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Join the Ranks of the Socially Intelligent

I want to talk about being Socially Intelligent.

So, you earn your living as a consultant? There are lots of consultants out there and how they choose to relate to us really does vary significantly and so have a significant impact on how we relate to them. I have worked with the arrogant, the lazy, the conscientious, customer focussed, money focussed and of course the absolute life saver working to deliver great results. I’m sure that you can add to this list!

I wonder what it is that makes us decide which is which – is an arrogant consultant not as good as the conscientious one or are they better? How do you label yourself?

I have written before about emotional intelligence – the ability to empathise, to reserve judgement and show restraint and all that good stuff, so what about Social Intelligence; have you got any?

Social intelligence (SI) is the ability to successfully build relationships and navigate social environments. People and places trigger different emotions which affect our ability to connect. Think about a time you felt excited and energized by an interaction and a time when you felt drained and defeated after an interaction. SI develops from experiences with people and learning from success and failures in social settings.

You can develop SI – it must start with awareness, paying attention to the social world around you and recognising how you fit into that. When you handle situations well and when you are uncomfortable you should try to reflect on these times and understand why there is a difference. What happened to create it? Was it you or was it them?

As with many things when we struggle with social situations it can go to somewhere back in our past and the voices in our head are warning us it ‘will all go wrong again’ and so we struggle through and reap the reward of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Learn how to listen properly, reflect back what people say to you, read what they are really saying to you and respond appropriately, practice being tactful and using the common sense that you do have. If you don’t like social situations like parties or networking events because you will have to have small talk with strangers (heaven forbid), then you do need to put yourself out there and do these things to develop confidence. Be a social butterfly, learn to smile at people and say who you are and ask them who they are – people love to talk about themselves given half a chance. Notice when they are bored with you or if you actually interrupted something deep and meaningful and know when to move on.

As a consultant life becomes easier if you can put clients and potential clients at ease and get them to like or at least not dislike you.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM

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