4 Reasons why social intelligence matters at work

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Everyone wants to feel loved and happy at home and at work. The key is healthy relationships. Research suggested that Social Intelligence aka SQ is essential for effective leadership and help teams work better together. SQ is important when work relationships are established.


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Everyone wants to feel loved and happy at home and at work. The key is healthy relationships. Research suggested that Social Intelligence aka SQ is essential for effective leadership and help teams work better together. SQ is important when work relationships are established.

Social Intelligence (SQ) is closely related and definitely linked to Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In fact, phycologists became aware of our Intellectual ability (IQ) which included things like our logical reasoning and analytic skills as well as our memory to store various types of information.

Then phycologists further develop and researched this concept and discovered EQ which focusses on issues like self-awareness, self-assessment, self-confidence, self-motivation, social awareness etc. Basically, things that emotions influence like self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability, self- drive, commitment and of course social skills, to name but a few. Out of EQ, the knowledge developed about Social Intelligence or otherwise known as SQ.

The Mindspa Institute defines SQ as: “the extension of Emotional Intelligence’s relationship management competency. SQ is thus your ability to manage your own emotional skills needed to correctly read social situations and other people’s emotions and then to react in a manner that is socially acceptable, in order to get others to cooperate and co-exist. Social Intelligence is the essence of human relationships.”

According to Daniel Goleman: “Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.” So now you know what it means, why is it important that your leaders and workforce are equipped with SQ skills:

Reason 1

The ability to get along with your peers will get you their cooperation. But this is much more than the previous statement. It is the investment you need to make in developing better working relationships so that others want to work with you. If not, no one will work towards the same goal and no one will be able to function successfully in a team.

Reason 2

You need to understand the effects your actions have on other employees. Think about that statement we were taught as children “do unto others as you would want them to do onto you.” If someone feels valuable to the team, he or she will add the value you require. This also assists with aligning every team member with the team goals.

Reason 3

In a culturally diverse workforce within South African based companies, people feel different and react differently towards situations based on their cultural differences, backgrounds, and upbringings. Social interactions like culture days or cultural talks help a lot with bridging those gaps to understand why people act in a certain way in certain situations. Communication skills should be a focus and adapted to incorporate these cultural differences. In such a way respect develops for one another.

Reason 4

Social-emotional communication can also help keep you your job and be a sought-after potential employee. There are numerous employers who say that people have lost their jobs or were never considered for a promotion due to a lack of social intelligence. Why? Because we need people to be able to work together towards a common goal, which is what a workforce is. A workforce needs team players and solo acts won’t help with the progression of the company and the development of its people.

When you talk to team leaders, manager or project manager and coordinators, you soon find out that their biggest problem is ‘staff problems’, which is getting team members to work together. To benefit from Social Intelligence we have to learn skills to observe nonverbal behavior so as to understand other people’s emotions better so that we can relate better. This is not something you are born with, but a specific skill set you need to learn and build upon.

The biggest challenge is a lack of time to socialize and develop these skills, but also as technology develops, face to face and personal interaction and socializing is becoming digital only. These challenges make it even more important for HR managers or training development officials to invest in educating staff on SQ within EQ.

*For more information, contact The Mindspa Institute, a soft skills training company with a national footprint and public courses and training programmes in Gauteng, Durban, and Cape Town. Visit www.themindspa.co.za to learn more, book a course or view alternative courses.

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