How Socially Intelligent Behave


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Socially intelligent people have the ability to know how to monitor their language in such a manner that it avoids any conflict in the minds of the listeners. They can identify words that might create misunderstanding and steer clear of these ambiguous words.

They also realize that certain words tend to intimidate and threaten people. They avoid the usage of such words, especially while sharing feedback on the people’s performances. They do it through their skills of empathy and being open-minded towards people’s queries. For example, instead of using “you” statements, they focus more on using “I” statements.

Sample the following conversations −

  • Case 1 Team Manager to employee − "You are always coming late and giving excuses. Your output has been very low this month and your performance is nothing to write home about. You have not delivered anything last month and now you face termination from the company."

  • Case 2 Team Manager to employee − "I am concerned about how I am going to put good numbers on the board this month, as I haven’t yet received the productivity that I was expecting. I am also thinking seriously about the punctuality issue of our team and how that is making us lose productivity. The performance of our team last year was also not satisfactory and I am under pressure to trim off those from the team who are not pulling their weight.”

Of both the cases, which one do you think will get the message across and prevent any negative personal backlash? Which case would get the employee start thinking without feeling bad about his performance being pointed out to him?

A person with Social Intelligence knows that using the ‘I’ statements will show the employee the issues that the manager is facing and what he is forced to deal with, and also makes the person being spoken to sensitive to the issues. Using neutral language will send a positive signal of mutual respect to the listener and a willingness to acknowledge a different point of view.

How Socially Intelligent Behave

As you can see, the changes that you are to bring in your speech are not vast. It’s just the change of one word in the previous example that set off a completely different course of conversation and interpretation. For example, many language specialists say that using the word ‘but’ signifies a precondition to an action.

In the sentence, “I will help you, but you have to wait for just a few minutes.” signifies a precondition that help will only be provided in case you are patient. However, substituting the ‘but’ with ‘and’ will make the sentence sound different. Try it yourself −

I will help you, and you have to wait for just a few minutes.

People who haven’t acquired clarity in speech tend to speak in a cluttered, rambling manner which clearly suggests that they haven’t yet learnt how to process and filter their thoughts. A carefully constructed conversational strategy requires the proper usage of words and also the proper intonation.

Influencing others needs information to be presented in such a manner that can be easily processed. It’s also important to present the right picture. Before giving a statement, it’s always advisable to ask yourself − Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?



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