We are a social creature. As Elliot Aronson wrote: “The man is a social animal”
To survive in our world we need to adapt. But to adapt we first need to understand the world with its specifics and after that become aware of what is appropriate and what not as behavior and what to focus on to be accepted and successful. And here come the social awareness and the social skills we need to develop as social animals.
Social awareness can be shortly explained like the ability to understand the social relationships and structures in which you and all people around you operate. It involves understanding other people feelings and the ability to validate those feelings in reality. To be able to grow your social awareness you will need three basic skills: empathy, service orientation and organizational awareness.
Showing empathy is a core emotional intelligence social awareness skill. This skill allows you to see a situation or emotion from other peoples side. While being able to achieve this you build an understanding of the person feelings, behavior and motivation on expressing exact those feelings and behaviors. After achieving that you are able to use other tools to influence others emotions and behaviors. To begin practicing empathy you will only need to get awareness on others emotions. But unfortunately, it is not always possible to just ask people about their emotions and feelings. You will need some other approach or tool to discover how the other person is feeling. If the person is emotionally expressive this will be an easy task, because you will see emotions through their body language. But for others (and they are the bigger group) you will need to ask questions by trying to get to the place where you really understand how they feel. The questions you can use are connected with exploring more on the situation, or the problem and the approach the person is thinking about as a resolver.
The next steps, after really understanding someone feelings, is to acknowledge them. This doesn’t have to the necessary mean agreement on feelings. It is more like recognizing others position and emphasizing. To do that you will have to go from asking questions for clarification to expressing support and understanding through statements. Some of the popular phrases you can use are:
- I hear your concerns about the situation and I really appreciate it.
- I haven’t experienced something similar, but I can imagine how difficult it is for you.
- Thank you for sharing that with me. I am glad to learn about how you feel.
One of the mistakes you can let happen here is to not adjust the level of sensitivity you show to the other person and with that invalidate all the efforts up to now. To be sure that you won’t destroy the relationship you have built with the person, even if you don’t agree with the feelings that person expresses, you will need to show that you acknowledge the persons right to feel that way. To do that you must avoid saying things that may look to the person as accusement and disrespect to their feelings. Such an example is the phrase: “I understand how you feel, but you are wrong”. These and other similar phrases show the person that you don’t acknowledge their right to feel in a certain way and blame them for the faults or misunderstandings. Instead of doing that you can better focus on further exploring why the person feels that way, what aspects of their work are causing these feelings and ask to further support for the team goals despite the way they feel.
This skill is crucial for understanding the culture of the organization and its impact on the person’s feelings and emotions. It involves recognizing influences that work on you and others and come from other people in your surrounding. To identify that you can easily go through the milestones of the organizational culture. Some of the most crucial and significant of them are a company mission, values, goals(company and departmental), team members specific goals, etc. Analyzing all these elements will help you to gain knowledge on how organizational structure is affecting feelings in people you are working with. Some of the most common examples of feelings disorder come when people go through organizational change. Through the process they can feel anxious, angry, stressed, feared, disappointed, etc.
To get the awareness of the organizational effect on people feelings you will need to deeply explore all the marks that make your organization unique.
The high-level skill that you need to build during the process of growing your emotional intelligence is the:
This skill builds upon other social awareness skills. Once you show empathy to other person’s situations or feelings and understanding on how the organization can affect them through different organizational structure characteristics, you are in the position to begin helping the person by providing insights that are in the best interest of him. By stepping on the empathy you have built and the understanding you have developed you can influence that particular person to change by involving him in different initiatives that help him/her and others grow. Such initiatives can be to involve the person in planning and executing a new employee onboarding, support his/her learning initiatives, suggest development opportunities that the person does not see, etc.
By doing that you will benefit in two different directions. First, you will see a person, growing around you who is able to achieve set goals, more motivated and engaged and feeling valued and understood and second you will end up with the more loyal employees, able to support your own plans for achievements and growth.
The other big theme you must focus on is…:
The social skills theme is a very large topic. \these skills you need to achieve your and other’s goals. Social skills are often called people skills. Here you will see skills describing a person as easy to talk to, good at conflict resolutions, good team player, skilled at building working relationships, etc.
Shortly explained there are eight basic skills that are associated with emotional intelligence social skills. I will list them for you with a short explanation for each, but if you need, you can further explore each of these skills(there is plenty of literature on each of them).
