Emotional Intelligence: Social Skills


"Emotional Intelligence includes the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others". Mayer, Salovey, Caruso. American Psychologist, September 2008, Vol. 63, No. 6, pages 503 - 517.

It’s important to note that although we have been using Goldman’s organizational structure for Emotional Intelligence, John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David R. Caruso also pioneered the academic and scientific study of Emotional Intelligence, more on them below.

Academically, the term first appeared in "The Communication of Emotional Meaning" paper in 1964, written by Joel Robert Davitz and Michael Beldoc from the Department of Psychology at Columbia University.

The book "Emotional Intelligence", published in 1995 by author and science journalist Daniel Goldman, popularized the concept of Emotional Intelligence and has been criticized within the scientific community despite prolific reports of its usefulness in the popular press.

Back in 2002, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) was produced as the ability-based measure of emotional intelligence. The test was constructed by academics John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey, and David R. Caruso at Yale and the University of New Hampshire, noted above, in cooperation with Multi-Health Systems Inc.

The test measures emotional intelligence through a series of questions, testing the participant's ability to perceive, use, understand, and regulate emotions. Using questions based on everyday scenarios, the MSCEIT measures how well people respond to social tasks, read facial expressions, and solve emotional problems. The MSCEIT is routinely used in corporate, educational, research, and therapeutic settings.

Prior to developing the MSCEIT, Mayer and Salovey introduced their model of emotional intelligence, known as “Ability Model”, which defines emotional intelligence as a set of mental capacities that contribute to logical thinking contained within four segments:

  • Perceiving Emotions: The ability to identify emotions in the thoughts, language, voice, and behavior of other individuals; including the capacity of differentiating between accurate, inaccurate, and dishonest emotional expressions.

  • Using Emotions: The capacity to find and use emotions necessary to communicate feelings and/or employ them in intellectual operations (Johnson, 2008).

  • Understanding/Analyzing Emotions: The ability to classify emotions into compound emotions (concurrent feelings of love and hatred toward the same person); and successive and sequential emotions, recognition of emotional patterns (anger grows to fury). This dimension includes the capacity to understand the ramifications of expressed emotions.

  • Managing Emotions: Management of personal feelings and the feelings of others. Controlling emotions and reactions as well as increasing the positive emotions without inhibition or extravagance. This includes the capacity of openness towards feelings, observing, managing and stimulating emotional and intellectual growth.

Alternatively, we have used Goldman’s Model’s of Emotional Intelligence which breaks down the concept into five segments; Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and, finally, Social Skills.

This last Emotional Intelligence post focuses on the last of Goldman’s puzzle pieces; Social Skills.

Integral to leading a happy, healthy and productive life, Social Skills are required to flourish in society. For those that are raised in emotionally healthy environments during their early childhood, these skills are more likely to develop naturally. For those without this opportunity, these skills need to be developed deliberately.

Combining EI competencies in different ways creates some of the most highly-revered skills in both life and the workplace. Effective social skills consist of managing relationships in a way that benefits all parties and builds rapport. Developing social skills sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy interactions in all aspects of life.

Displaying good manners, communicating effectively with others, being considerate of the feelings of others and expressing personal needs are all important components of solid social skills.

Developing these important skills requires a different set of strategies in each stage of development, regardless of age, and some individuals are naturally more socially adept than others.

But like any other skill, social skills can be learned. What is important, however, is that meaningful social bonds are formed, interactions with others are appropriate, and they have the skills to adapt in uncomfortable situations without resorting to physical action.

When tested alongside other “employability skills”, a workplace study by TalentSmart determined that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of workplace success.

Individuals with high levels of Social Skills possess valuable knowledge and experience about connecting to both themselves and others. Central to this is the ability to communicate.

Touted as one of the most crucial soft skills, strong communicators possess strong self-regulation and social skills.

Self-regulation denotes the ability to think, maintain control, and then act in any situation. When emotions run high, self-regulation enables the user to stay calm and social skills engage; analyzing everything from body language to word choice, to the personal dynamic between people.

Strong communicators find success by calmly assessing any situation and responding appropriately based on the social environment.

If a team aspires to optimize their impact and performance, working together towards a common vision enables that possibility. According to Forbes, in order to cultivate that vision, the most successful teams come from a foundation of trust.

However, trust is so much more than team-building exercises. It stems from the ability to selflessly share with others and to connect on an emotional level. Cultivating empathy towards your teammates creates an emotional connection, which fosters trust.

Yet, to properly unite a team under a common vision requires an additional element of self-awareness. By understanding your communication style and how others perceive you, you can cater to your messaging to fit the values and needs of the team, which is learned through practicing empathy, self-regulation, and social skills, as mentioned above.

Cultivation of Social Skills begins by spending time alone analyzing daily interactions and decoding them in order to understand social cues and reading expressions.

More attention that is paid during daily interaction, body language, context and emotional significance of the topic in discussion better you will become with the interactions in social settings. This “watcher” stance creates a detachment that removes emotion, creating a buffer between the trainee and his environment.

It’s a totally wrong concept that people who talk more are effective communicators. Good listeners with a high degree of realization of reading expressions are highly regarded communicators in social settings.

It’s not what you say it’s about how others feel when they are around you.

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