Part 4 of 4
As we come to the end of our series on emotional intelligence, we return to the story that was told in our opening blog post. Through this story, we learnt about the aspects of emotional intelligence: emotional self-awareness, emotional self-management, and now we will learn about social awareness. Social awareness is the ability to identify and understand the emotions of others. While emotional self-awareness is focused inward, social awareness is other-focused. Both are critical to being successful with emotional intelligence. In case you missed it, here is our short story. Be sure to read to the end for helpful tips for improving your social awareness.
"SIR! Could you help me please? I lost my way." The panicked little boy pleaded with the uniformed attendant to help him find the right train home. He calmly asked for his destination, checked the schedule and told him where to wait. His train was due in the next five minutes. Then he asked him, "Do you remember seeing a round and colorful statue before you reached here?" He nodded cheerfully. "That's where you should come off the train next time, so you won't get lost again."
In professional settings, there are at least two reasons why social awareness is beneficial. The first is that leaders and team members can communicate with each other more effectively because they understand how the other person is feeling. This was evident in the interaction between the attendant and the child. The second is that conflicts and disagreements can be handled more easily because each person is listening to the other's perspectives.
When we think about the uniformed attendant's actions within the story, there are three things we can learn about social awareness.
Give others your undivided attention. Be there so that you can make observations of their body language and tone of voice. Being present is also an expression of respect. You tell someone else that they are worthy of being heard - whatever they have to say.
Listen without preparing a response in your head. Listen without trying to solve their problem. Simply listen to understand.
The best way to understand someone else's emotions is to be curious and ask questions. This minimises assumptions, increases understanding, generates two way communication and brings clarity.
The more we practise being present with others, listening attentively and showing curiosity in our interactions, the more we will build relationships with others through shared understanding. It's never too late to begin developing this area of your professional life.
Check out the related blog posts on emotional intelligence.