Summer Skill Series: Social Awareness
What is Social Awareness?
Social awareness is the ability to pick up on social cues and the moods of others. It’s a particular perceptiveness that allows us to read a room and better interpret attitudes and intentions. This skill can also help us identify the strengths and limitations of those around us.
Why is it Important?
The ability to pick up on social cues is important in various areas of life, helping us navigate the demeanors of others in professional, social, and personal situations. Learning how to read a large audience or a certain person’s mood can help us adapt and adjust how we communicate.
In short, social awareness allows us to understand people and situations—and develop strategies for both.
How to Practice Social Awareness:
- Eyes wide open. Observe the people around us in our professional and personal circles. Observe how they respond to particular situations. How do they behave when the environment is relaxed and casual? How do they cope with stress?
- Look deeper. Sometimes what we see with our eyes doesn’t tell the full story. While we might notice someone behaving a certain way and use that observation to shape our interactions with them, it would be remiss of us to not also consider the underlying reasons for those behaviors. When trying to understand others, context—the why—is crucial.
- Balance weaknesses with strengths. If we observe that a person in our circle struggles with a task or activity that we ourselves excel in, we should attempt to balance the situation. Look for opportunities to remedy someone’s limitations with another’s strengths, thereby creating harmonious and beneficial relationships. Look for partnerships in which both members have something to offer the other.
Who’s in Your Inner Circle?, Hidden Brain
The Secret Life of Social Norms, TED Talk
How to Tell if Someone’s Bluffing, Big Think
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