What You Can Do to Improve Your Social Competence

Social Competence is important at work and in your personal life. It brings happiness, satisfaction, and a sense of well-being by adding meaning to your life.Research has found it also  increases life expectancy,  

Neuroscience reveals we are "wired to connect" with others. Daily interactions with others shape our brains and can have a positive biological impact. We have also learned emotions are contagious and can have a positive or negative influence.

Social Competence is an important part of Emotional Intelligence (EI). It focuses on the abilities that determine how you manage relationships and is learned with practice over time. 

There are two important areas of Social Competence:

  1. Social Awareness
  2. Relationship Management
Empathy Is part of social awareness and has to do with sensing the emotions of others. This means unerstanding their perspective and taking an interest in their concerns.

It includes:

  • Good listening skills which tune into both verbal and non-verbal messages.
  • Being able to take another person's perspective which is not the same as agreement.

When there is empathy, there is a blending of emotional states between two people which creates a connection referred to as "resonance" or harmony. This connection motivates others. Feelings and ideas are thoughtfully considered in order to make intelligent decisions. Then, they are expressed appropriately.

Empathy is a critical skill because it creates understanding which is necessary in order to get along with others, especially those from different backgrounds and cultures.  Individuals with a high level of empathy:

  • Are attentive and listen well.
  • Are sensitive and understand the perspective of others.
  • Help out based on understanding people's needs and feelings. 

In a work-setting, it's also important to have an understanding of the organization and how decisions are made.

Organizational awareness involves "reading" the unspoken rules that operate in groups, organizations, and work. In addition, it involves the underlying guiding values. Sometimes this kind of awareness is referred to as being politically astute. It is a valued asset for leaders. 

When you are organizationally aware, you can detect social networks and can understand the dynamics in key relationships. Individuals with a high level or organizational awareness:

  • Are aware of the political and social atmosphere in an organization.
  • Sense the developmental needs of others and help them reach their potential.

Social awareness at this level includes the service that is provided . This means recognizing an meeting a client or customer's needs. 

In the work area, Service means being willing to carefully monitor customer/client satisfaction to determine whether or not they are getting what they need. In other areas of your life, it can mean helping others. Individuals with a high level of service:

  • Are willing to make themselves available when necessary to improve customer/client satisfaction or to help others.
  • Anticipate, recognize, and meet the needs of customers or others in your life.
  • Seek ways to increase customers' loyalty and others by building trust.

Relationship Management is critical at the management level. This is also important in the home. Areas that fall under relationship management are:

  • Inspirational leadership that is done by guiding and motivation with a compelling vision.
  • Influence that allows you to us a range of tactics for persuasion
  • Developing others through feedback, guidance, providing resources
  • Conflict management that successfully resolves disagreements
  • Being a change catalyst that initiates, manages, and leads in a new direction
  • Building bonds by cultivating and maintaining a web of healthy relationships  
  • Teamwork and collaboration that encourages cooperationn and team building.

Social Awareness has been referred to as being like a social radar. It means developing a deep understanding of the needs of others and goals which increase trust and loyalty.

To be socially aware, you need to:

  • Be a good listener in order to understand the feelings and perspectives of others.
  • Be tolerant and cultivate opportunities with diverse people.
  • Read the political and social currents in an environment.
  • Happily offer appropriate assistance to others.

Which of these areas are you the strongest in, and where do you need to improve? It is possible to increase you ability in each of these areas with practice. A coach or mentor can be an asset in building this competency.

Until next time,


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