Using emotional and social intelligence as a tool

Consider a scenario where you have two candidates for a leadership position. Both are highly respected in their fields. How do you know which candidate to hire? Who will be better equipped to be able to effectively manage a team?

Companies often use IQ tests to measure a person’s worth for a position. But our IQ measures just one facet of a person’s capability. A range of other factors contribute to our competence – and two powerful contributors are our emotional and social intelligence.

Emotional intelligence: it’s about me

Emotional intelligence is being able to understand and manage your own emotions. This gives you the ability to recognise and understand how others feel, and you’ll be able to help them manage their feelings as well.

People with highly developed emotional intelligence are able to:

  • Perceive emotions – be aware and sensitive to your and others’ emotions
  • Facilitate thought using emotions – analyse and register this information
  • Understand emotions
  • Manage emotions

Sounds simple, right? But it’s not simply enough to recognise that your work colleague is upset, or know that you’re feeling stressed. Being emotionally intelligence means taking the next step – responding with appropriate action to improve the situation.

Cultivating emotional intelligence

The following steps will help to develop your own emotional intelligence:

Become self-aware: Recognise what you’re doing and feeling, and consider how you react. Use this process to determine what you don’t know about yourself and understand your own emotional triggers.

Practice self-regulation: Learn how to channel your emotions positively. Recognise your feelings – then take the next step to decide if it’s an appropriate reaction. You’re then equipped to be able to act accordingly, but now with an objective view of the situation.

Recognise emotions in others: Empowered with the capability to recognise your own feelings, you can now recognise them in others and interpret them correctly. But to do so, you’ll need to pay full attention when you interact with others, and demonstrate your empathy and understanding.

Motivate yourself: To truly improve your own emotional intelligence, you’ll need to be committed. Motivate yourself to developing your EI skills, and in turn you’ll develop self-belief and empowerment.

Emotional intelligence the people practice

Social intelligence – it’s about everyone else

Sometimes referred to as “street smarts”, social intelligence refers to the capacity to communicate and form relationships with empathy and assertiveness. It’s being able to understand other people – how they work and what motivates them. It also refers to how you present yourself and shape your interactions to work cooperatively with others.

Social intelligence is shaped by culture and societal norms. A particular interaction in one workplace may be unacceptable in another – or may be inappropriate based on gender, age, demographic, nationality – the list goes on. Those with social intelligence are able to read situations, and adapt and respond accordingly.

There are two aspects of social intelligence:

Social awareness relates to being empathetic, understanding others, and perceiving the best way to navigate social situations. This includes: noticing non-verbal cues, listening with full responsiveness, correctly interpreting others’ thoughts, feelings, and intentions, and understanding society and its norms.

Social facility refers to how social awareness translates into the ability to have smooth and effective interactions. This includes: how we interact non-verbally; our own self-presentation (the image of ourselves we present to others); how we help shape the outcome of social interactions); and genuine concern for others.

Cultivate social intelligence

Even if you’re a tremendous introvert, you can develop your social intelligence through the following steps:

Understand yourself: Acknowledge how you respond and react around others. How do you react in large crowds? One-on-one conversations? Meeting strangers? Understand your strengths and weaknesses to help identify areas you can improve.

Pay attention to others: Be fully engaged when interacting with others. Listen to what they’re saying, notice their reactions, and learn to recognise warning signs.

Improve your communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal: Learn to convey your ideas through effective communication. This includes using appropriate body language, maintaining eye contact, and learning to articulate your ideas freely (which may be a little difficult for some introverts!).

Develop socially appropriate responses: Understand the social norms of your environment to respond accordingly. For example, if you’re in a group situation – consider how you talk when addressing everyone, or even how you react if someone talks over you. Understand how your reactions could be perceived by others, and moderate your behaviour if required.

A tale of two candidates

So then, to answer the question from the start of the article: it would be wise to consider their emotional and social intelligence of both candidates before making a final decision.

Leaders with high social and emotional intelligence are able to connect and motivate their teams with ease. Their skills help to foster an environment where people not only want to work, but (possibly more importantly) want to work together. With a cohesive workforce, employees become more united in their purpose and more committed to work outcomes. This, in turn, can positively impact the quality of the work output and improves staff retention.

It’s scientifically proven that leaders with highly developed social and emotional intelligence affect others – where we experience, internalise, and ultimately emulate what we observe. Your leadership can lead your team to become more emotionally and socially intelligent themselves, more attuned to their own emotions and working more harmoniously with their colleagues. Doesn’t that sound like a great place to work?

Don’t know your SI from your EI?

Effective leadership relies on the ability to inspire others. We can achieve this by facilitating meaningful connections and fostering positive feelings in the workplace – and the first step is developing your social and emotional intelligence.

We all have the capacity to be highly emotionally and socially intelligent – but some of us may need a little help. That’s where the expertise of The People Practice can help you to develop these traits in yourself and your team.

Talk to us for an emotional intelligence course with your staff, or for coaching in developing your social intelligence. We’d love to help you create connection and inspire change in your workplace.

Renée x

Similar posts you might like

Neurodiverse blog the people practice

The ‘superpowers’ that neurodiverse people bring to the workplace

What do Richard Branson and Elon Musk have in common (aside from being billionaire entrepreneurs)?


As employers gain more understanding and knowledge of neurodiversity, we can seek ways to be more inclusive by attracting and employing neurodiverse people – and harnessing their superpowers in the workplace.

Embracing neurodiversity in the workplace the people practice

Create a strengths-based culture and embrace neurodiversity in the workplace

Embracing a variety of different types of thinkers – or, neurodiversity – and focusing on enhancing the strengths of your employees can make your organisation more profitable and more enjoyable for your staff.

The People Practice Blog Image Template V1

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) – creating a better work experience for people of all identities and backgrounds

Research has shown that having a strong diversity, equity and inclusion strategy (DE&I) can transform a workplace by creating an engaged and empowered team that thrives in their environment. A solid DE&I strategy is critical in enhancing overall business performance for those seeking business outcomes.