I wandered off the theme of social intelligence two weeks ago, to address issues of gratitude and happiness. But now I’d like to spend a few blogs discussing social intelligence: what it it is, why it matters, and how to develop it.
Social intelligence, as I noted, in my first post on the topic, could be defined as Edward Thorndike defined it some 70 years ago: “the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations.”
But there’s more to it than that. As Daniel Goleman notes in his book, Social Intelligence, simply being able to “manage people” could include manipulation and deceit, whereas true social intelligence includes compassion and a desire to affect others positively.
Goleman’s definition of social intellience includes two categories: social awareness and social facility. I like that division because we probably all know people who are very socially aware (think of sensitive, observant children) but haven’t yet learned how
to actually interact with others in a skillful, constructive way.
Goleman further breaks his categories down into specific componenets. Under his model, “social awareness” is comprised of primal empathy, attunement, empathic accuracy, and social cognition. And “social facility” is made up of synchrony, self-presentation, influence, and concern.
Head spinning with new terms? Starting on Friday, I’ll define each one for you.