particularly good at interacting with people from your own culture. If that’s the case, Early and Mosakowski think you may even have an advantage adapting to different cultures. It means you are more used to doing the work it takes to fit in.

Earley PC, & Mosakowski E (2004). Cultural intelligence. Harvard business review, 82 (10), 139-146 PMID: 15559582

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Brain training isn’t a new concept. It can help us retain information, recall facts more quickly, and sharpen our focus. Even a brief course of brain exercises can help older adults improve reasoning skills and processing speed for 10 years after the training ends, according to a recent federally sponsored study on cognitive training.

Here’s the thing, though: You need another thing to do like you need another hole in your head.

We’re busy — we’re entrepreneurs. We’re exercising our brains all day long!

Even so, adding just a few deliberate brain exercises to your daily routine can help you reap the benefits of brain training, and it doesn’t have to be another item on your daily to-do list.

Here are seven simple daily habits you can work into your routine to sharpen your intelligence:

1. Follow ideas through to various outcomes.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Entrepreneurs are often plagued with more ideas than time to deal with them in. Make it a habit to do idea exercises — come up with three possible outcomes for your next idea, even if there’s only one way you expect it to turn out. Visualize your idea in different ways. Make it a habit to consider more alternatives.

2. Add 10–20 minutes of aerobic exercise to your day.

Aerobic activity slashes your lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s in half and your risk of general dementia by 60 percent, according to John Medina, PhD, director of the Seattle Pacific University Brain Center for Applied Learning Research. (See

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Hopefully, you’re exercising already for the physical benefits, but if not, the fact it can keep you sharp and even enhance your creativity should be great motivators!

3. Engage in stimulating conversation.

In real life — outside the computer or mobile phone screen. The art of conversation requires that we think on our feet, and conversing with someone smarter than you can be a fantastic exercise in quick thinking as well as an opportunity to learn something new. Seek out interesting people and engage them in conversation, however brief.

4. Take online courses.

You can learn just about anything online — even on a mobile device. Commit to learning something new every day, whether it’s during your transit to work, on your lunch break, or in the five spare minutes you have between meetings. Better yet, make it something super useful, like coding.

5. Give your brain a break.

You can’t be “on” all the time. Make productivity apps a part of your daily routine, to automate redundant tasks that take up your time and brain space.

6. Practice a hobby.

Make sure you’re doing something you love every day.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

If your brain is constantly bogged down in work, it has no time or space to explore creative, fun ideas and concepts. In fact, some hobbies — like playing video games or practicing a musical instrument — can help sharpen your intelligence as well!

7. Look, Listen, Learn.

Try working a variety of media types into your day. Read reports, listen to podcasts, watch video clips where you can, and use gamified apps or sites when possible. Switch it up so you’re using more of your senses to take in information, and staying more engaged to retain more of it. If you’re finding yourself bored with reading or bogged down in audio files, take a break and try a new media type.

Do you have a favorite strategy you use to stay sharp? Share yours in the comments.

Originally published on

About The Author

Larry Kim is the CEO of Mobile Monkey and founder of WordStream. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)

Editor’s note: This is the fourth article by Executive Coach Mike Crompton in a series for iBi about how to improve your emotional intelligence (EQ) to become a more effective leader. The first article in February included an overview of the four EQ quadrants: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. The April article centered on self-awareness, and the June article addressed self-management. Crompton discusses social awareness in this issue and will complete the series on the final quadrant, relationship management, in a future issue.

What is social intelligence (and how to increase yours)The third emotional intelligence (EQ) quadrant of social awareness consists of these three essential components:

  1. Empathy means trying to understand the viewpoint of others and to see things from their perspective. (Empathy differs from sympathy, which means feeling sorry for others and their predicament.)
  2. Service ethic involves anticipating, recognizing and meeting or exceeding customer needs and expectations. Employees with this skill understand customers’ needs and match them with products and services.
  3. Organizational awareness can be described as the ability to recognize both the social and political dynamics that occur on teams, in businesses and even communities. People with this skill can accurately read key power relationships, and then make effective use of these relationships to achieve desired results.

