By Andrew Hopkins
As we have already discussed in previous articles, automation is the future that awaits us all. With machines doing increasing amounts of manual and specialised work, we are all needing to adapt, retrain and upskill to find new careers.
We have previously looked at four of the top professional skills being sought after by forward-thinking employers. Next up is the importance of Social Intelligence.
What is social intelligence?
Social Intelligence (SI), is also generally known as ‘people skills’, and it references the way in which we deal with any complex social relationship.
Intelligence is largely what an individual is born with, and genetics plays a key part in a person’s IQ. However Social Intelligence is mostly learned and develops from the successes and failures encountered within communal settings. You may find this more universally referred to as ‘tact’, ‘street smarts’ or ‘common sense’.
What are the key traits of social intelligence?
- Verbal confidence and conversational ability: any highly Socially Intelligent person can hold conversations with a vast variety of people and can maintain a sense of tact and appropriateness throughout.
- Understanding of social roles and rules: Socially Intelligent people learn when and how to use the correct social norms governing any interaction. This enables them to appear publicly sophisticated, aware, and wise.
- Good listening skills: a Socially Intelligent person understands that any interaction requires give-and-take. This means being both a great listener and adding value to any conversation.
- Awareness of others: Those adept at Social Intelligence are often good people watchers. This means that they can ‘read’ what the other person is thinking or feeling, through their behaviours and body language. Understanding emotions is a key part of Social Intelligence.
- Social self-confidence: A Socially Intelligent person understands how to adapt and play different social roles. This means that they can feel comfortable, self-confident and in-tune with all types of people.
- A flair for impression management: People with a strong sense of Social Intelligence are concerned about the impression they make on others. They can carefully balance the image they portray with a sense of being both authentic and true to their own nature.
Why is social intelligence vital for future employment?
Social Intelligence is inextricably linked with Emotional Intelligence – which is the awareness of other people’s emotions and the ability to handle them appropriately.
With the developments in AI and the changes within the current and future workplace, Social Intelligence is an integral skill that we will all need, especially when interacting with clients, customers, and colleagues; in particular when these exchanges happen online.
How can you develop Social Intelligence?
Honing your SI skills will take effort and hard work, but it will pay dividends in both your home and work life.
Start by simply devoting more attention to the social world around you, studying situations and your behaviours and reactions to them. Work on your speaking or conversational prowess by using networking organisations or speaking groups such as Toastmasters. Enhance and develop your ‘active listening’ skills by reiterating what you believe the other person said to ensure clear understanding. Finally, reflect on and learn from your social successes and failures.