6 Things Socially Intelligent People Do Differently (part 2)

If an amateur is someone who refuses to do what needs to be done if they don’t feel like it, by contrast, British theatre critic James Agate says, “A professional is a person who does their job even when they don’t feel like it.”

If you’re going to have great working relationships, you need to approach your relationships like a professional. You have to do what needs to be done whether or not you feel like it. You have to be Emotionally and Socially Intelligent. You have to master THE TRUST CONNECTION. (Check below for how you can get into this class starting this Thursday, September 28, 2023.

In last week’s Tuesday Tip, I outlined the first of 6 things Socially Intelligent people do differently … empathy. Let’s go on to the next thing.

► 2. Practice kindness.

Kindness is a skill that can be cultivated and turn into a natural, everyday habit. Focus on it every day for a month and you’ll see profound changes in your life. You’ll feel better about yourself as a person. You’ll see people react to you differently and treat you better, over the long run. It’s the interpersonal law of reciprocity.

How do you develop the kindness habit?

First, make it a goal to do something kind for someone each day. At the beginning of the day, figure out what that kind act will be and then do it during the day.

Second, each time you interact with someone, try to be kind, be friendly, be compassionate.

Third, try to go beyond small kindnesses to larger acts of compassion, volunteering to help those in need and taking the initiative to relieve suffering.

You can start small and build from there. That’s what one of my favorite students, Margaret Pederson, has been doing. She took her first class from me at age 65 and came back for refreshers at 92 and 98.

She got inspired there to start a Be Kind movement in her small town, let it grow nationally, and now will keynote a world conference on kindness in London this November at 102.

► 3. Make relationships a priority in your life.

Socially Intelligent people do this. They realize they never know how much time they have with the people they love. So they make time for them and make the most of that time together.

If you aren’t spending time with the people you love, change that. If you are holding a grudge against a family member, let it go and reconcile. If you’ve done something to hurt a loved one, ask for forgiveness. Drop the pride and make up. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, call them now to set up a date.

The same truth applies to your professional relationships. You can’t ignore people, take them for granted, think you’re too busy to connect with them, and expect them to be there for you when you need them. You haven’t built the foundation of trust that is so vitally necessary.

One of the good things that came out of COVID for me was consciously making the relationships in my life a higher priority. I made a list of all the people I should be reaching out to, that might be blessed by a call, and started to make a call to a different person every day since then. The joyful, thankful responses have been overwhelming and I suspect I will continue this practice for years to come.

Finally, for today’s Tuesday Tip, Socially Intelligent people …

► 4. Communicate with tact and perspective.

When somebody drives us crazy, Socially UNintelligent people may lash out or communicate in some counterproductive way. They’ll ask, “What’s wrong with that person?” They’re likely to communicate without any tact or perspective.

Socially INtelligent people realize that those irritating people may not even be aware of what they’re doing. So they ask themselves a different question, “Can I look at the other person’s behavior differently?”

Looking at things differently mean describing the annoying behavior in a more positive way. For example, your coworker’s whining may actually be his or her way to keep on asking for something. A loved one’s raised voice and tears may not be a tantrum; it may be their way of expressing passion.

When my daughter was 13 and started talking back, trying out her independence from Dad, being a teenager, I used to smile and ask, “I know you’re 13 and this is part of exploring your teenage years, but for right now, just in this instance, could you pretend you’re 12 and maybe we can talk about this?” She always laughed and it softened the situation.

Once you’re able to look at things differently, you can be a Socially Intelligent person that looks for a way to communicate with more tact and perspective. Perhaps you can say to someone, “I know you aren’t trying to annoy me on purpose,” and describe the behavior without any criticism. Can you ask the difficult person if they want you to be annoyed? Would they rather have peace in the workplace? Could they limit a certain behavior?

A successful strategy with a loved one might be, “I wonder if you have forgotten that I need to be listened to and not have somebody solve the problem. Sometimes I like to talk it out and then find my own solution. I realize you love me and want to help. Are you offering solutions on purpose? Can you just listen to me so I feel heard?”