In our last post, we talked about the importance of social intelligence as well as some of the implications of poor or underdeveloped social intelligence for leaders and their team members. In this post, let’s explore 6 practical, battle-tested tips for boosting your social intelligence and, thus, enhancing your communication with your team.
6 Strategies to Improve Emotional Intelligence and Communication
1. Become more aware of your own emotions.
To begin improving your emotional intelligence, take some time to get acquainted with your own emotions. Stop throughout the day to think about how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and how it may affect your day. Consider practicing mindfulness meditation every day for at least 15 minutes a day, since research science suggests that this type of exercise can reshape the brain and improve general awareness of emotional states.
2. Learn lessons from negative emotions.
When you experience negative emotions, pay attention to the unmet needs driving them. For instance, when a coworker spills her coffee on your desk, soaking important papers, you feel enraged. Why? Well, because you had a need to keep your desk clean. Also, you’ll now need to redo the work that got ruined, costing you an extra ½ hour in the office, and you have a need to protect your time. Instead of undirected rage, you now can focus your energy on getting your needs met. Maybe, for instance, you task the offending coworker with redoing the ruined work and cleaning up your desk.
Pay attention to the non-verbal as well as to the verbal.
The blog AuthenticallyPostive illustrates this point nicely:
“A real advantage of offline face to face communication is all the body language and tone of voice that goes with it.
Sometimes you may feel that someone is being rude or aggressive to you and wonder why. If you lack social intelligence, it may be that something that you said has been misunderstood. It such cases it may be that your body language has communicated something that you did not intend.
If you are concentrating hard it may appear that you are worried.
If you’ve ever been frustrated at your computer for going slow you may have found that someone else takes your comments and body language as anger towards them.”
4. Learn to manage negative emotions when interacting with others.
Even when you try to reduce or silo your negative emotions, you may still experience them when communicating with your subordinates. That’s natural. We’re human. Learn coping skills that you can use to manage and prevent these feelings from affecting your interactions.
5. Practice empathy.
In addition to recognizing and managing your own emotions, social intelligence also requires you to recognize and understand the emotions of others. This may also be referred to as “empathy” – your ability to demonstrate to others that they “feel felt.” Practice empathy by actively thinking about and attending to the emotions and perceptions of the people around you. Try to discern their motives, concerns and feelings during interactions. What are their feelings? What are the needs (met and not met) driving their feelings? Use this information to communicate better and strive to get everyone’s needs met, including your own.
6. Observe how others receive your comments.
Blogger Bryan Caplain makes this point as well: Good conversation is an exchange. The most basic form of social ineptitude is to say what’s on your mind, even though you have no reason to believe your listeners are interested. Even more cloddish: Saying what’s on your mind, even though you know that your listeners are not interested.
In a useful conversation, in contrast, there is a double coincidence of wants. You have to be interested in what I have to say; I have to be interested in what you have to say. This is an important reason why people with conventional interests seem more socially intelligent. Even if they don’t check whether their audience cares, it probably does.”
I love that idea of “a double coincidence of wants” because it’s so true in business settings. You have wants and needs, as does your interlocutor. You must engineer your communication so that all wants are heard and, ideally, met.
Building social intelligence skills can be challenging. For one-on-one assistance, call or email me today for a consultation.