The People Skills We All Need by Harison Yusoff
Daniel Goleman in his 2007 blog article, Wired to Connect said “Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us impact the brain—and so the body—of everyone we interact with, just as they do us.”
Essentially, what it means is that when we connect with someone, our physical and psychological wellbeing are more likely to be influenced by this relationship. And vice-versa.
The article revealed that the process is so insidious that the neural-connections have the potential to result in a multitude of outcomes, ranging from triggering similar habits or preferences or even to the extent of influencing the activation of the body’s immune system.
In other words, the impact of our relationships on our wellbeing is far reaching – a strong fulfilling relationship enriches us and a damaging, energy-sapping one may prove toxic in the long run. How we navigate, survive and thrive these human connections require special skills.
Emotional Intelligence, the ability to understand our emotions and manage them helps us to be more self aware, more in control and make smart decisions. It creates the inner potential for us to develop self-mastery, creating the foundation for self confidence and positive relationships.
The psychology of relationships involve more than just self-mastery. This is where social intelligence comes into play. The ability to build trust and rapport and work towards mutually beneficial collaborations are characteristics of people with high social skills. They are capable of sensing and managing other people’s emotions, able to project themselves positively and build relationships through understanding and influencing others.
According to Goleman, the ingredients of social intelligence can be organized into two broad categories: social awareness, which begin with what we sense about others, followed by social facility which builds on social awareness – facilitating how to have smooth, effective interactions
The dimensions in Social Awareness include:
Primal Empathy: Sensing other people’s feelings
Attunement: Listening with full receptivity
Empathic Accuracy: Understanding others’ thoughts and intentions
Social Cognition: Understanding the social world and the working of a web of relationships
Social Facility include:
Synchrony: Interacting smoothly at non-verbal levels
Self-presentation: Knowing how you come across
Influence: Shaping the outcome of social interactions
Concern: Caring about others’ needs
For some people, these elements are effortless but for most of us, they need nurturing. But the good news is that they are all teachable.
Experts say, not only are we capable of developing capacities of social knowledge and appropriate social behaviours, we are also capable of learning to be more in synch with people we interact with, grow to be more attuned listeners and become empathetic and cultivate genuine concern for others.
A tall order you say? Especially where the more “humane” skills are concerned. I don’t think we have a choice – not if we want to sustain human relationships. If we do not deliberately learn to care, give and put ourselves out for others, we might as well give up on basic humanity. Someone has to start. Ultimately, this would be key to human survival.