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.

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