This article focuses on empathy. It’s the most vital EQ component of social awareness, with a strong link to self-awareness. Because empathy can profoundly affect the quality of leadership and a leader’s effectiveness, leaders should constantly strive to improve their capacity to empathize.

The old song title “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” sums up the concept of empathy. It can be defined as the ability to put oneself in another’s place (or “shoes”) and take that perspective into account in one’s relationship with another person. With empathy, we can sense the feelings and perspectives of others and take an active interest in
their concerns.

Leading Effectively Requires Empathy
Empathy can also be described as being tuned-in to how others feel in the moment. By being attuned to how others feel, an effective leader will likely say and do what is most appropriate in any given situation. That may involve calming fears, reducing the severity of anger or joining in the high spirits of the team. A leader who lacks empathy will likely and unknowingly be off-key and speak or act in ways that elicit negative responses or make tense situations worse.

In general, employees perceive leaders adept at displaying empathy as approachable and willing to listen to pressing issues. These leaders use empathy to facilitate effective teamwork, which is crucial given today’s diverse, cross-cultural and global work environment.

A leader’s ability to empathize is also a key component to developing talent in the workplace—and just as important to the retention of talent. As the adage goes, “People join companies, but they leave their bosses.” And one of the primary reasons people leave organizations stems from an aloof, tuned-out leader—a leader who lacks empathy.

Tactics for Enhancing Your Ability to Empathize
Here are a few coaching tips that can help improve your empathy as a leader.

  1. Listening is the key. Practice quieting your mind. Put any internal clamor you’re experiencing to rest, and focus solely on listening to the other person. Remember, you don’t have to agree with what is said. Your goal is simply to listen, acknowledge and strive to understand the other person’s point of view.
  2. Learn to listen for feelings. People don’t always express their true feelings or concerns directly, so listen for words that express feelings and needs. Keep in mind as you listen that all of us yearn to be recognized and included in the process. We want acknowledgement that our viewpoint is legitimate.
  3. Make time for people. As busy and pressed for time as you are, you must still make addressing the concerns and feelings of others a top priority. If you don’t, you send the message that you consider others and/or their issues unimportant. Remember, people judge leaders by their actions—not words.
  4. Acknowledge what you think you heard (or saw). Use the effective technique of paraphrasing to play back what you heard someone say. It’s a good way to check for accuracy and understanding. Also, be sure to clarify the emotions you think you “heard” in spoken words or “saw” in body language. For example, you might say something like “sounds like you are feeling frustrated about this project.” Or, “looks like you’re happy about this assignment.”
  5. Withhold judgment. When you’re tempted to criticize or dismiss the opinions or feelings of others, stop. Take a step back before you speak. Think on an emotional level, as well as a cognitive level, about what others may be experiencing. Also, consider the merits of their point of view before you respond. Always try to make your responses objective—and non-judgmental.

In essence, empathy allows leaders to fine-tune a message to fit the audience and the specific situation. Leaders highly skilled in empathy listen actively and attentively, grasping another person’s viewpoint accurately. They also work well with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Leaders who work at increasing their ability to empathize will constantly improve the quality of their leadership and their effectiveness—and, as a result, their company’s bottom line. iBi

Mike Crompton is a Certified Executive Coach and Founder of The Excel Leadership Group, LLC. The company offers executive coaching and a variety of leadership development services. Visit for more information.



The third emotional intelligence (EQ) quadrant of social awareness consists of these three essential components: Empathy, Service ethic and Organizational awareness.
– Those are the key to spreading social awareness, you must walk in someone shoes before you take this journey.
Check this initiative Social Friday (

Submitted by selvinaz on Wed, 05/29/2019 – 05:02


According to Psychology Today , intelligence is “…a construct that includes problem solving abilities, spatial manipulation and language acquisition.” The American Psychological Association describes the definition of intelligence as all about how well our intellect functions, and what we often measure using IQ tests, aimed at measuring our intelligence quotients. Intelligence measured by IQ tests isn’t the be all and end all. Regardless of the number of languages that you learn to speak, the amount of information you memorize, and even how well you can complete math problems, intelligence inevitably is a more complex measure. Unfortunately , “IQ and technical skills will only get you so far.”

