social intelligence magnifying glass

It’s hardly ever about you.

That’s a key take-away I gleaned from GRAPE’s October presenter, leadership coach Tamara Rosier, who spoke about “Social Intelligence: What it Is and Why It Matters”.

Now, you might think that I’m talking about selfishness (or selflessness) but in the context of social intelligence, it’s really about how much we worry about what others think.

– Will I look stupid if I say this?

– Are people judging me?

– I’ve got to be smarter (faster/cooler/better dressed) than everyone else

Ms. Rosier used the example of walking into a networking meeting (similar to the GRAPE function) and thinking, “Oh, geez, I feel self-conscious. I’m shy; I’m not sure how to go up and talk to people. I feel so ‘naked’.”

But you know what? Likely nobody is looking at you. Or, if they are, they probably aren’t scrutinizing you nearly as intensely as you fear.

Why is this important? Because with social intelligence, which Ms. Rosier defined as “the ability to get along well with others and to get them to cooperate with you”, it’s important that you reduce the focus on your worry about yourself. Yes, it’s important to be self-aware (another element of social intelligence) but not to the exclusion of watching for how others are reacting and feeling about a situation.

So the next time you’re about to enter a room, take the focus off of you. Instead focus on finding other people who look interesting. Go up to that person, smile and shake their hand. Then see what happens. Most likely, you’ll discover something stimulating to discuss and you won’t have to worry if you are smart/thin/handsome/accomplished enough to hold their attention.

You’ll just be you. And that’s all you need to be.


When Leaders Should Take a Tough Line

October 16, 2014

What should a leader do when a team member just doesn’t quite “fit” with the company culture? That’s the question I address in this month’s Smartblog on Leadership article. It really boils down to leadership “tough love” – you can’t make excuses for direct reports who almost adhere to the organization’s values. Smartbrief’s leadership newsletter […]

Read the full article →

Career Advice from HR

October 13, 2014

For the month of September, the focus of my HR Answers page was “Careers”. Do you have a desire to move forward in your career, or even just get more out of the job you have now? Here are three articles that offer career-building tips:     First up, it’s Boost Your Career with these […]

Read the full article →

Zen of Jen: Who are You Really Talking To?

October 9, 2014

Ever read any self-help books? If so, you’re most likely familiar with the term “self-talk” which, as its name suggests, is the act of talking to oneself. There’s negative self-talk (“I’m such an idiot – why did I do that?”) and positive self-talk (“I am excellent at giving professional presentations”). Personally, I’ve done my share […]

Read the full article →

29 Essays on How to Develop Leaders

October 7, 2014

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting is the host of this month’s Leadership Development Carnival. The carnival, which was started by Dan McCarthy of the Great Leadership blog, takes an occasional road trip. This month, it’s at Mary’s blog “The Point Blog.” Twenty nine leadership bloggers  contributed to the carnival with thoughts on: –  Managing the […]

Read the full article →

You Aren’t a Perfect Leader. But Your People Still Expect It.

October 6, 2014

If you’ve ever held a leadership position, you’ve probably already figured this out: you are held to a higher standard. You are expected to be more. More authentic, more compassionate and most importantly, more ethical than the average working Joe or Jane in your office. Your daily actions are intensely scrutinized. Author S. Chris Edmonds, […]

Read the full article →

How to Create a Pocket of Excellence – Even if You Live in the Weird House

October 2, 2014

Being a leader is tough enough. And when you add a toxic workplace culture? Downright demoralizing. When I interviewed Chris Edmonds for his latest book The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace, we had a very interesting discussion about how leaders can excel even when working in a […]

Read the full article →

Driving Culture Change: An Interview with @scedmonds

September 30, 2014

Helping leaders drive positive culture change is a life-long passion for workplace consultant S. Chris Edmonds. Chris’ latest book, The Culture Engine, lays out a road map that will help any leader–from top executive to frontline supervisor–completely overhaul or simply refine their existing workplace culture. Recently, Chris and I chatted about his new book. Here […]

Read the full article →

Book Review: The Culture Engine

September 29, 2014

In  the foreword of the book The Culture Engine management consultant Ken Blanchard highlights two elements of servant leadership. The first is “strategic leadership” which are practices that outline the “why” of the organization and form the basis of the company’s culture. The second element of servant leadership is “operational leadership” which is the day-to-day actions […]

Read the full article →

3 Things Every Leader Should Ask at Update Meetings

September 25, 2014

Leaders, do you want a simple, easy-to-remember process for staying up-to-date with your team’s workload? Here’s an idea I heard from my colleague Sally. (She said it was OK to share with my blog readers, so, thanks Sally!) Sally told me about a process that one of her favorite managers created to stay in communication […]

Read the full article →