EQ Component 5: Build a Higher Level of Social Skill

We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”

Vincent Nichols


This is part of my ongoing series of blogs about Emotional Intelligence (EQ).


The fifth (and final) component of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is Social Skill.  According to Daniel Goleman and other experts on the subject, the most common definition of the term I have found is:

“The proficiency in managing relationships and building networks; an ability to find common ground and rapport.”

To phrase it another way, “Socially skilled leaders demonstrate not just friendliness – it’s friendliness with a purpose.” Even in a remote-work oriented world, there is still room to build a higher level of Social Skill.

How do you build a higher level of Social Skill?  Here are some techniques I’ve seen many successful senior leaders often use:

  1. Practice the Other Four EQ Skills (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, and Empathy): They are all closely related. For example, as Daniel Goleman writes about Empathy and Social Skill: Empathy and social skills are social intelligence, the interpersonal part of emotional intelligence. That’s why they look alike.”
  2. Practice Building Consensus: Speak last at meetings, not first.  Then, backbrief the group on what you’ve heard. Don’t offer your thoughts until you’ve heard others, and confirmed what you heard.
  3. Learn to Compromise (…a lost art in Washington…?): When the team seems at odds, see if you can find common ground, where everyone has a “win.”
  4. “Who Else Needs to Know?”: The best leaders I have known always asked themselves that question – as typically we don’t consider who else would benefit from knowing.  People ‘buy in’ when they feel informed.

As I’ve mentioned in the other blogs in this series, spend dedicated time each week to update your EQ Action Plan as you improve — in this case, as you build a higher level of Social Skill.  And, as you teach your leaders how to build their EQ Action Plans, help them capture specific examples of their improvements, too.  It will take some time, but I think you’ll see measurable results – in yourself, and those you serve.

Enjoy the journey!

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