Two types of intelligences that are unmeasurable in IQ tests are pivotal for success in leadership levels in business, and even in innovation, as evidenced in the category for a recent Fast Company article about why venture capitalists look at one of these types of intelligence: innovation agents. These two kinds of intelligence are Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Intelligence (SQ) .

Social Intelligence

Psychology Today states that social intelligence “…develops from experience with people and learning from success and failures in social settings. It is more commonly referred to as “tact,” “common sense,” or “street smarts.”

The magazine describes critical traits for people with high SQ:

  • They can carry on conversations with a wide array of people and verbally communicate with appropriate and tactful words, also known as “social expressiveness skills.”
  • They’re adept at learning how to play different social roles, and well-versed at the informal rules of the game that are the creed of social interaction.
  • They’re known to be excellent listeners.
  • They know how to efficiently analyze what makes people tick by paying attention to what they’re saying and how they’re behaving.
  • Not only do they know how to learn to play different social roles; they put those skills into practice to feel at ease with many different types of personalities.
  • They take care of the impression of themselves they exude on other people. This is the hardest skillset because it requires “…a delicate balance between managing and controlling the image you portray to others and being reasonably “authentic” and letting others see the true self.”

Emotional Intelligence

In contrast to SQ, Psychology Today describes emotional intelligence as “ … the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” Emotional intelligence contains three competencies:

  • Emotional awareness
  • Applying emotions to processes such as problem-solving and thinking
  • Emotion management implied as both being able to help control other peoples’ feelings as well as your own.

While the following video explaining the EQ concept has more concepts than what was in the Psychology Today article, it successfully breaks down this idea that will help you capitalize human ingenuity:

Emotional intelligence, in fact, is now entering the evaluation criteria for venture capitalists. Fast Company recently interviewed eight VCs about five questions they ask startup founders as they look to award funding. They are:

  • How often do they consult with others?
  • How do they inspire and encourage people?
  • How do they handle tough questions?
  • Can they stay flexible without losing focus?
  • What type of team have they assembled?

The goal from asking these questions related to emotional intelligence is to see how potential founders handle emotions in constantly-changing, fast-paced environments that feel like pressure cookers. Thus, VCs will be more willing to invest in those capable of developing and maintaining long-term relationships.

Keeping these skills in mind will help you in your quest of adapting your team, and even your overall organization, to the pressure-cooker VUCA world.

Together, they are ESI

When EQ and IQ come together, they form ESI, or Emotional and Social Intelligence. ESI competencies are those “…linked to self-awareness, self-management and relationship management, which enable people to understand and manage their own and others’ emotions in social interactions.” What does this combination mean for me? Think about how we said that technical skills and IQ are not enough to differentiate who will be the best leader, while some may wish that was the case. ESI competencies , rather than IQ and technical ones, are responsible for the gap between the performance of those leaders that are great from those just deemed average. Fortunately, while IQ often gets set in stone early on in life, ESI competencies can be learned and improved over time.

So, how are they different?

Both skillsets are critical for embracing innovation. But, when do we use emotional intelligence and when do we use social intelligence? Will Chou breaks it down like this:

Social intelligence, Chou says, is more about the future. Social intelligence came about so that people could survive, and it’s about figuring out the best way for you to get along, and come out of a situation with a favorable outcome. Even if you have the qualifications on paper, a lack of social intelligence could lead to strained or ruined relationships, as well as lost opportunities. As much as you would maybe like to be blunt with someone when giving feedback, you may try to edit your words to try to convey constructive criticism without putting your foot in your mouth.

In contrast, emotional intelligence is more about the present, and thus more closely related to emotions and feelings. By reading someone’s face, you can tell whether that person is happy, incredibly nervous before going into a job interview, or shy because that person happens to be in his or her own corner in the middle of a party.

How does this apply to Innovation for Growth?

EQ and SQ, combined with your IQ, will be key to harnessing the concepts and frameworks in the Innovation for Growth program to tap your most strategic asset: human ingenuity. You’ll be able to get the most out of your team if you know how to build relationships with them and bring them into your overall strategic goals.

Ready to up your SQ and EQ?

If you’re eager to know more about the Innovation for Growth HiOP, click here for your copy of our informational brochure. And if you’re set on joining us in our next intake, get started on your application .