This is the ability to impact others and their decisions. A person, good in influencing is seen as an expert in the area who is having plenty of information on the subject and is expressing positive intentions. This person is often called a leader with a high level of integrity and willingness to share opportunities for development. People with highly developed influential skills easily win others for an idea, are able to build consensus and help others to be more productive and achieve goals.
This second skill goes hand in hand with the influence. This skill is not restricted to some organizational level or hierarchical position. The emotionally intelligent leaders can be found anywhere in the organization. As strong the emotional intelligence level is the stronger the leadership presence of a particular person is. People with strong emotional intelligence leadership are seen as helping others to become more enthusiastic about the vision and mission of the organization. They guide performance, lead by example and hold others accountable for their actions.
This skill is essential if you want to grow as an emotionally intelligent leader. It involves people who care about how others grow and develop, by helping hem with all necessary actions and tools. These leaders offer assignments, new job opportunities, opportunities to manage large projects, etc. People who have developed this skill can in parallel develop others and themselves. They recognize that helping others to achieve their goals is a win-win situation for them too.
This skill is more about how you learn and learning as a process is actually how you become aware. It is also in the way of how you resolve conflicts, how you understand other persons point of view and even how you develop others around you. People with highly developed communication skills use emotions to speak on what is important for other persons. They are good at listening and can recreate messages they have heard with a very high level of accuracy. People with high-level communication skill are easily recognizable by signs like:
- Dealing with difficult issues head-on;
- Welcome open discussions;
- Are receptive to good and bad news;
- Don’t let disagreements to become roadblocks in the communication process, etc.
People skilled at conflict management are able to recognize not only the nature of the conflict but also the main elements that can transform conflict into an opportunity. Seeing a problem from this perspective can help you to solve it, improve processes, strengthen relationships and learn new skills. But managing conflict positively requires you to first be able to discover the root of the conflict. You must also be able to understand the perspective of all the parties, involved, and help them understand each other. Another thing that is crucial here is to manage communication in a positive way so that you can ensure a productive, win-win situation. To better manage a conflict you will need to focus on improving your conflict management skills. To do that you will have to practice on:
- How to open discussion on conflict resolution;
- What questions to ask to get to the root of the conflict;
- How you can allow others to participate actively in conflict resolution;
- How to listen as actively as you can without judging others on their opinions and positions;
- How to encourage brainstorming for solutions and rate solutions based on agreed criteria;
- How to foster a consensus around the agreed solution.
Those people are often seen as someone who is not satisfied with the way things are done. To be recognized as a change catalyst you have to form yourself as a forward-thinking professional, open for change as a way for self-improvement and actively working on helping others and organizations change. To become such type of person, you need to understand and accept that change is the element in life and helps you remain competitive. If you have decided to be that type of person, you will have to accept that change is something people fear. But if in this position you will have to accept that change is necessary to bring people and organizations forward. If you decide and act as a change catalyst you will have to demonstrate that you:
- Recognize when change is needed;
- Challenge the status quo
- Champion the needed change
- Are the model for change for others
Building rapport and bonds
Growing your emotional intelligence will enhance the ability to build bonds. If you focus on building bonds, you will create a social network that will increase the number and type of relationships you create with others. If you get to this level you will be able to make friends at work, cultivate large networks of professional contacts, work on building rapport, keep others informed, etc.
Teamwork and collaboration
The same way as the individual, your team need to be adjusted to function at his best level. You, as an emotionally grown leader, will be able to understand how collaboration can be used as a powerful tool for decision making, relationship building, creating a positive and productive environment. To achieve that skill perfection, as an emotionally grown leader you will have to:
- Share information and resources to foster collaboration;
- Promote a climate of cooperation;
- Bring every team member strengths on the table
- Build a unique team identity
- Seek opportunities to grow teams abilities
Developing and growing your emotional intelligence is a great way to grow as a leader, not only in position but also as a presence. Emotionally grown leaders are often seen in complex environments where they face many conflicts and growth opportunities. To grow as one of them you will need to plan, how to first grow as a personality and then, decide on a plan how to grow in the environment you exist, by utilizing this environment resources the best way you can. Starting without a plan is planning to fail in the process, so to make it to the end successfully you will need to first learn how to analyze, plan and adapt. \everything else is just a step of growth for you.
Are you ready to grow your Emotional intelligence?….
Have you missed the previous chapters?
Find them here:
Chapter 1: Emotional intelligence explained in a taxi ride
Chapter 2: Emotional intelligence – practical guide to understanding the steps to develop it – SELF-AWARENESS
Chapter 3: Emotional intelligence – practical guide to understanding the steps to develop it – SELF-MANAGEMENT