In my previous post, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Part 2: Know Thyself, I discussed how Self-Awareness and Self-Management are essential factors in becoming a strong leader. In this third and final part of my 3-part series, I will focus on social competence, or the ability to understand other people’s moods, attitudes, and behaviors. Socially competent leaders are more Socially Aware and are better able to Manage Personal and Professional Relationships.
How to Build Social Awareness
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States.
Social Awareness involves an ability to understand and respond to the needs of others. People who have strong social awareness are able to pick up on people’s emotions and use their non-verbal cues to better understand what is going on. Boost your social awareness by practicing the following techniques:
First and foremost, make an effort to improve your listening skills. Active listeners pay attention by being present with the person they are interacting with, use appropriate body language, defer judgment, and provide constructive feedback when necessary.
Learn to pay attention to your interactions with others. Do you find yourself not liking someone in your office? Take a minute to step back and ask yourself, “What is it about this person that I do like?” Perhaps, they remind you of someone you have struggled with in the past, thus triggering an automatic emotional response.
Learn to walk in another person’s shoes. Empathy requires an ability to truly understand how other people perceive situations. This includes seeing things from their value and belief system, even if you do not agree with it. Empathy allows you to fully immerse yourself in another person’s viewpoint while keeping your own unique perspective.
Listen to what others have to say without judgment. Learn to identify the needs of others. Pay attention to their emotional states and notice how they respond to certain situations or people.
Learn to Effectively Manage Relationships
“In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.” ~ Zig Ziglar, American Author and Motivational Speaker
The ability to manage relationships is an essential component of emotional intelligence. This skill enables leaders to successfully lead change within an organization. To build strong relationships, leaders must first have a strong sense of self-awareness, social awareness, and know how to manage their own emotions. Practice the following tips to help build more meaningful relationships with people in your organization:
- Be an influential leader. Provide a vision that both inspires and motivates others.
- Develop others within your organization. Provide consistent and helpful feedback to build other’s knowledge and skill-sets.
- Manage conflict by calmly settling disputes and listening to differences of opinion. When people feel understood, they will develop greater trust.
- Be a team player. Actively create and maintain social networks.
- Never make assumptions. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings in the workplace and can greatly impact relationships. Try to limit judgments and don’t engage in “mindreading.” Always try to keep an open mind.
- Avoid difficult people who like to start drama. Set boundaries and try not to let difficult people stress you out. Be sure to keep in mind that “difficult” isn’t always a bad thing. Find ways to learn from your interactions with them.
- Be a change catalyst. Learn to recognize the need for change and identify what is needed for successful implementation of that change. Support the process through active listening and effective communication.
- Finally, always remember to remain authentic. A certain level of transparency goes a long way and is key to building strong relationships.